Friday, 21 December 2012

Nice Guys & Beasts

Miyazato Eiichi sensei - standing next to one of his least talented students (c1994)
For close to forty years, I've been doing my best to come to grips with karate. For a while I had no idea what it was, then after a few years I thought I knew. When I went to Okinawa for the first time, I realized I didn't know much after all, but then, a few years later I thought I did...(again!). All that knowing and not knowing was driving me mad....that's when I met Miyazato Eiichi sensei at his dojo, the Jundokan, in Azato; he, quite literally, changed my mind about karate. 

Many so-called "traditional karateka", remain focused on the activities of others; in their dojo, in their organization, in their town, in their style.....Miyazato sensei reminded me to focus on myself, to get me right first before I gave anyone else a second thought. Selfish you might say....maybe, but only if you're looking for an excuse not to focus on your own problems. You see, while you're setting everybody else straight you're not addressing the sort falls in your own character.....convenient eh!

A lot of people today excuse their boorish behavior by buying into the notion first put forward by baseball's Leo Durocher that..."Nice guys finish last." But Ernest Hemingway's observation on human nature taken from his novel, Death in the Afternoon, resonates more with me. In his description of a bullfight as it moves inexorably toward it's bloody and fatal end he notes, "The only beast in the arena is the crowd." That one, Zen-like, statement on human nature, has kept my karate from drifting too far from it's primary role: to keep my life free of other people's ambitions.