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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Every day Life and Training in KWF Hombo Dojo
by Sensei Sid Tadrist, September 2003

The best things about Japan are the culture and the hospitality. It does not matter who you are, or where you come from you are always welcomed.
I planned to go to Japan and train with sensei yahara and sensei Isaka. The Training was not just Karate as we see it from the out side, it was also spiritual, philosophical, and mental, as for discipline was equal to other Japanese karate clubs I have I trained with in the pass.
This year I decided to stay in the dojo and live just for karate the time I was in Japan, I wanted to concentrate solely on my training a little more than usual perhaps.
On my first day I arrived to the dojo feeling little tired after a long flight.  I was welcomed by sensei Isaka and sensei Kawasaki we had a little chat and a nice cold drink from sensei Kawasaki I started to feel better. A few hours later sensei Yahara came along.  After greeting sensei Yahara, the training was soon under way.
The long flight did not stop me training after seeing sensei.  I felt that I had the energy needed to take part.  The training was for instructors so it was not that easy on the first day.  Sensei Yahara was not easy on me the first day or any other day, I thought, I know what to expect from now on.
After training a French student name Nicholas showed me around and explained the tasks of the dojo. I think he was very happy not just because we would split the tasks from now on. No, the thing is I could speak French to him.  He’s young and full of energy, nice chap.
New way of life was going to begin and a different approach to karate. The next day after preparing the dojo and a light breakfast I meet Yoshiko san, kwf secretary, a nice girl and very helpful.  Sensei Isaka was already in the dojo so it was time to get ready for the morning session. The classes are not compulsory but I was there for karate so I wanted to get on with it.  I trained everyday twice a day. After training a shower and lunch which I had the privilege to cook myself everyday.  It was a very nice atmosphere because everyone who stayed for lunch, mostly sensei Kawasaki and Yoshiro san, would buy things together and cook for lunch. That is how friendly everyone is in KWF; it’s like a family.  Good thing the kitchen is big enough! After the mess I made in the kitchen, we would clean up and have a break.  In the afternoon or the evening I would join another class. And it went like that for the month I was there. I got used to training everyday. It became more like a need to train. I was getting fed in every session, philosophically and spiritually.
The training with sensei Isaka was special.  I just couldn’t afford to miss the morning training with sensei Isaka. His teaching was very basic and very complex. I found myself having problems executing even the most basic of the basics; the way sensei Isaka does them. It may look simple but I tell you otherwise and anyone who has trained with him will tell you the same. I have taken notes of sensei Isaka. And these are some of his valuable points:

  • Gravity and the balance of the body
  • Balance of the mind on training
  • Continued practicing of the essence of basics
  • Connection of the hips and upper body
  • Pushes. Pulling and rotation of the hips
  • Hips and the connection with the legs, and so on

Sensei Isaka made me realise the distinction between the basics and what I call deeper into the fundamentals.  Without these basics there would be no art of karate, the training is physical and mental at all levels of practice.When you train with sensei Isaka it is simple you just go back to the roots and really back to the roots because you don’t know what has happened to your body until the next day.  The legs, hips and back all ache. But after few training sessions everything is just fine. That tells me that everything is working and I’m on the right track.  The only thing to help the pain is stretching and warming up properly before each session.
The training with sensei Yahara is even more special. Sensei Yahara has a very high reputation worldwide as a karate-ka and natural fighter. I have to say the more I trained with sensei the more I discovered myself in karate. His presence in the dojo brought the best out of me and that helped me to see better and in a very simple way. Training with sensei Yahara to me was like the samurai who doesn’t sleep, or more like the tiger that is ready to jump any moment.  And sensei has another side, which is gentler, and caring about the students, he may be hard from the outside but deep inside he knows you will learn the right way. Sensei Yahara’s approach to karate is simple, (budo) or the Spirit of the Art.  Without the spirit we develop just the outer layer of our art with deeper understanding we develop more than we expect and that is my understanding of sensei Yahara.  The training with sensei Yahara is more detailed about how the whole body functions and the movement of the body in a serene and graceful way and at the same time very powerful and deadly.  Again basic movements are the key for Yahara sensei’s training and still hard. I have noticed that outside Japan we do everything differently in training.  It seems that even the Japanese elsewhere have lost touch with their habits. The thing is we don’t pay too much attention to small details.  That is why in Japan in general the training starts slowly and repetition of the same technique is very important.  After the slow comes the speed and kime but this time with a correct motion.  And that why sensei Yahara insists on some points like:

  • Fostering the spiritual aspect
  • Determination
  • Awareness
  • Body contraction and expansion
  • The importance of the hips and hips motion
  • Proper rotation on hanme and shomen
  • Expansion and extension of the back leg on applying technique
  • The correct timings and kime of the technique and many more

Sensei Yahara is like a sea of knowledge, one has to train with him to find out. It will never be enough to talk about Yahara sensei or Isaka sensei; I will leave it to that for now.
To me sensei Yahara and sensei Isaka complement my karate in a very special way. Thank you very much for the time and support you have given me to develop my karate in a spiritual way. I also like to thank sensei Kawazaki, sensei tamong, Yoshiro san and every one in the kwf for the great job and support to keep the pillar of the karate no michi stands high

Oss

 Sensei Sid Tadrtist