I was bored and began browsing some books in my Kindle while at work; mainly looking for study guides for an upcoming exam, but soon decided to search "Karate" to see what came up.
That lead to this article, which may not be pretty and may very well offend a lot of people out there.
I love Karate and have tremendous respect for my Teachers, even after all these years, as jaded as I have been with certain aspects of the whole thing, I still love it.
That being said I would like to talk about the side of things that often gets overlooked in all the romanticization and infatuation.
I have been fortunate in my Practice to have learned from the people I have, however long or brief a period with each, especially my Teachers, Michael Dascenzo Sensei and Charles Sensei.
I trained hard, learned much, and trained more, but not for the sole purpose of "getting somewhere" or "gaining something" and Dascenzo Sensei would often lament the Politics and Business of Budo.
Todd Sensei was never about talking, Politics, or Business, lamenting or otherwise, he just loved to train and the rest never entered the equation.
These things have caused rifts between Teachers and Students for a very long time and will continue to do so for a long time to come, save for those few, like Todd Sensei, who could care less because they love what they do so much that the training is all that matters.
One day that may not be the case, but who knows?
I have a sinking suspicion that the reason my Teacher retired from Teaching at such a young age has, at least in part, to do with the Politics, views, and Prejudices of some within the Organization that had some influence on the way of things, but that is only part of it and is his business.
I write this because I took notice of the overall price range of books on Martial Arts, Zen, and assorted related topics, taken with the prices of Dojo Tuition, Testing Fees, the cost of professionally crafted equipment, and Organizational dues.
Martial Arts is Big Business, nothing wrong with that considering how the world works, but some are more costly than others and people are always aiming to be the top dog, whether they deserve it or not, so they try to get in with the person at the top and prevent others outside their clique from doing the same.
Some promotions have very little to do with skill and some Seniors in the hierarchy have spent more money, with very little blood and sweat in the mix, to get where they are and they are more interested in position and influence than training.
Unfortunately these types tend to be the majority in most groups, although not always, and some Sensei have been able to strike a balance with little sacrifice to their integrity.
This is not only true of Martial Organizations, but every Institutionalized Group on the planet; ever notice the cost for a Spiritual Retreat? Whether it be Buddhist or otherwise, they tend to target a certain demographic for monetary gain and even within these one will find the same sort of hierarchical structure with the same type of people seeking to boost their own egos.
Often people break away for whatever reason and some of these breakaway groups turn toward an almost cult-like worship of their founder, even and especially within the Martial Arts.
Self promotion and self aggrandizement are often the norm.
The bottom line is never missed, with many living like Kings and Queens from their gains.
There is nothing wrong with this so long as one is honest about it and practices true to their teaching, with respect to their Teachers.
There is often too much bickering back and forth, like barking dogs through a fence, and it calls into question the actual value of what is being taught as it is supposed to produce better individuals.
Maybe not the Teaching, but the Teacher. If they cannot practice what they preach, should they be preaching? If they could not get where they are by following their own principles then why are they asking it of others?
It is a fact of life, I suppose, and one can take heart in the fact that there are sincere people out there from whom you can learn, their training and attitude speak for themselves.
Having written all this I must say that I mean no disrespect to anyone and I understand that this is the world we live in, at present anyway.
I am a member of an Organization, because I respect my roots and they are my family, but I train to train, it has nothing to do with which patch I wear.
I am friends with, and train with some very sincere people here as well, they just happen to be members of a different Organization, but Karate is Karate.
My Sensei has been like a Father figure to me, his lessons constantly guide me, every day.
Todd Sensei is like an older Brother, and I take his example to heart.
Roseberry Shihan is like a Grandfather, who always provides deep insight without speaking a word, even in his sneaky attempts to get doughnuts when he knows he can't have them.
Kris Wilder is like an Uncle, Gene Villa and his crew are like cousins, all very good people... Politics and Business can never destroy that.