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What is a first generation student?
What qualifies one to be a first generation student?
How did this term become so important to Isshinryu or the Karate world for that matter?
What actually constitutes/defines what is a first generation student?
What makes it so important?
What gives it such importance as to some perceived validation/qualification in the quality of teaching Isshinryu?
Some questions I have concerning this seemingly all important validating as some special status title or honor bestowed upon a few persons to designate some mystical qualification in teaching Tatsuo Sensei's system of empty hand combative stuff ... ?
Petty Officer 2nd Class Andy Sloane called me today all the way from Okinawa to talk Isshinryu. He is doing a huge amount of research on Isshinryu and one of those specific topics regards what Isshinryu circles call the "first generation" students of Tatsuo Shimabuku Sensei, founder of Isshinryu. I don't wish to trespass on his stuff so please note that this post is all mine but was influenced by the discussions we had today. Thanks Andy!
What is a first generation student? My view is this, a student/practitioner who received "hands on" training/instruction "directly" from Tatsuo Sensei. There are no rules as to how long that instruction is or was but I will put on a quantity requirement, me and not Andy or anyone else but me. I would say to qualify as a first generation student of Tatsuo Sensei a person must have received hands-on instruction from Tatsuo Sensei on a regular basis and for a period of time. Regular basis means to me at least once a week for approximately two hours. The two hours does not necessarily mean all two hours hands-on but a combination of hands-on and close observations by Sensei. The period of time is for a minimum of one month.
I say this because you can visit the dojo, take one class where Tatsuo Sensei may have provided some personal instruction and then go off and say your a first generation student of Tatsuo Sensei, the systems founder, which seems to have some significant meaning which I have yet to determine as if some standard is met and promoted.
Now, clarification, a first generation student to me is one who actually meets the above criteria, generally, but it has to be with the systems founder/creator. To be a first generation student of say, ... me ..., is not really relevant to anyone except maybe me and that student. To me the first question above is the criteria I suggest and it being under the direct tutelage of the systems master/founder/creator, all of these designations.
How did this term become so important? I have no clue. I guess Americans need validation and in gaining it they "one-up" one another to achieve a higher level of perceived/accepted validation as to some very special and somewhat mystical belief or source or authoritative designation. Like getting a rank certificate directly from him vs. me where a group perceives/believes that it has some special additional all powerful meaning and validation.
I had someone state in a dojo that I was a person who actually trained under the master on Okinawa. It puzzled me since I was there in 79 and Tatsuo Sensei died earlier that decade until I realized that they thought I trained under his son, Kichero Sensei. I quickly corrected them that I actually did not receive hands-on training but merely attended his dojo a few times until an incident occurred that caused me to stop coming. I remember three trips from Camp Hansen to the dojo till the incident; then Henry, my Sensei, and I quit coming down.
So, actually if you go with no qualifications other than taking a class then I can say I trained directly under Kichero Sensei on Okinawa. If I don't elaborate properly you can see how folks my misinterpret the actual quantity and quality of that training and may give me some special status due to it yet it warrants absolutely no real credence what so ever, nadda.
I am puzzled at the mystical value folks give to such an elusive honor/title, etc. as "first generation student of the master," with absolutely no proof, validation or definitions. At one time I also fell into this pedestal syndrome and tried to find any evidence that my Sensei, Henry, was a "first gen student of Tatsuo Sensei" but finally came to the conclusion he was not one and that provided me the understanding that it made no difference one way or the other. The true test and validation is the "quality" of the Sensei experience, knowledge, and ability to instruct a martial system, to make it work, that is the true test. In other words could he make it work in the training facility and more importantly on the street.
First generation student, the person who spent the most time with him, etc., what is the actual value and meaning of all this? A personal question I would gather and one that must be scrutinized as self-analysis of self worth one must make of themselves.
Yes? No? Maybe? Comments?
Note: Andy Sloane is, in my opinion, the "one" true source of the history of Isshinryu and the Military to train in it. He has taken the time and effort to not just find the stories but to validate them with facts, hard and indisputable facts. He has pissed off a few Isshinryu'ist and their tribes/factions but then again the truth when it refutes a belief tends to make the believers a bit testy. His efforts to take the stories of those early pioneers and add in the facts with fact checks and validations makes him an authority on the history of Isshinryu and the military connection. I wait patiently for the day he publishes his material for it will be most illuminating.