You have all probably noticed what seems to be a change in direction in our dojo. In other words, we were an aikido dojo and now it looks like we are a karate dojo. Perhaps you've even said to yourselves, "This is not what I signed up for" and question your continued participation. I am certain that you have all experienced a certain level of frustration in what appears to be a change in the very essence of what you have spent so much of your time learning. After all, "the art of peace" seems far more appealing in many ways that "the art of combat" in that we learn how to control others by first controlling ourselves. Well friends, the fact is that a strong warrior learns that combat is futile. We train hard for a confrontation we hope to never have. Any strong combat art can be considered an art of peace with the right frame of mind.
I would offer the concept of "course correction" rather than seeing ourselves as going 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Throughout my martial arts training, I have made several major course corrections. As I've told you, my training changed immeasurably after living in Japan and finding aikido. Before that experience, I would classify myself as a pre mma fighter (before mma was a thing), much more interested in sport and working out than the concept of training mind, body and spirit. My first hand experience with Japanese Budo forced me to think differently and eventually make a course correction. If you stay in this game long enough, you'll see and meet people who do this all the time and others who stick to their guns and traditions. Neither way is necessarily right or wrong; we all must find a path of growth that suits our individual needs.
So why the seemingly recent inclusion of karate technique and principle? I say "seemingly" because you have actually been taught many of these principles from day one; I just didnt' bother to tell you. For example, I did not really understand the concept of irimi (entering) nage omote (forward) for the first few years of my aikido training until I looked at it from a karate prospective. Furthermore, I would never have understood the technique of "slipping" a punch unless I had studied boxing. "Yes, but what about all the emphasis on kumite, kata and kihon" you ask...maybe you ask, I don't know.
You all place your faith in me to teach you something honestly and authentically. If you didn't, you certainly would not come to some old man's garage dojo. This is something I take on with great humility, hence I want to look at myself in the mirror after each class and know I gave you 100% of myself...as you know by now, I expect the same from each of you. That is why it is called, "dojo." Because I respect your decision to train here, I have slowly introduced a course correction over the past year that will guide our training to what I feel is a more realistic and holistic path. I say "holistic" because karate training is something one can do anywhere, any time. It can be as hard as you want it to be. You could literally do no other workout and gain every physical, mental and spiritual benefit you need from karate alone. It has been the mainstay of my training throughout my life. It sustained me when I was alone and had no students or dojo to go to. It is my practice each morning; it has helped me (along with these cherished friendships) get through the most difficult period of my life. How could I not share that with you?
So, are we throwing everything else out? Absolutely not. I firmly believe (having studied both intently) aikido is mechanically superior to jujutsu in terms of entering, throwing and joint locks. Nothing you've learned up to this point will be set aside...you still have to know everything. I've just taken something that you only needed a bachelors degree to complete and made it a doctrinal program. Does this nullify your rank (those of you who have been with me the longest)? Absolutely not. You earned what you have. I am merely placing the same requirements on you that I placed on myself; to keep learning, keep pushing the envelope...to never allow yourself to get comfortable.
That means learning new skills before you have mastered others. That may seem counterintuitive and even un-budo like, but it is merely a teaching methodology. I've had some teachers who would only show me one kata and expect me to master it before I leaned the next. Others showed me more as soon as I had the basic principle down. I prefer the latter. You all know this. Think of how many throws you learned in one year of consistent training. Some teachers, for example may not bother to show you and advanced throw or technique until you are completely able to do ukemi...If I waited until everybody's ukemi was perfect before I showed you throws, we'd still be doing tai sabakki and mat work all the time. You learn a lot from falling wrong, from not being able to do something for a long time. You learn a lot from pain, embarrassment and frustration. This is what budo is all about.
So, are we now a karate dojo? Yes. Are we still an aikido dojo? Yes. Are we a jujutsu dojo? Absolutely. We are all these things and none in particular. We are a budo dojo. I teach you the notes and scales...you make your own music. Will your future tests be harder and more complex? Yep. Good for ya. You have to master the notes and scales before you write your own songs.
Keep training, keep reaching. Push yourself and do not settle. What you learn here applies to life. This is Jissen..this is budo.