We are a culture encouraged to question the status quo, to always look for better ways, more logical ways, more socially acceptable ways, and sometimes that is the right and good thing to do. But is it always the right and good thing to do?
Occasionally, I am asked by a student, “But Sensei, isn’t this a better way of doing this technique?” Or, “Sensei, I don’t think that I would do it that way”. It’s not often, but it happens. Now, let me be the first to state that I am a baby studying an art that is hundreds of years old. However, I am also following and teaching a proven fighting method that has survived the test of time; hundreds of years to be a bit more precise. One that I don’t have the right to alter and still represent it as the art of Grand Master Kise, O’Sensei Soken, and the their mentors. So, is it ok to question things? When appropriate, sure. Does that mean everything is up for questioning to the point of creating my own truths based on your opinion? Simply, no. Is it wise as a novice in a art that many, many men spent their lives (sometimes quite literally) creating and perfecting an art such as Matsumura Shorin-ryu? I think you get my point.
So, why am I writing about this topic? Am I taking time to publicly ridicule those students who in the past have asked such questions? No. Am I setting an expectation of blind obedience to my facilitation of the lessons of our system? No. As a matter of fact, the real topic of this post has nothing to do with questioning the effectiveness of any technique in our system, or even the system at all. I only use it as an analogy to a incredibly dangerous line of questioning that is starting to infect the body of Christ, and that is the existence of hell. Rob Bell, a pastor in Grandville, MI, has started a movement of sorts within the church where advocates of this movement have discarded clear Scripture and declare that they no longer believe that a loving God would send any of his children to hell. Pastor Bell is a charismatic speaker and puts forth a message that people want to believe. A message that views the love of God through a man-made standard, with man-made bias. That message is in direct conflict with Scripture, but it is being given credence. How can anyone allow it to hold any water. Put another way, who are we (finite and flawed humans), to allow it to hold any water? The words in Scripture are not ours. They are from the Living God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the One that has always been and always will be, the Alpha and the Omega.
Below is a very clear, pointed, and logically framed plea on this topic by Pastor Francis Chan, and I implore you to watch it. His discourse on this topic is much better than anything I could put together.