Posted on Leave a comment

Komazawa University reports about Portrait of Miki Suetsugu

The picture shows two students and the emblem/logo of Komazawa University in Tokyo.

We are very happy to announce that Komazawa University in Tokyo, Japan, has reported about our portrait of Miki Suetsugu in our Women of Shotokan series.

The picture shows the announcement at the Komazawa University website.

Miki Suetsugu: Associate Professor at Komazawa University

The short report covers our feature of Miki Suetsugu because she is an associate Professor at the Sports and Health Sciences Department as well as at the General Education and Research Department at Komazawa University. In addition, she also coaches the Karate Club at Komazawa University.

One of her major research projects comprises the involvement of women in karate. It examines the support structures women have or the systems lacks of during their karate life-course.

Being a Komazawa University graduate Miki Suetsugu also was a member of the karate club. Here she gained the power, the skills, and attitude to win the 1st  place in the Kumite, Team Kata, and Team Kumite competition at the 44th National Championship Tournament 2001.

Komazawa University

Komazawa University (駒澤大學, Komazawa Daigaku) is among the oldest institutions of higher learning in Japan. Its establishment took place in 1592. It first served as a seminary for the Sōtō sect, one of the major ZenBuddhist traditions in Japan. Later it was further developed in a full university with several departments. However, its present curriculum and educational approach still applies Zen Buddhist concepts.

Today, is comprises three main campuses in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. These three campuses are:

  • Komazawa campus
  • Futakotamagawa campus
  • Fukasawa campus

Famous Komazawa University Karate Club

The Karate Club of the university belongs also to the best and strongest in Japan. Famous karate instructors like Oishi Takeshi, Izumiya Seizo, Kobayashi Kunio, Okuie Satomi, and Kurihara Kazuaki attended Komazawa University and the karate club.

Posted on 2 Comments

Women of Shotokan: Carol See Tai

Carol See Tai reminds us about the importance to be a warrior and to develop a strong character. However, one cannot achieve both by staying within ones comfort-zone and to dodge every bullet. Thus, she also reminds us that we have to train hard, fight tough, and except the challenges life confronts us with. Carol does this in an exemplary way. After the passing of her beloved sensei, Shigeru Takashina, she has picked up the torch in order to carry the fire of Shotokan further to the next generation. Her path has not been easy. But she has been accompanied by good fellows. Enjoy this moving portrait of Carol See Tai.

Its that warrior in you that keeps you going. The more that you train and the more that you push yourself, the stronger your character becomes.

Carol See Tai
Carol See Tai with Masahiko Tanaka
Carol See Tai with Masahiko Tanaka

Portrait

Additional information  

  • South Atlantic Karate Association
  • Women’s team member 1981 thru 1991,
  • National collegiate 2nd place 1981 Sioux Falls, SD
  • National Collegiate champion 1982 Denver, Co
  • Womens team kata 1st place 1983 Santa Monica, Ca
  • Womens team kata 3rd place 1985
  • Chief Instructor and board member of the late master Takashina’s dojo in Coral Springs, Florida.

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

When I was 12 years old I was enrolled in Ballet classes. My brother Larry went to the Trinidad karate association (Sensei David Chin Leung) to start taking karate lessons. After his 1st session he told me, “ you should come with me to take karate classes, you would like it.” That was the beginning of my martial arts training in Shotokan karate.

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

I love Shotokan karate because it is a traditional martial art. It dates as far back as master Funakoshi in 1922 when he brought Shotokan karate from Okinawa to Japan and to this day, it is being taught and practiced throughout the world as a standardized martial art. It is like both education and philosophy, in that we are all teaching, learning and practicing  the same techniques  and developing the principles of budo and the perfection of oneself.

  • Carol See Tai during kumite practice

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

In every organization there is the struggle for power and this creates a diversion or disruption of the pursuit of the true objective. The politics destroys the ability to see the true martial art objective, which is the discipline of mind, body and spirit through the way of life, the budo.

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

My greatest experience was when I enrolled at the University of Miami and I realized that the karate instructor was sensei Shigeru Takashina. This was a continuous great experience for 37 great years. (Four years at college and the rest at the South Atlantic Karate Association Headquarters dojo.)

I can’t use the word “worst”. However, I can say that my “saddest” experience was the passing of master Takashina, my sensei, in September 2013.  This has led me to understand what he meant when he told me “don’t get involved in politics”. I then experienced a rough political path in trying to continue the legacy of my sensei. The details I would rather put behind me. However, I have to mention that I am grateful to some very important people who stepped forward during that time and continue to do so, to contribute their time and effort to get master Takashina ‘s dojo and legacy to where it is today, six years after his passing.

Carol See Tai awarding dan grad
Carol See Tai awarding dan grad

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

Training is always challenging.  Sometimes it’s the perfection of the techniques, and sometimes it’s my life outside of the dojo that’s challenging my training. Somehow I am able to find the perfect balance, because without it, I can’t find harmony. I believe that a truly good instructor motivates his/her students. My sensei, along with my classmates and my family members have also helped to motivate and encourage me in the past.

Now that I am the chief instructor, it’s the students that motivate me and who have led me to another aspect of my karate training.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Shotokan karate has taught me a lot about respect. The ranks and the ranking system teaches me to respect everyone in the dojo and that carries through to my daily life.

The discipline learnt through the traditional training teaches me to be humble.

It has helped me to develop a strong character while maintaining humility and respect for others.

As we say: mind, body and spirit.

How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life? Has it helped you overcome or deal with difficult situations in your life?

I have been training practically my whole life, and I have gone through some difficult times not related to karate. During these times, I used my karate training to push myself through and find the strength to deal with my controversies.

Its that warrior in you that keeps you going. The more that you train and the more that you push yourself, the stronger your character becomes.

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

They are many technical aspects of Shotokan karate which haveevolved, especially over the last several years. I find that as I continue to train,  I have to adapt and re learn certain basic movements.

 Scientifically, the moves have evolved to become more effective as a whole.

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

For myself I want to keep training to improve all aspects of my karate and become an excellent instructor.

My overall goal is to preserve and continue Master Takashina’s legacy.

Carol See Tai with Yoshiharu Osaka
Carol See Tai with Yoshiharu Osaka

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

It would be awesome to see all the Shotokan groups in the USA come together, putting aside the politics and focusing on learning  and sharing the  knowledge of the Shotokan way.

 As karateka, not to focus as much on the competition and winning, but to concentrate on the development of budo.

Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends?

Yes, it is good to develop awareness and for self defense as well as to develop a strong mind, body and spirit.

Posted on Leave a comment

Women of Shotokan: Elpida Christodoulou

If we had to award a prize for the most beautiful and concise definition of the spirit of Shotokan in 2019, we were very eager to give it to Elpida Christodoulou, our today´s woman of Shotokan. While she offers many thoughtful and wise insights about Shotokan, the following has been the most striking one for us:

Shotokan karate is not just an art of punches and kicks. It is an art composed of people who upgrade your internal world. So, that you can become a better person for yourself and for your society.

Elpida Christodoulou

Besides her deep understanding of the philosophy of Shotokan Elpida is an incredible competitor. Two weeks ago, she won a gold medal at the SKIF world championship women individual kumite U45 in Czech Republic. At the same event, she also became second with her kata team. Therefore, Elpida is a true woman of Shotokan and a huge inspiration. Congratulations, Elpida!

Portrait of Elpida Christodoulou

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

  • Member of the national team of SKIF  (individual Kumite, individual kata, team leader women kata, team leader women kumite) 2000 – 2019
  • Member of the national team of WKF in different categories – Greece, from 2000-2012
  • Coach of the National team SKIF boys/girls- men/women kata-kumite
  • Instructor in Shotokan Karate Club Ilision “Yamada Kan” since 2005
  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou after her victory.
  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou During Kumite
  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou With Kancho Kanazawa

Highest achievements:

  • Gold Medal Kumite Women -60kg European Championship Oporto-Portugal SKIF
  • Third Place KATA Women World Championship SKIF Durban-South Africa 2003
  • Gold Medal Kumite Women -60kg European Championship Oporto-Portugal SKIF
  • Third Place Kumite Team Women World Championship SKIF Japan 2006- Team Leader
  • Gold Medal Kumite Women Open World Championship OKINAWA 2007 -All Shotokan Federation -In Memory of 50 yrs Gichin Funakoshi
  • Second Place KATA Team Women World Championship SKIF Greece 2009-Team Leader
  • Second Place KATA Women individual European Championship SKIF Budapest 2011
  • Third Place KATA Women European Championship SKIF Dresden-Germany 2014
  • Third Place Kumite Women -60 European Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2017
  • Gold Medal Kumite Women Open U45 World Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2019
  • Second Place KATA Team Women- Masters World Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2019
  • Etc.
Elpida during competition

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

Elpida Christodoulou: Hahaha😊: I’m starting my answer laughing. Actually, because the reason was quite ridiculous. I was really angry with my sister (age 12). At that time, I used to hang out with a friend of mine who practiced karate. So, I thought to sign up to the karate school that she was going. God bless her for that! The weird thing was that I never used karate against my sister after I joined. The reason I started karate was just a childhood idea that enhanced my life in many levels.

What do you like about Shotokan Karate? Is there something you do not like?

Elpida Christodoulou: About the art of Shotokan karate, I will start by saying that I like everything from the technical point of view – kihon-kata-kumite – and mostly I prefer kata. I like the difficulty and detail which is hidden in between the variety of techniques. And also, how magically they can change your way of life in the best possible way1 When someone practices something so hard, both in the physical and in the spiritual level, as the art of Shotokan karate, he or she is able to gain his/her self-esteem, overcome many adversities in life and become a winner – a winner in life!

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

Elpida Christodoulou: In my opinion Shotokan karate is like “solid gold”.

Actually, the greatest and the worst experiences come from the people and situations that constitute Shotokan.

  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou medailes
  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou after her victory.
  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou after her victory.

My greatest experience is that, through Shotokan, I was able to travel in many beautiful places and had the opportunity to meet many people with different cultures and ideas. So , that fact made me a more complete person, with friends in different countries. Great experiences were also all the times I won medals in championships, that made myself, my sensei and my country proud. Especially the Gold Medal in Okinawa in 2007 in the World Championship of all Shotokan Federations, in memory of Gichin Funakoshi (on the 50th anniversary of his death), a great and historical event for Shotokan. And finally, the Gold Medal that I won just a few days ago (19/7/2019) in the SKIF world championship in Czech Republic, when I heard the national anthem…

Worst experience? I cannot recall.

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

Elpida Christodoulou: In difficult and challenging times, I draw power from my sensei, who is unstoppable no matter whatever problems come his way. So, I think to myself: “If he can, so can I.” My sensei also gives me the greatest motivation to keep going and want the best from myself and my karate students of all ages, especially the youngest generations. I am thinking that it is a huge responsibility to transmit the correct way and knowledge of Karate Shotokan as my sensei along with the Japanese senseis did and still do with me. Keeping that in mind, I try physically and mentally to do my best. As the time passes and life’s obligations grow, I am blissful that I have all the right reasons that never let me quit.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Elpida Christodoulou: Karate has surely changed and improved me as a person. From the moment I began to realize that, if I really wanted to stand out and be the best possible in Karate, I should dedicate myself to it, without leaving my university studies at the same time. It was difficult to juggle both, but I kept in mind my sensei’s words, who always told me that my studies should be my number one priority and Karate should come second. So yes, Karate changed me in a positive way, because it offered me a special path that not everyone can follow, which meant discipline of yourself, a lot of self-esteem and the feeling that you are doing something completely different than the majority of people.

Elpida during competition

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?

Elpida Christodoulou: In a very difficult period of my life, Karate helped me find myself again.

I dedicated myself to my purpose and my long-hours of training every day. That, combined with the people that appreciated my desire and appetite for Karate and believed in me, helped me – without even knowing it – to get out of my darkness.

As I mentioned before, I believe that, when someone is practicing something as hard and special as Shotokan karate, he or she can deal with and overcome many obstacles that come his or her way. That is something I cannot forget in my everyday life.

Shotokan karate is not just an art of punches and kicks. It is an art composed of people who upgrade your internal world, so that you can become a better person for yourself and for your society.

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Elpida Christodoulou: My Karate Shotokan is laid on very strong foundations and I always try to progress. Therefore, my Karate has changed and is still changing in many ways. Slowly and patiently. I participate in many seminars, both in my country and abroad, with Japanese and European instructors and I always try to learn from the best.

  • The picture shows Elpida Christodoulou with Ildiko Redai.
  • Elpida hristodoulou with other women of Shotokan
  • The picture shows Elpida hristodoulou with Nobuaki Kanazawa, Manabu Murakami,and team mates.

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

Elpida Christodoulou: My short- and long-term goal in karate is to have the strongest possible dojo and organization I can possibly have. With students that appreciate and love karate as much as I do. So that I can keep passing on the ideals that Shotokan pursues, such as honesty, good heart, straight way of thinking, discipline, self-esteem, politeness. And so that I give them the necessary knowledge to defend themselves and their families in the best way possible, if necessary.

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

Elpida Christodoulou: Of course, I would recommend Shotokan karate to my female friends!

Women are a minority in the world of Karate and nature has endowed us with less muscle strength than men, but we are for sure very intelligent, have excellent technique (in many cases better than men) and we are more capable to avoid violence compared to men. As a result, testosterone has destroyed half of our world. Furthermore, as we live in a men’s world, women must exercise as much as they can and learn how to defend themselves if necessary, believe in their physical and mental strength and be healthy and fit at all ages. Stop smoking, do karate. Oss!