Keinosuke Enoeda belonged to the generation of Shotokan masters, which understood karate as budo. Fighting and the spirit of Ikken hissatsu stood for them in the center of their karate do. Here I pay tribute to Keinosuke Enoedas fighting spirit. By Dr. Christian Tribowski
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to have a look into one of the books of Michael Ehrenreich. He argues in his book that the Karateka of the 50´s and 60´s were not the best technicians. However, their fighting power and spirit were much more advanced than today.
Rigorous Training as the Foundation for Fighting Spirit
The reason for this difference was the training regime. Makiwara training, self-defense and randori as well as a rigorous Kihon were the foundations of very tough fighters. The attitude towards fighting was also different. Ikken hissatsu, “killing with one blow”, was the dominant fighting strategy and philosophy. Practicing Shotokan Karate was a serious business and its purpose was to prevail in a street fight and to withstand several attackers at the same time. This rough training routine create very consequent and focused Karate personalities.
Happo Kumite with Shihan Enoeda
The following Kata and Happo Kumite demonstration by Shihan Keinosuke Enoeda shows this sort of mental focus and attitude towards fighting. His movements are powerful, consequent, and overwhelming. He does not play games. He fights for his life. That is how Shotokan should be taught!
Budo as the State of Mind for Shotokan Karate
Old masters stressed the budoaspect of Karate way more than today. In a recent interview, Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa also underlined the necessity to understand Shotokan as a “martial way”. Only such an approach leads to the positive and civilizing effects training can have. The mental state of Karateka and the way they deal with the constant changing circumstances of life stand for him in the center of Shotokan. Shihan Enoeda depicts this type of Karateka in an excellent way.
Full Biography of Keinosuke Enoeda
For a full biography of Shihan Enoeda visit the website of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB). Shihan Enoeda was the chief instructor of the KUGB and had a sustainable influenced on British and European Shotokan Karate. He was among the direct students of grand master Funakoshi and helped spread Shotokan Karate Do all over the world.
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
Portrait: Ildikó Rédai
Name: Ildikó Rédai
Karate since: 1989
Origin and residence: origin Hungary / residence The Netherlands
Rank: 4. Dan
SKIF Hungary national kata coach and
vice chairmen SKIF Hungary,
2x SKIF European champion kata (2011/2014),
SKDUN European championships 3rd
JKS Euro Cup 1st place
JKA and SKIF national champion in Hungary
What was the reason that you started Shotokan
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 …
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Many masters, associations, and Karateka claim to practice traditional Shotokan. They usually do this in order to distinguish their Karate from what is called Sports Karate. A precise definition what traditional Shotokan Karate exactly means is mostly not give. The questioner is left in the dark about the “tradition” that makes Shotokan traditional most of the time. If one keeps asking what traditional Shotokan is many respondents have a tendency to use a rhetorical loophole. According to their opinion, traditional Shotokan is exactly all that, what Sports Karate is not. In other words: It is the exact opposite.
For some questioners such an answer might be sufficient because the have a vague understanding what distinguishes both types of Karate. Or they do not care much about the differences. They just want to practice.
Definition of Traditional Shotokan?
For the community of practitioners and the art of Shotokan itself, however, a definition ex negativo is not sufficient at all. A clear understanding about the traits of Shotokan, a definition ex positivo, is necessary. Only then we will know how to
use and to work it out to its full potential,
spread its values,
create a common identity among practitioners,
attract new students,
show what is has to offer in comparison to other martial arts,
and to develop it further.
Unfortunately, the labels “tradition” and “traditional” do not help to illuminate and to describe what Shotokan is about. Why is that? If we define the term tradition we see that almost everything can become a tradition. As the people in the Rhineland, which is the region where I life today, use to say: If you do something three times, it has become a tradition. A more precise definition can be found in dictionaries. According to Merriam Webster, a tradition is defined as:
“an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)”
Olympic Games: Sport as A Tradition
If we take this definition serious it has huge consequences whether we should call Shotokan “traditional”. Because sports can be and is already a “inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior”. For instance, the first ancient Olympic Games were conducted 800 before Christ. Back then, they were religious rituals with strict rules and ceremonial elements. According to the definition, they were traditions.
The same goes for the International Olympic Games of the modern age. They date back to 1896. With more than 100 years of history one has to conclude that they have become a worldwide social custom. Even modern Sports Karate is already a tradition. The roots of the World Karate Federation date back to the 1960´s. Thus, it is only 30 years younger than Shotokan itself. In 2020, the WKF will introduce Karate to the Olympic Games. Sports Karate will then become a part of a more than 2.800 year old tradition of organized sports competition.
Shotokan Karate, on the other hand, was developed by Gichin Funakoshi in the 1920´s and 1930´s. And he did not develop it from scratch. He recombined Okinawa Karate styles and enriched them with some new ideas. But Karate itself is much older and has its roots in China. If we were consequent we must say that Okinawa Karate is more traditional than “traditional” Shotokan Karate.
To label Shotokan as traditional does not hold water. Because we must also understand that the term tradition is not a good quality indicator. A tradition might be outdated, inefficient, and harmful. Thus, we cannot conclude that every tradition is always good. Sometimes it is better to leave a bad tradition behind and develop something new. From this point of view, it is neither logically meaningful nor practically useful to say Shotokan is a traditional art.
Karate Do is the Better Term
But what is the alternative? We have already a better term at hand. It is Karate Do. Because Karate Do means a way of life and a social philosophy. Principles guide Shotokan Karate Do. The most famous among them is the Dojo-kun. But there are even more. For instance, the 20 Precepts of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi. The first precepts states:
“Karate begins and ends with courtesy.”
One can easily agree that this precept is timeless. It is neither traditional nor modern. It has been and will always be valid. This orientation on timeless values and guiding principles is the unique feature. At the center of the label of Shotokan should, therefore, stay that it is a paradigm to make the world a better place – it is Karate Do.
Andre Bertel has had a moving karate biography. According to himself was his hardest dan examination the one for godan. Why it became so difficult is going to be answered in this article. By Dr. Christian Tribowski
Everyone, who has seen or heard something about Andre Bertel, comes to the following conclusion: not much could make him lose his inner balance. He always seems to be under control over every situation. Calm and focused he masters all challenges. But such coolness does not comes for free.
The Godan Examination of Andre Bertel
In recent blog entry he confessed that his 五段 (Godan) examination was the hardest one in his career so far. This comes as a surprise. Because he has already reached the 六段 (Rokudan). Therefore, not the last grading was his hardest but the one before. This itself comes as a surprise. One would expect a constant increase in difficulty.
But why was it different in Andre Bertel´s case? What made the 五段 (Godan) examination so much more difficult for him than the previous one? The reason was Shihan Tetsuhiko Asai, his master. He announced Andre´s participation in the examination just a few minutes before it took place.
Andre Bertel´s Master: Tetsuhiko Asai
It is important to know that Andre Bertel and Tetsuhiko Asai had a special relationship. Andre trained several years under Asai Shihan as his master student. Since Tetsuhiko Asai´s death, Andre Bertel carries the legacy of his master.
On the other hand, the surprising participation in the Dan examination was not the only challenge. Quoting Hawaii Chief Instructor, Edward Fujiwara Sensei, Andre concludes:
“this was the most complex Godan examination that he [Fujiwara Sensei] had ever seen.”
Several reasons made Fujiwara Sensei say this. Firstly, he had to perform Gojushiho Dai and redomly selected by Shihan Asai Meikyo. In addition, his master advised hi to perform the katas Kakuyoku Shodan, Suishu, and Hachimon. Shihan Asai developed this katas. They do not belong to the 26 official Shotokan katas. Andre stated in his blog:
In sum, it was five consecutive kata for the fifth dan, kind of appropriate I guess: four of which came completely out of the blue!!! The price of being an uchideshi!!!!!!
Secondly, Andre had to demonstrate his fighting skills. Beside jiyu kumite Tetsuhiko Asai advised him to do Goshin-Jutsu. So, one can imagine the physical challenge. Therefore, we highly recommend to you to read Andre Bertel´s incredible and thrilling report about his examination.
Karate Combat promotes itself as the only full contact karate league world wide. This claim made us curious and we had a closer look. What we found was commercialization in the first place. A commentary by Dr. Christian Tribowski
If some of you have thought that Karate in general has become very commercialized in the past two decades, you might be surprised by the latest step on the capitalistic ladder. Karate Combat, a full contact Karate League, was launched this year.
Format of Karate Combat
It follows a pretty simple format: Two Karateka fight in a pit-like ring for a few minutes. The referee does not stop the fight: if one of the opponents scores a point – the fight goes on. At this point, it clearly distinguishes itself from Shobu Ippon kumite. Even on the ground the fighters can attack each other for five seconds. The rules prohibit hooks and elbow strikes. Gloves are mandatory. The opponents should use long tsukis and keris like in Shobu Ippon kumite.
What was most astonishing for me about Karate Combat was the excessive and conspicuous presentation of status and economic power. Big cars, incredible venues like the Acropolis, naked bodies, and apparently an exclusive audience are part of the production. The main sponsor, as you can see on the ground of the pit, is Bitcoin. To get an own impression have a look at their YouTube channel.
Karate Combat as Retro-Futuristic Spectacular
Vice Sports called it “retro-futuristic” because it shares similarities with some 80´s martial arts movies. This similarities led me to the following association: The general setting and aesthetics of the scenery reminded me about the movie Lionheart with Jean-Claude van Damme. The movie depicts a wealthy upper-class that organizes illegal bare-knuckle fights for their entertainment in Los Angeles. JCVD takes part in these fights to raise money to help his brothers family.
Focus on Monetization
Karate Combat, on the other hand, follows the law and is not a fight to death. Although, the similarities with Lionheart cannot be overlooked it shares more traits with the modern boxing industry. Like professional boxing it focuses on entertainment and commerce. Bitcoin as the main sponsor must have paid a considerable amount of money, because Karate Combat streams the fights on the internet for free. The “domain name Karate.com, which we can only imagine costs more than all the fighter’s purses combined”, as Vice Sports noted, must also been paid. A non-profit could not effort this production. In addition, the website lists a variety of partner companies like amazon prime, YouTube, Dailymotion etc. Hence, the commercialization of Karate has gone a tremendous step further.
Shotokan Serves a Different Purpose than Karate Combat
Everybody is free to watch and visit Karate Combat events. However, everybody should be aware that making money is not the true value of Karate in general and Shotokan. To put the Do into practices it is. While money serves as a necessary means in any professionalized system, even in Karate, e.g. professional instructors must make a living and associations need money to develop professional structures, the maximization of profits as a major purpose contradicts with the values of Shotokan Karate Do.
Shotokan cultivates humility, solidarity, perfection of one’s character, truth, respect for others and etiquette, endeavor, and impetuous courage in the first place. Everybody who puts money and entertainment in the center of their Karate loses the positive outcomes of this life-long journey: mental freedom and balance, empowerment, humility, enlightenment, empathy, friendship, a sense of belonging, solidarity. Karate Combat, instead, encourages the satisfaction of egoistic short-term goals like immediate consumption and spectacular.
The Shotokan Karate Do community, thus, should work harder than ever before to stress and foster the traditional values and positive effects Shotokan has on individuals and societies.
What do you think? Please comment below the article and discuss with our author.
Daedo has established itself as one of the top five non-Japanese Karate Gi producers world wide. Especially in the WKF they are a prominent brand. That is why we conducted a product review of their Shihan Karate Gi. By Dr. Christian Tribowski
Daedo under Review
A few days ago, Sensei Erkan Kemir from Cologne, Germany, sent us a product review for the Daedo Shihan Karategi. Daedo is a Spanish martial arts gear producer. They also sponsor the WKF and received the approval to provide official fighting gear. Here we briefly recap the experience he communicated us.
Sensei Kemir bought the Gi for his son Kaan, who wore it only once during a workshop. The workshop dealt with Kata. So no fighting whatsoever could have damaged the Gi. Right after the first training, however, the Gi showed several signs of insufficient quality. Erkans wife, Filiz, who is a professional sewer, documented the flaws.
While the garment itself appeared to hold the promised quality, the seams were insufficient. All over the Gi, they found several parts with untidy and weak stitches.
Even worst than the untidy seams, some of them were already broken. That is an absolute no go. It might be that somebody wore the Gi before. However, it came right from the distributer. Thus, one can expact that it was brand new. Broken seams implicate very poor production quality.
Sensei Kemir was very unsatisfied with the Gi. The next day, he sent it back to the retailer and got one from another brand.
No Sufficient Quantity of Gis Tested
We cannot judge whether this is a common problem of Daedo Gis because we have never tested a sufficient quantity of them for a longer period. It might be that it was a Gi from a flawed production charge or just a single case. We do not know. We also do not know the experiences of other Karatekas, who have been wearing them. This report is only based on the experience of Sensei Kemir.
Price very High in Comparison to other Brands
However, we can understand Sensei Kemirs disappointment. The price of 140 Euro or 160 Dollar is considerably high for a Karategi. Thus, he expected a higher standard of quality.
We hope that Daedo will get in touch with Sensei Kemir, find a solution and restore its good image.
What about your Experiences?
Please, write us your experiences with Daedo Gis. Did you experience the same problems? Was the quality as high as promised? Are you happy with your Gi?
If you also want to share your experiences with Shotokan Karate-related products, just send us a message. We are happy to help.
Rodrigo Rojas has shown incredible skills during the 14th Gichin Funakoshi Cup in Irland in 2017. Unfortunately, his victory was overshadowed by his lack of etiquette. A report and commentary by Dr. Christian Tribowski
First non-Japanese Victory since 1998
In 2017, the ground shook. The earthquake of that day changed the landscape of traditional Shotokan Karate for the next decade. Rodrigo Rojas from Chile broke the winning streak of the dominating Japanese Karateka. It took place in the kumite competition at the 14th GichinFunakoshi Cup, the official JKA world Championship in Limerick, Ireland. Since 1998, no non-Japanese won the JKA world championship. And nobody expected Rodrigo Rojas to change this. However, he did and the surprise was huge.
Rodrigo Rojas Behavior caused Criticism
Right after his victory over OkadaYasunori many critics raised their voice. The most of them revolved around Rodrigos behavior during his fights. While nobody accused him of unfairness. Most of the commentators criticized his way of dealing with the judges and his way of celebration when he scored a point. Both, how the critics described it, were not bushido-like but rather cocky. Exaggerated cheering after scoring and head shaking after several decisions of the judges were perceived as disrespectful and a shame for traditional Shotokan Karate Do.
We do not know Rodrigo. We do not know his intentions, his character, upbringing, convictions, or his way of live. And it is not in our aim to judge anybody.
Rodrigo Rojas also Fights in the WKF and Karate Combat
In both organizations athleticism, medals, and sponsoring contracts are more important than respectful behavior. As everybody could see during the last WKF World Championship in Madrid, many fighters behaved in a cocky and emotional way. Apparently, Sports Karate does not put much energy in the education of the mind, manner, humility, moral consciousness, spirit, and Do.
Shotokan Serves Ethical Purpose
For us, however, Shotokan Karate Do empowers people. Shotokan helps them to reach their full physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually potential as human beings and free them from negative influences. It also civilizes the world and guide people in a non-violent, respectful, and humble direction. All that happens when they follow the 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi. Do is paramount for us. This is our Way of Shotokan.
If you agree or disagree leave us a comment below and let us discuss. Oss!
When a movement becomes bigger, but wants to maintain order and set technical as well as behavioral standards, it is just a matter of time until it forms an association. This is a normal process of professionalization.
The same happend to Shotokan Karate Do. Since grand master Funakoshi, several associations have emerged. Some have already been closed. Some have created new branches or split into different suborganizations. Over the course of the last 70 years a constant evolution took place.
However, the ecology of Shotokan associations has become difficult to grasp. Especially for beginners it appears like a complex puzzle. In order to give you an overview, the Asai Shotokan Association International created the geneology of Shotokan Karate organizations. We hope this leads you through the jungle of Shotokan associations.
Our aim is to cover them all. In the end, Shotokan is one big community.
Your association is not included in the chart? Please let us know. We are curious to hear from you and will add it.
Richard is the most successful Western karateka. However, many karateka do not him. Her we give you a glimpse into his incredible karate journey. By Dr. Christian Tribowski
Many Westerners have gone to Japan in order to learn the art of ShotokanKarate. However, only a handful of them has become successful on the peninsula. The most successful one is SenseiRichard Heselton. Right after he gained his high school degree in England, he moved to Japan to begin his life-long Karate journey. On his way, he studied under SenseiTatsuyaNaka and SenseiKoichiroOkuma.
First Westerner to become Captain of the Takushoku University Karate Club
But he did not stop there. He also became a student at the renowned Takushoku University and joined its world famous Karate Club. While this was already a sensation, that a Westerner joins the Takudai. Richard Heselton also exceeded this success. He became its first foreign team captain. In this position, he led the TakudaiKarateka to several tournaments and successes. Even after university, he was an active competitor at several tournaments like the All Japan Championships.
Lecturer at the Takushoku University and Karate Instructor
Richard Heselton as Role Model for Spirit and Budo
From our point of view, Sensei Richard Heselton is a amazing role model when it comes to spirit. He broke trough boundaries and mastered tremendous challenges with perseverance, a strong will, and a clear focus. Therefore, he also serves as an excellent example of budo. Without the readiness to fight and to take the hits such an extraordinary biography would not have been possible.
Oss, Sensei Heselton!
The following documentary excellently portraits Sensei Richard Heselton.