It was the end of the week and my wife and I were both tired; neither of us felt like making dinner. We’re lucky that there are several restaurants around where we live catering different food: Thai, Italian, French, and Japanese. A new sushi restaurant had opened up a few weeks ago so we decided to order some take-out to eat at home. The owner / chef was Japanese so the odds of it being good were pretty high we thought. So off I went 30 minutes or so after phoning-in the order to pick it up.

I paid for the sushi and made my way home all the while looking forward to eating it; I was getting pretty hungry by now. “Tadaima” I exclaimed when I came through the door, “Okaeri” my wife replied. My wife had set the table and I set the sushi tray down and opened it up. We sat down to eat, “itadakimasu” and after the first bite my wife took one look at me and said, “Sushi no shokunin ja nai” (すしの職人じゃない) – “he’s not much of a chef”.

She was right. Sure the quality of the fish was good, but the maki sushi was poorly rolled, the cuts were uneven, the rice didn’t have any sheen to it and was too dry. In other words, there was no craft behind his sushi making; and that is exactly what my wife meant when she said, “Sushi no shokujin ja nai” – Literally, “he’s no sushi craftsman.”

I mention this because we often see so many Karate-ka and Kobudo-ka, who despite their best intentions and efforts, have no craft behind their art. Sure they may be able to mimic a kata or technique, some quite convincingly, but for the most part there is something missing – an essence that only comes through years of hard work and focusing on the details under a knowledgeable instructor; an instructor who you have a close relationship with.

Unfortunately, for many Kobudo-ka Karate-ka, they can’t or won’t do this either for practical reasons or because their ego gets in the way. But just remember that when you build a home you want it to be strong, beautiful and last well past your lifetime. Otherwise it’s simply a house of cards.