“Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”. This is not from me but from George Bernard Shaw.
In Japanese “change” can be written in many ways. One of them, known to all of us is 変化 (henka).
But the compound word “henka” is much more than the word “change”. Both kanji (hen and ka) have the meaning of “change”, but 変 (hen) is the “beginning of the change” where 化 (ka), is the “end of change”. This gives a much deeper understanding of it, some kind of Inyo cycle (yin-yang).
In fact we often use it wrongly. A henka is not something you make up, this is not a variation, this is something that is either:
1) natural, when your adjusts the mechanical waza to the situation at hand,
2) listed, when it is part of an official set of possible adaptations in a given ryûha (this is the case for example in the kukishin sword techniques).
A few years ago, Sensei asked us to understand that, and to avoid calling “henka” any variation we would do. A henka is a henka; a variation is a variation. But to make it a little more confusing, some variations might be called henka.
Shaw states that change is the key to progress. This is why we travel and train in Japan. When you come to Japan you have to be ready to change everything you think you know in order to progress. In a way the Japan trip is defining, building your future; so it would be a loss of time and effort to go there and to only reproduce the things of your past.
Build the future from 中今 (nakaima) the present*, not from the past.
Your progression lies on your ability to change your Kokoro Gamae in order to modify, and to the better, your Tai Gamae.**
Change your attitude and remember that “… those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” **
* nakaima literally means “the middle, the center of now”.
** Kamae (Gamae) has the meaning of posture, or attitude (as in 身構え – migamae).