Guest Columnists - Who Owns Wado?
As far as my own personal opinion is concerned I have the deepest respect for everyone, and the deepest respect for their Wado. I feel that in respect to Wado we should all be working together for a greater goal and also moving forward in its search for the road to understanding.
Too many people, nowadays, seem to concentrate too much energy and effort on 'in-fighting' and not making any positive direction or research. To me this is confusing, counterproductive and very frustrating. Thankfully, in BWK, we are not so insular and do tend to attend ALL courses and seminars on offer from ALL respected heads, and have felt welcome when attending. In turn, we have invited many Japanese and Western teachers to our Dojo and people have been very happy with the extra knowledge and perspectives.
To me, we only have two arms & legs and with the 'principles' of the Wado concepts can only move them in a set way. Wado 'schools' have taken these concepts and have 'created' forms of partner-works to put a 'stamp' on the school, etc., and have said 'this is the way it is to be done'. If this becomes the 'word of god', then this is the mistake ... Maybe this is the way it is to be done, but only in their way of thinking and only in their own school.
There is so much Wado out there, and many instructors. In turn, these instructors have taken these concepts and have developed their methods to fit personal or directed personalities. This is not wrong, just different - and also can be seen as development.
For my clubs, in Wadokai Southwest and British Wadokai, we have retained the Suzuki Sensei syllabus and teachings. This is the syllabus that has taken me to where I am now (so if it's good enough for me...). Additionally, Ohtsuka Meijin is no longer around, unfortunately, and is unable to 'direct' the direction of the Wado he perceived and conceived, so who knows where he wanted to go with it? This is the reason I have not changed the way I teach my Wado, so I am (as you may say) stuck in a 'time-warp' - hah, hah! But I do attend and encourage my students to train in as many of the Wado courses available from as many sources as they can. Our syllabus may not change, but our thoughts and learning does.
I learn from others, and enjoy comparing partner-works, etc.. However, I shall never be one to throw stones at anyone because of the way a certain school may be performing their Wado.
I like to think that Wado can be encompassing, as everyone can contribute so much knowledge to the 'Wado pot'. We all perform Kata a little different from each other, that's because we are 'individuals' and have our own mechanics in the way we perform things. From personal research I have found that as far as the 'official' Kata are concerned (Pinan to Chinto) we are all the same (if with very 'slight' variations). The Wado world has gone a bit different from school to school with the advanced ones (Bassai upwards), but this is only natural as they were 'nicked' from other sources and 'Wado-fied'. Maybe Ohtsuka did intend to 'officiate' them, who knows? But what we have is what we have and we must all attempt to make and get the best out of our Wado together. "There is no such thing as right or wrong, there's only thinking that makes it so"
Gary E Swift, 8th Dan.
Chief Instructor to the British Wadokai Karate-do. British Wadokai