No Respect

When I started Karatedo practice in the early 1980s, my seniors at the time told me that originally our dojo had no kids classes (that was in the 1970s). Still, at the time I started practicing I would guess the ratio of youth/adults to kids practicing was about 60/40. Nowadays, I think the ratio of adults to kids is closer to 10/90. I bring this point up because if the majority of students learning Karatedo are children, what are the adults learning?

I would guess that it is some form of Karatedo (albeit with some minor changes) aimed at children. Is it any wonder that adults look at Karatedo as a “kiddie” activity on par with little league soccer, baseball, or swimming lessons. It would certainly color their views. Indeed, when a co-worker heard that I practice Karatedo, his first response was, “Oh, my daughter does Kurodee too.” Suffice it to say that it would have been a mute point to try to explain that what his daughter practices and what I practice are not the same. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against kids Kurodee, sport Karate, or even the non-sensical XMA, but they ultimately change people’s perceptions of what budo is, and consequently it is unlikely that Karatedo will interest the majority of adults.

So where does that leave us? Well, I’ve always believed that while practice should be enjoyable (心を開いて練習を楽しむ) you also need to take responsibility for your Karatedo. People who perceive kurodee as a child’s pastime simply won’t! I don’t think that it’s up to me, or anyone for that matter, to change the public’s perception. Remember the crusades died out a long time ago, so please don’t start trying to change people’s perceptions by gallivanting around like Don Quixote! Instead you need to focus on your own dojo. Your individual dojo is the most important basis of your training because it is the bedrock that allows you to practice (physically, emotionally, technically, socially, and spiritually) in the first place, and to pass on Karatedo to the next generation. So instead of worrying about what the public thinks, or how your co-worker equates your practice with something their child does, take responsibility and focus on your own practice.