Now that the New Year is upon us just like so many of you I will take the time to quietly reflect on the past year. We all remember the great years and I hope that 2017 has been kind to you, but some years can be very unkind and negative towards us too, especially in years that we lose friends and loved ones. A sign to us really that we should always be grateful and appreciative of life and all that we have, including our health, loved ones, close family and friends. This is though a time to take a step back and re-evaluate our past and future directions as we try to guide our future for the better as we freshly plan for the New Year.

The people of Okinawa have varying ways and traditions that they follow as they celebrate the New Year. They don’t of course just celebrate the traditional New Year as we know it, they celebrate the Lunar Chinese New Year too. But just as our life changes and fluctuates each year, so does the tracking of the new moon to the Chinese New Year, which may come any time from late January to mid-February. The “Shogatsu” generally brings about varying customs that are followed, with family visits to temples like Naminoue or maybe a visit to a Shrine. There is the ringing of the bells 108 times to usher in a New Year as one prays for good luck and fortune whilst warding away any evil spirits. In households there is also the burning of incense at family alters as they remember and greet their ancestors. At many Karate Dojo’s on Okinawa Dojo there will also be an open day of coming together and a celebratory party.

The New Year is a good time for us all to sit down and reflect and evaluate, not only our Karate training of course, but our lives in general and looking at ourselves as good people too. To plan, set goals, challenges and ambitions for the new and coming year is something that we should all do. Yes our future is of course unknown to us all regardless of how we map things out, but to plan a little for the future though is wise, to live to far in the future though is foolish just as prevention today is far better than a cure. The pessimist and optimist will end up at the same place regardless of differing ways of thinking. In most cases we can all guide our own directions and future by our decisions made to a certain extent, so that’s where my thoughts have been of late and will be over the coming weeks too.

Within my Dojo and as a Karate Ka I will be concentrating on the Karate that my students and I are doing today, tomorrow, this week, this month, and yes over the coming year. I won’t be concerned with what others are doing though as I have my own house and Dojo to concentrate on not others. I will see this opening of the New Year as a time to be evaluating both my own Karate training and that of my students, not for the sake of it no, but to see where improvements can be made, and standards raised. This again is a time that I feel a true Karate Dojo can become stronger as the group becomes closer, whilst also selflessly working towards passing on the Art of Karate to the next generation and others with the inclusion of one or two new students.

I would also like to take the time to thank those of you who have both supported and encouraged me to get the blog rolling again, as I was certainly more than a little reluctant. No one is always going to agree with or like everything that I write about, I know and accept that. But I do feel that there is little out there of any substance these days to encourage good Budo and Martial Arts training. Strangely enough I have more to say and write about than I ever did before so expect more regular posts and ramblings. Also, if anyone wishes me to post on a particular topic then please feel free to drop me a line, the same on any disagreements. Support for the blog I will just measure by site stats over the coming months and see how things go.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. But in addition to this I wish to send out a more worthy New Year message. Which is to encourage all of my fellow Karate Ka and Budo Ka to remember the term “Onkochishin – Cherish the Old but Embrace the New”. Now sit back and relax for a while and decide which direction you wish for your life and own personal Karate training to go in 2018……