A book that I’ve been working on for a while now titled “Studying Karate the Okinawan Way” is scheduled to be published later on this month. It’s all finished and ready to go I’m just waiting on a few things.
Karate originated through the blue zone peace-loving people of Okinawa, whose culture and lifestyle is about nurturing longevity, through living an active and fulfilling life. To the outsider though Karate is often just seen as a form of self-protection or maybe even a sport, when in fact, these are just segments of a more fully rounded art that has many inherent benefits.
Regardless of one’s experience in Karate or style practiced, the reader can through this work capture the spirit, essence, and true nature of the art for themselves. As through gaining an insight into the way that Karate is studied at the source on Okinawa, will most certainly enhance the readers personal relationship with, and understanding of Karate. An art that has been proven beyond doubt to be a mental and physical discipline that most people would get many life enhancing benefits from practicing.
Anyway, due to me being a little quiet on here for a while due to thus. Here is the beginning of a chapter within as a taster…
Oh and a Happy New Year to you All. Glyn.
To understand how the Okinawans approach their Karate one firstly needs to realize that the Okinawan way is to do things for life through their unique concepts of Ikigai and Moai. The famed Okinawan Karate master Gichin Funakoshi Sensei named his work “Karate-Do My Way of Life”, with this very reasoning in mind that practicing Karate is for life, whilst promoting this notion within. Even the Japanese and Okinawan culture does not really have a word for retire in the same way that we do in the west, as in stopping work or departing the workplace. Also, it’s actually a researched fact that apart from the year of our birth, the years surrounding when we retire are our most perilous, so of course this is all worth giving serious consideration to. As a society both the Japanese and Okinawans tend to keep doing what they do until they are no longer able to do so, be it out of love for what they do, or to stay active. Regardless, having a purpose in life and something to get up for in the morning is of major importance to the people, just as it should be for all of us too.
“Only by staying active will make you want to live for a hundred years” An old Japanese proverb
How many people do you talk to who say things like “I used to play football” or “I used to play the guitar” and yes “I used to do Karate”, or “I got to black belt”. Often accompanied with words like, “I’m just too busy with work now” or “All changed really when the kids came along” and “I injured my shoulder or knee so I couldn’t do it anymore” Then there’s the “I’m too old for that now or I’m way too unfit and out of shape these days”. The reality though is this, serious health issues aside, in most cases the desire to continue wasn’t there. The saying: Where there’s a will, there’s a way, comes to mind here too…
Over recent years there have been many studies conducted on the people of Okinawa, with it being labelled the original blue zone hot spot of longevity. So, with Okinawa being the birthplace of Karate their approach then is of paramount importance to us. Permanence over many years often comes from a disciplined resilient mind set, and a positive healthy mind works in harmony with having a healthy body. Therefore, the mind set on Okinawa is one whereby if you make the little sacrifices now, whilst you can, this will allow you to live a more active life for longer, so they are well disciplined but in a relaxed kind of way. Knowing that if they walk instead of using the car for short distances, together with doing an activity like Karate or dance regularly will bring about long-term benefits to their health so that they can continue to live the life they love. The same in basing their diet off foods that are higher in nutrients but lower in calories, together with only eating until they are eighty percent full.
Moai is an Okinawan idea that has been passed on through the generations whereby a committed structure is created so that their people or children travel through life together with others by way of supporting each other in a group. This group culture not only provides financial security, but a feeling that you are never alone in life. Thus, having a profound effect on people’s mental wellbeing through a lifetime of regular social interaction and security on so many fronts. By practicing Moai the Okinawans have a social obligation, so by honouring this and being responsible to the others within the group, gives all both a sense of purpose and direction in life.
There are many within Karate on Okinawa who are part of a Moai group. The goal within though doesn’t have to be anything special, it could be as simple as meeting to play cards regularly, walk together, or even share food. These friends who are generally a group of around six people or more, may meet up daily, weekly, or even monthly. But regardless, when any one of the group needs help or support the others will be there to offer help, be it financial, physical, or emotional. Of which most Okinawans belong to at least one Moai, with many belonging to more……….