Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

June 29th, 2013

From Sensei Adam Dunsby, Shihan,Easton Connecticut Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate Club

“Kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshou no haji.”

For this week’s Thought please read Sensei Adam Dunsby's remarks given this month to the graduating 8th graders of the Helen Keller Middle School in Easton, CT. They demonstrate how relevant our traditions and philosophy can be to the general public, no matter what age. Domo arigato gozaimasu, Sensei Dunsby, for passing on the wisdom of Shorin-Ryu to the next generation. At the end of each class, Hanshi always asks the students, "Does anyone have any questions about what we did tonight or any karate questions at all?" Usually no one responds. Hanshi then offers, "I will be here for another 1/2 hour. If you have any questions I will answer them for you.” As instructors, we should all follow Hanshi’s example. As students, we should not hesitate to ask, especially since the question may help the instructor learn something new.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,

- Kyoshi Mackay

_______________________

Good evening graduates, parents, and guests.

I’d like to say a few words to you about questions and I’ll begin with a brief quote. I’d like all the graduates to remember it, because we’ll be coming back to it in just a minute. Ready? Okay. “Kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshou no haji.” Got that? Fantastic.

Most of you have never heard of Shoshin Nagamine but if you’ve ever done karate, or even watched a karate movie, you’ve felt his influence. Shoshin Nagamine was an Okinawan karate master born in 1907 who helped propagate traditional karate throughout the world. The word “traditional” here is important. Nagamine’s society was one of strict deference to authority and tradition. Instructions were received with a bow and not questioned. You may be familiar with the proverb “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” That’s Japanese, and it describes a guiding principle of Nagamine’s culture. Keep your head down, do what you’re told.

And yet, late in life, when Nagamine wrote the book that would preserve and pass on his teachings, his opus that would present to the world what he believed was most important, what did he put on the back cover? What did he want everyone to see? Well he put that quote that you’ve been dutifully holding in your heads. And here’s the translation: “To ask may be a moment’s shame, but to remain in ignorant silence is a lifelong shame.” So even though Nagamine held a position of prestige in a culture that encouraged not sticking out, he wanted to tell everyone to ask a lot of questions.

Graduates, next year you’ll be going to high school and I encourage you to ask a lot of questions. Ask if you don’t understand something, ask if you’d like to understand something better, ask if you think the person next to you doesn’t understand, ask because you want to start making a habit of it, but ask.

Now, asking questions can be hard. It was for me when I was your age. I was shy, I didn’t want attention, I was embarrassed to admit I didn’t understand something. And from time to time, some of you might feel the same way. But remember what Nagamine said. Don’t let a twinge of discomfort keep your hand from going up. When you ask your question, all you’re going to feel is proud of yourself. And the more you ask, the easier it gets.

Graduates, on behalf of the Easton Board of Education, I congratulate you on all your hard work and achievements. We are sad to see you go, but we are very proud of you, and we are rooting for your continued success in all the exciting educational endeavors that lie before you.

Thank you.

- Adam Dunsby