|The late Higa Yuchoku sensei, founder of the Kyudokan Dojo, Okinawa.|
Many years ago, on my way home from training at the Higaonna dojo in Makishi, I stood in the dark outside the Kyudokan dojo in neighbouring Tsuboya and watched Higa sensei teaching karate. It was 1984, and Higa sensei was already past his youth, in his middle-age, and moving toward his latter years; but he had a strength and vitality about him that seemed to deny all of that. His lifetime of karate training had molded his body and thought processes into something recognisable: an authentic karateka.
After training this morning, as I battled with the swarm of aphids that were dining on one of the young Japanese maple trees in the dojo garden, I began to wonder what it is to be an authentic karateka. I pondered on the chances of new karateka receiving an authentic education in karate these days...and found myself doubtful of the odds being good.
This afternoon I was searching my old emails and noticed in the deleted file a surprising number of emails from people who had taken umbrage because they believed that in various posts I had slighted them, or insulted their teacher, style, or organisation. Re-reading the emails made me shake my head and smile at the same time...my, my, how precious many of you karate teachers out there really are.
I was reminded of this scene from the movie 'Taxi Driver', starring a young Robert de Niro; not only because of the famous "You talkin' to me?" line, but because of the make-believe world he too inhabited. As I watched the scene and listened to the dialogue, I wondered if I wasn't in fact looking at an image of the kind of people who wrote to me.....and yes, if this is how you play at karate, I was talking to you!