Posted on 1 Comment

Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi Shot Movie for Olympics 2020 together

Rika Usami & Miki Nakamachi

Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi took part in the shooting of a film about karate for the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo last week. We talked with Miki Nakamachi about the shooting and her experiences on the set. Read our exclusive report. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi performing shoto uke on the film set for the "karate game instruction movie".
Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi performing shoto uke on the film set for the “karate game instruction movie”.

Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi Part of the Karate Introduction Movie for the Olympics

According to Miki Nakamachi, the movie introduces the discipline karate. On the one hand, it introduce karate to the media corporations and broadcasting stations, which will broadcast the discipline during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. On the other hand, the movie will introduce karate to a wider audience. Therefore, it will serve as an explanatory video for viewers who watch the discipline but have no relationship and knowledge about karate.

The team behind the “karate game instruction movie” found Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi via YouTube. After watching several kata videos, the crew decided to approach both karateka and to asked them to perform in the movie. Although neither of them will take part in the Olympics both agreed to the shooting. While Rika Usami ended her career as an active WKF competitor a few years ago, Miki Nakamachi still competes. However, she only starts at JKA tournaments, which has no affiliation with the WKF dominated Olympics 2020.

Here you can watch the full video.

The video by the JKF serves as an introduction for viewers of the Olympics who have no background in karate.

Support for Olympics in Tokyo in the First Place

For Miki Nakamachi her participation in the shooting of the movie was not an support of the discipline karate in the Olympics. On Instagram she stated that she supports that the Olympics Games in Tokyo, her hometown, in the first place.

Ken Nishimura and Ryutaro Araga took also part in the shooting of the film. They performed the kumite introduction because both are national team members of the Japan Karate Federation representing Japan in 2020. Both athletes are string candidates to win Olympic Gold in their weight classes.

Rika Usami, Miki Nakamachi, Ken Nishimura and Ryutaro Arago cheering for the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo.
Rika Usami, Miki Nakamachi, Ken Nishimura and Ryutaro Arago cheering for the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo.

Miki Nakamachi: “Rika Usami and I have a lot in common”

For Miki Nakamchi, however, the encounter with Rika Usami was the greatest pleasure. She wrote us: “It was such a great honor to meet Usami san. Even though she does not practice Shotokan, her kata are coined by very clean and strong techniques. Beside that: I have always loved her punches.”

Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi together on the film set.
Rika Usami and Miki Nakamachi together on the film set.

Both karateka have even more in common. Rika Usami is also a mother like Miki Nakamachi. And both share the same passion. Miki Nakamachi stated about this: “It is always great to get involved with different karatekas and different organizations. Because have so much in common and we realize eventually: we all love karate.”

Watch Rika Usami performing Kata in the finals of the 2012 WKF world championship. Her performance gained her the 1th place against Sandy Scordo of France.
Posted on 2 Comments

Miki Nakamachi – Women of Shotokan

The picture shows Miki Nakamachi in a bamboo forrest.

Miki Nakamachi has both: An strong sense of budo and a splendid posture. She also teaches both in an admirable way. Although she has suffered one of the greatest losses, a human being can experience, she did not give up and fought her way back. Today, she is a mother of two, runs her own stretching studio, promotes Karate for women and children, and strives to become the next JKA World Champion. Karate has been giving her the strength to stand the downs and to set course for new ups in life. Read this wonderful, insightful, open, and moving interview with Miki Nakamachi – a true woman of Shotokan. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

“Karate continues to teach me the meaning of life.”

Miki Nakamachi

Brief Portrait

  • Name: Miki Nakamachi
  • Age: 32
  • Karate since: 5 years old
  • Origin and residence: Born and raised in Kobe. Presently residing in Yokohama
  • (Kyu/Dan) Rank: 4th dan
  • Dojo: Houkukan Shibuya dojo

Additional information:

  • JKA National team 2011
  • JKA National team 2014
  • JKA National team 2019
  • Funakoshi Gichin Cup 13th Karate World Championship Tournament 2014 Woman’s Individual Kata First Place
  • 55th, 56th and 57th (2012, 2013, 2014) JKA All Japan Karate Championship Women’s Individual Kata First Place
  •  Coach of the Keio University Karate club (2012- present)

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

Miki Nakamachi: I remember my brother and my father going to karate practice wearing their karate dogi.

My brother’s belt kept changing colors.

First, it was just curiosity. I wanted to do what my brother was doing. I remember doing my first punches in my parent’s bedroom with my father. He said, “if you really want to start, I will take you to the dojo, but once you start you can not quit until you get your black belt.”  My father has always been a great sensei to me.

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi with her siblings and her father.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi doing kata as a little girl.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi with her father.

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Miki Nakamachi: I like the simplicity, the powerful “Kime” and the hip movement.

 I think Shotokan Karate teaches us how to use our body while keeping it relaxed.

Also, because of our wide stances, it pushes us to really use our core, think about our breathing and posture. The basic movements are both beautiful and powerful at the same time because we are using our whole body weight to make “Kime”.

Miki Kata training under the guidance of Sensei
Kobayashi Kunio

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

Miki Nakamachi: I used to not like practicing in the winter. In Japan, we usually practice in school gyms.

During the winter, the floor feels like ice, and we basically lose all feeling in our feet.

I used to get blisters all the time and it was horrible because you don’t notice it until the end of the practice when you are just getting warmer.

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

Miki Nakamachi: The Shoto world cup 1998 in France was one of the most eye opening experiences for me. I was 11 years old and it was my first overseas tournament. I remember the colorful flags and people from different ages all warming up. And even though Karate is a Japanese martial art, it was so amazing to feel the connection of people from around the world. It was so nice to see how Karate brings everyone together. As a young girl, I remember being so moved by the idea that all the “Karateka” practiced the same Japanese martial art and that we all understood each other through the non verbal language of karate.

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi performing kata during a tournament.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi in front of a JKA flag.

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

Miki Nakamachi: Training is always challenging. When I was young, I used to think about how I could take more breaks during practice. Sometimes I used my Asthma as an excuse to get out half the practice.  Now in my busy schedule with taking care of my daughters and working at my studio, I treasure every moment that I can get to practice. I give my all in every punches and kicks because I appreciate my family and friends for watching my daughters while practicing. My motivation is my daughters, and the idea about showing them the importance of finding your passion.

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi after winning the JKA All Japan Championships together with her daugther.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi together with her daugthers.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi´s daugthers.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi together with her daugthers.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Miki Nakamachi: Compared to my sister and brother, I would say I was less of a challenger. I was always shy. 

I think karate has made me braver and stronger so that I could push and challenge myself.

As an adult Karate continues to teach me the meaning of life. Karate helps me to see myself objectively and it has helped me control my emotions and my actions.

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?

Miki Nakamachi: Karate has always been there for me. When I need to be focused on what is in front of me, I was able to do this because Karate helps to focus on the “now”.  Three years ago, I lost my middle child two days after he was born.  It is hard for anyone to go through a lost of a child and everyone has their own time to mourn. I know for me, having a goal and thinking about all the people supporting me in karate was my strength and motivation to overcome my loss and move on. Two months later I was back at my karate practice and six month after losing my son, I opened my stretching Studio. 

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi in a bamboo forrest.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi in a bamboo forrest doing a mawashi geri..

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Miki Nakamachi: After I graduated from university, even though in my mind I knew karate was a way of life, I think karate was a way to challenge myself to the next level. I always wanted to win and prove myself that I could do better. After going through pregnancy and being a mother, and going through the changes in my body, I realized that karate was helping me through finding myself as a woman. Because all my Sensei’s were men, I always thought being good at karate meant being muscular and mannish. Now I find karate as being a way to find my womanly side. 

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi assisting Ueki Masaaki Shihan during a seminar.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi assisting Ueki Masaaki Shihan during a seminar.

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

Miki Nakamachi: My short-term goals would be winning the JKA All Japan, the Asian tournament, and the World tournament. I do not think winning is everything, but I do want to show that there is no limit to improvement. I also keep competing because I want to prove that improvement of karate can lead to improvement of health, especially for women. Women are more likely to retire from karate because a lot of women still think that giving birth and becoming a wife and a mother means putting yourself after everyone else. I believe health is the most important thing you can have. Without your health and strength, you cannot take care of others.

The picture shows Miki Nakamachi performing an Empi-uchi.
“Without your health and strength, you cannot take care of others.” – Miki Nakamachi

My long-term goal is to spread Shotokan Karate to women as a way of learning about self-control, especially focusing on posture and breathing. Posture is the key to a healthier body and mind, and I believe karate is one of the greatest ways to achieving this.

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi after winning the All Japan Championship.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi receiving a certificate from Kobayashi Sensei.

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

Miki Nakamachi: I want everyone to know that karate can be for everyone.  As it did for me, karate can help you to be better at different sports but also help with the little things in life, such as opening a jar, picking up something heavy or how to control your breathing after running to catch the elevator.

I think it is a “must learn” for elementary age children as many children today have bad posture from looking down at their games, iPads, and tablets. If children and their mothers can be aware of their own body and health, it can help prevent all kinds of health issues in the future.  Lastly, karate is something that I hope women would want to start after giving birth, something that is not only physical training but also gives hope and psychological strength for facing tough times in life.

“Many children today have bad posture from looking down at their games, iPads, and tablets.” – Miki Nakamachi

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

Miki Nakamachi: Yes, I would definitely recommend karate to my female friends because I believe it makes life better by helping with self-control, especially focusing on posture and breathing. Posture is the key to a healthier body and mind.  Once you have a good posture and your mind is positive, it will help you respect yourself and others.

Another reason I would recommend Karate to women is because woman are more likely to have to changes their life style. I myself went through giving birth three times and it was not easy mentally and physically because of the changes in my hormone level and my body. I actually gained 20kg each time and it sometimes took away my self-esteem. Karate was my way of feeling accomplishment and growth. The beauty of Karate is that everyone is always a student, no matter what level you become. You never stop learning and you can start at any age.

  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi how she helps a client to find her posture.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi how she helps clients to find her posture.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi how she helps clients to find their posture.
  • The picture shows Miki Nakamachi how she helps a client to find her posture.

Photo credit: Oshima Ringo, Hiraga Akari

Posted on 3 Comments

Vote: Best Unsu Performence

Unsu 雲手, which means literally “cloud hands”, is by far one of the most difficult Katas and a strong indicator for athleticism and technical mastership. Practicing it requires tremendous body control and mental focus.

Last week, we presented you an stunning application of the Unsu jump by Koji Arimoto. This week we want to elect the best Unsu performance we could find in the web. Please, write the number of your favorite performance in the comments.

1. Rebecca Nakamichi (until 1:42), video by kuro-obi world

2. Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa, video by z0az0az0a

3. Unknown Karateka, video by
Jason Leung (who knows her name?)

4. Michael Milon, video by ninja1217

5. Ohta Sensei, video by Tasseikan JKA KARATE

6. Sandy Scordo, video by Jesse Enkamp

Opener Picture source: Kuro-obi World