Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Things to think about, care of my closest friend...

Known to our friends as - The Chuckle Brothers
Mostly I travel to Okinawa each year alone, although some years I have gone there with students. Among the best times I've had on the island however, have been when I've arranged to meet with my closest friend, Richard Barrett. Richard and I have been friends for almost 30 years and I think of him as a brother.

Recently, Richard posted a short article on his Shinsokai web page that provides plenty of food for thought concerning promotion tests within karate. Richard asks, "What are they meant to represent?" and describes the role he believes such tests are playing today in the promotion of karate by certain Okinawan karate organisations and teachers.

Training together at the Jundokan - c2011
I'm not sure I agree with everything my friend has to say, but then, we don't always agree on karate related matters. What's disappointing to me is that such views are coming to light at all. Richard is no lightweight when it comes to karate; but if you doubt his grasp of Okinawan karate you need only to read the books (The Essence of Goju-ryu -Vol I & II) he has co-authored with his student, Garry Lever. So what's going on here, why would a karateka like Richard form the views he has expressed in his article?

In time, the transition from follower to leader in karate unfolds, but it's by no means an automatic process. The karate world is awash with "leaders", but the majority of them lead by decree, issuing directives they demand others follow while excusing themselves of the same obligation. Few in karate these days seem mature enough to lead by example, and in my view.....karate is all the poorer because of that!