EDITORIAL By John Cheetham.
This edition of SKM features Swedish karateka Maria Anette Pavlovic 5th Dan Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu. Maria is 100% a follower and devotee of the late Taiji Kase sensei and is dedicated to his way. As a practising psychologist for 20 years Maria has a fascinating take on karate-do. Maria says, “I only teach adults, no kids, which everyone told me was impossible.”
It’s quite a coincidence that we chose this Front Cover photo of Maria when we have an article in this edition dealing with the profound meaning of ‘YOI’. Maria Pavlovic’s yoi epitomises the feeling and seriousness of the posture. As Wolf Herbert describes in his article: “Yoi should be the bodily expression of utter attentiveness.”
We have a second interview in this edition with Norwegian karateka Christian Oygarden 4th Dan HDKI, a free spirit with many other Martial Arts influences outside of his practice of Shotokan karate. Here’s an interesting line from Christian: “If you want to become good at Karate then you should study Karate, but surely to excel at teaching Karate you should study teaching? At least get a basic understanding of pedagogy.”
I wanted to use both interviews in this same issue to point out how diverse the Shotokan family actually is, yet with an underlying sense of oneness running through each of the different stories by two experienced Shotokan karateka.
Paul Dowell’s article is quite intriguing because years ago, students would never have asked, “But Why?”, we just did as we were told. There was no democracy in the dojo in the early days. In fact there was an element of fear, which I don’t think exists today. Can you imagine asking Enoeda sensei, “But Why?” in the 1970s? Things have changed and for the better, I feel.
It’s quite normal to change or alter techniques or movements in your karate as you move through the various Shu Ha Ri stages. However, I can’t see the point of changes in Kata. Nowadays, after 50 years of training, I’d only alter a technique or movement permanently in Kata if it helped with a chronic injury and made for a more natural feel. I don’t see the need for some minute alteration in a Kata being of vital importance after many years of training, unless you found it physically beneficial.
I’ve said this before, but for me, all we Traditional karateka are left with, in the final analysis, in the end, are the Kata.
To quote Sensei Peter Urban from his superb book, ‘The Karate Dojo’......
“The kata are the essence of karate; without them karate would be the mere learning of various fighting and self-defence techniques, expressing nothing and allowing for no aesthetic development. Kata are the distilled, concentrated wisdom, understanding and experience of hundreds of great karate masters, translated into a language of rhythmical movement, breathing and peak awareness. When one begins to understand them, one glimpses a new world to untold internal riches. The primary meaning of the kata is the performer, to immerse themselves in the kata and so release their emotions, or life force.”
Good Health, Good Training, Editor.