Real Karate - what it really means.
As someone who has spent very nearly 50 years now studying the way of Budo, or the way of the warrior, I would hope that I have been able to understand what this amazing world might actually be all about. And goodness, I wish that I had been able to, but, if truth be told, I have only been able to scratch the surface.
People have said to me over the years: „Well hang on, mate. You are not Japanese, you are not a samurai. This is all nonsense. You are pretending to be something that you simply are not.“
Well, yes, technically true, but for me not a robust argument. You do not need to be a native to think native, nor behave that way. If that were true, rugby was invented by the English, so surely we will win the World Cup, won’t we?
In reality, from the age of 14, when I started training in Karate, I had a youthful view of just what it was all about. I wanted nothing more than to be able to punch, and kick, and block, and be that super hero. I had speed and flexibility and desire on my side, and I loved it. It was brilliant, and I trained as hard as I could with intensity and passion. Funnily enough, I found a photo recent that my school friend Jeremy Burman took. It was me doing a flying side kick in my parent back garden in Brighton when I was about 16, it was a super photo and even though today it is aged and grained it captured all that zest and youth. Fast forward to 2019, and a man who is nearly sixty, with advanced bowel cancer, that is life restricting, but, who this very night has had a wonderful experience teaching very advanced Shotokan Karate do to a wonderful bunch of black belts and senior instructors. Amazing really, who would have thought that life would work out that way, after all these years. And here is the thing that I personally find the most amazing, is that after all these years what I have come to realise, is that a life time of devotion and study to Shotokan Karate has made me realise something quite profound and I hope of real value. Namely that the fundamental precept of Karate and ultimately the true code of not only the Samurai, but also the Knights of old of this very nation, all share the same values. Notably it is all about good and strong virtues, the betterment of people. The precepts of building strong and noble decent people. Who would only use the skills they have learned for all the right reasons, and that for me is way beyond the shallow and transient ambitions of youth, no matter how noble and innocent they are. No, the true richness and fulfilment only come from from a lifetime of study and ultimately a deeper appreciation for the richness of the human spirit, and the gift of modest decency, and doing the right thing, for the right reasons. Karate is never a sport, it is lifetime of study, patience, dedication, and beyond everything an amazing gift, if you select to train and persevere, but each person has to decide on their path. I have never once regretted my choice to devote myself to this journey of discovery, it has been my rock, my path , and my inspiration, and that is what it means to me. Oss