THE WOODCUT TREE

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Karate has sometimes been compared to trees; a strong root that symbolizes the basic technique and its roots in martial art (KIHON), a powerful trunk representing KATA as a support for the development of Karate, and some branches that are shelled in others such as the BUNKAI, that analyzes the deconstruction of each technique for its study and possible applications.

This type of simile forms a beautiful allegory that brings together a set of metaphorical associations to extol the concept of Karate.

Sin embargo, the vast breadth of Karate in its various types of teaching, of teachers, of styles and schools, teaches us that in the same way, there are countless trees cataloged in their different varieties and families; and in our wandering through life, we will find many and very diverse that we must observe to know how to act.

We can find trees with little root, left at the mercy of the wind's whim. They are scrawny and baseless, and as soon as you contemplate them, you can make sure of its weakness. A tree with limited life that has a short way to go. A karate without DO.

There are others whose only option is to grow up. They want to reach the sky soon and touch the clouds, but they are trees without shade; more like a cold pole than what we can conceptually understand as a tree. People who mistakenly define themselves as teachers with deformed teaching styles who wish at all costs to progress without having their feet on the ground. They put personal interest before the general.

Others, sadly despite myself, they do not offer leaves to the passerby. Nor any fruit, because its trunk is hollow. They can contribute nothing except being there. They do not harm but they do not serve.

Of all of them, you have to take care of the most dangerous. I call it the lumberjack tree. A climbing species that is solid in appearance with a crown brimming with lush green foliage. Attractive to the eye. Beautiful to be photographed with him. The tree that we all want in our garden and that stands (never better said) the flag of honesty.

But you have to know it well, and time helps us discover that its roots spread underground, where no one can see them, in search of other goals without caring about razing crops and homes; without questioning whether its intended expansion goes beyond the limits of respect or honor.

Tends to act maliciously by gaining the trust of others, who lowers his guard and neglects his zanshin (something a martial artist should never lose but sometimes does to show their trust and friendship).

Its ambitious branches grow wide and tall in favor of satisfying your self-centeredness. It will be bold as it walks through your window, enter your home and cloud your peace. Capable of suffocating the freedom and oxygen of other surrounding trees with its leaves, companions of his who had the misfortune to grow up in a nearby place. An invasion of your privacy, without respect, no empathy, without compassion. A lumberjack who chops down his fellows without any remorse. Quite the opposite of the true meaning of KARATE DO.

My advice is to keep being a good tree. Do not change your essence for that; your inner self. Give it between your branches, shelter the lost bird,  freshness to the heated visitor and fruit to the hungry stroller friend.

Maybe one day one of these trees will grow near you or on your way you come across a lumberjack, but you should not stop offering your shadow, because at the end of the day, your way is to be a good tree.

Daniel Tchey – 6º Dan RFEK

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