Forest for the trees

Karate-do styles, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Martial Arts, Lessons, Dojo, Kobudo, Okinawa, Goju-ryu, Shotokan, Uechi-ryu

I was listening to Alan Watts the other day and thought what he was discussing –  the authority of religion – was entirely relevant to Karate-do styles. So, I thought I would paraphrase what he had to say but within the context of Karate. I think his message speaks volumes to those Karateka willing to listen.

Many teachers of Karate-do think that they don’t have to examine other styles or branches because they are convinced their way is the best way. This is a rather unfortunate and myopic view of Karate-do. Even the most liberal sensei can be caught saying that their style is best – perhaps to keep their “missionary” effort going so that he can pay the bills, maintain authority, or a myriad of reasons I’m sure.

Yes these other styles of Kartedo are very good,” they say, “but naturally whatever-ryu is the best.” This is all relative of course, but it begs the question, who is to determine which is the best style? Of course it is important to be loyal to your style, that goes without saying, but you are not bettering your style if you think that it is the only answer – especially when you as a whatever-ryu karateka are acting as judge and jury. This sort of attitude of believing one style is superior or inferior to another is actually doing a disservice to your style because you are failing to be critical. Every style needs to be critical otherwise it degenerates into a self-serving hypocrisy.