What sticks with you after 40 years...

Hidden truths about karate.
Forum rules
You may visit as a guest and read everything. You may register and post messages. I reserve the right to control site content. -- Hanshi Clayton

What sticks with you after 40 years...

Postby HanshiClayton » Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:11 pm

At the recent Santen Sierra Camp we had a board discussion where the students could submit questions for the masters to discuss.

One of the questions, as best I can remember it, had to do with how your relationship with karate changes decade by decade as you devote your life to the art. What stands out after forty years in the black belt?

The senseis gave the students the usual Nishiyama policy: Karate takes your whole life to master. There is no end. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I think some of them even believed it. I don't.

In my experience, you spend the first ten years deeply involved in yourself, making your karate the best that it can be. The skills plateau, just like dance skills, when you are 25 to 30 years old, and begin to decline after that.

However, by then you are busy teaching your own students, and it is delightful to find that teaching is a lot more fun that performing. There is a great pride in passing on the skills, even though you can't jump as high or move as fast as the youngsters can.

In the third decade you become involved in organizing multiple dojos for seminars and similar events. This is a lot of work for very little reward, but by then you are teaching the teachers, which has its own pleasures and pride. Karate has become something utterly different than when you began.

Someone asked what really sticks with you after forty years in the art. Was it the great victories? The obstacles overcome? The painful injuries? The tournament trophies? Maybe just scores of dinners eaten in tacky Chinese restaurants? What stands out after forty years?

And suddenly I had an answer for the group. What stands out for me is the students who walked into the dojo as broken people, and walked out a few years later healed. I have had three of those, and am working on another two now. They will never win a trophy, and may never have to raise a fist against another person, but karate has changed their lives for the better, and forever. I've seen it. I marvel at it. And I know that the time I spent with them made a difference for us both.

When I am paralyzed in a nursing home I will think back on those few students with pride, and with the knowledge that part of my life, at least, was well spent.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2012, All Rights Reserved.
This forum is supported by the sales of Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition
Site Founder
Site Founder
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:45 pm

Re: What sticks with you after 40 years...

Postby colinwee » Fri May 12, 2023 4:57 am

This is my 40th year practising.

I can't believe that I have been expanding my knowledge and gaining insight through my high dan years.

To think that I was going to give up at around my 20th year in. This was before Shotokan's Secret of course. Nothing seemed to have made sense.

The book made a lasting impact, and bit by bit as I sought out inspirational individuals and took a deep dive into my system, I was better able to traverse my kata based training environment.

I often talk about a method of kata based analysis I use in my school. And I hint at reaching out to both hard and soft style systems. However, I'd rather not dwell on lunches at tacky chinese restaurants. LOL

What sticks in the 4th decade of training? The void. The connection with the opponent. Proper structure. Distancing. Reading the opponent. Lines of entry. Disrupting the opponent's structure. Everything we learned as hard style fundamentals are correct, yet they are not exactly there.

Still great to be able to visit. :-)
Colin Wee is the Principal of Joong Do Kwan in Western Australia, and a Board Member of AMAHOF Inc. Colin has recently published Breaking Through: The Secrets of Bassai Dai Kata. He has practiced three systems in three countries for four decades.
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:52 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Return to Essays about Karate

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests

Hit Counter by Digits