On Sunday 7th December 08, I attended the Fuyu Gasshuku at the Honbu Dojo in London. What follows is a poem, inspired by the efforts of Norton Dojo’s Glenn Herbert and a short speech that Sensei George gave before the Black Belt Grading took place. Sensei George reminded me of a King or General addressing his soldiers before a great battle, he spoke of courage and spirit and the constant battle with your mind, and how by using all these things you will succeed. King Henry V gave a rousing and inspiring speech before the battle at Agincourt; and part of that speech appears on opening pages of Morio Higaonna Sensei’s book, “The History of Karate,” very appropriate I thought.
Karateka have gathered, they’re here to take the test; strength and honour to you all “Gambatte” do your best. Those who give their heart and soul; will live to tell the tale, any less Karateka, and you will surely fail. Your knowledge and your skill will be a mighty shield, your arms, your legs, your body, the weapons you shall wield. Get in close and feel the breath that burns against your skin; bring forth the Tiger and the Crane that’s hidden deep within. Remember all the Masters and wear your badge with pride, set the teeth Karateka and stretch the nostrils wide. Let the trumpets sound;across the battle field, the last command is given, “Fight hard and never yield.” The battle starts in earnest, you take it in your stride, but watchful eyes are on you, there is no place to hide. Sensei George is at your shoulder; he’s seen it all before, the effort that you’re giving, he asks you all for more. The battle now gets harder, you start to show the strain, this is Goju Ryu, my friend, so learn to love the pain. If doubt should rear its ugly head, look it in the eye; focus on your tanden, and battle cry: “Kiai”. Kata is Karate, it is the path, the way, do it well Karateka, and you shall have the day. The battle makes you weary, but no sympathy you’ll find; the strength that you are after, is there inside your mind. Summon up your spirit,believe, do not forsake, your mind will soften every blow; that skin and bone may take. If you should fall remember, this doesn’t mean defeat, imitate the Tiger and get back on your feet. Forward only forward, Attack! Attack! Attack; this is Goju Ryu my friend, there is no stepping back. Once more to the breach dear friends, once more, Mo ichi do; harder only harder, this is the time for “Go.” Summon up what strength you have and summon up some more; the battle now has given way; you’re caught up in a war. The pain begins to laugh and shout, baying for your blood, raise the sword within your mind and silence it for good. Soaked in perspiration, faces etched with pain, the friends that now surround you, urge you on again. The battle now is over and yes, you have the day, praise each and every Sensei for showing you the way. Step forward brave Karateka, step up and take a bow, victory is yours to taste, today, right here; right now. Miyagi found the truth, An’ichi spread the word; Higaonna Sensei speaks, let the truth be heard.
Dedicated to all the following, the inspirational Sensei George Andrews, Sensei Linda Marchant (awesome), Sensei Andy Barker, Sensei Terry Noble, Sensei Richard Dixon. Sensei Chris Robins (my Sensei), Sensei Michelle Noble and all the other Sensei’s who were there; and of course to all those karateka who won the battle, especially Norton Dojo’s very own Glenn Herbert whose tremendous efforts that day; are written and recorded above.