We Americans are a restless sort, never satisfied with the status quo and always seeking new ideas, or minimally new approaches to improve existing practices. This temperament on surface appears to contradict the disciplinary focus of traditional martial arts training. Practitioners are expected to adhere to century old tenets of moral bearing, values, and training methods. Yet there is no conflict in this dichotomy. Ages ago, when Sensei Nishiyama embarked on his lifelong journey to introduce traditional karate to the American public, he sagely blended modern science biomechanics and kinesiology ideas to broaden its appeal. These elements did not dilute but rather strengthen training perspectives and further validate the guiding principles (dojo kun) of training. The confluence of new and old ideas have turned out to be life-enriching.

A long held concept of Japanese culture is “kaizen” (改善), or continuous improvement. Accordingly, practitioners of traditional martial arts engage in the “inner directed” process of introspection and/or seek outer challenges by engaging in randori/kumite. Kaizen has always been a standing expectation for Sensei Nishiyama’s students, regardless of ranks. Those who attended the last two AAKF National Seminars would have noticed a modification of the training curriculum with guest instructors who are experts in Jiujitsu (Atlanta, GA) and more recently, Okinawa Shorin Ryu karate (Sensei Ilene Smoger, Dallas, TX). The showcasing of different styles alongside with teachings from the AAKF Technical Committee Senseis provides insights to our members towards seeking common guiding principles of traditional martial arts, facilitating continuous improvement.

Alex Tong
Chief Instructor
Japan Karate Association at Univ of Texas, Dallas

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