Saturday, 11 February 2017

Here's a revolting development- Does this happen in your country as well?

From 2014 to now I have attended classes at two different Shotokan dojos and noticed something I did not like at all.

First time it happened I was at a class headed by one of the junior instructors. At the start of the class he went for a book in his bag (well- it could have been a bunch of pages just bound together) and then went on to start the class with: "Your basics are..." This was at a JSKA dojo.

At the WSKF dojo (where I currently am) a lot of time gets spent on preparation for tournaments and gradings.

Around tournament time we get to do free sparring practice, which is always a good idea, but all the other times are devoted to competition techniques and- guess what- a bundle of pages in the Sensei's bag.

My first karate teacher actually had me wondering what the syllabus actually required from me. The reason for that was because he kept the lessons ever changing. Those times I have spent learning the next kata and ippon kumite sequences for my grading were actually a welcome break to all of the lessons and practice to implement them.

At the end of it all, however, we know what I took home with me in the end.

Jackie Bradbury posted a question on Martial Arts Forums during this last week regarding when we are to ask students to leave the dojo.

Now- as the saying goes: Strike Buddha three times and even he will get angry.

I am not Buddha. I have very little tolerance for troublemakers, but especially among children we really have to ask ourselves what the causes of the interruptions and unruliness are.

If your class is boring- you can expect a lack of spirit and really poor participation.

With adults- you will certainly see if students feel that you are not teaching anything that is of use to them.

Now- I can clearly see that a lot of us started with karate or some other martial art and over the years we got conditioned into accepting a lot of things. We got to accept things like- "our school has no bunkai", "our school does not teach self defence", "spiritual enlightenment is not to be found here" etc. It also seems that we came to accept that even after a decade of training we shall only be allowed to teach what a Shihankai tells us to- or is that just the teacher being lazy?

Maybe part of the reason is a lack of enthusiasm in the teacher. Another thing that I fear is killing karate at the moment is kata being taught without bunkai and to make matters worse- changing the movements thereof with no explanation.

Many of us know that kata and taolu are a means by which martial knowledge got preserved over centuries. How much knowledge has been lost due to these changes?!

At least the world has Sensei Iain Abernathe who has gone out to show what power actually lies locked up in these katas...

Likewise Sifu Iain Sinclair has actually showed us Taiji in a light rarely seen in Taiji schools across the world.

If a syllabus serves to preserve martial art knowledge and prevent contamination from outside influences I have no problem with that. Blind reliance on it is actually destroying a style, though.

Now- my question:

How are classes conducted in your school and in your area. What I have written here is what I have seen going on here in South Africa. How are things done in your country?

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