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“There will be changes”: Stephane Castriques about Future of SKIF

The picture shows Stephane Castrique SKIF Belgium.

Stephane Castrique, Chief-Instructor of SKIF-Belgium, sent us a detailed answer about the analysis our managing director and chief editor, Dr. Christian Tribowski, published on Monday. You can find Christian´s analysis here: Quo Vadis, SKIF? Strategy Desperately Needed. Following we have published Stephane´s full answer. Feel free to engage in the discussion in the comments.

Dear Christian, dear readers of The Shotokan Times, this is my reaction to the article “Quo Vadis, SKIF? Strategy Desperately needed”, The Shotokan Times published last Monday. It is important that this is my personal view and not in any way the official point of view of the SKIF HQ.

In the following answer I am going to address some of your questions, clarify some issues you have raised, and show where your arguments become misleading. Again, I only express my own and private opinion and knowledge.

Clarification of some Facts about SKIF

In your article you posted the following statement, in which you referred to the SKIF website:

“according to SKIF, 130 country organisations are affiliated combining several million members”

SKIF is indeed represented in 130 different countries. However not every branch has the same size. Like in any worldwide karate organization, some branches are big and have a big following and some branches are very small, representing just a few dojo or members.

So I agree that SKIF has the biggest worldwide representation compared to any other “single style organization” but does this automatically mean that the total combining members results in several million members? I don’t think so.

We all know that all karate organizations like to boast about their total membership (and so does SKIF), but I don’t think there is any “single style organization” that has several million members.

The WKF is not a style organization; it is a sporting organization that brings together many national federations. This is maybe (and I emphasize “maybe”) the only organization that can claim several million members through national federations in many countries around the world.

The picture shows Stephane Castrique the chief instructor of SKIF Belgium.
Stephane Castrique, Chief Instructor of SKIF Belgium

Hierarchy in the JKA

You also referred to the JKA and stressed:

“today, the JKA has a much flatter hierarchy, integrates more characters, and does not focus solely on one supreme leader.”

Yes, indeed JKA integrates more characters, because the number of HQ instructors is much bigger. This is because JKA is domestically (JKA japan) bigger than SKIF. Why? Well the reason is because JKA has longer history than SKIF, therefore it is much better represented in the many high school karate clubs, university karate clubs, and has more local branches. Anybody who knows the Japanese karate world is aware of this. So, while JKA is still big in Japan it has become smaller over the years due to the big split in the 1990’s.

Obviously I’m not a JKA member but from my info, it is not correct to say that JKA in its management has a flatter hierarchy. I think like most karate organizations it is organized with a strong vertical hierarchy.

SKIF succession secured

“A dispute of succession, would lead to a collapse of the federation and seems very unlikely”.

This statement is very true; a dispute seems very unlikely. Nobody can say that the current leadership is against Kanazawa Soke’s will. It is this new generation that has the responsibility to keep SKIF going.

The field of Shotokan and why we need a strong SKIF

“The loss of the figurehead has damaged the aura of SKIF. Many members came for Hirokazu Kanazawa. But will they stay for Nobuaki Kanazawa and Manabu Murakami?”

My feeling is that almost everybody will stay. Because in any karate organization the number of members that practice karate as a lifelong discipline is not usually a large number.

I use SKIF-Belgium as an example. While still many of our dojo leaders have had frequent exposure to Kanazawa Soke, many of our most motivated young members, dojo leaders and national team members have had much more exposure and actual training time with Murakami Shuseki Shihan and other SKIF HQ instructors. So their loyalty is much more towards this generation.

When dojos or members leave SKIF (or any other organization) the reasons are seldom because there is a problem at World leadership level. When people leave it is mostly because they have issues with domestic policy.

Do we need a strong SKIF? As representative of SKIF in Belgium I think it is important. When there are strong and big SKIF groups in other countries it gives more credibility to my own group and what we do. It also gives more opportunities for international exchange (courses, competitions, etc.).

You, however, derive at the following conclusion:

“However, SKIF has now considerably been weakened”

I don’t think so. Anybody who has attended the last SKIF World Championship in the Czech Republic will testify that the opposite is true. After April 5, 2014, the date of the succession of Kanazawa Soke, the size nor the activities of the federation have changed.

An international technical seminar has been created and held yearly in Tokyo since 2014. This year’s seminar and Kanazawa Soke’s memorial have been cancelled because of the Coronavirus outbreak, but over 500 representatives from many different countries had already registered.

The five challenges for SKIF

Changing global Karate environment and need for strategy

Budo and values play a minor role in the WKF system”

Like I said before, WKF is a sporting organization. Their purpose is to create a platform to allow karate athletes to compete under a certain set of rules. For some the side effects of this “sportification” is indeed public recognition and fame, as well as income and a career. But still more people make an income or extra money by “teaching” karate than “competing.” There will always be people interested in learning “karate-do.” WKF can do nothing for these people, but organizations like SKIF (and others) are still relevant for this big majority.

“attentive observers have already noticed that some national SKIF teams already compete at WKF events”

I don’t see the problem. First of all, each country has organized karate in its own specific way. In some countries SKIF is a part of the national style federation/governing body. In some countries like my own, SKIF is totally outside of the national governing body. In some countries SKIF representatives hold important positions within the national governing body.

Stephane Castrique demonstraton his skills

Let’s not forget that Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho was himself a member of the JKF national team in the past. (JKF= governing body for karate in Japan). All I can say that all competitors in a major SKIF tournaments must register with their SKIF dan diploma number. This has been done so that a major SKIF tournament is really a 100% SKIF event.

“We wrote an e-mail to Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho and Manabu Murakami about the official strategy of the organization in October 2019. We never received and answer.”

First, it is up to them to answer to your request or not. But if they answer they should find the time to formulate an answer together, since the questions were asked to both of them. As it happens I can confirm that at that specific time both were not together in Japan for several weeks. Soke was hospitalized from mid-November and passed away on December 8. I think they had a lot on their mind at the moment so it is a little difficult to sit together and discuss a common answer to your question. Once more if they felt it was important to answer you.

With my limited knowledge of Japanese culture, all I can say that after the passing away of the figurehead of the organization it is custom in Japan to have a one year of silence. For example, there were no big changes in the management and/or positions of the JKS, after Asai sensei’s passing for over one year.  And the same can be seen in many organizations that have their HQ in Japan.

From my conversations with Murakami Shuseki Shihan, Nobuaki Kancho and several other HQ instructors there will be changes in the future. But now it is too early, out of respect for the huge work Kanazawa Soke has done over the years.

My guess is that there will be changes in the future (i.e. examination program, organizational structure, instructor accreditation, etc.). But it will always be centered around Kanazawa Soke’s specific brand of karate and the syllabus he designed.

“The Takudai seminars”

From my understanding, these seminars were organized by the impulse of Nagai Shihan, SKIF representative in Germany. Many Takudai Karate club old boys have a big pride in the fact that they were members of this great Uni karate club. The incredible amount of karate masters and leaders that came via this lineage is recognized by everybody in the Shotokan Karate world. Some people even go as far to say that Shotokan Karate as we know it is “Takudai karate.” All I can see is that there was a lot of JKA activity in Germany the week before the last Takudai seminar and even on the same weekend. So if this initiative has stopped maybe we should look more towards the JKA than SKIF.

“But the problem is: Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho did not attend Takushoku University”

That Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho has not attended Takushoku University is not a problem in my view. Anyway, when he reached the age of going to university, the Takudai karate club was closed, so it was impossible for him to join. Kancho joined the Taisho University Karate club. As an old boy from this also famous karate club he now has his own connections within the Karate world. Many famous karate instructors graduated from Taisho: Iida Norihiko, Sawada Kazuhiro, Ogura Yasunori, Hanzaki, Koh Iwamoto, and also some very good female karateka like Baba and Takahashi Yuko.

Founding instructors of SKIF about to retire

“The loss of the founding fathers of SKIF will considerably weaken the federation overseas”

First of all, I think that SKIF is a strong federation overseas. It is 100% true that Asano Shihan, Nagai Shihan, Miura Shihan, Koga Shihan and Kawasoe Shihan (deceased) have built SKIF in Europe. They are a special generation of pioneers that have faced many adversities when they first arrived in Europe. It takes a special kind of man come to Europe, without knowing the language, the customs and survive here just by teaching karate. When they faced problems within the JKA, Kanazawa Soke stood up for them. This got him into trouble in Japan, and the rest is history as they say.

For about eight years now there is also a board of directors of SKIF in Europe. The founding instructors of SKIF have their voice in this board trough their senior students that are part of this board. So slowly but gently some changes have taken place.

Let us not forget that in their own countries a lot of students became members of SKIF because of their charisma and karate skill. The loyalty towards SKIF and Kanazawa Soke was thought to these students by following the example of their Japanese instructors.

But we must also face the truth. As I said before, it takes a special kind of man to come to  Europe, without knowing the language, the customs and survive here just by teaching karate. The founding fathers were successful because of their hard character. With all respect, but I would not describe them as “normal” Japanese men. This has also over the years created some fall out. There are also people who have left SKIF with pain in their hearts. But cooperating with founding fathers became impossible for them. Therefore, a generation change might well be a window of opportunity for future growth and old members returning to SKIF.

The need for an instructors Program

We cannot compare JKA to SKIF too much. It is a fact that JKA employs 25 instructors at their HQ in Tokyo. But as I said before the domestic workload inside Japan is bigger for them. JKA is a government recognized institution. Therefore, I would not be surprised that there is also some government funding for the JKA. SKIF is a non-profit organization. The structure is very different.

JKA has a constant influx of university graduates because a lot of university karate clubs are JKA style and use JKA instructors. The pool of young people that are crazy enough to pursue a career in karate is much bigger. Same for JKS, because Kagawa Shihan is the main shihan at Teikyo University. To my knowledge only two or three university karate clubs have a connection to SKIF. Also, these Karate clubs are part of universities with a higher academic status. The members of these clubs practice karate mostly as a hobby and these clubs do not attract young Japanese karateka that look for a hard training environment to improve their karate and of course their tournament skills.

I am almost sure that SKIF management is aware that it should have an influx of new young instructors but the pool to find them is smaller. A career as a SKIF HQ instructor is not all roses. For many young Japanese people a job as a karate instructor is not attractive, neither financially nor status wise. Even Murakami Shuseki Shihan’s own mother asked him until 2006 when he would quit and get a “real” job.

There is an instructor’s program also at SKIF HQ. At this very moment, my own student, Mr. Huglo Paul, will probably graduate from this course beginning of April. Hiyori Kanazawa will probably also graduate, but I’m not sure whether she will be a “full” instructor or a “junior” instructor as their training program and training volume was not the same. From my conversations with Murakami Shihan and Kanazawa Kancho the course is basically 2 years. Until now it was modeled after the JKA course. Of course, I cannot speak for SKIF HQ, but my thinking is that they will try to make a different system or way to get this accreditation more in harmony with the reality of today’s world. I don’t know about specific details at this moment.

Media visibility and presence

I agree with the analysis made in this article. But we must not forget that the instructors have to be first of all: “karate professionals”.

Meaning that their core activity is teaching karate. Like a skilled craftsman, who is also able to teach his craft. On top of this they need to do administration and sometimes even do politics. That is already 3 skills for one and the same person. To ask them to also be an internet influencer or a Youtuber is maybe asking a little too much.

Let’s not forget that the Kuroobi World Media is Mr. Nishi’s fulltime job. He’s not a karate instructor. Of course, JKA has the beneficial effects of being in the public spotlight via Naka Shihan and Kuroobi World. But Kuroobi World is not an official communication channel of the JKA.

It is a fact that SKIF has to make a bigger effort when it comes to internet visibility and social media.

What distinguishes SKIF?

I think this question would best be answered in a completely different article. If I find the time in the future I will try to give an answer.

Just two important points:

  1. As far as technical matters are concerned it is characterized by Kanazawa Soke’s “unique” development and ideas of the Shotokan style. But this does not mean that everything is rigid. Future generation of SKIF instructors and various members will naturally influence the art.
  2. Organizationally, I think the name sums it all up: “JAPAN” karate association vs. Shotokan Karate-Do “INTERNATIONAL” Federation.

These are my personal comments on the article “Quo Vadis SKIF?” It is important that readers understand that my comment on the article should not in any way be interpreted as the “official SKIF HQ” reaction.

Oss!!!

Stephane Castrique Chief-Instructor of SKIF-Belgium

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Women of Shotokan: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes

“There is something magical about Shotokan Karate!” says Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes, SKIF Kumite World Champion Masters 50+ of 2019. We could not agree more. However, Sandra lost this magic once. After being a very successful competitor in very young years, she felt a lack of sense in her karate. To many competitions gave her the feeling of “being driven by results, rather than my heart.” Thus, she stop training. 28 years later, she found her way back into the dojo. Today, she is more committed than ever. And her commitment pays of and gained her the title of a world champion. Read this inspiring and insightful portrait about a woman, who fought her way back on the tatami: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Portrait: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes
Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes
  • Age: 50
  • Karate since: 1977 until 1989 stopped for 28 years and started again in September 2016
  • Origin and residence: Dutch since 1996 living in Schilde Belgium
  • (Kyu/Dan) Rank: 2nd Dan KBN (WKF/EKF), 3rd Dan SKIF
  • Dojo: Honbu Dojo Mortsel Belgium

Additional information (member of a national team, coach, board member of a Dojo, highest achievements etc.):

  • From 1985 until 1988 member of Dutch National Team WKF
  • 1986 Silver Dutch Championship -53kg  KBN/WKF
  • 1987 Bronze European Championship Santander -53 WKF
  • 1988 Bronze European Championship Sopron Dutch Women Team
  • 1989 Gold Open Dutch League WKF
  • 1989 Silver  Dutch Championship Women All categories WKF
  • 1989 Bronze Open English Championship Birmingham Dutch Women Team WKF
  • 2019 Gold SKIF Kumite Masters 50+
Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during the SKIF World Championships 2019

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: As a young girl, I was quiet, shy, and I cried easily. That is why, even before I turned six years old, my parents advised me to take up judo to increase my confidence. Two years later, I joined a new karate school.

Because I suffered from chronic asthmatic bronchitis, I found it challenging to train in small spaces. My Sensei, Jim Hubner, from “Seibukan Dojo” taught me how to breathe the right way during training, and as a result, my self-confidence grew quickly. Suddenly I could enjoy the fun and educational karate lessons, just like all the other children.

Almost every night – after my father and I came back from work and school – we went to the dojo where he worked as a sports instructor, and I could take karate classes every evening. And so the dojo became my second home. 

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: There is something magical about Shotokan Karate! It is a perfect art of self-defense and an excellent way to achieve overall fitness and unparalleled control over body and mind.

Kumite is and remains my favorite part of karate, but the basic kihon and kata are also fascinating and very interesting.

During the training, I am always looking for “perfection” because something always remains to be improved. Even simple kihon exercises are never truly perfect. I am always looking for the right positions, timing, kime, balance, and breathing.

I think that it is essential to keep control of all these aspects. And for kumite, I think the more versatile you are, the better you can determine your strategies.

Is there something you do not like? What is it?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: No, I like every aspect of karate. Except maybe the blisters I have all the time, haha.

What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: My most significant experience was returning to karate after 28 years.

Three years ago, I took a karate trial lesson with my friends in the Honbu Dojo in Mortsel, Belgium. My friends didn’t know anything about my experience with karate because I had closed that chapter a long time ago. During the first training session, as soon as I took my first kick, my Sensei Stephane Castrique realized that I had done this before. I was surprised about how quickly my desire grew to do this more and more often. Very soon, I was allowed to participate in the black belt lessons, and I came to the dojo almost every day.

There was something magical about the dojo, and I was inspired by the great passion and knowledge with which Sensei Stephane Castrique taught his classes. I realized more and more that karate was still flowing through my veins!

After a year of hard training, I got my 2nd dan confirmed by SKIF, and a year later I got my 3rd dan.

In these 2.5 years, I reconnected with old karate friends. I increasingly felt that all the pieces of the puzzles were coming together. It gave me a sense of complete satisfaction and purpose. The last piece of the puzzle and the most beautiful highlight was winning the gold at the World Cup in the Czech Republic.

In terms of the worst experience, there is nothing that comes to mind.

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during training

What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: I like challenges. I see them as new opportunities and take them with both hands.

On the one hand, I get my motivation from the fact that challenges make a person better and stronger. And on the other hand, they force me to think about things differently. And when you deliver excellent performance, you get more appreciation. That is also a major motivator.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Karate has shaped me as a person. I was in the Seibukan dojo almost every day from the age of nine to the age of nineteen. At that time, I was surrounded by loving people who all shared my passion for karate. I had weekly training sessions with the best Senseis of that time, including Ludwig Kotzebue (kumite) and Jaap Smaal (kata). They taught me not only to work hard but also to stay sharp and focused on achieving my goals. In the national team led by national coach Otti Roethof and Raymond Snel, I trained with the greatest champions of that time!

My friends sometimes ask me whether I truly enjoyed my childhood. They wonder if I ever missed going out with friends. I can only answer that loving, caring people surrounded me, and so I never experienced it negatively. They were my karate family, and I am grateful that they shared not only the passion for karate with me but also some valuable life lessons.

How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Karate has had a significant influence on me in every aspect.

I quit karate when I was twenty years old because I lost my passion for it. I felt like I was being driven by results, rather than my heart. Around that time, I also met my husband, with whom I traveled around the world, got married, and have two beautiful children. My husband had his own company, and he worked around the clock. I wanted to stay at home with our son and daughter. I made that choice wholeheartedly without any doubts or regrets. Because of it, I now have a great connection with my children, and I love being a mother.

When my daughter left home at the age of nineteen to study at the UVA in Amsterdam, I felt lost. I had everything my heart desired, and yet I was miserable and anxious. I felt like crying a lot of the time, and I was driving myself crazy.

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during training

So I focused all my attention on our son. When he came home from school, I bombarded him with questions. According to the doctor, I was suffering from empty nest syndrome. He even prescribed light antidepressants for me, but I refused to take them. I had to do something for myself. So as I mentioned before, karate came back into my life at the perfect time. I rediscovered my old passion in which I could always set new goals, and as a result, I flourished. Also for my family it is nice that I have my own goals and they know that I am always there for them when they need me.

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: When I was younger and a member of the Dutch national team Kumite, I trained every day. At that time, especially in the later years, karate was more of a sport to me, and so I only trained to achieve good results. That was also what people expected from me.

Now, 28 years later, I train with much more passion and depth. I am also fortunate that, in the SKIF family, I get to train with the best and most inspiring senseis and karatekas. They ensure that I stay sharp and focused.

My goal is to become an even better karateka. But I also want to enjoy every minute on the tatami with people who share the same passion!

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: I hope that Shotokan karate remains the way it is. I hope that the traditional style of karate continues to be practiced with all its strict etiquette, depth, and respect for each other.

Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends? Why?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Yes, it is through my female friends that I have found my way back to the dojo. We have a nice club of ladies who train together every Monday morning. We want to get the most out of each other, both as a karateka and in our friendship. In recent years, I have not only seen them evolve from a white belt to a purple one, but I have also seen them grow as a person. They have more self-confidence and they have become stronger, both physically and mentally. And while doing karate, you make friends for life!

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Women of Shotokan: Ildikó Rédai

To get yourself up and back to competitions after a torn ACL is a huge challenge and requires endurance, persistence, and a strong will. Ildikó Rédai, our today´s Woman of Shotokan, mastered the challenge and fought her way back to the Tatami. She is not just a very successful competitor but also national Kata coach of Hungary. This summer, she will face the next great challenge: She will lead her team to the SKIF World Championship in Czech Republic. Our guess: She will prevail. Read this inspiring and highly motivational interview with Ildikó Rédai. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Ildikó Rédai will lead her team as a national Kata coach of Hungary to the SKIF World Championship in the Czech Republic this summer.

Portrait: Ildikó Rédai

  • Name: Ildikó Rédai
  • Age: 39
  • Karate since: 1989
  • Origin and residence: origin Hungary / residence The Netherlands
  • Rank: 4. Dan
  • Dojo: various

Additional information:

  • SKIF Hungary national kata coach and vice chairmen SKIF Hungary,
  • 2x SKIF European champion kata (2011/2014),
  • SKDUN European championships 3rd place (2014),
  • JKS Euro Cup 1st place (2017),
  • JKA and SKIF national champion in Hungary and Netherlands.

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

Ildikó Rédai: I was a child who couldn’t really sit in one place for too long so I needed to find a sport. When I started karate, I haven’t had many options to choose from and karate just started in the town where I lived. So, my Mum took me to my first lesson, years passed by, and I have stuck around since then. At that time, Karate Kid came out in the cinemas and we had a Hungarian tv show with a fighting girl. But that wasn’t the first inspiration. I liked that you could do many things and that you need some skills which I also had – like flexibility. Running bare feet outside were some less enjoyable parts but we did it – no questions asked …

Ildiko during a seminar

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Ildikó Rédai: Shotokan karate compared to other styles is hard but still elegant with the long stances and punches. I like also the traditional shobu ippon kumite rules, where you have to score one perfect point to win. It is straight forward, you win or lose, not much space for errors. This should make you work for perfection for the techniques during training.

Is there something you do not like? What is it?

Ildikó Rédai: Unfortunately, too many federations are involved in Shotokan karate nowadays. They are not always willing to work or train together or allowed to participate at each other’s competitions or events. Especially, when it comes to open Shotokan competitions and participants get point reductions for performing a kata according to a particular standard and getting judged by a referee from a different federation. Everybody should be more open minded about techniques and why are they performed in a particular way instead of giving a negative feedback to something that is different. The political aspects are my least favorite part of karate.

Training under the guidance of Kancho Nobuaki Kanazawa during a technical seminar in Belgium

What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?

Ildikó Rédai: I have many great experiences involving traveling around the world participating on World and European championships or even just for seminars. Getting to know many countries and wonderful karate people and karate masters in the world.Winning European championships definitely one of the most memorable experience that happened. Other great things are the trips to Japan. I had the opportunity to train in many different Dojo’s and see this wonderful country.

Worst thing what happened is injury related, when I tore my ACL during a tournament in 2014. I had a one-year break from competing and I doubted if I could ever set a foot on the tatami again. Luckily, the recovery went well and I could participate at the SKIF World Championship in Indonesia where I reached the finals.

What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?

Ildikó Rédai: Training is very often challenging because I train on my own mostly and then I have to rely on myself to get up and go practicing. I visit my Sensei´s abroad, which means a lot of driving or flying. In Belgium sensei Yvan de Windt and in Siciliy sensei Santo Torre helping me and I go there as much as I can to get great inspiration and motivation from time to time. Seminars are also a great source of motivation. There are always some new ideas that I can learn and build into my training. Of course my fellow Karateka, friends, and family are also around and sometimes convincing and encouraging me not to give up. A good talk helps a lot sometimes.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Ildikó Rédai: Maybe I can control myself better to not say or do things over rushed as I might tend to do. It gave me more confidence about myself.

How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life? Has it helped you overcome or deal with difficult situations in your life? Is it helping you on a daily basis with the challenges of life?

Ildikó Rédai: It influences my life almost on a daily basis. During my ACL recovery I had to train like I was preparing for a competition. I couldn’t have this mindset without all the training I did before.

During warm up

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Ildikó Rédai: When I started first, I started mostly at Kumite competitions. Later, I also started at kata competitions. After a couple of years, I start mostly in kata and trying to perfect my skills. Although I still like kumite and it is very important to practice now and then, the body unfortunately gets older and I do not have the right speed for it. I hope my karate will improve with the years (that is also the reason why we are training). I’m also interested to implement different training methods from other sports to get some diversity.

What are your personal Shotokan Karate short- and long-term goals?

Ildikó Rédai: The short-term goal is to get as a national kata coach the Hungarian team ready for the SKIF World Championship this summer.

I’d like to carry on and taking the next dan examination in the future. Learning from different styles and martial arts is another goal, which I think is very important at a certain level. Teaching and coaching nationally and internationally will be among my plans. Organizing seminars together with other inspirational karate women is also one of my goals. One day, hopefully, I will have my own Dojo and students.

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

Ildikó Rédai: I’d like to see a closer gap between WKF and other federations with less difference between “sport” and “traditional” karate. Karate is still a martial art. You need some physical abilities and for top competitions you still need excellent condition. But you should not to forget basic traditional values as respect and humbleness.

Yoko-Geri by Ildikó Rédai

Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends? Why?

Ildikó Rédai: Karate benefits the health. You have a diversity of exercises for strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility. It keeps you strong, makes you slim and eventually you don’t have to be scared to walk through a dark street if you learn to place some punches and kicks on the right spots. I see many young girls starting. But they leave right at the moment, when they actually become good. I think it is not only necessary to recommend to start. But it is also necessary to encourage to carry on practicing karate.