Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quality remains true

I've learned a very important lesson this week. Earlier this year, I was leaving my home dressed in my gi, and a gentleman just happen to be walking up my front walk to deliver some flyers. He smiled at my outfit, and asked casually "Which art?" After I answered, he said "Oh yes.. I did martial arts in my youth... oh but that was ages ago.. a good 30 years ago.. but I still remember how to do a side kick.." He went into a lovely horse stance, and delivered a beautiful true side kick. His body flowed with the kick.. and you could see that there was so much skill in him. We shared a few seconds of mutual appreciation of how powerful a side kick can be during sparring when unexpected. We then parted ways. I've never met the gentleman again, but I will always remember him.

I remember one day when I was training at the dojo, I looked more closely at one of the recent additions to our club. He was a Shodan from another country who had JUST joined us. He admitted to me that he has not trained for a good 20 years, and that these were his first classes since then. I had not been able to witness him doing kata before because I was training, and usually too busy with my own performance. However, these were the moments before class when students were warming up. The new Shodan was doing Heian Shodan (Pinan sono ichi).. and I watched him with admiring eyes. What quality! His body did the basics with smoothness, and familiarity. At the end of the kata, I admitted sheepishly to him that I was watching him closely not because I wanted to correct him, but more because I would like to imitate the quality of his movements. I was rewarded with a big smile, and he explained that when he was young and trained in karate, most of his training was basics. The basics training has stayed with him. Making a Gedan berai is as natural as picking up a pencil and writing his name. I learned from this experience.

Quality remains true.. When you train in basics, those mindless repetitious tsuki, geri, and uke.. you are building the important part of your art. In fact, Kihon becomes MORE important than all the other aspects of training.. it is what stays with you. Isn't it ironic though? Because most of the students that I've met really dislike the "boring" part of doing the Kihon Geiko, and Ido geiko. If they knew how important it was to creating a quality karate-ka out of them perhaps they would appreciate that aspect of training more. No.. I guess not.. my kids do not like vegtables no matter how much you explain to them how healthier it is to eat them.


[Mat] said...


I love the ending.

When you have the basics right, everything else just flows. You hear gyaku-tsuki, you don't think, you just do it.

Hey, ever heard that one? Just do it.

Even if I hate the way that company is built, their "slogan" remains true to everyone who ever commited to any activity.

I would have loved to see that karate-ka renew with the arts. It's always something great to see one come back to them. Because usually if they come back, they're there to stay.


And truly, what better thing to remember than the basics? Do you want to remember how to perform this or that kata is you truly had to stop or how to punch, block, kick, take-down?

You know I love kata. That's not my point. Kata are built on basics and open up to something else. That's precisely what I like about them.

Does the latter gentleman still practice?


Veeresh said...

Good lesson, Put things in a new perspective. thanks for sharing it

supergroup7 said...

Well.. he's on vacation this summer, Mat. Alot of our dojo students are not training in the summer.

supergroup7 said...

Welcome to my blog, Veeresh. Thank you for your comment.

I visited your home page. It is very entertaining. You have a very endearing picture on the page of yourself as a child. CUTE! Button cute!

I tried to read what your thoughts were about vegetarianism.. but it looks like you are still working on that page. I encourage you to continue the progress. Well done so far.. only a few little spelling bumps.. but not big ones.