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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Isn’t karate a strange thing?

We put on these white uniforms, or ‘Angry White Pyjamas’ if I’m quoting Robert Twigger, and we study the skills of how to kick and punch, with the goal being that we all strive to be the best that we can be.

I was talking with the very astute Robert Sidoli quite recently, and he struck on something quite interesting. Throughout the world bombs are killing innocents, animals are being tortured for fun, and racial, sexual, religious and political prejudices remain as powerful and dangerous as they always have. But us karateka, what are we interested in? Where the hips should be in this move, or head be at this particular moment in this particular kata.

We really do live in our own little bubble. Our own little bubble of kiais and oriental moves that could some day save our lives. When I talk to non-karate practitioners, they look at me with total confusion, because they just don’t ‘get it’. They don’t understand why I would want to kick in a certain way, or punch as fast as that. They always say ‘…but why?’

As I touched on earlier, so many terrible things happen around the world, but we’re all so involved in our little karate world, we all for a one-hour and a half session forget about the pains of work, or stresses of reality and just knuckle down into what ever we are studying. But isn’t that nice?

I can’t speak French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Korean, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Austrian or even Welsh for that matter, but I can walk into any dojo in the world and say Hangetsu and they would automatically know what I mean. Without hesitation they would drop into a hangetsu-dachi and perform the kata with as much passion and spirit as they could muster.

Karate is like a universal language, one that we are all fluent in. Not all of us have perfect diction of this language, but we all try. Within the dojo, creed, sexuality, religion, race, politics, gender, all are of little significance. For a short period, the only thing of any real importance is making that mawashi-geri work in a particular way, or making the hips work in a certain way for that situation.

How great is that?

Where else can you achieve such peace on earth?

Where else can you just for a short period of time just forget that there is real evil in the world, or that somewhere, someone is being persecuted because of the above mentioned. While all of the technical factors of karate are important, as they always have been, in a time of such turbulence and saddening hatred, I think it’s good that we can enjoy just a few moments of peace, and cherish our Martial Artist friends that we have made.

Happy Holidays, and have a wonderful New Year.

Shaun and Emma