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Kieran's picture
Real Karate Tradition

Hi everyone, first post here so I hope I'm doing this right. I'm a karate youtuber, I recently did a video which I was told that the people here would get a kick out of so here it is. Please enjoy!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Kieran,

Good video and very nice presenting! Thanks for sharing it here. I do think it’s important to capture that all of us are imperfect and deification of the past masters is often unhelpful. When you dig through the history, you find some pretty distasteful actions and views from many, in addition to the other more admirable qualities. All of us are shades of grey.

A couple of quick corrections:

The picture at 1:36, although widely thought to be Itosu for quite some time, has now been identified as sword teacher Sango Miyake.

The quote attributed to me – which I do use a lot! –  is that of Bernard of Chartres via John of Salisbury. Where it becomes useful to us is that Isaac Newton famously used a version of it. In traditional spheres, some think we are “dishonouring” prior generations by concluding what they passed on to us can be improved. I obviously don’t share this view. By way of analogy, we can point to Newton and physics. It’s in that context that I refer to the quote.

Physicists don’t wish to stay true to the teachings of “Newton-Ryu”, nor would Isaac Newton want them to. We honour those who came before best by building on what they gave us and continuing their work. We do what we can to advance the field; just as those who came before us did. We don’t need to start from the beginning in each generation due to what has been passed on. We start as those “dwarfs” standing on the shoulders of “giants” (the accumulation of all prior knowledge as opposed to any specific individual, although some obviously contributed more to that prior knowledge than others).

Physicists still have a great deal of respect for Newton, even though physics has moved on a lot since his time, because the foundation he gave allowed things to move on from that point. I think martial artists would do well to think along similar lines.

All the best,


AllyWhytock's picture

Hi, The Newton "shoulders of giants" quote has an interesting twist. My old physics professor related this: Newton and his contemporary Hooke were very competitive. They didn't exactly agree on things and had several debates, to say the least. Hooke was of short stature with a visible stoop. Whilst publicly praising Hooke, Newton was also being rather cheeky. Any interesting physicists twist to the tale :)

Kindest Regards,