One thing that has always bewildered me a little, is when Dojo or individuals claim to be practicing Okinawan Karate when they don’t follow the Okinawan ways through the training that they do. At times there are words spoken like: we are not in Okinawa so we adapt things to suit, or, if I was in Okinawa then I would of course follow the ways as they do. Okinawan Karate is a broad basilica I get that, but there is still a framework.… Okinawa is a noun, a place, an Island, and the birthplace of Karate, but the life of Okinawan Karate is about it being nurtured within people, whatever nationality they may be, or whatever country that they may reside. You cannot really just pick and choose elements to suit and then say that you are practicing Karate the Okinawan Way.  

In all my years of being a student of Senaha Sensei. Apart from during late into the evening informal lessons, I have never once trained under his guidance without Sensei commencing things by making students, regardless of their level, go through all the Kata of the school of Goju Ryu. Yes! every training session you do every Kata under Senaha Sensei… Not even once have I ever known him divert from this. Only thereafter completing all the Kata will the varying other Karate practice training methods commence. This being the case and as one of his students, when I teach students from my home Dojo I do the same. 

I often say this to my students. Do not do anything within your Karate and Gi in England that you would not do in Okinawa. The reason I say this is because if you do, then your Karate is just based off a fallacy of double standards, and at the end of the day you are only fooling yourself. Why do some Karate Ka also feel a need to tag their Karate to Okinawa, when in truth the Karate that they practice is already truly excellent in itself. 

Here are just a few things that I’ve noticed Karate Ka doing that I know full well they would not get away with as a member of any serious Dojo in Okinawa or Japan.

1, Turning up late to the Dojo for training sessions. If the training session starts at 7pm then you should be changed into your Gi, and in the Dojo ready for 7pm. Yes I know that some Dojo do have an open time training policy, however if there are arrangements made to be there for a certain time then it will be abided by.

2, Never missing a Dojo training session whilst in Okinawa or Japan, but then often failing to attend regular training sessions or/and not training regularly alone whilst back home.

3, Not taking one’s shoes off prior to entering the Dojo, the same in not bowing to the front of the Dojo and Sensei upon entering and leaving the Dojo.

4, Not training hard or seriously in the same intensity focused way that they do whilst in the Dojo on Okinawa or Japan.

5, The wearing of special-coloured belts or the displaying of unrelated grades and titles.

6, Continued use of too much unneeded banter and idle talk in the Dojo, both prior to training and during pair-work or kumite etc. You can’t talk and train at the same time.

As a serious Karate Ka you must constantly look in the mirror and see if you are not only being truthful to yourself, but to your Teacher or Sensei whilst you are not under their gaze. And if you are not then it is time to revaluate…