One evening after training at the Jundokan International dojo (sure, I can name drop with the best of them) I was invited to Chinen Sensei’s home (oops, let me pick that up too) and we and talked, oddly enough, about karate. After about a half hour, Chinen just looks at me and says, “You teach too much; you need to go deeper into what you have.”
What he was saying was simple and often overlooked: something that is designed for everyone rarely reaches anyone. Come again?
I was teaching too much material, and as a result studying too broadly. My art was suffering, my students were suffering and we did not even know it. So I returned home and went to work. I pared down the dojo syllabus, stripping off much of what had been added over the years by so many instructors before me. A codified set of movements, and officially named moved written into the canon of the art; I chipped away at them all.
After the list was completed, I dove into the forms for more study. Oddly, the deeper I studied the farther the bottom of the information receded from me. All of a sudden, I was deep and not broad. My focus was now not so much on pattern as it was on the simple turning of my knee, the pushing of a foot, or the alignment of my spine.
And I am stronger for it.
So I pass on Chinen Sensei’s advice to me to you now. It might be right for you or it might not: you are the judge of what is best for you.