“To search for the old is to understand the new.”
– Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate
My mother, an immigrant from Lebanon, taught me, my brother and my sisters good values: humanitarianism, self-control and mindfulness. And while she brought those principles from her home country, she wanted us to be American while reflecting her cultural philosophy.
She refused to speak anything other than English in the house. When I asked her why, she said, “You’re an American and you’re going need to assimilate to this culture.”
I believe that she wanted her children to benefit from this beautiful country and not have to endure the suffering that she went through. But at the same time, she also understood that there was deep value in understanding the culture which brought us here. A foundation of good basics to build upon, a guidepost.
I held to those values my mother taught me while also learning new ideas. In correlating that to martial arts training, one also needs “good basics”: keeping in mind the principles as we learn to assimilate to the new world around us.
Similarly, in martial arts, I think we’re after new approaches, new thought models as to what we do in training. If we only use the traditional ideas we may end up a little off center and dull.
But by mixing traditional good values with fresh good values, rather than just blindly assimilating, we keep something important. We don’t end up changing or adjusting at the cost of who and what we are.
The moral is that we need solid ground to stand on as we try to leap higher. Searching the old gives us context, it gives us perspective. We discover for ourselves important lessons from those who’ve gone before. And none of this negates or devalues our own lived experiences. Instead it weaves into the fabric of our consciousness a powerful thread, one running from our ancestors all the way through to the present moment.
– Gene Dunn & Foundation of Love
For more about our larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, please visit the
Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here.