My thoughts, opinions and experiences in Karate
Tomorrow I will make the long journey to Tokyo once again. I am fortunate to have been there many times before, and I hope to get to go there many times again.
The trip this week will be for the SKIF International Seminar. These are large events with many attendees from around the world. There will be probably 300 – 400 students on the seminar.
There is a different feeling at these events than when I go at different times of the year to train at the Honbu Dojo. At those times it is possible to get more individual instruction and possibly spend more time with the instructors outside of class. Japanese hospitality is legendary, and it is common for visitors to be taken for dinner or maybe even for some sightseeing.
At the international seminar, with so many people training together, individual instruction is not so easy. Even training at the Honbu Dojo before and after the seminar itself tends to be somewhat crowded with foreigners, and I am sure that the locals must be slightly relieved when we finally return home and give them their dojo back.
Many people question the value of training in large seminars like this. With no chance of individual tuition, karate for the masses can feel a bit like a cattle market. For the instructors, they have to give a class that can be easily followed by all – even those at the back who can hardly see or hear what is going on.
So what is the value of this International Seminar (or any large seminar)? Why am I making the effort to go to Japan?
Well, firstly, I love Japan. Even if I couldn’t do karate I would still love visiting Japan. It is a beautiful country with an amazing culture and history.
And of course I will get benefit from training with the Japanese instructors on the seminar and at the Honbu dojo. They always humble me and inspire me whenever I train with them, whether in a small class or a large seminar.
Mostly I go to the International Seminar for the international aspect. I get to meet so many of my friends from all around the world. It would be impossible for me to meet up with them all if I had to visit them individually. It is a great opportunity to make and maintain friendships.
Many of the most senior karateka in SKIF around the world attend the International Seminar. Maybe not every year, but they all try to get to it sometimes. And I get to line up alongside them and train with them. Most of them are far better and more experienced than me, so I get to push myself and test myself against them. I am forced to train hard beside them. They, like the instructors, make me a better karateka.
I can’t wait to see them all.