Sensei's message

A message for martial arts trainers and those who teach karate professionally

In the early 70’s I grew up with karate and the aspiration of what it meant to be a black belt. My colleagues and I were encouraged to be tenacious and determined and to excel to the highest levels in physical and mental ability. Intrinsic values were instilled in us including self inspiration. This put me on a quest for personal development far surpassing the common run.

When I first commenced teaching karate it was in 1979. I was motivated to teach others those intrinsic values that I believed could be found within the martial arts.

There comes a point in human endeavour when we can fail. If we do so we may become discouraged, or disillusioned, or easily fall into to despair and lose ourselves. From my journey with karate I had found a value within it that could inspire and motivate one to overcome defeat.

Community, organisations and nations can do irreparable damage when they replace wholesome inspiration with a self serving attitude or substitutes the importance of nobleness of the human heart with the frailness of self centred ambition and power. My greatest hurdle in my martial arts journey was the disillusionment of politics and small mindedness that existed within the leadership of the martial arts organisations. When I experienced this in my own organisation I wrestled with this disillusionment for many years. I knew that within the core of study of karate there could be found something quite profound and valuable.

I knew that within the core of study of karate there could be found something quite profound and valuable.

It is important to make a clear distinction. The true value of karate practice is not found in the name of the teacher of a system, not in the political power of the school or even the genealogy of the instructor. It is found in the heart of the person who teaches it and practices it! This has been clearly demonstrated to me time and time again. Karate Masters, Senseis and trainers, need to be put on notice that they have an obligation to uphold their fundamental responsibility to build character in their students and in themselves maintain a faithfulness to the karate ideal in spite of pressures otherwise.

It is said that it is more valuable to “light a candle than to curse the darkness”. Karate training is a valuable tool in the development of the human being. Used properly it can make great change for good in an individual, a community or even a nation. This is far more valuable than quods, name and reputation.

We have a saying in karate “knocked down seven times, get up eight!” That is a possibility.

I am a Shorin-ryu teacher; I have practiced Shorin-ryu since 1970-71. I was the first to pioneer Shorinkan Shorin-ryu from Okinawa to Australia in 1985. I was the first Australian to be issued a Shihan rank (Certified Instructor rank) 1985-86 under Shugoro Nakazato 10th Dan. I represented Australia for Shorinkan and fought in the first Okinawan Pre-World Karate Tournament 1995-6. In Okinawa it has been publically stated that I have pioneered Shorinkan in my country; these are facts. But the facts are of little significance if all that I have done is not used for the development of my students and positively influenced my contemporaries both in my country and internationally.

I embody Shorinkan Shorin-ryu Australia, in as much as I pioneered and planted the seed of this system in this country. If my students are measured on their political skills rather than on the character and the tenacity that they display, then I have failed. However if they can stand their ground and demonstrate a commitment to the obligation of a good human being then I have succeeded.

This is the candle that I hope shine forth from Shorinkan Karate Australia.