Saturday, 2 March 2013

Standards of the Day

Kenkyukai karateka in Okinawa, c1926
In an interesting exchange with the editor of Shotokan Karate Magazine a few days ago, he mentioned that he often receives comments from readers along the lines of, "I hope Mike Clarke holds himself to the very high standards he writes about all the time."  I had to smile when I read that. The cause of my amusement was not the comment, but the way many karateka set their standards by what others are doing....or what they "think" they are doing.

I have very little interest in what other karateka are doing or thinking, and can count in single figures the number of karateka I know whose skills, and opinions, I respect enough to want to learn from. Of course, there are a great many karateka in the world who could teach me a thing or two: I just don't know them. I don't consider I have particularly high standards, at least not as high as some I know; but I am sincere in my efforts to improve my skills and my character....through the concept of budo.

Shinseidokan karateka in Tasmania, c2012
If people feel the things I write about regarding karate indicate "very high standards", then I can only assume their standards are set much lower than mine, or how else could they perceive things this way? Everyone sets their own standards, in life and in karate, it's not a competition, it's a fact of life. I'm happy to let people do whatever they want with their karate, so long as it doesn't impact on me. And I never offer advice to karateka unless they ask for it. For good or bad, I'm generally happy to just let people get on with it.

I've long since stopped trying to change the (karate) world; but many years ago I decided to change 'my' karate world. Doing that involves being honest with my self, and sincere in the way I deal with others. It resulted in the name of my dojo and is reflected in the dojo kun. Have I adopted "very high standards", I think not....but perhaps those who feel the need to comment, have adopted standards that are lower than they're really comfortable with.

"The problem with man is not that he aims to high, and misses; but that he aims to low and hits."  - Michelangelo