01 December, 2012

Learning from other styles

Been reading a couple of books I got for my birthday.  All about Masami Tsuruoka and his karate and budo practices.  These weren't books I had asked for, so I was surprised to find out about him and his style of karate.  Not only was he the first karateka in Canada, but despite our difference in styles there is a lineage link between myself and him.  Which has got me thinking about the different styles of karate and how just by changing forms an experienced karateka can change "styles".  As Funakoshi is known to have said, there should be no styles of karate.  They are all the same at heart, despite forms. (Heavily paraphrased).  This gives me some hope in my own study of forms from other styles, as well as in other arts altogether.

Anyways, unexpected information, ideas - they come from everywhere.  One should never reject something entirely as a new source of information.  Look with open eyes, try to understand, then take what you like and discard what you find not useful for now.  You can always come back, or find something else.  This is the path to making your own martial style.

This was brought to the forefront by an article from Karate By Jesse:

20 (More) Things About Karate You Ought To Know

The points the really resonated with me:

1. Follow the old masters, but never let your lineage, style or history be a excuse to stop learning new stuff. The past is a place of reference, not residence.
7. When you’re a brown belt, you believe only half of what your sensei tells you. When you’re a black belt, you know which half.
18. What other people think of your Karate is none of your business. A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.
 Those are just a few.  Really, the whole list was great and I can't recommend his site enough.  Some nice articles that really got me interested in exploring my art, and others, in different ways.

I appreciate the condensed wisdom of one or two lines that sum up a feeling, style, art, method or philosophy.  It gives me something to work backward from, and to dig into.  Sometimes the simplest things are those where you can find the most depth.


  1. Nice thoughts here! I've been contemplating those subtle style differences myself over the passed few weeks, and have enjoyed discovered the common threads that trace back to older times.

    Also thanks for sharing your favorite Jesse #'s, he is always interesting.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Ikigai. I enjoy digging into the history of the arts and finding those little links and connections. My yondan essay featured a section on history that I had been researching out of interest for weeks - the revelations were interesting and new to me.

      Above all, I strive to keep in mind that I shouldn't aim to repeat history and do what past masters have done, but to aim at the same goal they had. To discover their goal and thereby help define my own is part of the journey, I think.

      I agree, Jesse has some great tidbits. And his style is fun and has a flow to it.