December 7, 2023


pleasant trip on vacation

Passing Tradition

The Old Way and the New Way

I stepped out onto a polished wooden floor in a tiny dojo in Japan, where karateka before me had trained. It was intimidating in a way that I never experienced before back in a UK dojo. The Sensei stood in front of me watching, suddenly he slapped me on the chin and pulled back on my shoulder correcting and criticizing me for showing poor technique the truth is, this is the classical methods of teaching an art in Japan, it had been a long training session, all this in contrast to many western notions of instruction. Back in the UK a senior Japanese instructor was heard to say to another of his fellow countrymen “as soon as I began to train them seriously many of the students left”. Those of us who have trained under the direction of a Japanese instructor (Sensei), know full well just how unforgiving and intimidating in their quest for perfection they can be.

In short, most western Budoka tend to be easier going but more quickly displeased if they are criticized for whatever reason than their Asian counterparts. They usually regard any form of criticism in a negative light. However, some of us traditionalist Budoka tend to consider criticism in a positive light a mark of sure progress if you will. In the dojo (training hall) new karate students or any other martial artist, must learn that criticisms should not be confused with bullying or belittling by their instructor or other senior karateka. They are praised of their achievements thus far in their training and also to remind them there is always more to learn. They should also understand that it’s just one more step towards the top of the mountain although, it’s the journey in order to reach the top that really counts.

Simply stated, if the student is truly serious about becoming a dedicated karateka then he or she must learn the traditional values, etiquette and respect both in the dojo and outside. On top of that, to make the grade they will have to train hard and regular in order to reach the high standard required to become a true karateka. The truth is, karate is not all about competitions, medals and trophies. But it does become a lifelong struggle for some and quite often with oneself. If they accept all that then it’s a good grounding for success as a karateka. Further regarding attitude understand you don’t have friends inside the dojo if you have then you’re not training with the correct attitude or state of mind. In the dojo its war and you must compete against others as well as yourself in order to better yourself, friends are for outside the dojo.

That’s the way I look at it, I know this attitude may to some seem a bit harsh but I am a traditionalist and believe in the old ways of karate training, I know there will be a lot in opposition to this point of view plus, one thing’s for sure, karate has changed a great deal since I started training. Last but not least, all karateka sometimes overlook the fact that karate has much more to offer than competition fighting for real karate lies beneath the surface, you can’t see it but over time a traditional karateka will discover the hidden secrets of his chosen art. If they approach their training with belief and that the dojo is for training not socializing then they will be found among those true followers willing to wait patiently at the doorstep. Ko-Do to Shin-Do: The old way and the new way.

Stay Safe.