Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Karate Do in Maintstream Education, Does it Have a Place?

I apologize for the lack of activity on my blog over the past week.

If you follow my facebook updates regularly, you will know that I attended an International Conference in Osaka from the 28th of October to the 2nd of November.
The theme of the conference was education. the Asian Conference on Education (ACE) to be specific. This got me thinking about the role martial arts plays in our lives around the world. While listening to some of the session presentations I was able to notice some similarities in the desired outcomes which form our goals as both teachers and students.

I began to wonder if Karate Do could have a greater presence in mainstream education around the world and, if so, what would be some of the positive outcomes of including martial arts such as Karate Do in the curriculum. In this blog post I would like to explore this train of thought and would appreciate hearing any thoughts or feedback, regarding this topic, that you would you may have and like to provide. I don't want to use this blog as a platform for debate but, I do want it to be a source to help learning through facilitating our deeper understanding of the subject matter, in this case the philosophies and educational concepts of Karate Do. Therefore, your feedback is not only accepted but crucial in expanding the range of authentic knowledge on this subject.
To the best of my knowledge Karate programs are only offered in schools as after-school programs. However, in Japan there has been a recent push to include Karate Do lessons in the regular curriculum. Kendo and Judo have, traditionally, been included as the 武道授業 Budo Jyugyo, Martial arts Lessons of choice in the public and private schools across Japan. However, with the recent troubles in the Judo Federation and concerns of student safety in the school board more and more schools are dropping Judo from their syllabus.
This has created an opportunity for Karate Do to fill the gap and there has been a nation wide serge to include Karate Do specifically in the Junior High Schools across Japan. Currently there are about 189 Junior High Schools that have included Karate Do as part of their Budo Jyugyo and the number is growing. Part of the reason for this is the safety concerns, as mentioned above. In a research study conducted by the sports safety committee 3 years ago Karate Do ranked significantly lower than Judo and Sumo, as can be expected and only slightly higher than Kendo with regards to percentage of injuries occurred while practicing.
(the Author attending the 4th JKF Training Course for In-service Teachers, 2013 Tokyo Japan)
Another reason for the recent support from the Ministry of Education (MEXT) toward Karate Do is the fact that Karate Do practice places a great deal of importance on developing students' manners, self-control, and courteous behaviour, as mentioned in previous blog posts "Karate Do begins and ends with courtesy."

This concept of developing physical strength while also strengthening mental toughness and courteous behaviour is known as 文武両道 Bun Bu Ryo Do, I touched briefly on this subject in previous posts. Here I would like to go into a little more detail.

I have been very fortunate to have been able to be involved in Karate Do on many levels while living and working in Japan. I have seen first hand how deeply rooted the philosophy of 武士道 Bushido, (sometimes referred to as the way of the warrior but, I prefer to interpret it as the 'martial way') is in the Japanese school system at every level from Kindergarten to University and even post graduate studies. The study and practice of Karate Do in this context, as a method of self-improvement designed to foster well-rounded, positive growth among all of its practitioners rather than just producing tournament champions is the tip of the iceberg which is Bun Bu Ryo Do and this is what I would like to address.
(Students lined up for the Opening Ceremonies at the All Japan SHS Karate Do Championships, 2013)

Bun Bu Ryou Do
I learned a lot about 教育空手道 Kiyoiku Karate Do, Educational Karate Do specifically from my involvement with the 中体連 and 高体連 Chu Tai Ren  and Ko Tai Ren Junior High School and Senior High School Karate Do Renmei. The meaning and the central theme of the training introduced to Japanese students in Junior and Senior High Schools across the nation is deeply rooted in the concept of 文武両道 Bun Bu Ryou Do which also resembles the ICKF Dojo Go Kun and Kokoro E discussed in my previous post.

The strongest schools in competition at the National and International level spend just as much time and energy on perfecting their 挨拶 Aisatsu, greetings and 掃除 Souji, cleaning their school, Dojo and grounds, as they do on improving their technique and physical condition. The Japanese junior and senior high school tournament champions are also role models and champions of life if they live the teachings of Bushido. Something as simple as how you say “good morning” makes all the difference. Within this approach of Bun Bu Ryou Do, which is used as a method to teach the Martial Arts to students in schools across Japan, is contained many of the most important philosophical concepts of Karate Do.

But, this method is not limited to only the teaching of Karate Do, it applies to the teaching of every martial art taught in JHS, SHS and Universities. The pursuit of bettering ourselves through the study and practice of martial arts is very strong in Japanese schools, so much so, that one can tell a student who is involved in such a  部活動 Bukatsudo, Club Activity (after-school programs which are pushing the boundary of amateur and professional sports in Japan) from someone who is not at first glance, not because of their 'shaved head' but because of their manner and their Aisatsu.

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