Hanshi 10th dan master interviews
Living with the spirit of "Today is the last day", Yasuda Tetsunosuke sensei
If you happen to meet him at the corner of a street, Mr. Yasuda Tetsunosuke will remind you of a gentleman of old time Okinawa. In the post war Okinawa, he worked on US military facilities before opening his own real estate company named Yasuda Jutaku Co., Ltd that he still runs today. While at a first sight you might not notice it, the life of CEO Yasuda was supported by karate and yoga.
Born in 1926, Yasuda sensei became a student of Miyazato Eichi sensei, a direct student of the founder of Goju-ryu, Miyagi Chojun sensei. As he explains, "The reason why I chose Goju-ryu is because this school had the breathing kata Sanchin and Tensho. This is because I studied the way of breathing through Yoga."
Having encountered psychology at university, Yasuda sensei has always lived a life where severe karate training and Bushido way of thinking are like the two wheels of a bicycle.
Yasuda sensei truly believes that "It is important to face oneself in an honest way. Unfortunately, in the case of many karate people, they are focusing on the outside aspects of karate. That is why when I look at martial arts today, I can not stop thinking that it has gotten out the way of Budo. Ideally, if one practices karate thinking of it as a way to build himself, he will find his Ikigai, his purpose in life". He goes on saying that "Human beings should follow the principles of the Kamikaze units, living as if today was the last day of their life. This concept should prevail for life but also in karate and never be forgotten."
To the question what is the most important thing in karate, Yasuda sensei answers frankly, "Tanden no kyoka and Kiso tanren, respectively the strengthening of the tanden and basic training. I can't conceive that an animal could do something but a man could not!" And at 87, Yasuda sensei, the Saiko Komon or supreme advisor of the Jundokan Sohombu, doesn't only speak about theory but also applies it. Grabbing a 20 kg weight and holding it behind his head, he executes easily some 30 sit-ups. And when finished, he goes back to instructing with a healthy smile on his face...
(Interview done on October 22, 2012 in Urasoe City)
True karate is about respecting seniors, Miyagi Minoru sensei
"When I was 19, I had no interest in karate. However, Irei Seiki, a classmate from Yomitan Senior High School took me to the Kadena Dojo located not far from my parents' home. This is how I became a student of Shinjo Seiyu sensei." Telling the story is Miyagi Minoru sensei, 70 years old. Minoru sensei was promoted 10th dan in December 2010 by the Okinawa Uechi ryu Karatedo Hozonkai.
"Karate then and karate today has changed quite a lot." In the past, as recall Miyagi sensei, students repeat endlessly kata with full power, with the instructor correcting the performance according to bunkai-applications. Today, it seems that speed and beauty are the main factors prevailing. "I am deeply saddened by the fact that the meaning of karate has changed and that kata are being destroyed."
When asked if shiai (sparring) was practiced, sensei answers "Of course, but by correctly practicing kata, fighting is not needed." In karate, especially in Uechi ryu, the importance is placed on body forging and character building more than beautification. By knowing pain, you understand people's pain. This way, it becomes impossible to use karate in a harmful way. By building a strong spirit and body, in case of an assault, the idea is to damage naturally the other party by defending only. This is what Miyagi sensei means by "Karate that does not need fighting"! Shinjo Seiyu sensei used to repeat "Shobu ha, Issho Ichido" (A fight occurs only once in a lifetime). By this, he meant the importance of building a spirit that does not use karate. This is the difference between "Bu - martial art" and "Sport".
Finally asking Miyagi sensei about the tradition, he replies "Kata should be passed on without a single change; meanwhile, a karateka should develop his own techniques. If the master teaches you one, you should research 9!" Also, Miyagi sensei believes that in karate, intelligence and academic studies are not what matter; what matters is the technical research. On top of this, if karate people are to preserve the principles of "Respecting one's superiors" and "Refraining from haughtiness," he believes that true traditional karate will be passed on to posterity.
(Interview done on May 14, 2011 at the Takashiho Dojo in in Yomitan Village)
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