Back when I first made sho-dan and too soon was on my own there were no resources to rely on to direct my training. And to be honest I was probably the least of Lewis Sensei’s many black belts. My own observation, for I was far from the strongest.
Charles Murray had literally stuffed the Isshinryu system into me. The vision I retained of my instructors and my seniors, each of which were so powerful role models for me, that memory was the only reference I had.
I had the burden of 3 ½ years of study and nothing else to guide me. I felt the burden very strongly that I could not forget anything. And being human at times I did forget. I remember one day I started Shi Shi Bo and skipped into Urashie Bo. It took me a week to realize what the correct for was. There was nothing like reference material.
Eventually I started making detailed notes of everything.
I used competition as a tool to help me remember my forms. That and competing against some of the best people in the country didn’t hurt either. Time passed and my karate grew stronger.
I trained with others and learned what they showed, but never at the depth of being their formal student. And none of them cared a bit what my Isshinryu was.
Time passed and from some books, magazines and some videos I came to see some of what others were doing. But at that time I really knew the difference of being trained by someone, the depth of that training. I noted their differences, was fine with their vision, and paid no further attention, I did have my own vision, that which my instructors shared.
Then after 25 years I met Sherman Harrill, he was fine that I followed the Issinryu of my instructors. What he did share was his vision of what Isshinryu application could be, a whole lot of sharing.
Certainly not the same as the American founders of Isshinryu experienced, but still a similarity in my experience did exist.
Sherman said it best “It is not what we have that is different that is important, rather it is what we share in common that is far more important.”
I have tried to live up to that vision of Isshinryu, that and the Isshinryu my instructors taught me.