Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughts about traditional karate.

Embracing the old as a foundation from which to seek unlimited, infinite growth and development.
This is what traditional is to me, the word “traditional” might imply to some people stagnation, sticking rigidly to some meaningless rituals and kata, so maybe I don’t love the word traditional but I don’t have any other.
But to me traditional karate is using the kata as a vehicle to understand timeless principles that were discovered through many generations, and building on top of that.
Sensei Nishiyama used to stress that kata gives us many examples and through those examples we must find out the underlying principles, kata is symbol of principles.  
We want to take advantage of wisdom accumulated through generations of experience, trial and error, as a launching pad. Traditional karate people are always asking questions, not just accepting, they are seekers. We don’t just come to karate class to get a workout and to spar a little and have fun, even though we do work out hard and have fun, we constantly seeking to understand the many physical and mental aspects of karate deeper, and through that expand our limitation as human beings.

I think of my own experience, before I came to Sensei Nishiyama, I trained hard 3 hours a day, I made 300 repetition a day of at least 4 to 5 basic techniques, I sparred a lot, and than when I arrived at Sensei Nishiyama I am thankful to him that after the first class he handed me a white belt and told me “step by step, understand”. I realized that all this hard training acquired me lots of bad habits. In the first year at Sensei’s dojo, I trained 5,6 hours a day only to undo my bad habits. Now I understand that without Sensei Nishiyama guidance I would not discover karate principles even in 5 life times.
We are lucky that each generation can be fed with the experience of previous generations and build upon it to further levels. We must be willing and patience and open up to receive.