EDITORIAL By John Cheetham.
I had a very strange but most interesting thing said to me on a course recently. The point made was by a cub instructor, 2nd Dan, who has subscribed to the magazine since issue No.1.
He said, "John, I love S.K.M. and can't wait for each issue to come out. But sometimes I dread my students seeing some of the Technical articles where you have used Sensei's like OSAKA or KAGAWA as examples. I am often teaching the techniques quite differently and who am I to compare with OSAKA or KAGAWA? When they (my students) ask me, "why don't we do it that way, I don't have a good answer. In fact I'm embarrassed. What can I say to them?"
I didn't know whether to be flattered or insulted by his statement. I felt quite sad in a way. If you read something in a magazine or a book or whatever, or learn a technique on a course, which 'you' teach differently, then be open minded and just treat it as simply a 'DIFFERENT' method. You don't have to automatically change to doing it that way yourself. Unless you feel that you really want to. Or you are honest enough with yourself to admit that it is actually a much better way of performing and teaching a particular technique. Remember, as the saying goes, 'There's more than one way to skin a cat'. So, just don't worry about it and accept that there are different ways. You only have to look at all the different Martial Arts to see that. People forget that even in SHOTOKAN there are many different methods from one senior instructor to another or from one association to another. The Basic techniques and kata are very similar in Shotokan from one group to another, but still there are differences and this is probably a good thing and healthy for progress and development.
I personally think it's a good idea to try different ways. You then find out what suits you. However, if you are doing something drastically wrong and you know it, you would be a fool not to change.
Shotokan students are always saying things like, "Why does Frank Brennan use much lower stances than Sensei Kagawa. Or, "Why does Sensei Kanazawa do 'Jiin' kata different from Sensei Enoeda." Or why do Sensei Kase's students use Fudo dachi instead of zenkutsu dachi, etc. etc. The answer is always the same, 'because it's their WAY of doing it'.
If I could move like Kase or fight and kick like Frank Brennan or Kagawa, I'd be more than happy, as would everybody else reading this editorial. So just get on with enjoying your training and if you do it differently from someone else, well, so what! Don't worry about it. Even all the great Masters, KASE, ASAI, KANAZAWA, ENOEDA, SHIRAI, NISHIYAMA, etc.etc., all have their own 'DIFFERENT' ways and methods, technical approaches, individual preferences, and emphasis on certain points.
So, to that club instructor and any others I say, have an open-mind and admit there are many different ways and don't be scared to experiment and come to terms with the fact that there are different ways of performing and teaching the various techniques in Shotokan karate, as there are in all the various martial arts and don't be scared to even change things if necessary. Your students will respect you and appreciate you far more for your honesty and you will be doing them and yourself a big favour in the end.
I hope you enjoy this issue, there are certainly some varied articles. Mike Clarke's, 'Dark Side of the Force' may upset a few people but you have to be honest and agree that not all the great karate masters were, or still are, perfect gentlemen. Some of them have their faults just like you and me.
Good Training. Editor.