Why have we kept a loyal focus on traditional Okinawan karate? What is this style that we value so highly? Many people dabble in multiple styles, pulling what they like from each. How does our style provide what we want and need from our training time? How is it unique? Here are the reasons that we keep choosing our style.
Traditional Okinawan Karate is Family Friendly
Traditional Okinawan karate promotes a disciplined environment with proper etiquette. Yet the culture it comes from highly respects and loves children and the elderly. The whole family is nurtured and encouraged to be a part of the world together. That includes the martial arts world.
Respect of Human Beings
A Ryukyu Kempo phrase is, “Human beings first, martial artists second.” Many martial artists get caught up in their rank and the fact that they are part of the tradition. Their heads get stuck in karate and their training. They can forget that the training and the tradition only exists because of the people. We must first treat each other as fellow humans who have similar hopes, dreams, fears and traumas. That includes people who do not train. Then we can focus on the fact that we are martial artists and use those skills to help all people.
A good traditional Okinawan karate dojo will preserve the traditional values that came to us with karate. They were spelled out by Shungo Sakugawa, the first teacher in Okinawa to open up a dojo to members of his wider community. Sakugawa Sensei emphasized the importance of practitioners improving their moral character, honesty, long-term daily persistence, respect and self control. He did so with the Dojo Kun, a creed or oath for students to learn and use every day.
Traditional Okinawan Karate Promotes a Healthy Holistic Lifestyle
Elders in Okinawa keep training in karate through to their centenarian years. Part of the reason they can is that the style is not extreme. It is something that people can do for a lifetime without breaking their bodies. All good teachers want to preserve the practitioners’ health and do not promote unnecessary risk. Additionally, in Ryukyu Kempo, we promote natural body motion. Focusing on that helps to prevent and mitigate injuries while we move in our active and dynamic art.
Life Protection that Works
In its early development, traditional Okinawan karate was strictly a way to protect one’s self and one’s family, as well as the community. Good traditional schools preserve that tradition so that modern practitioners are well able to do the same. We work with common sense and core principles to build habits for life protection. That is the core of our style, and we carry on this tradition which is its reason for existing.
The Ryukyu culture has given so much to the world through karate. It has prevented problems before they started. People have been able to protect and preserve life and limb because of their training. Karate has allowed people an avenue of improving their physical fitness, respect and moral character. A good traditional Okinawan karate dojo preserves many good things from a culture that has developed and contributed karate to improve the world. These are just some of the reasons why I love our style and why I continue to train in it, teach it, and help promote it.