Is there a balance between maintaining the Shotokan style and tradition and moving it forward as a historically sound, effective Martial Art? I think there is.
I love that very little has changed about Shotokan. We still do the Katas pretty much the same way that our Karate forefathers did. Our etiquette remains the same; respect is paramount, and if you don’t show respect for others in the dojo as well as for Senpai and Sensei, then it isn’t a place for you. Our ranking system is the same, with emphasis put on becoming better that yourself rather than your belt color, and our techniques are the same. Teaching styles vary, but they all include Kihon, Kata and Kumite.
What I also like is the open-mindedness of allowing progress.
Recently for example, right here in St. John’s where I train, the St. John’s Shotokan & Kubodo Training Center opened. It’s the brainchild of two-long time Shotokan students who had a vision of having a training space available for Black Belts, as well as for hosting quarterly clinics put off by our Sensei.
Our Sensei Bruce Lee’s initial response to the concept was essentially ‘If it means more Karate, I’m in!’
Cautious forward thinking facilitates growth…without changing the Shotokan essence.