The perfection of character
To the editor:
There is a rare and wonderful training hall in your town at 1 Reid St.: the Uechi Ryu Karate School, headed by Sensei (teacher) Ihor Rymaruk. In my over 20 years of practicing the martial arts in Japan and in America, Sensei Rymaruk's school stands out as one of the best. The school has a friendly atmosphere, strong senior students who are excellent teachers, and a head sensei who has deeply thought about the technical and spiritual aspects of the martial arts for much of his life. Both the serious practitioner and the casual student would find satisfaction at Sensei Rymaruk's school.
Most unusual about the school, however, is that "community resource" better describes the school than "a business." Sensei Rymaruk clearly enjoys teaching, and it is evident from his interactions with the students that he is concerned with far more important aspects of their life than "making a living" for himself. He is not one to use flattery to maintain business -- like a parent, his genuine concern for the students' growth in karate requires his application of honest and firm guidance.
That Sensei Rymaruk's school is not run as "a business" is important because, in my opinion, teaching karate should never be a business. Karate-do, like all Japanese martial arts, ultimately is about cultivating the mind and spirit through arduous physical training. The goal of the martial arts is the perfection of character. By contrast, business focuses on competition, and has a mechanical feel to its practice. The goal of business is to economically survive or to come out ahead. Running a business and pursuing the path of martial enlightenment, therefore, are in most cases incompatible with each other. Japan's famed scholar, Inazo Nitobe, echoed a similar thought in his seminal work, "Bushido, the Soul of Japan."
Karate-do has been misunderstood by the media and cheapened by the masses of businesses using its fame. In such times, it is a rare occasion to find a school that is as authentic and effective as Sensei Rymaruk's school. My two-year work assignment in upstate New York has ended, and I have since moved back to Washington, D.C., several weeks ago. Of course, my karate training will continue until my death -- school or no school. But for those who are curious about beginning karate, I submit that the people of Amsterdam have an opportunity that rarely exists anywhere else: to experience true Karate-do.
A parable of talents
To the editor:
It occurred to me that the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Mark could serve to illustrate the two major political philosophies in America and in Amsterdam. The story begins with a king going away for a period of time and leaving his three servants stewardship over significant sums of money. They were instructed to invest the money in a manner that would increase the value. The king returns and asks for an accounting and two servants have invested the money with each having a 100 percent return. The king is pleased. The third servant was fearful of losing any of it and displeasing the king so he hid it in the ground. The king was angry at having gotten no return at all, so he sent the third servant to be tortured.
The modern philosophy of progressive forward looking government is analogous to the first two servants being entrusted with their Talents. They felt a long-term and expansive approach to money management would produce the greatest prosperity. The careful and balanced budgeting from this administration is similar to the philosophy of the first two servants. Extensive sewer repair, expanding the Riverlink Park, unrelenting support for the Mohawk Overlook, revitalization of Bridge Street -- Mayor Thane has fought for these projects in the face of constant criticism and slander.
The budget proposed by the present Common Council is like burying money in the ground. Services are being cut, people are being laid off and in the fearful attitude of the last servant I see smallness of purpose and regressive thinking. In the policies put forward by this Common Council thus far all they have come up with is cronyism, rumors and attacks.
We have a choice between panic,anxiety, and a dark vision for our city or growing our economy, growing and beautifying our city and escaping the despair of the past.