Due to the continued Covid pandemic, the Ashihara Karate World Cup has been postponed indefinitely until safer times. We may still have it in conjunction with the Dragon Festival with noted artists like Don Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Art Camacho and others is tentatively scheduled to be held in Cape Town at a date to be determined. Featuring various martial arts activities including the Ashihara Karate, seminars and others and meet and greet with the “attractions” – it promises to be a bumper event.
Cape Town as the Mother City is arguably one of the most beautiful in the world with the famed Table Mountain, Cape Point, two oceans and many other wonderful attractions all in and around the City.
The following was written by the Shihan of the Ichiban Kyokushin Karate Association – Shacho Neville Claasen
A leader is referred to: “a person who leads a group of people, especially a head of a country, or an organization, or a business, or an enterprise.” Being ‘the Head’.
Leadership refers to: “the state or position of being a leader.” To lead is to guide, inspire, conduct, direct and pave the way.
To manage is to plan, organize, activate, control, staffing (i.e. building capacity) and monitor.
Thus, literally, the leader inspires (i.e. to envision) and the manager executes that which he was inspired with. Therefore, the manager proficiently and efficiently manages the ‘action’ (the Action Plan) processes of the organization and not the leader.
So why am I writing about leadership and leading by example?
First I must stress that I feel strongly about the title of my post. To lead by example is easy to write or say, but to put action to words is a different story. This is one of the reasons why I have the greatest admiration for Kaicho Hoosain Narker. I truly feel that he leads by example. And that these qualities of a leader is what he espouses.
I met him probably by God’s grace. I was a member of Kyokushin Karate for 28 years – after the passing of Mas Oyama, I had been in several of the groups from Shihan Kenny Uytenbogaardt to Hennie Bosman to Tony Barker & Bas van Stenis and to all of them I was just someone from the rural area that could contribute to the organisation’s coffers. No real interest was shown in me as a person or to develop my skillset or capabilities.
In 2011, I took a gamble – I had found the contact details of Kaicho Narker as the President of the All Styles Governing Western Cape Karate Federation and wrote to him about tournament activities. He mentioned that his style was having a tournament and I took a group of my students to compete – not expecting that they would do well, as we have been cheated too many times in our own style events. Not sure how he would treat me, but was I surprised when he warmly welcomed me as well as his seniors and then to my greater surprise, many of my students performed and placed. I saw absolutely no bias amongst the referee’s. On the 4 hour journey home, my students could not stop talking of how well they did and how happy they were.
For the next few days, I regularly called Kaicho and we eventually developed a close relationship where I would even sleep over at his house. I now know him for ten years and not once did he ask me to join his style although I have trained with him and his students on several occasions. In my 28 years with Kyokushin, I was never given an opportunity to travel – with Kaicho I’ve travelled to several countries to train and teach including Japan, the homeland of karate.
Through his assistance, I became a member of the governing karate body and my students could obtain official colours – not the self-awarded colours given by the Kyokushin groups, but officially recognised by the Sports Authorities.
Another aspect where he helped me greatly – after 28 years of training in Kyokushin, I had still not obtained my 3rd dan certificate which I graded for ten years before and which was paid for as well. So because I did not have the certificate, I could not grade further. With Kaicho’s help, on a trip to Japan, I obtained my 4th Dan and later my 5th Dan. He also opened the doors for me to become a representative of the Shorin KenpoKaikan.
But a bit more about Kaicho – In meetings with other groups he handles himself with dignity and shows that he is a man with strong principles and in my opinion comes out tops every time against shrewd opposition. Physically he keeps himself in shape, and for someone heading to the sixties, still has a six pack. Occasionally he still partakes in tournaments and keeps his students on their toes.
My point to all this (sincere) flattery——– is, to follow up on this lead. In our training we must really work hard. In karate circles, a karateka is judged by the goods he or she can produce. Kaicho’s dojo in last year reached its 40th Anniversary. For someone who came from a disadvantaged background – he has shown nothing is impossible. From that one club, his organisation is now represented in over 30 countries around the world. He has taught and trained in at least 60 countries – not many even those that were advantaged can say that or equal that.
But do you know what – Kaicho has achieved much despite the fact that he is blind in one eye from an accident, but what is the most important to me, is his total humbleness – for someone who has achieved so much – he speaks to anyone, from shihan’s to the lowest white belt student which many other Shihan’s don’t do. To Kaicho, everyone is important. He motivates and inspires people and want them to reach greater heights, even if they must surpass him – he shows and teaches people with no regard for compensation.
And all he wants in return, is that we must give back to our communities and inspire others to also achieve.
Kaicho has a group of black belts that I’ve come to know and interact with over the years – their spirit and loyalty to Ashihara Karate and their teacher is something outstanding. How many dojo have students that have been in the dojo from 5 years to over 30 years and still contributing. Loyalty has to be earned and Kaicho certainly has earned the loyalty his students shower on him. I can only aspire to do likewise by trying my best to emulate him.
Kaicho is also so fortunate that none of his own students had left to join a rival organisation or to start their own school in opposition. Those that had left either stopped or in the case of a handful has pursued other martial arts interests, but still loyal to Kaicho. Not once have I heard him bad-mouthing another teacher or talking bad of someone not in training – he will rather motivate those not training to get involved as his dojo has a family type atmosphere. I know some Kancho’s and Shihan’s that when a student/instructor leave, they can only badmouth the person. When you point a finger at someone, remember that the other fingers in your hand points back at you. That is not leadership.
We can do it, if we all LEAD BY EXAMPLE!
To reiterate and sum it up, leadership fundamentally has to do with four things, namely: (1) envisioning, (2) goal-setting, (3) strategising and (4) inspiring others to look forward to and execute what you [the leader] have envisioned.
Are you such a person? Will you or can you lead by example? I have my role model …. Do you?
South Africa: – Yesterday, Ashihara Karate has its first formal training session inside the dojo since lock down to “celebrate” the 41st Anniversary since I started the dojo on 2 September 1980. Many of the students were rather happy to see their friends and training mates after so many months. Personally, I am rather happy that with the team of helpers, we managed to adhere to protocols and as a trial run, it paves the way forward to soon start off with normal classes, albeit outside.
I had no idea that when I opened the dojo that we would last this long or that the dojo would evolve into an International Organisation represented in over 30 countries. All I knew then was that I wanted to provide an activity that would keep people occupied and off the streets and prior to its opening, I had three wishes:
1. To open my own dojo
2. To become known as an International instructor
3. To become the editor of my own magazine.
I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved all – with number 3, whilst we do produce a magazine from time to time, we have produced several instructional manuals, books and other and I’ve been editor to over 20 Cooking Books for my sister. I’ve never wanted to be a champion or produce champions, although that has been a by-product of what we do.
It would not have been possible without the involvement of students, parents and supporters alike. I have much to be thankful for and pleased that we can still make a difference in our communities and trust that under the future leadership of able and competent seniors, this service can continue for many more years.