June 29th, 2013
From Sensei Adam Dunsby, Shihan,Easton Connecticut Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate Club
Kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshou no haji.
this weeks Thought please read Sensei Adam Dunsby's
remarks given this month to the graduating 8th graders of
the Helen Keller Middle School in Easton, CT. They demonstrate
how relevant our traditions and philosophy can be to the
general public, no matter what age. Domo arigato gozaimasu,
Sensei Dunsby, for passing on the wisdom of Shorin-Ryu to
the next generation. At the end of each class, Hanshi always
asks the students, "Does anyone have any questions
about what we did tonight or any karate questions at all?"
Usually no one responds. Hanshi then offers, "I will
be here for another 1/2 hour. If you have any questions
I will answer them for you. As instructors, we should
all follow Hanshis example. As students, we should
not hesitate to ask, especially since the question may help
the instructor learn something new.
Good evening graduates, parents, and guests.
Id like to say a few words to you about questions and Ill begin with a brief quote. Id like all the graduates to remember it, because well be coming back to it in just a minute. Ready? Okay. Kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshou no haji. Got that? Fantastic.
Most of you have never heard of Shoshin Nagamine but if youve ever done karate, or even watched a karate movie, youve felt his influence. Shoshin Nagamine was an Okinawan karate master born in 1907 who helped propagate traditional karate throughout the world. The word traditional here is important. Nagamines society was one of strict deference to authority and tradition. Instructions were received with a bow and not questioned. You may be familiar with the proverb The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Thats Japanese, and it describes a guiding principle of Nagamines culture. Keep your head down, do what youre told.
And yet, late in life, when Nagamine wrote the book that would preserve and pass on his teachings, his opus that would present to the world what he believed was most important, what did he put on the back cover? What did he want everyone to see? Well he put that quote that youve been dutifully holding in your heads. And heres the translation: To ask may be a moments shame, but to remain in ignorant silence is a lifelong shame. So even though Nagamine held a position of prestige in a culture that encouraged not sticking out, he wanted to tell everyone to ask a lot of questions.
Graduates, next year youll be going to high school and I encourage you to ask a lot of questions. Ask if you dont understand something, ask if youd like to understand something better, ask if you think the person next to you doesnt understand, ask because you want to start making a habit of it, but ask.
Now, asking questions can be hard. It was for me when I was your age. I was shy, I didnt want attention, I was embarrassed to admit I didnt understand something. And from time to time, some of you might feel the same way. But remember what Nagamine said. Dont let a twinge of discomfort keep your hand from going up. When you ask your question, all youre going to feel is proud of yourself. And the more you ask, the easier it gets.
Graduates, on behalf of the Easton Board of Education, I congratulate you on all your hard work and achievements. We are sad to see you go, but we are very proud of you, and we are rooting for your continued success in all the exciting educational endeavors that lie before you.
- Adam Dunsby