Within my soon to be released work “Studying Karate the Okinawan Way” I have added many referenced quotes and words of guidance from Karate Sensei of both past and present. We can either look deeper into the sentiments being expressed by these Sensei to help us improve our understanding of Karate. Or we can just disregard their words altogether. The choice really is our very own. What is surprising though is how many Karate Ka take the later approach because it is easier, at times thinking that they know better. If there was known to be treasure on an island, would you search and dig all over the island for this randomly. With little hope of ever discovering it. Or would you prefer to have a map guiding you to the whereabouts of the treasure? Self-discovery is of course a commendable trait. But remember, you need to be on the correct island first with the right tools or shovel at hand.
The Karate equation really is this simple. Do you spend most of your time Talking, or Listening/Learning? Teaching, or Practicing/Training? There is your answer…
“Self-praise and over-confidence is a sickness that corrupts training”. Hohan Soken Sensei.
I have always been an advocate of the quiet man and lady of Budo. Not that everyone should hide away, of course not, because if they did then the art would have no continuity. It is just that those who use clever words or have the biggest voice or following, often tend to be seen as the leading exponents. With the lesser known and quieter exponents often being seen as inferior. Strange but true, and it is not the case…
I’m reminded of this more so than ever when I visit our Honbu Dojo in Okinawa. A fine example here being Senaha Sensei’s nephew Sachio Senaha. He’s still a dojo student. But a Karate Ka who has been his uncle’s student for around 40 years or so now. Not only does he enter the dojo quietly, he listens to every word of advice, guidance and command from his Sensei with the same enthusiasm and open mindedness as though he’d started his Karate training just yesterday. He is also the most humblest person one could ever meet. To the point that the last time we spoke when I asked him what Dan grade, he was these days, is answer was simple as he laughed. “Not really sure, not really important, ask Sensei.” And when you I even mention him teaching, he just says “Ask Sensei, me a student.” Here’s the point. Be it in effectiveness of techniques, power and prowess, technically and depth understanding. I’d say that he’s by far one of the top exponents of Goju Ryu Karate that I’ve ever witnessed, he’s very impressive on so many fronts. Now please don’t try to think that I’m trying to advocate Sachio San here because I’m not. As that is the last thing that he’d want me to do.
This is a fine example of a true Karate Ka training quietly under his Sensei of deep understanding whilst being on his own journey to achieve a deeper understanding of both Karate and Budo. Always remember that there are many outstanding Karate Ka both on Okinawa, in Japan, and around the World training quietly in dojo. Who are training regularly in Karate at a level of understanding that the majority never will. And yes, both you and I may never ever hear of them.
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