|My sensei and me at the tomb of Miyagi Chojun|
Since that day, well over twenty years ago, I believe I have kept my promise. My current situation reflects my resolve to be true to my word. I have not, for example, put any energy at all into building a karate empire here in Australia. I very seldom accept invitations to teach people who are not connected to the Jundokan in some way, and have stopped accepting casual visitors; and, you would have more chance of finding one of Willie Wonker's golden tickets than receiving a Dan certificate issued by me. I'm not against promoting people, but I've never believed in the equation so many employ, that time spent in the dojo equals promotion.
I have to witness a students improvement first, in both technique and character, before I invite them to display their karate in a formal grading situation, and so far, less than a dozen have made shodan and of them, only three have gone on to sandan. I could care less about 'passing or failing' a student, my job is to encourage Shinseidokan karateka to gain as much insight into karate as they can....and certainly, to be better than I was at their stage. Encouragement was the gift I received from Miyazato sensei, and it's all I have to give to others. It's not a great business model, I know; but it keeps my karate simple and uncluttered by the politics that suffocates the experience so many have with karate.
|I'm still learning what my teacher taught me|
My promise to Miyazato sensei was to keep alive the spirit of karate that he exemplified; to pass on not only the physical techniques of karate, but the moral and ethical standards required of a karateka. Such things would have been less likely had I taken the familiar (and I think slightly lazy) route of turning 'professional'. The promise I made to my teacher would have been broken long ago had I allowed myself to become compromised by a dependency on students, and the cash they generate through memberships and mass-gradings. If I had put my energy into establishing 'Jundokan Australia' over twenty years ago, or given away Dan ranks to anyone able to stand without falling over and had a 'club' to add to my growing empire, I would no doubt have a little more money in the bank, but at what cost to my integrity.
Karate without morality, without ethics, and without decency, is just business: it's as simple and as ugly as that! Next year I will enter a new decade of life, my sixth; and with that transition will come changes to the way I engage with the karate world: I'm really looking forward to it....