Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Silence Ends Once Again.
Osu! The following is a microtreatese that I wrote just after Maestro Urban passed into the next reality. I am certain that most of you have read it long ago on my other website, however being that this blog seems to be the more popular veniew, I am also sure that many have not seen it before. So if you will bear with me, I am republishing it here. Please note that I have deleted parts that are no longer relevant. I have since moved on, and am devoting myself entirely to Tetsu Te ShobuDo GoJu Jitsu Kai, albeit still affiliated with The Fight Schools Network.
The End Of Silence
Oss! Chien! Hello once again,
It has been quite some time since my last public writing in newsletter form, and for good reason.
Much has happened once again, in the distance between this and the last newsletter and I am certain that there are those of you who may have questions in your head about the accurate “state of the art” so to speak.
I by no means claim to speak for all of USA GoJu as a whole, or for any or all of the various factions of those who were loyal, semi loyal, separated from, or down right against my / our teacher / patriarch.
What I offer here is my opinion. An opinion based on literally a lifetime in the martial arts, and as an inner circle disciple and an appointed embassador of Maestro Peter G. Urban, Grand Patriarch of All American GoJu Systems, as per his last will and testament.
As anyone who has read the will knows, there was no heir to the position of Grand Patriarch. How could that possibly be?
You see, it is a matter of perspective.
How you ask?
Well, The Sensei created many, many very talented martial artists during his career.
Some established themselves long ago, and went on their own. Some were involved for many years in the public eye as key figures in The Sensei’s organization, but later went solo for one reason or other, yet continued to teach USA GoJu or an extrapilation or sophistication, perhaps even under a different name.
Many of these people created small or large followings of there own.
There are those from these followings, that became teachers in their own right and were either given permission by their original teacher to go directly under Maestro Urban, or burned bridges and left their teachers for one reason or other, to join under Maestro Urban.
As is the natural course of action in cases such as this, personal perspective will determine who each person will see as their central point of reference.
It only makes sense that those who came from a particular lineage or branch, will perhaps look to whoever it is that begat their group originally.
As for those who burned bridges or choose to remain soloists, they will inevitably join up fraternally with likeminded folks, or seclude themselves and their people.
For those who have been around and involved for a long time, there is little mystery as to who is who, and what is what. However, we must keep in mind, that our style has branched out internationally, and if one has not kept up with the goings on, they may not realize just how big this thing “USA GoJu” has gotten.
I have heard from various old timers and semi-old timers, that they have no idea who certain people in the network are, and it is my observation that many of the newer folks, and I mean newer, as in the last 10 to 15 years, have no clue as to who many of the old crowd is, as far as seniority. Once again, we are dealing with perspective.
The fact of the matter is, that the person that was holding this whole thing together was Maestro Urban.
Whether you loved him or hated him, were directly, loosely or distantly connected, he is what kept it together as a Central Point of Reference, and or figure head.
My opinion, is that the USA / Urban GoJu style and its extrapolations and sophistications will do as so many other major styles have done when their founder passes away.
I site KyokuShinKai, a style who’s founder Masutatsu Oyama, “one of Maestro Urban’s teachers,” actually did leave a successor. He was about 33 years old and although fully competent as an administrator and a proven champion fighter, not what some of the older high ranks saw as their new Messiah, hence the fragmentation of KyokuShinKai. A fragmentation that had already started long ago, with the resignation and emancipation, of Oyama’s top two = Shigeru Oyama, and Tadashi Nakamura, much before Oyama’s death.
I site Ueichi Ryu, which was semi factionalized after Ueichi Kanbum’s death to begin with, but stayed loosely together up until the death of Ueichi Kanei, to now become totally factionalized to the point of visiting foreign members of other factions, not being allowed to enter the Hombu in Futenma Okinawa.
I site American Kenpo after the death of Ed Parker. Wow! Factionalized? Understatement!
Even ShotoKan splintered after Funakoshi’s passing, and more so after Nakayama. How many JKA’s are there now? Not to mention ShotoKai, KenkoJuku, etc.
Whenever a great teacher creates an abundance of great teachers, “whether they be great in actuality or in their own minds,” there is going to be factionalization.
It is my opinion, that there will also, as in other styles, be decent and bad feelings. There will be mistrust and vendetta. This has already been the case while The Sensei was still alive, and is bound to get worse before it gets better.
My opinions on kata:
Well, if I were king there would be standardization. However, this is not possible. So many folks learned from Maestro Urban at different periods in which the style was undergoing metamorphosis, that to expect each one to conform, change, relearn or reteach is not realistic. It is my observation that some who claim to be doing what they call the "original" katas are mistaken and a good deal of those who claim to be doing the newer katas are a bit confused also. But, once again, just my opinion......
Maestro Urban taught us that each teacher would leave his signature in the individual "nuance" of his own methodology of performing the standard kata. That is to say, there will be some sort of accent whether on purpose or by accident.
My opinion as to the minimalist theory:
Originally, there were as many as 53 or so katas in the USA/ Urban GoJu arsenal. Over a period of time, Maestro Urban decided that he would only be concerned with a lesser amount which wound up as 10 minimum standard katas. That is to say, that each teacher may have many more original, or other katas that they may individually teach, but for the sake of standardization, Maestro Urban expected everyone to know the 10 minimum standard, anything else they taught was a matter of personal preference. Later, Maestro Urban focused on three keystone katas, saying that a master only needed 3 katas and a true master only one or two.
Now, in my opinion, in order to understand the minimalist theory, we must first understand the theory of the half glass of water. Q: Is the glass half empty or half full? A: This depends on the history of the glass. was it last poured into, up to only the half way point, or was it at one time full and perhaps evaporated.
The same is to be said for kata literacy. Did you take a full knowledge of kata and over years of study, realize what you found applicable or did you never know the entire system to begin with and are basing your hypothesis on little or almost nothing as compared to the whole vocabulary of the style?
Remember: Kata is the literacy and fighting is the industry. Another rationale was that there were those who came from other styles and were told that they had to have at least 3 keystone katas to be considered GoJu.
My personal belief and mandate for my GoJu Jitsu Kai is that katas will be done as per our standard period. This house will be uniform.
My opinion on rank:
Ok here it is......
Only a blindly following yes man would agree in his heart about everything the boss mandated. That said there are/ were numerous things that I did not agree with whole-heartedly, but it was not my place to rebutt. The subject of rank has always been a peeve of mine. Now considering the abundance of rank that I carry, I do realize that it sounds kind of funny for me to be saying this. Just as I am sure that there are some who have a problem with my rank at my age, I also have had a problem with some folks ranks for some reason or another. That is a cross that we will all have to bear.
To question the rank of anyone who received their promotion by Maestro Urban and has appropriate paperwork to go with it is to question the validity of your own rank, if you received it by him or someone ranked by him.
Don't tell me about rank given before a certain date being legit or not.
If one authentically signed certificate is no good, then none are good
If that sounds like a problem, here are the answers in my opinion.
As stated in scripture "Judge the tree by the fruit" That is wisdom to go by in any subject matter.
Personally, I am more than aware of who 99% of everyone is and pretty much what they are capable of. However, from here on, I am only responsible for the reference of those in GoJuJitsu Kai, and my personal associates.
Any queries about others will be referred to their teachers or organization of choice.
As to Maestro Urban's mentoring of an organization in which we MAY elect a president. My feelings on this are, firstly, please see the word MAY and note that the word is not WILL.
Personally, I think a fraternal organization of equals in order to keep each other abreast of happenings, etc. could be a good thing.
However, I will believe that this can and will be done when I see it. We come from the Shepard's School, not the Sheep's school and as long as a control factor would be present, I just don't see it happening in reality. However, I am not burning bridges and if some sort of mutually beneficial situation can be agreed on, who knows what the future may bring? If it ever happens, good, if not, we are still OK anyway.
Nothing has really changed as far as who I personally choose to associate with.
We will continue to work with those who we have been working with. Friendships and Brotherhoods remain strong with the exception of those who have proven themselves to be poison.
For those who are without direction after the passing of Maestro Urban and choose to affiliate with me on an official basis, I will be accepting applications starting now. This will be done according to the old tradition known as Kama Wan.
Kama Wan is a tradition of the Ko Ryu = Old School literally translated as sickle and rice bowl, but meaning "We don't care if you come". That is to say, that we are not on an active recruiting crusade, but if it means something to you, we will entertain your application or challenge. "That doesn't mean challenge as in we want you to come and beat us up:)"
Understand the difference between Gojulandia South and my Goju Jitsu Kai. Gojulandia South is made up of legitimate Goju Halls from Urban's Fight Schools Network here in the South, who choose to work together on a mutually prosperous basis and to continue their education and advancement.
GoJu Jitsu is my personal Shu Ha Ri. GoJu Jitsu is a systematic way of teaching the arts of Goju Karate, Shobudo JuJitsu and KoBuDo so that rather than as separate entities, the arts can be appreciated as one complete curriculum of study. GoJu Jitsu teaches traditional Martial Arts with a Modern Accent. The styles have not been edited or deleted, they have been blended into one complimenting format.
Members of GoJu Jitsu are completely under my scrutiny rank wise and technical wise.
To conclude this opinion manifesto of mine, I would like to leave you with this:
I feel that it is firstly in poor taste, secondly, unrealistic and thirdly, down right wrong for anyone to attempt to make Maestro Urban out to be something more than the great man that he was. He contributed much. He literally made me the man that I am today, and as I said in my article at www.martialforce.com, he lives on in everyone that he touched. However, I caution you not to do as was done to Buddha and make him out to be something more than a great man.
He was not a God. He does not visit people from the grave. Do not pray to him. Do not worship him. Remember him always. But for God's sake, don't demean his reality by making him a diety or chasing his ghost.
An Immortal? Yes, as I said, he lives on in all of us.
As Dennis Miller says: "But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...."
Steven L. Malanoski, Hanshi
10th Dan U.S.A.G.A.
Chairman ShoBuDo GoJu Jitsu Kai
Typography by my daughter, Melissa Malanoski.
The title of this writing was inspired by Henry Rollins, "The End of Silence" .