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Women of Shotokan: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes

“There is something magical about Shotokan Karate!” says Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes, SKIF Kumite World Champion Masters 50+ of 2019. We could not agree more. However, Sandra lost this magic once. After being a very successful competitor in very young years, she felt a lack of sense in her karate. To many competitions gave her the feeling of “being driven by results, rather than my heart.” Thus, she stop training. 28 years later, she found her way back into the dojo. Today, she is more committed than ever. And her commitment pays of and gained her the title of a world champion. Read this inspiring and insightful portrait about a woman, who fought her way back on the tatami: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Portrait: Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes
Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes
  • Age: 50
  • Karate since: 1977 until 1989 stopped for 28 years and started again in September 2016
  • Origin and residence: Dutch since 1996 living in Schilde Belgium
  • (Kyu/Dan) Rank: 2nd Dan KBN (WKF/EKF), 3rd Dan SKIF
  • Dojo: Honbu Dojo Mortsel Belgium

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

  • From 1985 until 1988 member of Dutch National Team WKF
  • 1986 Silver Dutch Championship -53kg  KBN/WKF
  • 1987 Bronze European Championship Santander -53 WKF
  • 1988 Bronze European Championship Sopron Dutch Women Team
  • 1989 Gold Open Dutch League WKF
  • 1989 Silver  Dutch Championship Women All categories WKF
  • 1989 Bronze Open English Championship Birmingham Dutch Women Team WKF
  • 2019 Gold SKIF Kumite Masters 50+
Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during the SKIF World Championships 2019

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: As a young girl, I was quiet, shy, and I cried easily. That is why, even before I turned six years old, my parents advised me to take up judo to increase my confidence. Two years later, I joined a new karate school.

Because I suffered from chronic asthmatic bronchitis, I found it challenging to train in small spaces. My Sensei, Jim Hubner, from “Seibukan Dojo” taught me how to breathe the right way during training, and as a result, my self-confidence grew quickly. Suddenly I could enjoy the fun and educational karate lessons, just like all the other children.

Almost every night – after my father and I came back from work and school – we went to the dojo where he worked as a sports instructor, and I could take karate classes every evening. And so the dojo became my second home. 

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: There is something magical about Shotokan Karate! It is a perfect art of self-defense and an excellent way to achieve overall fitness and unparalleled control over body and mind.

Kumite is and remains my favorite part of karate, but the basic kihon and kata are also fascinating and very interesting.

During the training, I am always looking for “perfection” because something always remains to be improved. Even simple kihon exercises are never truly perfect. I am always looking for the right positions, timing, kime, balance, and breathing.

I think that it is essential to keep control of all these aspects. And for kumite, I think the more versatile you are, the better you can determine your strategies.

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

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: No, I like every aspect of karate. Except maybe the blisters I have all the time, haha.

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

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: My most significant experience was returning to karate after 28 years.

Three years ago, I took a karate trial lesson with my friends in the Honbu Dojo in Mortsel, Belgium. My friends didn’t know anything about my experience with karate because I had closed that chapter a long time ago. During the first training session, as soon as I took my first kick, my Sensei Stephane Castrique realized that I had done this before. I was surprised about how quickly my desire grew to do this more and more often. Very soon, I was allowed to participate in the black belt lessons, and I came to the dojo almost every day.

There was something magical about the dojo, and I was inspired by the great passion and knowledge with which Sensei Stephane Castrique taught his classes. I realized more and more that karate was still flowing through my veins!

After a year of hard training, I got my 2nd dan confirmed by SKIF, and a year later I got my 3rd dan.

In these 2.5 years, I reconnected with old karate friends. I increasingly felt that all the pieces of the puzzles were coming together. It gave me a sense of complete satisfaction and purpose. The last piece of the puzzle and the most beautiful highlight was winning the gold at the World Cup in the Czech Republic.

In terms of the worst experience, there is nothing that comes to mind.

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during training

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

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: I like challenges. I see them as new opportunities and take them with both hands.

On the one hand, I get my motivation from the fact that challenges make a person better and stronger. And on the other hand, they force me to think about things differently. And when you deliver excellent performance, you get more appreciation. That is also a major motivator.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Karate has shaped me as a person. I was in the Seibukan dojo almost every day from the age of nine to the age of nineteen. At that time, I was surrounded by loving people who all shared my passion for karate. I had weekly training sessions with the best Senseis of that time, including Ludwig Kotzebue (kumite) and Jaap Smaal (kata). They taught me not only to work hard but also to stay sharp and focused on achieving my goals. In the national team led by national coach Otti Roethof and Raymond Snel, I trained with the greatest champions of that time!

My friends sometimes ask me whether I truly enjoyed my childhood. They wonder if I ever missed going out with friends. I can only answer that loving, caring people surrounded me, and so I never experienced it negatively. They were my karate family, and I am grateful that they shared not only the passion for karate with me but also some valuable life lessons.

How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Karate has had a significant influence on me in every aspect.

I quit karate when I was twenty years old because I lost my passion for it. I felt like I was being driven by results, rather than my heart. Around that time, I also met my husband, with whom I traveled around the world, got married, and have two beautiful children. My husband had his own company, and he worked around the clock. I wanted to stay at home with our son and daughter. I made that choice wholeheartedly without any doubts or regrets. Because of it, I now have a great connection with my children, and I love being a mother.

When my daughter left home at the age of nineteen to study at the UVA in Amsterdam, I felt lost. I had everything my heart desired, and yet I was miserable and anxious. I felt like crying a lot of the time, and I was driving myself crazy.

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes during training

So I focused all my attention on our son. When he came home from school, I bombarded him with questions. According to the doctor, I was suffering from empty nest syndrome. He even prescribed light antidepressants for me, but I refused to take them. I had to do something for myself. So as I mentioned before, karate came back into my life at the perfect time. I rediscovered my old passion in which I could always set new goals, and as a result, I flourished. Also for my family it is nice that I have my own goals and they know that I am always there for them when they need me.

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: When I was younger and a member of the Dutch national team Kumite, I trained every day. At that time, especially in the later years, karate was more of a sport to me, and so I only trained to achieve good results. That was also what people expected from me.

Now, 28 years later, I train with much more passion and depth. I am also fortunate that, in the SKIF family, I get to train with the best and most inspiring senseis and karatekas. They ensure that I stay sharp and focused.

My goal is to become an even better karateka. But I also want to enjoy every minute on the tatami with people who share the same passion!

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: I hope that Shotokan karate remains the way it is. I hope that the traditional style of karate continues to be practiced with all its strict etiquette, depth, and respect for each other.

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

Sandra Hoogerdijk Joannes: Yes, it is through my female friends that I have found my way back to the dojo. We have a nice club of ladies who train together every Monday morning. We want to get the most out of each other, both as a karateka and in our friendship. In recent years, I have not only seen them evolve from a white belt to a purple one, but I have also seen them grow as a person. They have more self-confidence and they have become stronger, both physically and mentally. And while doing karate, you make friends for life!

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Kumite Classics: Masao Kagawa vs. Georg Best

Usually, Masao Kagawa´s style is nothing but splendid. But the following match was not the most beautiful fight. On the other hand, it still belongs to the most exciting matches in the history of Shotokan. In 1988, Masao Kagawa meet Georg Best at the JKA World Shotokan Cup in Brisbane, Australia. The incredible bout took therefore place between two most unequal fighters one could imagine.

A Bout Between Unequal Fighters

Masao Kagawa was already 33 years old and an accomplished fighter back then. Georg Best, on the other hand, had the role of the contender. However, he arrived in Brisbane with a tremendous winning streak. He who won the European Championships in the individual kumite category in 1986 and 1987. Georg Best had therefore no reason to worry. His self-esteem and his fighting spirit must have been on a high during this years.

Masao Kagawa vs. Georg Best – The Duel of the Unequal Opponents

Besides this fact, Georg best had another advantage: his size. As you can see in the video, he towered above Masao Kawaga. Georg Best was at least one head taller than his Japanese incumbent.

Masao Kagawa: No Means Against the Reach of Georg Best

The contenders had to meet in the individual and team kumite competition of the event. Both times, Georg Best could win the bouts. But Masao Kagawa showed an incredible amount of fighting spirit against the much taller British fighter. In the end, he did not find a means to deal with the difference in size. Georg Best utilized his advantage in a perfect way and kept Masao Kagawa on distance. Even with his splendid kicking techniques he did not manage to reach his opponent or to put him in real trouble. Georg Best understood in an smart way to dominate the fight through his reach.

For smaller karateka this fight teaches an excellent lesson to learn how to fight against taller opponents. Standard shobu ippon strategies might not work under such circumstances.

However, this duel is without a doubt a classic.

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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!


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“Shobu Ippon is not a game like Sport Karate.” Thomas Prediger about Kumite

Shobu ippon and sport karate could not be more different. Thomas Prediger, however, knows both because he won the Shoto-Cup and was kumite head coach of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. In this interview he illuminates the difference between both systems and why he thinks that sport karate is a game. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Kumite Boot Camp is the regular column of Thomas Prediger in which he will discuss crucial topics for Shotokan Karate. This time, he spoke with Dr. Christian Tribowski about Shobu Ippon and Sport Karate.

What are the Difference Between Shobu Ippon and Sport Karate?

Christian: Where is the difference between the competition you have descript and the one´s that foster Do?

Thomas: You can see the difference when you look at the big associations: The WKF with its 8-point system and the JKA with the 1-point, Shobu Ippon system. The JKA also renounces weight-classes. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages, because they are man-made. But we have to consider the aim of the competition. The 8-point system of the WKF does not lead to situations that foster Do. It is more like a process-oriented sport where power and speed are paramount.

The idea behind that system is, that over the course of a match the fastest and more powerful will win. Athletic determines the outcome of the match. While the JKA Shobu Ippon system creates way more uncertainties one has to deal psychologically with. The outcome of the match is not determined by your physical traits but rather through your mental state.

Just compare the fighters in both systems. WKF fighters are very athletic. The JKA fighters are less athletic but they have a splendid attitude, are very honest, and do not avoid dangerous situations.

The 8-Point WKF System is flawed

Christian: Does that also mean that the 8-point system offers more options to take advantage of it?

Thomas: Yes! You can see that every year because the WKF constantly adjusts the rules. This goes also for World Championships. Right after the tournament the WKF alters the rules.

For example, some competitors do not tie their Gi very well. The reason is simple: if the Gi opens the referee has to stop the fight. That buys them time when they are under pressure. Because they can pull the Gi a bit and it opens. Before the last World Championship, the WKF changed the rules so that the ties at the Gi must be closed. Athletes could steer the fight with such measurements.

However, when you do not have a rule for such things like it is in the Shobu Ippon system then a fighter cannot take advantage. They would not gain anything by having lose ties at their Gi. That is something I find immensely important about Shobu Ippon: The rules force you to specific actions.

Shobu Ippon as an Educational Situation

Christian: Does that mean that Shobu Ippon has a different educational effect then the 8-point system?

Thomas: Exactly! The 8-point system leads to an inconsequential attitude. Because after the first point you get 7 more points to make-up your mistakes. Such a system does not reflect the seriousness of a real-life situation where you usually do not have more than one opportunity to defend or attack. Shobu Ippon is not a game like Sport Karate.

On the other hand, the execution of the technique has no decisive effect whether you get a point in Sport Karate or not. When you touch your opponent with your fist or your foot you will receive a point. In Shobu Ippon power and clean techniques are serious categories. If your technique is to weak you won’t get a point.

Keisuke Nemoto has been 5 times JKA All Japan Karate Kumite Championship. He is an shobu ippon expert.

Educational Goals of Shobu Ippon

Christian: But what educational goals does Shobu Ippon exactly want to achieve?

Thomas: Very provocative speaking: To learn to loss! You must have the ability to loss. That sounds simple. But it is a different way to loss than in an 8-point system. In Shobu Ippon losing is always possible and sometimes you do not have much influence on it. In a single blow a fight could be over.

Thus, you need a completely different awareness and tolerance. Due to the fact that the power of the punches and kicks is judged you might get hit but the referee does not give a point. These punches can still hurt und you have to stand that. The pressure of the situation is, therefore, very high. Your task is to stay capable to act and react. That requires inner balance and strength.

Christian: And focus, right?

Thomas: Under pressure you need the coolness to focus on your one technique that finishes your opponent. For instance, if you want to use a Gyaku-zuki then you always face the danger that you also get hit. Thus, you have to put everything you have into this one punch.

Christian: But let’s assume that we have a Shobu Ippon tournament and the winner will receive 100.000 US-Dollar. The incentive to fight and to win is now completely different than usually. Do you not think that such an incentive would lead to cheating as well?

Thomas: Some incentives are good. But I agree. Extreme prize moneys will again pervert the system. The competitors will then rather be motivated in a financial way. However, if we keep the rule system lean, we will still generate the learning effects. The motivation is less important for learning than the modus of your learning. Shobu Ippon is the more honest system. Competitors just do not have that much options to exploit the system.

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Hiyori Kanazawa – Women of Shotokan

The picture shows Hiyori Kanazawa.

Last weekend, Hiyori Kanazawa achieved what she had dreamed of: She became grand champion (1th place in kumite and 2nd in Kata) at the SKIF world championship in Czech Republic. We think it is time to read the full interview again, we did with her in March. It shows how far determination and an the will to break through boundaries can lead. Hiyori has shown that she is an inspiring woman of Shotokan. Congratulations, Hiyori. Oss!!!

Portrait of Hiyori Kanazawa

  • Citizenship: Japan
  • Age: 21
  • Karate since: I began when I was 3 years old. But between age 15 to 19 I did not practice Karate because I was abroad for studies.
  • Rank: 3rd Dan
  • Dojo: SKIF Honbu Dojo in Japan

Additional information:

  • Manager and instructor of Akasaka Dojo in Tokyo,
  • Instructor of Narashino Dojo in Chiba,
  • SKIF World Champion in individual Kata girls between 12 and 13 years of age division in Greece in 2009,
  • member of SKIF national team Japan
  • Grand champion 1th place in kumite and 2nd in Kata SKIF World Championships 2019

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

My grandfather was President of the Shotokan Karate-do International Federation at that time. My father and my uncles also practiced and taught Karate back then for a long time. So it was natural for me to begin with Karate training.

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Hiyori Kanazawa: The simple answer is: It matches my body in terms of movements and distance (dynamic movements and long distances).

In addition, I like the philosophy behind Karate in general (respect others and so on).

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: When I was younger, I did not like hard training. But I am really passionate about Karate now. So I enjoy training hard everyday!

The picture shows a part of Hiyori Kanazawas latest video (see below).
Part of Hiyori Kanazawas latest video (see below).

One thing, I think could improve, is the number of women practicing Karate. I hope that especially women in my age will become more in the future.

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: About three years ago, I competed in The SKIF World Championships in Indonesia. At that time, I was in the UK for college and I didn’t have time to train much. So my level was not good enough and my focus was directed towards other things than Karate. I lost in this championship. This was maybe one of the lowest point I had in my Karate practice. But after losing, I realized that I wanted to become better and my motivation went up again.

I started practicing very hard. In the following year, I opened my own Dojo. To see my students improve week after week and to work very hard together with them, has probably being the best experience I have had with Karate so far.

The picture shows Hiyori Kanazawa in her dojo.
Hiyori Kanazawa in her dojo.

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: First of all, I push myself to go and train every day. But when it becomes too difficult I look at the people around me, my training partners, my students and I see them training hard. That gives me strength to train hard also. In addition, my teachers can be quite tough sometime. But the fact that they are always training with us and always give their best although they are all older than me (but still in very good shape) I think to myself, that I have no excuse to not train hard.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Hiyori Kanazawa: Through training, I have improved my body and have become physically stronger. This is important because being physically stronger makes me also mentally stronger and I am not scared to be alone, for instance.

And pushing myself in training every day, helps me face other problems in my life with more confidence.

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: To give an example: When I lived in Australia I was very shy and did not interact much with other people. But one day, I gave a demonstration of Karate at my school and by showing this side of myself to other people and also the fact, that everybody was impressed, gave me a lot of confidence and made the rest of my stay there much easier.

From the time I started until I was about 19 years old, I was scared of doing Kumite. I was, of course, practicing both Kihon, Kata, and Kumite. But I did Kumite halfheartedly. At some point, I started training more with men, in particular with my teachers, and slowly my Kumite improved. I was practicing mostly with taller and physically stronger men than me (and sometimes getting injured ). So it made me stronger. Then, when I was practicing with women again, for instance in competitions, I was not scared at all anymore.

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

Hiyori Kanazawa: Today, I like practicing both Kata and Kumite equally.

Since I started, I have been told that a genuine Karateka has to do both Kata and Kumite. Now, many people choose one or the other in competition. But I am very happy and proud that I do both.

The pictures shows Hiyori Kanazawa with students during an international seminar.
Hiyori Kanazawa with students during an international seminar.

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: My short term goal is to participate and win the next SKIF World Championship that will take place this summer in Europe. This is, of course, a selfish goal.

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

Hiyori Kanazawa: First of all, however, Karate evolves I think preserving Budō is very important.

Talking about competition: we see a lot more women than before, which is very good. But when I look at people practicing traditional karate, for example in seminars or abroad, I see maybe 90 percent men in classes. I wish more women would take interest in traditional Karate and I want to work to improve this aspect and get more women involved in traditional Karate.

The picture shows Hiyori Kanazawa during a tournament
Hiyori Kanazawa during a tournament

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

Hiyori Kanazawa: Of course, I would recommend Shotokan Karate to female friends. Because Karate has so many positive aspects and it is a fulfilling art. I believe people can become mentally stronger which would be especially good for many women. Because women, more often than men, can feel weak sometimes. Karate can bring out the inner strength of people. I know it is true because it happened to me.

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Women of Shotokan: Ildikó Rédai

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

Ildikó Rédai will lead her team as a national Kata coach of Hungary to the SKIF World Championship in the Czech Republic this summer.

Portrait: Ildikó Rédai

  • Name: Ildikó Rédai
  • Age: 39
  • Karate since: 1989
  • Origin and residence: origin Hungary / residence The Netherlands
  • Rank: 4. Dan
  • Dojo: various

Additional information:

  • SKIF Hungary national kata coach and vice chairmen SKIF Hungary,
  • 2x SKIF European champion kata (2011/2014),
  • SKDUN European championships 3rd place (2014),
  • JKS Euro Cup 1st place (2017),
  • JKA and SKIF national champion in Hungary and Netherlands.

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

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 …

Ildiko during a seminar

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.

Training under the guidance of Kancho Nobuaki Kanazawa during a technical seminar in Belgium

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 person?

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.

During warm up

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 future?

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.

Yoko-Geri by Ildikó Rédai

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.