I devote considerable time to the Hawaii Karate Museum. We are constantly searching for old Karate books, articles, photographs, weapons, and artifacts -- and we have been very fortunate to acquire some amazing pieces over the years. It is not unusual today to hear of older Karate books selling for more than $3,000.
I probably get to see more historic Karate items than most people. But I want to make it very clear that no Karate artifact, no matter how valuable or historic, is as important as your own Sensei.
You do not learn Karate from an artifact -- you learn from your Sensei.A Karate museum has an important function to preserve the history of Karate. Part of that is collecting historic items. But that is only important if there are great Sensei in the world teaching Karate to succeeding generations of Karate students. An artifact can tell a student something about Karate, but that only matters if the student is actually learning Karate from his or her Sensei. Otherwise, it is just an idle curiosity.
Artifacts do not shape your character -- your Sensei works on that, as do you.
You do not look up to an artifact as a role model -- you look up to your Sensei.
All the Karate artifacts in the the world are not as valuable as your own Sensei.
If you would like to discover the greatest treasure in Karate, you do not have to look any farther than your own dojo. Your Sensei is the greatest treasure in Karate.
And when I say that a Sensei is "great," please don't think that I am referring to his rank, title, championships, number of students, or the size of his dojo. You can find great Sensei teaching in their homes, garages, backyards, schools, churches, recreation centers, malls... anywhere.
What makes a Sensei great is his (or her) skill, teaching ability, and heart. If you are lucky enough to have such a Sensei, please don't miss the opportunity to learn from him (or her).
Charles C. Goodin