Goju and its many paths

When you start this martial journey, you do not know which path you will follow.

After rugby, I started in jistu (Japanese not Brazilian). I Liked it, I learnt the basics well (it gave me a solid foundation for karate) and I wanted to be a black belt, but it wasn’t the style or  the people for me. In a sense I failed, but it was the wrong path for me. No, thats wrong they were part of my path, I just had a different destination.

Goju ryu is the first thing I joined when I knew in a moment I had found my path. I can’t explain why but I was dedicated to it from the moment I walked into the dojo.

It has helped me gain great friends, led me to train in China, to achieving shodan then the coverted black gi of the nidan via the 30 man kumite.
My path seems to have been set, but I have met many great martial artists on my path. Of all my inner group of those I graded with (near similar low grades) to where I am now, I am the only one that has remained. 

Does that make me a better martial artist? It’s a question worth thinking about, I know for some family, hobbies, work or life come first. I understand that, but karate came first to me. I sacrificed a lot to get where I am. I trained a lot, and although some were more skillful than me at the time, my perseverance and dedication helped me to get to where I am.

One of my friends, trains in another country. Our style and ethos are his, and he has had a variety of experiences. He was always the joker in the class, and I became friends with him from the moment we first sparred. He always says how much he misses our style, our way. His work always came first. He has trained in three or four different countries, a bit of muay thai but mostly different styles of karate. This variety surely gives him a more open view on what karate is but should be.

I have another friend who was a nidan in another style of karate, joined us and started in the low grades. Alot of the ways my personal karate evolved was training with him outside of karate, experimenting and me being the higher grade (only in our style) enabled me to blend what I learnt in China, to what we do in karate.

Sadly he gave up karate, focused more on other creative outlets. He seems far happier, and yet goju is his personal philosophy. It defines who is, how he approaches life and lifes problems. The way he sees life is by the balance of go and ju. It astonished me that every chat, or problem we discussed, he related to goju and how the way of goju helps you deal with life.

My next friend was my first friend in karate, we had opposite styles of fighting, but we were both very creative in how we would approach karate, bunkai. We would fight each other extremely hard, full contact, scared but because we trusted each other that we had no intention of hurting the other, of knowing when to lay off if it got too bad. We could constantly push the boundaries.

When we drank, we would discuss life, interests but we would often bump heads when it came to karate. We respected each other so much that we would often argue our own ways on karate. It helped us to grow because we would challenge each other’s concepts. 

People often wondered why he seem to do so little in sessions, but would do so well in gradings. If they knew what I knew, that he was obsessed with karate (probably more than anyone I know), it was part of his every day life. To him doing something whilst pouring coffee, to how he walks, how he thinks. He sends himself to sleep thinking or kata and bunkai. Always self experimenting. Sure there are dangers to that, you do need to have a guide. He has dabbled in krav maga to further aid his understanding of karate.

All three men are like brothers to me, I trained with them as a kyu grade up to I got my shodan. It feels strange that I have stayed upon this path,  that they have gone on different paths. They could of reached the same path that I have walked, if they chosen to do so. They are equally obsessed with the path that is goju, I still consider them as equals.

We are all walking on a different path, one is exploring other karate styles, one karate is his philosophy on life, the other karate is his way of life, and I am still walking this path, focused on my goal. Yet all four of us are still Goju brothers, it still influences our lives.

The way of the martial artist isn’t set in stone. The way of Goju can lead us on to many different paths. When we get together, It’s like time hasn’t changed, we are still the same young men with the same passions, that main passion has helped each of us define who we are.

All four of us are walking the path of the Goju.

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Which do you choose?

To be or not to be,
That is not the question,
To love or to hate,
Now that’s the real world question,
That question is powerful,
It starts wars,
Gives birth to children,
Causes pain,
Brings forth,  forgiveness,
Which to you is more powerful,
To cause harm,
Or to risk your life for another

LLife is like…..

They often say that life is like tumbling down the rabbit hole,

With its twist and turns,

You don’t know where you are going,

It can be dark and scary and lonesome,

If you let it,

Rather than perceiving it as the rabbit hole,

colstraphoic and painful,

It is not like the rabbit hole,

It is more like a roller coaster,

It can be dark scary and full of madness,

But that is what helps it give us excitement,

The thrill of living,

There are ups and downs,

We all prefer the ups,

The downs help to define us ,

Of who we could become,

I believe if you let it life will keep you down,

Just like Rocky in the films,

If you believe in yourself and push onwards,

You can rise above it,

And surf the clouds,

Looking down upon the world,

With the power of hope

Philosophy- my way of the world

After years in the darkness,

of feeling rejected by you,

But I could never turn towards,

Science for its arrogance that its always right,

Or to Religion which thinks  that nothing is closer to the truth,

And of haven’t to go through my struggles and lessons of life,

I can now consider myself a Man of your stature again,

At your heart you don’t always believe you are right,

You believe in the search of truth,

Not of what others think the truth should be,

Your way of thinking,

Created Science and religion and psychiatry,

Science was once known as Natural philsophy,

And even though I thought i failed you,

And turn my back on your teachings,

I now realise that the true strength of you,

Is not in the end,

But in the Journey itself,

And While I have no great ego,

In thinking I will be the best,

I now know that you will guide me to find my way,

Like  everyone else who walks upon your path,

The truth of your power,

Lies in the fact that I can not claim to know anything,

Which means I will no longer be blinded,

By my once self-righteous arrogance,

I am now ready to learn

To walk the path,

Of a philosopher

The power of truth, the journey within us all.

The mind is boggled with thoughts of desperations and hope,

I will need to find a way to shine my light upon the world,

Even in its darkest abyss, the abyss that is coming to consume us all,

But where the abyss brings darkness and fear,

It also brings in hope, the abyss maybe the destroyer of worlds,

But it is also the bringer of life,

That we can’t comprehend its entirety means nothing to structure and order of the cosmos,

But in trying to understand it,

We can learn from it,

The search for the truth should be our ultimate goal, but what is truth,

One man’s truth is another man’s falsehood,

Never blindly trust but also never stubbornly become a cynic,

It’s like Taoism with yin and yang,

You need the balance of both to find your way,

So what if there are many truths,

For life is like the many layers of an onion,

Or the many rings that define the age of a tree,

Follow the path of your way,

Not someone else’s way,

Deep inside you is the spirit that with gives the smallest but greatest light into the abyss that comes for us all