The importance of tradition today

By: Sensei David Lambert – IOGKF Australia (AOGKF)

Our International Editor conducts and open review into the importance of traditions in daily life in our modern and fast evolving world...

In the forever changing and always evolving world that we live in, many say you have to get on board or be left behind. Technology for one has changed the world we live in, but at the same time taken away the personal connection that the world once had more of; phone calls replaced with text message and so on. It is easy for us as individuals to get caught up in our everyday life and miss the small things. Yet part of our great world still come to a standstill a few times a year for annual events like Christmas, New years, Easter, Thanksgiving and more. Millions put everything on hold to take part in traditions specific to their country or nationality without second thought, they just do it, even if only for a day. Joy is most usually brought about on these occasions, along with a sense of spirit from being a positive contribution to our families, society and mankind in general. The question is, do we need a little more tradition in everyday our lives and if so would it make a difference to the world we live in?

I point our attention to Rome in 2013. Italy, like much of Europe, is a country of beautiful ancient cities with all the joys of the modern age. Rome alone has a population of over 2,777,979 people living within its borders. Now whether you are a religious person or not, the resignation of Pope Benedict the XVI drew wide spread media attention across the globe and the population of Rome and Vatican City increased rapidly overnight. But what attracted more focus than anything was the traditional process that ensued for the election of a new Pope. The gathering of Cardinals and the voting tradition literally turned much of the worlds attention to a small rusted chimney. When the white smoke emerged to relay a new Pope had been chosen, people rejoiced everywhere.

I then put our focus to the London 2012 Olympic games. A once in four year tradition, the world focused on London for over a month. The opening ceremony alone had over 900 Million viewers worldwide and all because people wished to feel some sort of connection the large number of others watching or participating in the same thing around the world.

People thrive of the energy of others. I compare this to a Gasshuku with Higaonna Sensei. He sees you training hard and it excites him and he starts pushing harder. You become motivated and somehow lift to find Sensei has had the same feeling and has lifted yet again. Although you work yourself to near exhaustion, you somehow feel great!

The world seems attracted to tradition and looks upon much of it as a source of hope, peace and with a renewed commitment to contribute goodwill to mankind. This to me also reflects the purpose of our Karate training and what I try to bring out of my students as an instructor.

After the traditions that bring these feelings about pass, the world slowly slips back into its normal routine and we return back to the ‘daily grind’ as it is known. How many times have you heard of people making new year resolutions and blowing it a week later?

 So perhaps the factor for keeping the goodwill feelings alive stems from the point that we may all need a little traditional practice in our lives and I believe that traditional Karate can solve this problem.

Of course the actual physical training triggers the release of endorphins, which will make the body feel great and that is always a worthwhile aspect. But the traditional practices involved in Karate training, from the discipline to the humility and respect that is created in traditional Karate-ka leads to the development of better human beings. A connection is created between a student and their Sensei, the Sensei and their student. Between club members and family members. And a spiritual connection can be felt to the Masters who have come before us. We feel connected to an energy and what I refer to as the Goju-ryu spirit.

Our traditional practices lead to the development of Shin-Gi-Tai (Body, Mind & Spirit) and it unlocks the door for us to access the energy which empowers us to make a difference or improvement in ours and others lives – big or small; When you are leaving an empty restaurant after breakfast with a then 72 year old Goju-ryu Master and a waitress some 20 metres away with a handful of dishes drops one fork, and the Master stops and runs to assist by picking the utensil up off the ground, life is suddenly and strangely put in perspective for you.

Traditional practice puts us all on a path towards the same goal and this means we all have the same destination. The journey to get there is entirely up to us and forged by our own personal experiences. This gives us the opportunity to admire those that are ahead of us on the traditional journey and strive to reach their level. But more importantly it enables us to contribute or assist those who are equal to us or who are following behind in our footsteps.

Tradition brings us together and together we have the opportunity to strive towards one idea and one wish, while spreading peace and goodwill into our societies by developing into better people. We must protect our tradition from being lost, but at the same time we need to share it.