My fellow martial artists, we will eventually reap the benefits of the Soryu Karate Federation being led by a high Dan Board, composed of 8th Dans, assisted by 7th and 6th Dans. In this manner all factions within this style will represented. Occasionally, myself or Mr Alvarado will offer some suggestions, which the board is free to work with, or reject.
May I comment on some concerns I have regarding the high Dan ranks? Any high dan rank ought be very difficult to obtain. The 8th Dan is, and ought be a coveted rank, which very few, (very, very, few) will ever attain, and this only after several decades.
As an example, for forty years, the accomplishments and contributions to karate and the martial arts by my students, Mr Jeff Bonugli, and Mr Jesse Lussier, have been many. They continue to move forward. I have several other students who, in the same amount of years, hold high dan ranking. All of them are very qualified individuals who have proven their worth, particularly in the fight arena. However, in the time I have left, the probability of my ever promoting another of my students to 8th Dan is slim indeed. I place too much value on that rank.
Let me begin by saying that forty years exceptional tenure in the martial arts is but a starting point in the way of requirements for that high rank. As I have said, I have other students who have been with me that long, but they shall not attain it.The idea is to raise the bar, making that rank nigh impossible to reach. There may be exceptions to this, but they are few. One which comes to mind is national or world class ranking as a competitor, because of the value inherent in spotlighting this style. But even in these cases, age and tenure ought be taken into account.
Age? Yes, age ought be considered in high dan promotions! Age with its life experiences, and the wisdom acquired therefrom. Yes, we would suppose that wisdom ought come with age and life experiences, and this is what in the last instance, I want to discuss: the acquisition of wisdom.
Should we not expect that one attaining higher dan ranking be possessed of that high virtue we call wisdom? Should not younger students to the art expect it in those of such exalted rank? Should not the title, “master instructor”, suggest that this master teacher will affect the lives of others in a most positive way? If, instead of uplifting and edifying, this master instructor demeans and downgrades, is he worthy of the title? There can be no higher accolade given any instructor than this: “He (or she) changed my life. I am what I am today, because of this man’s influence on me.” I want to assure you that such an influence extends far beyond the martial arts. Any teacher worth his or her salt lifts and inspires; he or she is instrumental in changing lives for the better.
The ability to discipline oneself is a virtue. Anyone, who after many decades has not mastered his emotions and passions is hardly fit to lead at so high a level. Except he has mastered and subdued his emotions, his perceptions and insights about life are warped. As such, his outbursts and declarations to any who will listen will be those of a mind yet in an adolescent stage. If we are to lead, we must act the part, with the dignity our position merits. There is a scripture which aptly describes the point in question: “ For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48) We can do better. As leaders, we must do better.
Some weeks ago Mr Burse and I came to a bit of a disagreement. He called me later to voice a most sincere and heartfelt apology. I will tell you what I took out of that: “This man has class.” It is to be expected of a man of his age, his rank, and his status in life. Should we not follow such an example of humility, and account it to wisdom?
All of us can stand a sprinkling of humility in our search for wisdom. For all of us, repentance is necessary as we seek to make needed changes in our lives. There is help available from a higher source, if we will seek it. We are told in holy writ that “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
And while we are about that, let us remember that in approaching the Throne of Grace, we do not have to be told to refrain from profanity. We each have sufficient class within us to give Him reverence. With that in mind, can we not do better in our everyday affairs? Yes, let us take such reverence in speech into our everyday life. It is but a first step in disciplining ourselves in our search for wisdom.