On the weekend I watched Sensei Toru Shimoji interact with my daughter as well as with other kids of various ages in the Karate dojo.
Sensei Shimoji is a former student of the likes of Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama, and is well known in his own right as an elite Karate teacher, and what I noticed was that age didn’t matter. In this seminar, he paid as much attention to the littlest ones as he did to the more adept, older ones.
He was the vessel, they were the cups, and everyone got an equal share.
He corrected them, he complimented them, and he taught them the same karate principles as he taught the adults, but in a way in which they could relate. He’d fix a back stance (sometimes over and over) and he’d tie a belt; he’d demonstrate and he’d observe; he’d offer suggestions and clap at their successes. The kids were being molded…and they loved it.
My daughter’s observation was this: “He is such a nice man! And his Karate is epic!”
Kids were learning about respect, about the movement of energy, about body mechanics and camaraderie. The teachings were coming from a stranger to NL form Atlanta, Georgia, and yet it felt like they’d made a new friend who genuinely cared about where they went form here.
This new teacher was talking about calm in the midst of chaos and about exuding positive energy. He was teaching principles such as setting a goal to help someone else get better.
Some of this might seem lofty to some, but the fact is that they were getting it. They did their Kata, Kihon and Kumite demonstrations with pride and with a remarkable thread of technical ability.
The building of character through Karate is no cliché – and what better place to start than with the kids, the next generation of the Dojo…and of society.