Holding ground: Roots to routes and routes to roots. A two way street on the way to the way.

I am one of those leaves up the top somewhere!

Karate for me is a passion I have only recently discovered. Another major passion in my life started when I was much, much, younger. That passion was, and still is, music. I will, one day, blog about how my concurrent pursuit of music and martial arts has helped me in both, but in this post, I want to explore something more basic; the importance of remembering where things all began.

The reason I bring up my music “history”, however, is by way of introduction. One of the most influential musical educators I had the fortune of working with throughout high school, university, and beyond, gave me some sage advice when I finished high school;  “Never forget your roots”. It has been over 20 years since then, and I have never forgotten it. The meaning of his words has made more and more sense over time, and branched out to apply to many areas of my life (not just music).

In the dojo the other night we spent an hour in class going over kihon (basics). This is nothing unusual, and is obviously vital to both roots (staying connected with the style) and routes (continual improvement and development of skills /  forward progression). What was slightly different though was that this time the major (almost sole) focus was on dachi (stances). I had been thinking about writing a post on remembering your roots and routes, but, this class gave me yet another angle to talk about. This was literally a class working on staying grounded (and moving on) from the roots up; how could I resist?!

So, why is it important to remember your roots?

  1. You can stand up and be proud of what you are doing if you know why your are doing it and you can hopefully start to explain the origins to anyone who is interested.
  2. You can encourage others just starting out, much more empathetically, if you remember where you have been; the further down the road you are and the more you “remember your roots” the more you can connect with beginners and the more they can connect with you. (I speak as someone on the receiving end, primarily.)
  3. History is important, can be very interesting, and it is an evolving process; you are part of it.
  4. As with  the roots of a tree, they are the foundation of everything, without which you end up with a tumble-weed! Having (or not having) a good grasp (or foot – hold in this context) of dachi illustrates this in a very literal sense!

Why is important to remember your routes?

  1. It’s important to have a path ahead so you can look forward to achieving your goal(s).
  2. It’s important to remember where you have been and how you got to where you are, in case you need to go back to retrieve something you lost along the way, or, equally importantly, to help others to follow.
  3. Recalling how you “got” things is vital to learning and “getting” more things.
  4. Seeing the way forward and backward gives context to a long journey that is “the way”, and that is “life”.

So, stand tall, well rooted (yet flexible), grounded but proud. Don’t forget your own roots, or the routes you have travelled. Don’t lose sight of the routes you wish to travel or forget the roots of the history you are now part of.


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