Karate Training Begins at 50? “Oh but real Karate training begins at 50,” Kancho Royama said. It was in Capetown, South Africa, and Shihan Hennie Bosman was celebrating his 50th birthday. “It’s depressing,” he said with a smile, “because I know it’s all downhill from here. I know that my karate will just get weaker.”
Kancho was quick to correct him. “Not true,” he said. “When we’re young, and we have full use of our physical faculties, we make the mistake of relying on them. In a sense, real Karate training doesn’t even begin until the age of 50. Real karate training incorporates the physical, the spiritual, and the mental. Real karate training incorporates an understanding of Chi.”
“Yet, when we’re young,” Kancho continued, “we take our physical ability so much for granted that it’s hard to for us to even be aware of those other forces. You should not worry! Your training is just beginning! The physical side might diminish, but concentrate on health, the spiritual side, and Chi. You might not be able to train like you did when you were 30, but you’re not meant to. You can be far stronger beyond 50 than you ever were when you were 30.”
Kancho Royama is quick to remind instructors that there is not a time in life when personal training ends and a life of teaching begins, and that Sosai was still training until the very end. There are instructors who are not training, particularly in the world branches, but often they are ones whose own teachers, for whatever reason, became teachers at the expense of their own learning, and their own training. At Kyokushin-kan we are lucky to have the role model of Kancho Royama, Fuku-Kancho Hiroshige, and others, who still concentrate daily on their own training.