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2nd Yamato Cup: A Tournament Report

The 2nd Yamato Cup took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, on last Sunday. It was an event full of emotions, ups and downs, comebacks, victories, and experiences. The head of the organizing committee and chairman of The Shotokan Times, Thomas Prediger was very happy with the tournament. “Since last year, the number of starters has risen of about 50 percent. But we still maintained a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. So everybody had a great time with a lot of experiences and fun. Next year, the 3rd Yamato Cup will be even bigger. And we will work even harder so that everybody has a good time in Düsseldorf.” The Yamato Cup was jointly organized by the Dojo Yamato, Düsseldorf, and the SC Taisho, Siegburg.

  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.

Yamato Cup: Bigger and International

150 starter from 16 dojos met to compete for the individual, team, and the overall victory. The tournament was open for children and teenager from age 6 to 17. All of them fought in two pools about the victory. Most excitingly, a dutch team, the Centrum Weng, from Beek in the Netherlands took part in the competition. Therefore, the 2nd Yamato Cup became unintentionally but very appreciated an international tournament.

  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.
  • The picture shows participants at the 2nd Yamato Cup.

The competition categories comprised:

  • Individual kata
  • Individual kumite: Kihon ippon, jiyu ippon, and shiai (from age 14 and older)
  • Team kata
  • Team kumite: Shiai

Offering a Space for Mental, Spiritual, and Physical Growth

The guiding idea behind the Yamato Cup described Thomas Prediger as follows: “We want to bring children and teenager from different associations and dojos together so that they can compete with each other. The aim lies not on winning. But we focus on mental, spiritual, and physical growth. We want to give them a secure and structured space. Within this space they can make challenging experiences and we support and guide them on their way.”

Fairness as Central Aim of the Yamato Cup

In opposite to other tournaments the Yamato Cup brought karateka and dojos from different associations together. “The tournament is open to everybody, who practices Shotokan”, said Thomas Prediger. To guaranty fairness the organizers chose a sophisticated approach. Instead of favoring a system of rules from one of the attending associations, all starters had to comply and were judged according JKA Japan rules. That created a level playing field for all children and teenager. Because all had to prepare for this rules in particular.

In addition, the referee body consisted of 15 referees from a variety of dojos and associations. The attending dojos were invited upfront to send referees to the tournament. As head of the referee body the organizers could also win Jörg Reuß from the Shotokan Karate Dojo Tsunami in Cologne, Germany. During his competitive career Jörg gained huge international experience. He won the a gold medal at the World Games in 1989, became 2nd at the JKA World Championships, and won several European Championship titels. After this active career he also became an international referee for the JKA.

Moreover, every referee had to take part in one of the four preparation seminars. These seminars took place in the weeks prior to the Yamato Cup. There all referees learnt the system of rules for the event and how to conduct the competitions.

Starters and Dojos were Happy

Dojos and karateka alike expressed their gratitude and how much they enjoyed the Yamato Cup. All of them want to come back and look forward to the 3rd Yamato Cup in 2020.

Overall Winner: Centrum Weng

The overall victory went to the Centrum Weng from the Netherlands. With highly engaged and passionate fights the dutch team won the most medals throughout the whole competition. Therefore, the Centrum Weng took the challenge cup back home. Tamara Wewengkang, head coach of the team, was more then happy and proud when Thomas Prediger handed her the Cup. However, the other dojos have the chance to win the trophy on the next Yamato Cup in 2020. After the Cup means therefore before the Cup.

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2nd Düsseldorf Special 2019 with Koichiro Okuma

The picture shows Koichiro Okuma teaches the application of Kanku Sho at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special. Kanku Sho is a kata of Shotokan Karate Do.

The Düsseldorf Special with Koichiro Okuma has become a fix event in the annual European Shotokan Karate calendar. Here we report from the 2nd special in Düsseldorf. By Jeffrey Evers

One year after the outstanding success of the 1th Düsseldorf Special, 130 karateka from all over Germany and beyond visited the Dojo Yamato. They all attended the joint Seminar with Sensei Koichiro Okuma and a get-together with friends during the long Pentecost weekend.

  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

From Kata to Kumite: The 1st Day of the Düsseldorf Special

From Taikyoku Shodan to Kanku Sho

The first training session began 10 am on Saturday. Koichiro Okuma Sensei started the seminar by sharing an anecdote of his karate career with the junior Kyu grades. Concentrating on kumite for the majority of his early competitive career, his focus moved to kata as time passed. Yet, never losing the aspiration to improve his kumite skills. This essence, improving kumite through kata, was the pivotal topic of the 2nd Düsseldorf Special.

The Saturday morning session aimed at body-shifting. Okuma Sensei used Taikyoku Shodan and Heian Shodan to teach the junior kyu grades how to move their balance point. Instead of concentrating on minor details, he emphasized the overall feeling while performing the katas. His means of choice was Kanku Sho. Okuma Sensei pointed out, why this Kata is the best preparation for kumite. Above all, the great number of direction changes fosters the feeling for shifting the bodyweight. His several demonstrations showed impressively what great impact this basic skill can have on speed and power.

  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

From Heain Nidan to Hangetsu

After a brief lunch break, the 3rd and 4th sessions took place. The junior grades sessions emphasized the Heian Nidan to Godan. Okuma Sensei used several kata sections to emphasize that the main intention for performing Kata was Kumite. In the senior grades’ sessions, he focused on the deeper meanings of Hangetsu. The dynamic switches from slow and smooth movements to fast and devastating techniques can be utilized as tactical elements of Kumite. Okuma Sensei showed how the tension from nervous movements will lead to a frantic confrontation. On the other hand, smoothness will calm down our opponent’s suspense. This creates the opportunity to strike, surprise and overwhelm opponents.

  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

The first day closed with a joint Dinner at a Chinese buffet.

From Kata to Kumite: The 2nd Day of the Düsseldorf Special

The Mirror of Tekki Shodan

On Sunday morning, the junior and senior groups trained together. Okuma Sensei introduced the junior grades to Tekki Shodan. To leverage the learning experience, he instructed the Dan grades to be a mirror for the colored grades. Both groups faced each other, so that they learnt the kata much faster through observing their counterpart. Okuma Sensei emphasized the divergent movements of the kata in order to underline blocking and simultaneous counter attacking.

  • The picture shows members of the Dojo Yamaton at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows members of the Dojo Yamaton at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

Legwork and Bassai Sho

The senior grades focused on legwork. In particular, Okuma Sensei taught the right pushing and pulling of the body. Starting with the Kata Bassai Sho, he used the sessions stress and repeat push and pull movements many times.

  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special
  • The picture shows Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

In last session of the seminar, all grades trained together again. The focus lied mainly on Zuki combinations with a partner in the final class. All the different topics of the before kata classes came coming merged in this session. It was the last step in preparation for kumite. Okuma Sensei began with Oi-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki combinations. He remined all participants that the fists are important since they hit the opponent. However, it is all about leg work and the usage and feeling of the hips eventually. Okuma Sensei added to the Oi-Zucki-Gyaku-Zuki combination also a Kizami-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki sequence, and later a Gyaku-Zuki-Gyaku-Zuki combination. The major aim was to increase speed and will power of the participants. The Seminar ended at 4 pm on Sunday.

Okumas Sensei Enjoyed the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

Sensei Koichiro Okuma stressed after the seminar, that all participants spent much effort and showed a strong will to learn during the classes. The atmosphere during the breaks and the dinner was warm and welcoming. He enjoyed his time in Düsseldorf a lot and met plenty of old and new friends.

The picture shows the Dojo Yamato with Keigo Shimizu and Koichrio Okuma at the 2nd Düsseldorf Special.
Koichiro Okuma and the Dojo Yamato

Dietmar Vetten and Keigo Shimizu about the 2nd Düsseldorf Special

Dietmar Vetten, head of the organizing committee, and Sensei Keigo Shimizu, head instructor of the Dojo Yamato, also expressed their satisfaction with the event. “The atmosphere among the participants was just fantastic. Many wished for a 3rd Düsseldorf Special next year”, said Dietmar Vetten. “We are very glad to have welcomed such an esteemed and excellent JKA Instructor in Düsseldorf for the second time. Okuma Sensei is an excellent Karateka and an outstanding personality” commented Keigo Shimizu. Koichiro Okuma and Keigo Shimizu relates a long friendship that dates back to their time at Dokkyo University. Both studied in the University´s Karate Club under the guidance of Osaka Sensei and Naka Sensei.

The picture shows Keigo Shimizu and Koichrio Okuma 2nd Düsseldorf Special.
Keigo Shimizu and Koichrio Okuma

Gratitude to the Volunteers

Okuma Sensei, Dietmar Vetten, and Keigo Shimizu expressed their gratitude to all the volunteers who made the event exciting and pleasant for everybody. A special thank you goes to Sandra „Sandy San“ Brenscheid, who conducted the warmup before the sessions.

The picture shows Jens Förster und Anke Schulle-Vetten, who helped to organize the 2nd Düsseldorf Special.
Jens Förster and Anke Schulle-Vetten

3rd Düsseldorf Special?!

The planning for a 3rd Düsseldorf Special in 2020 has already began. As the people in Düsseldorf like to say: After the 3rd time, everything becomes a tradition.

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Keigo Shimizu joins Advisory Board of The Shotokan Times

The Shotokan Times is happy to announce that Sensei Keigo Shimizu, 5th Dan, has joined its Advisory Board.

Practicing Shotokan Karate since 1987, Keigo was educated at the Dokkyo University. Here, he received his Masters degree in economics and was Captain of the Karate Club. For many years, he was a student of Sensei Tatsuya Naka and Sempai of Sensei Koichiro Okuma.

Since 2014 he is Chief Instructor of  Dojo Yamato in Düsseldorf, Germany. He is also a regular guest instructor at national and international seminars.

Picture: Dokkyo University Karate Club in 2017

Picture: Sensei Okuma at Dojo Yamato in Düsseldorf, Germany

Although he lives in Germany since 1999, he still maintains strong ties to Japan and the JKA. In Germany, he has mainly been trained and educated by Shihan Hideo Ochi. His style of Karate is coined by the very dynamic but also straight forward JKA school. The center of his teaching is the most efficient and fast transmission of power over long distances. Like Naka Sensei, he also emphasizes the whiplash effect, that is created by a refined hip-rotation.

Picture: Gyaku-Zuki by Keigo Shimizu

“I am very proud to join the Advisory Board of The Shotokan Times. The platform has proven that it constantly produces unique and educative content about traditional Shotokan. It fosters exchange and discourse among international Shotokanka. I am happy to support and advise the management and the editor with my experience and knowledge” says Keigo Shimizu. Beside his role as member of the advisory board, he will also create own content for the platform in the near future.

Picture: Keigo Shimizu together with Koichiro Okuma and Tatsuya Naka 

“I am very honored that Keigo is going to advise The Shotokan Times. He has lived in Germany for 20 years now and still has strong connections to Japan and fosters the tradition of the JKA. Thus, he is an excellent bridge builder who helps us to understand Japan and the Japanese way of Shotokan better. He is also always informed about the latest developments in Japan.  The Shotokan Times and the global Shotokan community will benefit immensely from his invaluable advice”, says Dr. Christian Tribowski, Managing Director and Chief Editor of The Shotokan Times.