All day I think about the eggshell. I think about how easily perfection cracks when it is only for its own sake. I think about my nature as a person, the ways I learn best, and the limits of those ways. I take note of how proud I felt after the first class—when the concepts presented were minimal and I was able to grasp them on the spot—versus how I felt after the second class—when the concepts were too many, too fast. I try to take all of this in as a teaching. It is a reminder to widen my perspective, to achieve more than a tangible goal that is dangled in front of me, to instead understand the whole of something before staking an emotional claim in it.
Modern karate training is divided into three aspects: kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms, and kunite (sparing). In Shuri-ryu there are fifteen katas, and Hanshi says the forms tell a story. They are the protein inside the egg, they contain multitudes, they allow for dialogue.
The few katas I’ve seen actually look like a story is being performed right before your eyes when demonstrated by a yudansha karateka. They are elegant and demanding, graceful and powerful.
The few times I’ve seen kunite, it was comprised of a series of agreed upon moves that each partner knew and could anticipate. The goal was to practice basic movements, not to surprise or injure. There is, however, an element of spontaneity in kunite, I assume, where one karateka can improvise much like a jazz musician, bouncing off of the previous moves of a fellow karateka whom he/she spars with.
If I can get to this stage, I think there will be great learning potential for me. If I can flow with the structures that I know, how unlike writing fiction, for example, would that be? How unlike being able to bend in a moment of intensity? How unlike stretching my imagination a little further, say, to try and better understand my friends’ lives and predicaments? Not so different, I would venture to guess.
Suddenly, what seemed purely for myself, has the potential to open up into more. To help me become a stronger person, more open-minded, more able to focus and see clearly a multitude of possibilities that lay before me.
Sound like projections? Think again. There is some kind of magic in this dojo, and Hanshi speaks a language I am eager to understand even further.