Reuniting Shotokai

Article written for Shotokai A. Coruña, Spain

Hello Martial Art friends of Spain,

We have been informed about an initiative of our friends of A Coruña Shotokai. Just as our very active friends of the Portuguese Shotokai Murakami-kai a project for an oriental culture and martial arts magazine is in development within your association. In Shotokai Karate-do we feel a very special appreciation and closeness to any initiative that has that type of goal because we have been working on such a project in Internet for a long time. I really hope your project sees the light of day and you can help to expand the presence of the real and profound values that Karate-do represents. A positive warning though, publishing a magazine is a project that requires a lot of cooperation from all within your group, you should not leave all the responsibility nor all the work in hands of a few or even worse in the hands of only one person, there is nothing more depressing or troubling than that.

Now that we have survived the sermons 🙂 I would like to talk a bit about our experiences online through our Shotokai Encyclopedia in Internet, so you can imagine what is in stall for you. The initial project started innocently September 1995. By the end of the first year, after constant growth we had already noticed that it was not a game. We had established many concrete and interesting contacts. By 1996-97 my visits to the Hombu Dojo to inform our teacher, Humberto Heyden sensei, about the e-mails and general information were not sporadic but more like once or twice a week. We would comment the letter received, the comments we received and a series of very good friendships arose, friendships that later on would become real contacts in the real world.

This was very important for us, considering the almost complete isolation we were subjected to in Chile, a very remote part of the world. Some contacts had direct or indirect contact with the teachings of Master Egami, this was a very nice surprise and also very important for us.

In a personal trip to Europe in 1997, I had the trip arranged so I would stop over in Madrid. This gave me the opportunity to visit two of the best contacts we had established over e-mail, Sensei Eloy Izquierdo of the Spanish Shotokai Association and Sensei Jose Patrão from the Portuguese Shotokai Murakami-kai. I felt very comfortable among these friends both in Spain and in Portugal, they all treated me very very well, actually I had never ever been treated so well! I immediately noticed that Shotokai is a great big family, when I’d talk to these new friends I felt a great closeness, as if we were long time friends or almost as if we were brothers, transcending the great distances, time and the different masters, even considering these differences we thought in the same general lines and confronted Karate-do with the same spirit and devotion.

These contacts have today turned into two visits of our teacher (with great personal expense) to Europe, once to a very important Shotokai Murakami-kai event commemorating the tenth anniversary of their Master Murakami’s death and recently a trip to Spain to visit Sensei Atsuo Hiruma and Sensei Eloy Izquierdo. This in turn resulted in the visit of Hiruma sensei for two weeks to Chile, an event of the highest importance for the group there.

I believe this is only the beginning of our final integration to the Shotokai world and what the future holds in store is beyond our imagination and will surely be very interesting. Our site now is far from innocent and its effects are far from superficial.

I would like to return to a point that I believe is very important, that Shotokai is a big family. I say this with a lot of conviction because I think this is a very clear and notorious truth within our groups. We follow a Karate-do that actually varies quite a bit from teacher to teacher, though this should not surprise us considering the fact that Master Shigeru Egami did the same thing with the Karate that he received from Masters Gichin and Gigo Funakoshi, Karate-do evolves. It evolves on the fundamental basis that Karate-do is only for defense, for protection and preservation of justice, to develop better and more complete human beings, without competition, without developing inflated egos and conceited people, among other objectives. But the technique varies, it is not static nor dogmatic. Actually it seems Master Egami trained in different ways in the different groups he guided in Japan, some included a lot of Aikido techniques influenced maybe by Master Inoue, high stances and very fluid movements, at other places the positions were very low, at others an intermediate stance, etc. This has ended in a Shotokai that presents a wide variety of technical directions. But this is secondary and the link transcends the technical aspect but many participants sadly forget this and time has helped to generate quite a bit of bitter separations within quite a few groups. If we consider this, there is no absolute truth within Shotokai, there are differences and we must accept them. In Shotokai we talk a great deal about flexibility and fluid movements without neither contraction nor tension. A friend comments that that type of practice may not be attainable if in your daily life and in human relationship you do not express the same characteristics.

As O-sensei would often say “All is vanity”, I believe that inspired in such wise words, it may be the right time to overcome vanity, the blinding ego and start the unification process, reunite little by little and generate an informal association, totally apolitical but that will permit the interchange of knowledge and information between all groups and help us all grow based upon the collective knowledge and the strength that grows out of the cooperation of groups with similar or equal objectives.

I have seen how some groups little by little fall into the hands of sports karate groups, this never ceases to surprise me, considering the overwhelming diverging points of view, that Shotokai groups get together with sports groups and not with other Shotokai groups is, to say the least, surprising! If this is happening, something is very very wrong somewhere.

I have the belief that Internet will help us revert this sad process and I would ask you all to contribute in the best way that you can to fulfill such a fabulous duty.

All those that learn Karate-do in Shotokai and in some way have been benefited by the practice are in debt, first with their teacher, then with the teacher’s teacher and so on and with Karate-do in general. It is your duty to pay this debt in any way you can (not money necessarily :-)) You will find the way to pay back and with a bit of imagination you will benefit Karate-do. Give your best and pout all your energy into your work in the future. Never forget either that you have friends all around the world that are waiting

to benefit from your efforts, I hope that will inspire you to give all you can and then some more. All the best from your Shotokai Karate-do friend in Mexico,

September 26, 1998