July 1st 2012
From Kyoshi Mackay, Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo
As we celebrate 236 years of US independence this Wednesday, and prepare to celebrate 50 years of USRKUSA this August, make an effort to not just appreciate history but to experience it. Appreciating history entails visiting a museum or sitting on the couch watching a PBS special on TV. Experiencing history means getting on your hiking boots, bicycle, Harley Davidson or hopping into the convertible or onto a Greyhound bus and actually visiting a site where something of great importance (to you) happened a long time ago.
Find the location of a dojo where Master Ueshiro trained: 465 Lexington Ave. or 861 Third, or visit Master Ueshiro's final resting place in Locust Valley. If you can't reach a site relevant to Master Ueshiro, then visit another place of historical relevance: Ground Zero, a battlefield or your family burial grounds.
The key is to do some background research before you go so your mind is not flooded with fact-finding when you arrive. If you've done your homework, you should be able to almost effortlessly experience the vastness of history, to be humbled (in a good way) by the relatively small significance you play in the scheme of things; similar to standing by the ocean except it's the enormity of time, not space, that creates the sense of serenity.
Prophets, poets, painters, leaders in both military and civilian life all capitalize on their ability to experience history in this way. It takes practice, but the effort leads to greatly heightened powers of perception and understanding.
Such connections to the past seldom last long; the spell is easily broken. But having experienced history in this visceral way, you're more likely to see that what you accomplish going forward is in fact a continuation of history, that every time you perform a kata you are joining a line that extends very far into the past to a line that extends even farther into the future. It is an accomplishment you can be proud of.
Domo arigato gozaimasu to Master Ueshiro and the composers of our ancient kata for giving us the means to experience martial arts history. And domo arigato gozaimasu, Hanshi, for bringing such history to life.
Kyoshi Mackay, Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo