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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:26 pm 
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From: maurice richard libby
Date: 11 Sep 1998
Time: 13:28:06

Gichin Funikoshi once said, I don't remember where, that no one should make their living teaching karate. I think he was aware back then that commerical considerations make comprimise inevitable. The other thing is thew desire to expand. Many people want to "spread their art", to turn as many people as
possible on to it, almost like an evangelical enterprise. The Ethos of our culture is
expansion, just look at the idea of perpetual growth in economics. I won't get into the anthropological theory, but we fundamentally believe that if something doesn't continually get bigger, it's no good. Thus there is the need to attract more students at almost any cost. This almost inevitably leads to comprimise, and ultimately watering down the very tradition we seek to preserve. A fundamental irony of the human condition, I suppose.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:29 pm 
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The Dark Side
From: Phils
Date: 11 Sep 1998
Time: 21:48:04

Maurice: Good point.
I won't say I understand the quote without the context but I can see the pursuit of
art as fundamentally at odds with the profit motive.

It is not quite the same thing as the quality over quantity debate that started but here's the tie... Many artists will single mindedly pursue their art, regardless of economic
considerations, family responsibilities even personal well-being. Some will adopt a practical approach or change the style to fit circumstances to continue the pursuit. It could be viewed as part of the art experience, like waiting tables in New York if you're an actor. There's a certain selectivity (separating the men from the boys) and maturity to those who adopt the rigors of the vocation versus the avocation.

There's also a kind of "I gave my life to karate and it gave a living to me" thought
process that gets confused here. Darwinian reality kicks in when you're hungry.

Dancing or changing the traditional might not sound too bad at that point... and whose to say if that doesn't allow for evolution and avoid stagnation. People, like styles can stop growing, stop learning, be so rigid or self-satisfied that they are incapable or attracting students.

Sorry if this appears to be moving around the problem, there are many facets to it.
Best regards...phils


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:30 pm 
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Funakoshi
From: Steve DiOrio
Date: 11 Sep 1998
Time: 17:46:06

To All,
Funakoshi earned his living from Karate and he fundamentally changed Okinawan Karate so as to more easily "sell " it to the Japanese.
Hmm.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:33 pm 
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Tradition (and money)
From: Jason Bernard
Date: 10 Sep 1998
Time: 14:19:00

Sensei Steve,
I was just discussing this very topic with an instructor friend of mine. We were just
thinking about how many good schools went down the "dark path" just to stay open. Maybe some of the schools out there started with the best of intentions, but noting a lack of students and perhaps under pressure to simply survive as a school watered things down "just a little". And then later just a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and then a little bit more, under the good intentions were long since washed away. It becomes so easy to step over the "next line" when
you have already crossed the line a dozen times. This is why as Phil and yourself
state we must stick to our guns! We cannot give in to what we feel is wrong. I commend you for keeping the tradition of good martial arts alive, as with the other instructors who do so.

A friend of mine was at a tournament a while ago giving a demonstration. He didn't know at the time that the "martial arts" tournament was in fact one of those flashy, dance tournaments. He was very concerned over how his demonstration would be taken since he was doing a very traditional small circle standup jujutsu, hardly very flashy. Well, after the tournament his instructor had many people
asking him about his school, his style, etc. He evened increased enrollment by several students (hooray!). Perhaps, we as non-flashy traditionalists need to make ourselves more visible to the mainstream. At least this way everybody would be able to make a clear choice. I.e. I feel that many students are sucked in the black hole of non-traditional martial arts because they don't know that there really is anything else out there, and certainly know nothing of its power (of heart, mind and body), and their instructor certainly isn't going to tell them any different.

What do you say? How do we solve the problem? As Phil below stated if all traditionalist do is rant, then we lose. We must take action ... so what action should we take? Opinions?
Osu! Jason


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:34 pm 
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Tradition: Spreading the Word
From: Steve DiOrio
Date: 10 Sep 1998
Time: 16:42:23

Jason San,
I hate beuracracy, but maybe the IUKF needs a Dojo Practices and Traditions Board. I like to see what others do that already works and copy what is useful.

You mention Small Circle Ju-Jitsu while they are not as traditional an art as Uechi is they do adhere to a strickter tradition than many. They may have a set of guidelines in place. I know of one art (Wah Lum) that is so strict in upholding it's traditions that instructors are required to teach traditonally or lose their right to teach the art. But by the same token a governing body that legislates which traditions MUST be present for a teacher to remain Certified has a responsibility to not cripple It's instructors with burdensome ritual for it's own sake.

Lastly, I think that we all must do what your friend Phil did, lead by quite example.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:36 pm 
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Tradition
From: PhilS
Date: 10 Sep 1998
Time: 19:13:20

Yes Steve. In addition, I believe there is a real hunger for honesty and discipline and all of the things that make a good student a great martial artist. I feel there is ample opportunity for all of us to be positive role models and speak with a clear and powerful voice, an extension of your martial art skill if you will. ... and lastly, I wouldn't discount all non-traditional styles, just as I wouldn't dismiss all movies or art that I viewed. Even during the worst, most decadent periods in history, one find genius... even if there's an awful lot of junk out there. Also, it's important to be objective and open up to the good things you find in other styles... sometimes in trying to find something good, it dawns on me that my initial reaction was from a biased point of view, a lack of understanding.

If I sound contradictory, it's because 'opening' for me is always better, clearer
than 'closing' for me. It goes back to discernment, and finding one's voice.
Best regards... phil


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:39 pm 
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Traditions
From: Jason Bernard
Date: 01 Sep 1998
Time: 16:22:42

Greetings to ye martial thinkers!

I think this letter is going to be a bit of a rant, because to be honest, I am somewhat upset. I hope that I can keep things clear enough so as to generate discussion .... if you are reading this it means I think I did, because otherwise I won't have pressed the "post article" button.

There is a disturbing (to me) trend in martial arts to break with tradition in many
ways. We have people who say that the eastern culture should be replaced with western culture (for martial arts practiced in the west). We have martial arts that have abandoned classical kata for flashy gymnastics. We have martial arts whose kumite is hopeless from any perspective of being used for self defense.

We have martial arts "masters" who want to turn martial arts into a spectator sport. It is the only way it will survive they claim. We have students who think kata is "stupid" and "boring" and just want to learn to fight.
Does this bother anybody else? Or can you sit back and enjoy practicing good karate and to heck with everybody else and their flash?
I know that some "traditions" are odd but please that is part of what makes martial arts the martial arts. That is part of what makes karate defined as "an Asian art of self defense" and not "an art of self defense". I admit that these traditions do not necessarily make me (or anybody else) a better fighter. But they have a place in martial study! It takes discipline to always remember to bow when entering the dojo! When the bow comes from the heart it takes sincere
respect! When a student loses their pride in refusing to bow to a picture on the wall, or their instructor, they open their mind ... because the lack of hubris carries over into the rest of your life! The lessons from the martial traditions may not have much to do with kicking people in the face, but they do have something with building character. I could go on and on ... I could right enough probably to use up all the disk space allocated to this web site! But I think you get my point....

Why are the martial arts heading this way? Is it inevitable? Will the loud, flashy and flayboant wheel continue to get the grease? Are you hopeful that there will always be students who want to learn martial arts, and not just be fancy glory hunters?

I am not normally go grim, but these things have recently hit me in the face HARD and it does bother me. I have a sincere love for this thing called "martial arts". I know totally and completely that I would not have accomplished the thing I have so far had I never done these studies. I think what bothers me most is that other students who have been sucked into the black hole of poor martial training may never know what they could of had if they had of had hard training, good tradition and a good teacher!
Osu! Jason


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:41 pm 
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From: Phils
Date: 10 Sep 1998
Time: 13:12:23

Jason:
You're right.... but the problem isn't limited to martial arts, it extends to the society at large... go to a museum, watch a movie. You (and Steve) are talking about decay, errosion of values, and my observation
is to agree that our society seems to be moving in that direction. I wish it were
not but the signs are unmistakable.

There's a catch-phrase about life imitating art... think about the standard movie being made today. Compare the values to the way people act like out there and you will quickly draw the same conclusion. It isn't all bad though and it's an opportunity to test your martial skill and ability to discern, stand up and be counted!
I think your lament is proper but there's room for good people to dissent (object),
to focus their anger in a positive way. One of the earmarks of a society in decline is when good people do nothing. When good people disagree but acquiesce and say nothing.
In many ways it's time for people of consience, who are willing to state their
values and object to outrageous behavior. That can certainly be done in a civil way and sometimes best be done by a martial artist (have a greater impact because it is stated by someone who has demonstrated traditional values, confident enouph to state his mind or a reasoned argument and stand up for what is right and wrong).

There's plenty of room to focus positive anger at what's going on out there and
correct action and I would say that is what separates a rant and right action or what separates a refined martial artist from the trained fighter.
Best wishes...


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:44 pm 
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Tradition
From: david
Date: 02 Sep 1998
Time: 06:35:56

Osu, Jason.
I have posted some of my thoughts on this below: Tradition vs Evolution. So, I won't reprise them here. I too used to get bother by the "circus" acts that pass for "martial arts". Now, I am one of those who just do my practice and not let what others do bother me. What they do really has no effect on me and is therefore irrelevant to my practice.
"Traditions" will survive so long as there are those who practice them and derive benefit from them.

Students may get "sucked in" by flashy schools but they don't stay there unless
they want to. It is within their mind and power to determine whether a practice feels right and benefits them. Some students enter "tradtional" dojos and find them wanting. They move on. Fine, now the teacher has more time for the serious students. Serious students can also start off in the circus act dojos and realize that they don't belong there. They move to a more "traditional" dojo and begin to blossom.

Learning the physical art to fight is generally a prime motivator for many students (myself included). I believe, however, that this is not enough to make someone stay in an art. At some point, the student must find and experience some growth in the mind and spirit to make the practice a life long pursuit. THe practice would not be fulfilling or worthwhile otherwise.

Anyone can be physically defeated at some point in time. To strive only for physical dominance, I believe, is path of a defeat. I think "traditional" arts recognize this. It is just as important, if not more, to help the student find "agatsu" -- victory over oneself. Practice is therefore a form of "misogi" -- purification. It is these aspects of "tradition" that I embrace.

Through practice, we each will find our own way.
david


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:47 pm 
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radition and movement
From: greg postal
Date: 03 Sep 1998
Time: 12:48:14

Jason,
The only thing I have to add to what david said (I hate going after david, but he gets up so much earlier than the rest of the world...) is that sometimes, those who
are fortunate to stumble upon tradition allow it to influence them for the better.
Just like the "kata/kumite" debate, this is a very personal issue for all of us - i.e.
the debate is useful for illuminating our thinking and encouraging movement. I have been very fortunate over the last eight years or so, to be able to study at the Shubukan, with Mattson Sensei. For those who do not know, sensei does not "stand on ceremony," many more people call sensei "George" than call him sensei. I used to be one of those folks. Now, I call him sensei in virtually all settings. Why? Because it 'feels' right to me, and I believe that this is a mark of
respect, which I choose to honor. I think it would be nice if others called him sensei as well, but I don't generally get angry at this. I have noticed however, that after I call him "sensei" publicly, others tend to follow along. I also used to disdain the use of Japanese in the dojo. I have sinced changed my opinion on this (for many reasons), but certainly do not force this on anyone - except of course for my students. If someone is standing in Mattson Sensei's class, not paying attention, leaning against the wall, or (hard to believe) forcing sensei to talk over them, or ignoring the fact that he is speaking, god help them if they are one of my students. As for others? Ignore them, set an example for them, or perhaps shoot
an occasional withering glare? I suppose it depends on one's personality and style.
The only other thing I have to say (ha!) on the subject, is that one persons treasured tradition is another's excess baggage. I could go on and on about the significance of various traditions and their meanings, at least in a Japanese context, as I am fortunate to study a classical Japanese martial art besides my Uechi-Ryu, and have been at least somewhat educated in reishiki. In a traditional Japanese context, the details of reishiki are important down to the most minute seeming detail. It is very often tempting to correct someone's bow, or their
standing with their back to the kamiza, or displaying a weapon in a way which indicates that they are looking for a duel, etc. At these times, I have to remind myself that - *no one asked me!* So is tradition important? To me it is, but I don't know if that means I must insist others find it as important.
Domo Arigato, greg
P.S. "Osu" or "Oos" is a term borrowed from the Japanese navy indicating assent, or 'yes sir.' The one time I said this to my Bujutsu sensei, it earned me a withering stare, and a history lesson... apparently, in "traditional" dojo, it is considered somewhat vulgar.... (Please forgive me Jason, I just couldn't resist...)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:50 pm 
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Regarding Osu
From: Jason Bernard
Date: 03 Sep 1998
Time: 13:40:47

Osu!
"Osu" is a good example of tradition and evolution. It has various meanings depending on the context (as with so much Japanese) and can be translated both as "affirmative response to a command from a senior" or "to push".

You are entirely correct that Osu is a modern tradition found in some styles including Kyokushin (for example).

Now, I know you were not meaning to bring this up as a serious discussion topic and certainly not as an insult (although it certainly was a nice jab :-) ) but it raises
a good point ... is it hypocritical for me to rant about traditions while following this
modern one?

My answer to this is no. Martial arts will evolve. Good teachers will include new
things that they like and, yes, they may even throw away some old things that are no longer effective for the modern student. And this evolution is a good thing, but the claim that mental and spiritual development (which truly is the bottom line of a lot of these traditions) makes martial arts ... martial arts. I have read/heard claims that spiritual development should be left to the student in their own time, and leave the precious time in the dojo to physical development ... my reply ... go learn to box/kick box/wrestle, etc. Martial arts has always been about fighting and spiritual enlightenment. As various points in history it has been more about one over the other, and then swung back the other way. As Ray Bedard points out ...
martial arts is less and less about real fighting these days ... the gun has
superceded the fist, this means to me that more we should embrace the spiritual
development side. This means maintaining traditions, or at least the spirit of the
traditions. If a student has a major problem with bowing on the way into the dojo ... fine... but then replace this with the student pausing and reciting "I feel great
honour in being able to train here. I vow today to train hard." Reinforcement of
spiritual principles is the key!

Thank you for your fine post, for it has helped to me to clarify this issue in my own
mind and heart!
Osu! Jason


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 9:50 pm 
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From: greg
Date: 03 Sep 1998
Time: 18:17:31

Jason, Always a pleasure to read your thoughtful posts. Much as it pains me, I
suppose there is only one thing I can say: Osu!
greg


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