Over the past few weeks I have been reminded what true Karate is, especially so with so much cheap talk or Kuchi Buchi out there these days too. My teacher Senaha Sensei has recently been in England, together with a few friends and fellow Karate Ka, as in James East, Steve and Nancy Lyons Sensei’s. All of which has been both a great training and socialising experience, together with enlightening. (The photo above is of Senaha Sensei working with Andy Whitehouse 4th Dan in my living room).
I will speak more on Sensei’s visit shortly in another blog post. I am also about to go out to Okinawa for around five weeks or so which will allow me plenty time to post more regularly on training experiences etc whilst out there. For now though I’ve dropped in a few paragraphs from my book project that I’m working on. All is kind of a reminder that being a decent nice person, training regular, quietness and effectiveness are hall marks of being a true Budo Ka and Karate Ka and should be paramount…. So I hope that you enjoy…
I realize that I have moved on and become a more balanced individual since my initial introduction to the fighting or Martial arts as a young lad all those years ago. Whereby being taught bare knuckle boxing skills by my grandfather through the family tradition of fair ground fighting were meaning well foundations, even if a little brutal and bruising looking back upon things. This basis though combined with being brought up in an inner-city industrious area certainly gave me a good grounding of how to look after myself. Many may look down on this but circumstances teach you to both adapt and adjust to environments, sadly at times there is no other way of learning.
Due to myself being mischievous and fighting a little too often in my younger years was how I actually got on this journey in the first place so maybe it was all fate and meant to be. One of my primary/junior school teachers warned my parents that if I didn’t change my ways quickly I was on the road to becoming a juvenile delinquent. This being the case my father decided to take firm action by controlling and channeling my aggression in the ever rough and tumble discipline of Japanese Judo. This then became an art that got my full attention for quite a few years, up to shodan in fact, whilst instilling disciple, courtesy and respect for others, even if it was far from as gentle as the name implies. To be honest it was hard and arduous to say the least. Later as I approached my teenage years I decided to take up Karate also, a journey that I have enthusiastically continued with to this day. That’s another story altogether so I will speak more on this later.
I remember experiencing a valid lesson in Budo as a teenage lad, one that has always stuck with me, so I will recite it here. Picture this… It was the late eighties, you are in a rough English inner-city public house, loud music blaring, very smoky room, too much beer flowing and it’s late on the Saturday evening. You get the scene!? Anyway, a group of guys had decided to start some trouble on a few easy targets, as they tend to do when they are in the bravery of a hyena pack accompanied by a belly fully of courage, or shall I say alcohol. People are all having a good time, yes it’s busy, yes it’s rowdy and loud, then suddenly the next thing you know all has turned in to mass carnage as the whole place goes up in the air. There were scuffles, ladies screaming together with a few innocent casualties getting set upon too. Then… From out of nowhere just like some super hero in a slow motion movie, my old uncle Wilf (I say old but looking back he was only around 50) suddenly waded in to them in an instant knocking three of them out cold, two of them with one punch each if my mind serves me correctly, whilst also leaving a couple of others in no doubts too that if they didn’t back off they would be in need of having some instant hospital treatment, and he meant it that was for sure….. I was stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock at what my old timer uncle had done; when he just turned to me and said, “Come on son we are going home”! I knew he was a boxer in the RAF during his younger days but, Bloody Hell!!! His selfless actions of skill and bravery had left me both stunned and in awe. However, it was his manor and words of advice to me on the way home that had a much greater impact on me, words that have stayed with me forever infact;
“Did you not sense or see that it was about to kick off? No Uncle, “Well you should have!! Oh and, anyone can start trouble son so don’t, the skill is not starting it, but learning how to finish it”
I’ve never forgotten those words, but more than that, he was one of the kindest and nicest people that I have ever known which spoke volumes, regardless of his quiet ability when it came to confrontation he didn’t need to talk himself up or act big or be a bully, on the contrary, he was a lovely man, yes a gentlemen, and I miss him greatly.
I mention all of this in my introduction, not to boast, or to tell of endless confrontations, as even though I’ve had a few, in truth I have had many harder battles to contend with and face in the Dojo and in life. Being a thug or getting oneself involved in regular fights or trouble is not that difficult at all, in fact anyone can do it.
You can now see how I initially got started in the Martial Arts and that from an early age my mind was already set on what the realism of fighting was and is all about, together with the importance of understanding the maximum effectiveness of fighting techniques for times of need. But, one of the most important lessons that I have learned along the way is that of humility. As even though the trait of learning how to fight or protect oneself or others may certainly hold you in good stead, it can also be detrimental too, by sending you or others down the road to self-destruction, especially so if things are not correctly nurtured or channeled. This for me is where the arts of Western boxing and Wrestling, and also the Eastern arts of Karate and Judo or Ju Jutsu excel. They are all very well disciplined whilst being based off the teaching of good ethics, with an equal emphasis or importance placed on guiding the student towards becoming a nice, kind individual whilst achieving a harmonious balanced life.
Kindness and compassion, whilst having a high level of skill in effectiveness, together with an understanding of quietness through regular training, are the traits of a true Budo Ka or Karate Ka.