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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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‘KIAI: A Whisper on the other side of the world.’

Celebrating TSW’s 3rd Birthday

Paving Forward for Future Ventures.

 

THE SHOTOKAN WAY - ON THE ROAD SEEKING INSPIRATION

 

Inspiration is an intangible energy. It cannot be held, captured or bottled for sale. It is an elusive force; one you cannot see, cannot hear, cannot touch, but when marinating in it, you know without uncertainty that it is there.

I am not a very good writer. This I must admit (something many readers have probably thought themselves). I am a terrible writer because I cannot write on a whim. I cannot sit down and just...write.

I need inspiration! Without it, nothing would be written and nothing would come to TSW.

A common theme over the last year here on TSW has been the concept of the ‘Eternal Student’. To me, this principle is synonymous with the Martial Arts of all backgrounds. Whether be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian – no matter where the art has come from, they all encourage the constant seeking of development and understanding through rigorous study and practice. But in truth, realistically, is this possible without inspiration?

Logically, if you are not inspired, to dig deeper seems impossible.

The other theme that has clearly emerged this past year is the need to seek out your own inspiration. It is essential to seek out your own education, your own motivation.

 In your own head for one second, make a list of 5 instructors who have been practicing karate for 40+ years. Now ask the question , why are they still studying?

Why is their karate different after 40 years than it was after 20 years (excluding the aging process and the impact this has on practice)? Because they evolve, their research deepens, their understanding of the art becomes clearer. Why has this happened? Because they didn’t stop looking and searching.

It is so interesting, but we are, at the moment, in the most modern phase of karate’s development. We are living in the moments that past Masters and instructors had predicted or discussed. They had talked of the future, and we are currently living within that future. In years to come, we will all look back at what was ‘the future’, and see it as the past. It’s the natural way, the progression of time. I will die, you will all die and in the grand scheme of karate’s existence we are to a huge extent insignificant. As we live within the moment, within the future, within the present...the decision we make, the choices we choose, the actions we take will all to some extent or another have an impact on the future.

When we launched this website in 2006, in our mission statement we commented:

“It is said that every time a butterfly flaps its wings, a breeze is felt on the other side of the world. For every action comes re-action, a principle held dear in Karate-Do. For us karateka however, every time we kiai, a whisper will be heard the other side of the world.”

The point we were so eager to make was that for every bit for training we experience, every ounce of energy put into the study and development of the art, there will be fruitful outcomes. Everything we do contributes, and this is so important.

For me, I take the karate I practice very seriously. I love it, it’s a part of me, but I hold it with great importance. I want to make a difference, a positive difference to retain the integrity of the art, to keep it undamaged or, paradoxically, unpolished. That has been our aim from the moment that we started to take TSW seriously.

I have a very, very good friend named James. He is a great guy, and a business graduate. Yesterday he asked me about the website, and asked ‘so you don’t earn any money from it?’. This is funny as my family, although very supportive of my karate, are constantly asking me the same question. They say ‘So you do all that work, for no money’. To explain to them is futile (I know, I have tried). But for Emma and I, it’s about making a difference. Whether it does have the intended effect I don’t know, and probably never will, but our interest and motivation remains honest.

This year we have had a very successful year. Since last September we have presented interviews with the likes of:

 

Sakae Ibusuki

Wayne Otto

 

Michael Berger

 

Norman Robinson

 

Paul Allan

Mitsusuke Harada

 

Pascal Lecourt

 

Geoff Thompson

 

Hirokazu Kanazawa

 

Robin Rielly

 

Yasunori Ogura

 

C.W.Nicol

 

George Best

 

Frank Woon A Tai

 

Jan Knobel

 

Takayuki Mikami

 

Mike Dukas

 

Osamu Aoki

 

Ticky Donovan

 

Masao Kagawa

 

Teruyuki Okazaki

 

 

 

 

 

What a variety. This is the brilliant thing about karate, it is so varied. So many different paths, different ventures, different possibilities. If you do not seek out inspiration, you will never get to venture – even for only a few footsteps – down some of the fascinating paths out there. You will never become an ‘eternal student’ without it.

I tend to write an article of this sort every year as I think it is quite important for me to reflect and look back at the year that has passed. My ambition in karate is to become one of these ‘eternal students’, and in many ways, TSW is a product of that. Every year’s anniversary is important, not just because it marks the end of another year since its launch, but because it also signifies yet another year in my venture studying. TSW doesn’t have fancy elements to it. We have had so many people offer to ‘JAZZ’ it up for us, but we have steered away from that – I don’t want to lose perspective, or sight of what I am doing. I want to keep it simple, like the karate I want to practice, and just get to the point.

Most significantly however, this article provides me with an opportunity to say thank you to everyone we have collaborated with, trained with and trained under this past year. Through travelling, we meet some wonderful people. We meet talents that will sadly, in the most part, not be celebrated fully. We meet karateka with big hearts and willingness to share their understanding and experiences. This is what it’s all about...so to everyone that has contributed to TSW and to our experiences in karate this year THANK YOU!!!!

Shaun Banfield