A recent email from my former instructor prompted me to write this post. We discussed our how our training has progressed in brief. One of his sentence that got permanently lodged in my head was : Change is inevitable, bur growth is optional. Growth is optional. You might train so many years, but not actually get pass the first year training mentally. I have a few influences in my martial arts training ranging from silat, kenjutsu to karate. Let me dispel any doubt that may come to mind, that Vince Choo Sensei of the Kissaki Defensive Tactics Academy, has the biggest and most profound influence on my training and understanding of karate, and maybe still does.
Anyway, in his email he mentions that he no longer ‘trains’ in karate. At first this saddens me. Here is a man who has a great great impact on my understanding, if not others, on what is karate-do. He then continues , that the test of ‘jissen’ karate is not just in competitions, but in the function of the technique. And that can be found defined and proven in the boxing ring, judo and BJJ. I spent countless hours scouring the web for more reference on this ‘jissen’ concept. I’ve heard about it before, my former training mate in Kissaki-Kai has a website dedicated to it, but what is it really? For me before this, it was just one of those arcane Japanese concepts, you know, one word can mean the universe zen kind of concept. I read, and I read….. Slowly, I began to understand. I have held the belief that the style (Ryu) was secondary to what is functional. My good friend and senpai, Sensei Adrian, refers to karate clubs doing their own thing as ‘Cicak-Ryu’. Does it matter if you hold Xth Dan in Y Ryu, if at the end of the day you can’t stand your ground. Does karate kumite only mean spar in upright position only
Growth is optional. If you can’t get pass blind loyalty to a certain system without answering certain questions objectively, then your growth is stunted. My teacher, my sensei, has once again, tapped me on my forehead and made me question my growth in martial arts. Thank you sensei. I will continue to explore this concept in my training. Jissen literally means real fighting. Choki Motobu is held as a prime example of jissen karate. His hard style has influenced many, and is copied by many more. But the kumite competitions that we see nowadays, with the arrogance of the competitors celebrating their victory, rules that bind the true effect of kumite, and sadly, but not lastly, the politics that tarnish the true spirit of the Do. Jissen is the karate of necessity. It is not fancy. It is not pretty. But it works. How do we achieve it? Call me in 20 years, and I might have the answer…. Train hard, train true. Train with the heart… and not train with the next grading or medal in sight.