- I am not sure why, but
Monday night's adult class always seems to be my biggest
class of the week.
- No matter what the reason,
there is no doubt about it, Monday is the night that the
dojo rocks the most.
- Recently, however, Monday
night has taken a whole new meaning for many of the
students, much to the delight of the those students below
the rank of 1st kyu. It all started one night when I
asked a group of senior students I had been working with
a few simple questions related to the history of Shotokan
- The answers I got, or
should I say the lack of them, made me realize that what
a student hears in class, does not always translate into
mental memory in the same way that repetitive kihon or
kata translates into body memory.
- Since I for one have always
felt that a student's understanding of karate should run
much deeper than just stances, kicks, punches, and kata,
I hit upon a solution that I hoped would help impart to
my students a greater understanding of the history that
surrounds Shotokan. Especially when it comes to the
organizations, masters, and sensei's, both past and
present, who have contributed so much to our great art.
- Now while it is true that
very little documentation exist in the West on the early
pre-war development of Shotokan, the era that began with
the formation of the Japan karate Association (JKA) in
1949 has seen an unprecedented volume of material. Today
everything from the standardization of kata and kihon, to
the published works and opinions of those early
instructors send abroad by the JKA, (who are today
amongst the highest ranking Shotokan sensei's in the
world) can be found in countless number of books,
magazine articles, and web sites. This material is easily
available today to students of any rank, and the shear
magnitude of it alone clearly establishes Shotokan as the
most popular and the most documented form of karate in
the world today.
- As a result of my
disappointment with the answers I received that previous
evening I decided that all of the Dan ranks in the dojo,
and those students about to take their Sho Dan exam,
should be required to give a short two minute talk to the
all of the students present on a karate related subject
once a week. This would not only expand their knowledge
of karate and it's history, but it would also set another
good example for all of those students who wish to follow
in their footsteps.
- The first night I sprung my
idea on the students it was a Monday evening.
- Much to my surprise with
the exception of the Dan ranks, those students that got
up to speak not only kept their speeches as short as
possible, but they all seemed genuinely at a loss for
words when it came to explaining how Shotokan came to be
what it is today, or who was responsible for it's
- Since that first Monday
night things have changed quite a bit and the results I
am pleased to say have been very gratifying. Each Dan
rank and 1st kyu is now required to research their topic
in advance and the 1st kyu's must turn in a hand written
copy of their speech to me after class. The topics have
been varied, the research in many cases has been very
detailed, and the students themselves seem genuinely
pleased by their new knowledge.
- In the end we all have
benefited, myself included, and I am certain that each
student in the dojo now has a much greater appreciation
for just how fortunate we all are that the art of
Shotokan Karate ever left the shores of Japan in the
- The mind
like the body, requires a
workout in order to stay fit.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."