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KARATE: BENEATH THE SURFACE

Spiritual Content of Kata

Roy Kenneth Kamen

Reflections

• 12-29-2019 •

Isshinryu Class

Beginning in June 2018 I took a part-time job assisting an Isshinryu Sensei teaching children KaraTe on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The kids’ ages ranged from two and a half through fourteen and were mostly from upper-middle-class families. I had studied Isshinryu for several years as a kid myself but have been practicing Traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu KaraTe since 1974. I barely remembered anything from my early Isshinryu days.

Over the past year and a half, I have learned the Isshinryu curriculum up to green belt. Applying advanced Goju concepts to the Isshinryu techniques has been most challenging. I was able to pick up the Isshinryu techniques quickly given my advanced level in Goju.

While I have been teaching members of my Dojo since 1975 and ran a school in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York in the early 80’s I didn’t teach KaraTe as a job. I have discovered that I love teaching in my later semi-retired life filling my days with “giving back”. The rewards are plentiful as I watch the kids improve in both their KaraTe skills and their overall behavior outside of the Dojo. Parents have repeatedly told me how their children’s teachers have complimented their improved attitudes and performance in school. I feel like I am doing something valuable by changing these kids’ lives for the better.

While the socioeconomic backgrounds of these Upper East Side kids are quite different from my new students in Flatbush, Brooklyn, they all come to class with fear and insecurity, but with an eagerness to learn and improve their lives.