What I love about karate is the platform it creates for people to be equal. It does not matter what your back ground, social status, religion or ethnic group is.
Once you enter that Dojo, you enter a different set of rules. And the longer you are exposed to karate and the ways of karate the more you take those characteristics with you into the world.
When you stand in front of another person and bow to him, you look in their eyes not to challenge them but to respect them and yourself and look deep into their mind, and see their character.
And if your minds meet at that point you can know that you are about to have a great training session of learning and respect.
In the years of training karate, you will have many such moments, but each karateka will be able to pin point a few such special training sessions, where minds met and character was really tested.
I recall my favourite training with a black man called Jacob. He was a parole prisoner. I was about 17 or 18 years old when my dad fetched him at prison to come and work for us. He stayed with us in the garage for about three months. We stayed at the top of Third Ave in Mangold Park Port Elizabeth. I got to know Jacob and he soon realized that I was doing karate because of the punching bag in the garage. He showed a keen interest in training.
As kids we use to play in the Baakens river valley in the bush many afternoons. Just killing time like boys would do those days. So I got the idea to clear a big enough area in the valley under a big tree for me and Jacob to go and train.
We would train every afternoon from just after 16h00 till just before sunset. I little bit of kata, but then mainly kumite. He was a very good fighter. He had to be a good fighter to survive the streets. We would bow to each other and then go for it. It was there that I first recognized how karate brings people together and that a person’s character is not always linked to your circumstances. Our training went on for about 3 months and in that time we learned much from each other and most of all became good friends.
Two completely different people that karate brought together. That’s the power of karate!