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Shotokan Tiger Sneaker for Tatsuya Naka and Keigo Shimizu

The Shotokan Times always searches for the best and unique products for Shotokan karateka out there. With the Ft One Shotokan Tiger Sneaker by Better Brands House we found the item for karateka, who want to wear their passion also in their spare time in order to show what they love.

Among our first testers of the shoe were Shihan Tatsuya Naka and Sensei Keigo Shimizu. While Naka Shihan received the his white Tiger Sneakers during a seminar in Munich in November, Sensei Shimizu had to wait until the beginning of February. Because the black edition had to be designed first.

Keigo Shimizu overhanded Tatsuya Naka his brand new Ft One Tiger Sneaker.
Keigo Shimizu overhanded Tatsuya Naka his brand new Ft One Tiger Sneaker.

The Better Brands House offers the shoe in four different versions:

The new owner, Tatsuya Naka, presented the Tiger Sneaker to the attendees of the seminar in Munich.
The new owner, Tatsuya Naka, presented the shoe to the attendees of the seminar in Munich.

The amazing looking shoe comes with an elegant stitched Shotokan Tora logo. Therefore, it is a must-have for every Shotokan karateka in their leisure time.

The Tiger Sneaker made Tatsuya Naka very happy.
The shoes made Tatsuya Naka very happy.

Every shoes has been hand made from finest leather on demand. A SBR sock padding and a rubber sole gives a comfortable walking feeling.

Shimizu Sensei likes his new Tiger Sneaker Black Edition.
Shimizu Sensei likes his new Black Edition.

In addition, Shotokan karateka run the Better Brands House. Thus, they know the design demands and the requirements of elegance karatekas have. As an extraordinary service they deliver the shoe worldwide and for free.

According to Shimizu Sensei, the shoes fit perfectly and are very comfortable.
According to Shimizu Sensei, the shoes fit perfectly and are very comfortable.

The best, however: Every pair costs only $89.99. Therefore, the Ft One Tiger Sneakers is a real bargain.

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Tatsuya Naka Likes The Shotokan Times

This weekend, our board member, Keigo Shimizu, and our managing director and chief editor, Dr. Christian Tribowski, took part in a seminar with Tatsuya Naka sensei in Munich, Germany. After the last class on Saturday, both overhanded Naka sensei a gift of gratitude: Our famous black The Shotokan Times hoodie.

Naka sensei was very surprise and expressed how much he likes the hoodie. He is also fond of The Shotokan Times. He said that The Shotokan Times should keep going with good work.

The Shotokan Times overhanded him another special gift. We will reveal what it is beginning of November 2019.

Everybody, who wants our black The Shotokan Times hoodie, can order it here in our shop or press on the picture below.

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How to move forward in Zenkutsu Dachi? Two Approaches Compared

Zenkutsu dachi belongs to the most basic stances, or tachi-waza in Shotokan karate. In fact, it distinguishes Shotokan from other karate styles because most of them do not put so much emphasize on at. However, most karateka have a very static approach to the stance. Although new and dynamic approaches how to move in zenkutsu dachi have been developed in recent years. We are going to present them in this article. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

In recent years, a new way of moving forward in zenkutsu dachi has been established. For some commentators it is way too “sporty”. Others criticizes it for its exaggerated focus on leaning forward. We are going to present you the “sporty” version and contrast it with the modern approach to move forward in zenkutsu dachi taught by masters like Tatsuya Naka.

The Sporty Approach of Zenkutsu Dachi

The classical approach of moving forward in zenkutsu dachi has always focused on pull the back leg as close as possible to the front leg and from there to move it forward to the front. Several master like Masatoshi Nakayama and Hirokazu Kanazawa had taught it this way.

In the new approach, on the other hand, not the legs initiate the motion but the body center. The body shall be moved to the front in order to reach a tipping point. Behind this idea stands the conviction to let the own weight pull the rest of the body over the tipping point. This would save power and still create more speed.

The concept works best by bending the front knee through relaxation. Trough the relaxation the body enters a forward motion. This initiation works without utilizing power of the body. After the body center has crossed the tipping point the muscles in the legs become applied and generate extra speed and power.

Our friends from the Karate Dojo WaKu in Tokyo created an excellent explanatory video about this approach.

The Modern Approach

While the sporty approach indeed offers an efficient way of acceleration it also leads to an instable motion. It comes pretty close to “falling” forward. It sacrifices control for speed because the upper body leans too much to the front.

The classical approach, as far as taught by masters like Tatsuya Naka, combines the concept of relaxation with a strong focus of pulling the thighs together. Our advisory board member, Keigo Shimizu Sensei, explains this approach in the folling video. sent us the below video. Due to the fact, that he speaks Japanese in the video, we have here a brief translation for you:

“It is important to have the feeling that the thighs close during the step at all times. Not the feet execute the step but the thighs close and pass each other and accelerate together. Do not bring your feet together. If one masters this step it is possible to accelerate very fast and cross long-distances. To move fast and clean, the weight should not only lie on the front leg. The back leg has to be pulled to the front leg.”

The zenkutsu dachi step focuses more on pulling than on pushing. Due to that, both legs are engaged in the motion and the energy is directed to the front. This approach is a synergy of the classical and “sporty” step. It utilizes the energy that emerges through a relaxed front knee. But it combines it with a strong focus on an active back leg and a stable and coordinating body center. Through that it creates power and speed but also stability and security. Because for Keigo Sensei counts: “Kihon must work in Kumite. Kihon only for Kihon reasons is like a beauty contest.

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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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How to Use Taikyoku Shodan for Kumite Practice?

For advanced Karateka, Taikyoku Shodan seems rather boring. The Kata only consist of Gedan Barai and Oi-Zuki. Many deem it as beginner kata and forget that the simplest thing ofter become the most challenging. That is why many dojos do not practice it. And many Karateka do not know it. This is undeserved because the kata has a great potential and can be used as a challenging training regime especially for kumite.

Taikyoku Shodan for Kumite Practice

Sensei Keigo Shimizu shows in the following video one way how to use it effectively in classes. While he keeps the walking pattern he changes the techniques to Jodan Gyaku Zuki. When he rotates the body he drops the front hand. From here he winds it up to hikite in order to gain more power and acceleration. With a more fluent way of moving Taikyoku Shodan becomes a good routine for individual kumite practice.

Do you have a special way of doing you Taikyoku Shodan? Let us know. We are curious!

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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.