Articles News Outside The Dojo

Shiranamikai Watches the London 2012 Olympics

As we come towards the close of London 2012, Shiranamikai karateka look back on an inspiring Olympic games and dazzling displays of power, speed and agility! It’s been nice to see from your tweets that many club members were lucky enough to get tickets to events. If not, then the view from in front of the telly has been great too!

Talking of TV, there was a great BBC documentary about Olympic Champion Usain Bolt a few weeks ago which is well worth a watch (find it here on YouTube). One of the best bits is at about 18 minutes in where we see Bolt in hard training. Panting, sweating and even vomiting.

“Behind the scenes all the work is done” he says, between gasping for air. “A lot of people – they see you run and they say ‘you make it look effortless, you make it look easy’. But it’s day-in day-out sacrifice … just dying. Sometime I wake up thinking: I don’t wanna go today – it’s so hard… but you’ve gotta go.” We all know that talent alone does not make a star performer, but hearing it from the Champ himself really hammers it home! There are no shortcuts – it’s the hours upon hours of hard work and dedication that separate the elite from everyone else.

Away from the sofa and back at the dojo, a query that has cropped up a few times is whether karate will be represented at a future Olympics.  After all, Judo and Taekwondo are represented, so why not karate? It’s a long story, but one of the complications is that there are many different styles of karate, each with different views on governance, technical execution and scoring. And separately, while a lot of folks are not necessarily opposed to the possibility of karate as part of the Olympics, they have concerns that too much emphasis on the sports side of our art could lead to the dilution of its true essence. More on that in a future post!

Interestingly, there is common ground between the ideals of karate and those of the Olympics. Have a look at the three Olympic values, listed below as drawn up Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement. Can you see them echoed closely in the dojo code that we recite at the end of each lesson?

  • respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s health and the environment
  • excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life; taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives
  • friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any difference
From the photo stream you might recognise Harrow-on-the-Hill as the the Olympic flame passed through a couple of weeks back (very near to our two Harrow dojo) and also my prized collection of Wenlock and Mandeville photos. All the Wenlocks and Mandevilles had quite good kime, which helped them lock into position for a short moment of stillness as I took their pictures. There are 83 of them dotted around London. Hoping to get pics of the full set before they get auctioned off next month!