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A Master’s Tale

Several years ago, Rumiko and I were invited as special guests to a showcase of Japanese karate instructors. These were the men who brought karate to the USA in the 1960s when I was just dreaming about studying the martial arts. All were in their late 60s and 70s.

The senior master instructors performed their kata on stage one after another. Impressive to see decades of expertise in action.

Then they had the finals from the karate competition held earlier in the day. These were their students’ students, in their 20s and 30s.

Wow. Eye opening. These people performed the same kata as their masters, only with explosive power and crisp precision. A little awkward to say, but truth told, they looked better than their seniors. When it comes to karate, age inevitably robs even the masters of their power and performance?

How relieved and happy I am to practice a martial art where age and experience adds to the practitioner’s skill, and does not detract. The longer we practice, the more we are attuned to the subtle aspects of timing, positioning, angling (in 3 dimensions), and being in step with the attacker’s intentions.

In To-Shin Do, there is a real difference between a 2nd Degree and a 5th Degree. We actually get better as the years go by. Sure, a 2nd Degree is skilled and amazing to watch. But a 5th Degree has another whole realm of skill. All those years contribute to more precision and a relaxed yet explosive power and a direct movement capability that fits in just right to the attacker’s confusion.

There are gifts that every martial art has to offer. No doubt about it. I am just saying that “pushing 70”, I am very happy that our martial art bestows the gift of increasing effectiveness as the years go by.

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