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News About My Death...


(This article is a synopsis of a more extensive work to be presented at SIM 24/26-Oct-03)

 Adaptation of Message posted by José Patrão to 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shotokai/
 

1 - Relationship Amongst Shotokai Groups

About bad relationship amongst European Shotokai groups, namely between Murakami-kai ones, I dare to quote Mark Twain: "The report of my death was an exaggeration".

I think many persons outside Murakami-kai may be unaware of the excellent relationship between Associação Shotokai de Portugal (ASP) and Scuola Shotokai Italia (SSI), Mushinkai (M.Luís de Carvalho), or IKDS (M.Vecchiet), just to name a few.

In terms of Murakami-kai Portugal many people may be also unaware that, since Murakami Sensei death in 1987, ASP maintained its cohesion and spirit of brotherhood. Nobody left this Association and we worked together both in Technical and Administrative aspects as a group. Instead of a Technical Leader we have a group named "Kodansha" composed of more than 20 persons each one having more than 25 years of practice and it this collective being who decides, in a democratic way, the guidelines of the all association for a three years period. The founders of Murakami-kai in Portugal, 34 years ago, are still inside this group giving their advice to younger members. Our Master continues to be Murakami Sensei. The charge of Technical Coordinator - occupied by myself for the moment - was occupied by another person in the past and it will be occupied by other person in the next future.

With this words I don't want to say, by no means, that we are better than others. Quite the contrary: every time I visited other Murakami-kai organisations in Europe and practiced with them I admired their superior technical expertise and organisational capacity.

Speaking about "intercontinental relationship" between Shotokai groups, I can assure you all that ASP and Shotokai Karate Budo, for instance, share exactly the same philosophy and spirit of practice, despite we never had the same master and practiced together only a few hours. And if it is certain that ASP has a direct relation (intermediated by no Japanese Master) with Nihon Karate-do Shotokai it is also certain that we maintain perhaps an even better understanding (in terms of work inside dojo) with persons that were direct pupils of Egami Sensei.

Now let me say that I agree with Mr. Schneider that relationship between French Murakami-kai groups is not a good example to follow (by the way, relationship between Japanese Shotokai groups is not perfect also). But I tend to have the recalcitrant mania to follow good examples. So I prefer not to classify the all forest as ill just looking to one or two incompatible species of trees.

Just take a look at annual number of hits at "shotokai.com" compared with the same number on any other sportive Karate organisation around the world… I am aware that hits on a Web page may not necessarily represent an indicator of quality. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that in this case karate and budo practitioners around the world look at "shotokai.com" as an excellent site for guidance and reference in terms of Budo, Karate-do and Shotokai.

2 - Importance and Role of Shotokai Organisations

You may classify me as an incurable optimist, but I have the personal conviction that Shotokai organisations have a growing importance in the general Karate-do panorama.

Even if people tend to embrace competition (in Karate, or in their professional career) during a specific period of their lifes, as time goes by they generally tend to look at others in a more interdependent way. As people mature, they tend to look at non-competitive Budo arts in a different manner, appreciating reflection and inner growth more than winning others.

In this process people may also look at their children and realize that they have enough competition in their lives, both in school and in gymnasium, and eventually may decide to put their sons and daughters in a Karate-do Shotokai class. In Almada - my hometown - for instance, there are much more children practicing Shotokai (around 200 children) than any other competitive style of Martial Arts. And if we don't have more dojo open that is simply because we rely on good preparation of instructors and we simply don't have enough people for the needs.
Nowadays sportive competition has its own secure place in our lives (and television share certainly shows that) but non-competitive Budo Arts, like Shotokai, have reached his own niche too.

And I am convinced that a growing number of persons around the world (at least in the countries where the flow of information is not limited or censored) tend to embrace the non-violent philosophy that is inherent to our practice.

With this I don't mean that Shotokai organisations doesn't need enhancement.

But how can we develop them?

3 - Some diagnose

In this moment I dare try beginning to diagnose the illness of Shotokai organisations (at least European ones) and propose some therapeutic actions. Others more qualified than myself will certainly improve (or simply discard) this first approach.

I think that in the past (from the 70's, through the 80's and still in the 90's) European Shotokai Groups were strong, independently, because they relied on the guidance of strong Japanese leaders: Murakami Sensei, Harada Sensei, Hiruma Sensei are the main names.

However, with the death of Murakami Sensei and as the other two Masters advanced in age, a crisis occurred.

My personal belief is that this crisis came from a *wrong paradigm* that can be found everywhere around Europe:
- Some European Seniors who were once direct pupils of these masters (or even direct pupils or Egami Sensei) want to have a position of leadership similar (if not equivalent) to their charismatic Masters.

To simplify, I think these persons said:
- I am the Master now! Follow me!

Former trials to make an European Shotokai group failed not because of lack of outstanding skilled technicians, but just because people kept on saying:
- I am the Master now! Follow me!

Sometimes this attitude was camouflaged by a false group hymn that sounded like this:
- We are the best! Follow us!

Implied in these words lies the feeling that the Master is dead, or is no longer competent, and other fellow leaders are much less competent than themselves. So they were obliged (!?) to take the leadership.

To be frank I kept hearing this song for years and it simply didn't touch my heart.

If the old three-party leadership caused (directly or indirectly) the appearance of three fanatical sects within Shotokai, I think the subsequent attitude will cause an even worse fragmentation. In three of four decades it may even cause the death of Shotokai (or as many prefer to say: Karate-do philosophy as developed by Egami Sensei) at least in Europe.

I am aware that initiatives like IKDS, Mushinkai and AKSER have a good spirit of cooperation and international teamwork behind them. I think that's the main reason why they attain a certain degree of success.

But each one still fails to communicate with the others…

4 - Some therapeutic proposals

What to do, then? Refuse leadership?

Perhaps what we need is exactly the contrary. Perhaps we need to respect leadership of each group and be tolerant to differences.

Why don't we look at technical differences between Shotokai groups just as ecologists look at biodiversity?

Why don't we try to practice that kind of flexibility of mind that Egami Sensei preached and practiced? Look at Masters like Aoki, Miyamoto, Harada, Murakami, Hiruma. They all drank at the same source - Egami - but everyone flourished rather differently.

Is it bad?

Well, if we look at Shotokai as another style of Karate, another "ryu", which must be uniformed and compiled, differences sound terribly.

But if we look at Shotokai as a practical philosophy (strongly rooted in Karate Okinawan sources and also in Budo), then we must not be afraid of the kind of experiences made by Hiroyuki Aoki (Shintaido) or Yves Thélen (Aiki-karate-do) just to name perhaps the more extremists.

I'm convinced that, with the course of time differences between wheat and grass will became apparent. Some experiences will fructify, others will not.

Agricultural practices of the last century relied on monoculture. The result was almost catastrophic in some parts of the world where deserts now take the place of millenary forests. In my opinion "monoculture" will create desert in Shotokai too.

In practical terms let me give an image to clarify the old and the new paradigms:
- Pyramids and Life.

Pyramids are indeed a first-rate achievement. Throughout millenniums they persist as beautiful symbols of the past. But look again and ask yourself if each one of them isn't also a symbol of immutability and death?...

Life, however, in its diversity and interdependence, is even a bigger achievement. It existed before pyramids and, if humans with their egoism will not destroy it, will survive long after pyramids fall in ruins, absorbed by desert sand. Life evolves constantly, continuously adapting itself to changes in environment.

So, let Shotokai flourish as a living network, not like a pyramid standing in the desert in the memory of a death king.

That's why I adhered categorically to Shotokai Info Database project. That's why I proposed that we meet in Portugal next month of October.

We urgently need to agree on what is our immutable core of values. Keeping this "tanden" stable we can then appreciate variety and diversity, in order to stimulate progress.

 

José Patrão

 Texto/Text: © Copyright, José Patrão, 2003

 

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Up ] Karate-do como Defensa ] Karate-do como Auto-defesa? ] Karate-do: hit and avoid being hit? ] News About my Death... ] Notícias acerca da minha morte... ] Noticias acerca de mi muerte ] Institutionalisation and Competition in Shotokai ] Institucionalização e Competição em Shotokai ] Institucionalización  y Competición  en Shotokai ] Ensino de Karate-do Shotokai a Crianças ] Enseñando karate-do shotokai a los niños ] Teaching Karate-do Shotokai to Children ] L'insegnamento del Karate-do Shotokai ai bambini ] Vitória sem Luta ] Victory Without Fighting ] Vencer Sin Enfrentamiento ] Shotokai Karate Budo's Enciclopedias Online ] Shotokai Karate Budo’s Online Enciclopedias ] Le Enciclopedie Online dello Shotokai Karate Budo ] Diversidade Técnica e Valores Comuns ] Technical diversity and common values ] Differenze tecniche e valori comuni ] A prática Shotokai é Multiforme ] La practique Shotokai est Multiforme ] Discurso do Presidente da ASP ] Karatecas de todo o Mundo ] SIM-Objectives,Logo and Program ] SIM - Inscr. ] SIM-Questions&Answers ] SIM-particip ] SIM-Conclus ]


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