Saturday, November 29, 2008

English Shiramizu website live...

Hi, Carl here...

Over the last few weeks I've been working on a simple English language website for the Shiramizu dojo. I'll add more information as and when I have the time, but the 'bare bones' of the site is now finished, it is online and ready for visitors.

If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions then please feel free to let us know.

Monday, November 24, 2008



After another early start, we arrived at the Budokan and secured the same great seats as yesterday.

Our great view... with action replay :-)

The final day would be the mighty kumite weight divisions, so I was very interested to see my competition division, if I’m to get to this level in my own tournament career, I need to know what I’ll be facing!

Male Kumite -70kg
This category had more entries than any category so far (about 70!), and since this isn’t my weight division, I didn’t start watching properly until I had finished my delicious Starbucks white hot chocolate drink and the first round was over with.

Rafael Aghayev
One of the first fighters on the mat today was Rafael Aghayev, the guy who easily won the men’s open division yesterday. Obviously he was the favourite to win this division too and the Japanese home crowd still loved him! He beat either Ireland or Sweden in his first round (I’m not sure which) and then smoked Tunisia 5-0 in the next round. He then dispatched Qatar and the USA (4-0) to meet Japan’s Nagaki for a place in the final.

...everyone else

Canada in action (Xavier Fournier)

Canada’s Saeed Baghbani got through two rounds, against Bosnia and Herzegovina (1-0) and the Syrian Arab Republic (1-0). He then met Egypt and lost 1-0. Egypt’s T Moussa went onto beat England (0-0 Referee‘s decision) and Scotland (4-2) to meet Aghayev in the finals.

Jason Ledgister in action

England’s Jason Ledgister was on good form, he was biding his time in all his matches, just doing enough to win each fight. He beat Indonesia (1-0) in his first round and then the Netherlands (1-0) and Wales (1-0).

England vs Wales

Watching him fight, I thought he was being too cautious and bouncing too much time away. In fact in his match against Egypt, the score was 0-0 right through extra time and it eventually went to a referee’s decision. Obviously I’m a little biased, but I thought Jason should have got the decision but he didn’t.

Japan’s Shinji Nagaki did well, he dispatched Norway easily, then his next match against China was very good. I think everyone in the stadium was watching, even all the officials! Nagaki won 7-1, his next round saw him beating Venezuela (3-1) and then Belgium (4-1) to meet Aghayev for a place in the finals.

Aghayev vs Nagaki

The crowd had loved Aghayev all the way through the tournament, the Japanese affection cooled somewhat after he beat Nagaki 4-1. The fight was really good, the crowd really got into it but it was always going to be won by Azerbaijan! By the time the finals came around at the end of the day the crowd had forgiven Aghayev and were cheering for him again.

Male Kumite -70kg Final
This was probably the most anticipated fight, the crowd wanted to see if Aghayev could get the double gold. After all the pomp and ceremony the match started. Both fighters bounced around for a while measuring, Aghayev quickly scored two body punches. The referee then charitably scored a weak body kick to Moussa which equalised the score.

Go Aghayev

Aghayev took the lead again with another body punch. Egypt’s Moussa threw a very good hook kick to the head which landed, however Aghayev showing his experience moved in at the same time dropping Moussa to the floor. The match ended 3-2 to Aghayev. He had won 2 gold medals at the World Championships, a great achievement!

Male Kumite -75kg
When I started competing this was my weight division, at my last FEW European Championships I only made the weigh-in by dehydrating myself and staying away from breakfast! After that competition, I decided the time was right to move up to the next weight division. Anyway, I was still interested in this division as it’s usually the most interesting with a reasonable amount of contact being allowed.

England’s hopes rested with Alton Brown, he beat Israel 4-0 in round one but then crashed out to Canada’s X. Fournier in round two (1-0).

Richard and Lawrence working hard...

By this point I was wondering if I would ever be able to look at Richard and Lawrence again because of the embarrassment I was feeling. Canada had beaten England far too many times for my liking!

Canada's Saeed!

Canada’s X. Fournier went onto beat Bosnia and Herzegovina (3-1) but lost in extra time to Kazakhstan (1-0).

Canada vs Kazakhstan (I think)

Kazakhstan went onto face Japan’s Ko Matsuhisa who had already beaten Germany (3-1), Ireland (3-0) and the USA. Kazakhstan got disqualified in the match against Japan for excessive contact. I think Matsushisa was still feeling the effects of this fight in his next round when he faced off to Chile’s D. Dubo and ended up losing 7-3.

Chile went onto the final against Turkey’s M. Basturk. Basturk had some good fights on his was to the final, round one he beat Venezuela 1-0, he then dispatched a very strong Italian fighter. His next fight against Azerbaijan was good and he won comfortably (7-2), his next fight was an easy 10-1 win against France.

Male Kumite -75kg Final
Chile (D. Dubo) vs. Turkey (M. Basturk), as with yesterday, all the final events were held at the end of the day. This fight was pretty much one sided, I thought it was only a matter of time before Turkey took the prize. I have the feeling that this same thought passed through Dubo’s head too. Dubo moved in for a body punch but left his head completely open at the same time, Basturk felt compelled to tag his face with a punch. In response to being 'tagged' Dubo took a dive that was worthy of England’s Premiership Football League! I thought that he milked this a lot, the referee even called on the match doctor. Two of the flag officials wanted to give a warning to Dubo for ‘self endangerment’ but the referee decided that the contact was too heavy and penalised Basturk.

Chile vs Turkey

The match was a stalemate at 0-0 when it went into extra time. Neither fighter could gain the initiative until Dubo dived in yet again for an unprotected attack and promptly got hit in the face, and took an even more spectacular dive to the mat spitting out his gum shield for extra effect. The referee’s decision was very controversial and had the crowd up in arms. He again penalised Turkey, and since this was the second such penalty, he gave the point and the match to Chile.

I thought it was a very sneaky way to win a World Championship title and I thought it cheapened the whole competition. I had hoped that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen at this level because it’s little more than cheating. On the other hand, Dubo showed a great understanding of the situation, knowing that he was outmatched by his opponent, he used the rules to his advantage and Basturk should have realised what Dubo was doing and not got sucked into it. Still, I don’t think it’s an honourable way to win such a prestigious prize!

Male Kumite -80kg
This is my category, so it stands to reason that I may come across some of these fighters in the future. I therefore started to watch a lot of the fights very carefully leaving Amy to fill in the program and take pictures (which is why the photos are sparce for this division!).
England’s Loxley Simmons lost in his first round to Egypt’s H. Keshta with an embarrassing 11-1 score. Keshta then went on to beat Turkey (2-1) and Mexico (4-3), he lost to Japan in the next round.

Japan’s Satoshi Ibuchi was on good form, he beat the Congo in his first round (1-0) and Armenia (4-3) in the second. He then beat Norway (5-1), Egypt and someone else (sorry I’m not sure who!) to get to the final against Russia‘s I. Eldaruchev.

I watched a lot of fights intently in this division but I was often disappointed, the standard wasn’t great in a lot of fights and they often degenerated into a scrap or worse, they bounced most of the time away and stole a point with a few seconds to go. They weren’t great to watch.

Japan vs Russia - Final

The final was very much of the same mould, Ibuchi (Japan) and Eldaruchev (Russia) bounced most of the time away, they through a few techniques but nothing scored until the dying seconds when Ibuchi connected with a lunge punch to the face. He got the point. Eldaruchev tried to take the win with a head kick, but was forced to the floor and the match ended. The result was a unimpressive 1-0 win and the Japanese spectators erupted with cheers and applause.

Competitor Warm Up Area

After watching the full category, and not wanting to endure the reperchage we (Amy and I) decided to escape outside for some fresh air. We had a look at some of the souvenir stalls outside the Budokan and headed to Starbucks again for a pick me up.

When we got back to the Budokan, we bumped into Arakawa Sensei in the corridor. He was taking a well earned break from marshalling the competitors in the warm up area. He then decided that we should go with him and have a look at where the fighters were warming up. I was surprised to see that it was such a small area, it certainly made for a lively atmosphere. I was even more surprised when sensei showed us the gym that he teaches at every Thursday with Takagi Sensei. Apparently the Japanese team were using that as their ‘secret’ warm up area. Arakawa Sensei said he didn’t like this, and that all the athletes should have been warming up together, but I think any country hosting such a tournament would have done the same for their own national team.

Female Kumite +60kg
I can’t claim to have watched these categories very much, especially after England’s Katie Hurry and Japan’s Ayaka Arai both crashed out in their first rounds. Amy was obviously watching them intently so I decided to go wandering around the stadium. On the way I bumped into the England squad and said hello to a few of them.

USA vs France

The USA’s Elisa Fonseca Au and France’s T. Fanjat ended up getting to the finals of the Female Kumite +60kg. Fanjat completely outclassed the USA fighter and won convincingly with 2 body punches and a head kick to 1 body punch making the final score 5-1 to France.

Male Kumite +80kg

Japan working hard

England’s Davin Pack fought well in the first round against Germany’s J. Horne, the score was 3-1 just before the buzzer when Davin threw a head kick which connected but didn’t get scored by the referee’s.

The French team watching the fight closely

Italy’s S. Maniscalco met France’s I. Gary in the final which was a close fight. France scored first with a body punch, which was quickly followed by the same technique from Italy. France scored another, and Italy again equalised.

Italy vs France

Then, with a little time left Italy scored another point and France was unable to equalise. Italy won 3-2.


Mens Kumite -70kg

1st - r.aghayev(aze)
2nd - t.moussa(egy)
3rd - s.baghbani(can) and s.nagaki(jpn)

Mens Kumite -75kg

1st - d.dubo(chi)
2nd - m.basturk(tur)
3rd - m.mohamed(egy) and k.matsuhisa(jpn)

Mens Kumite -80kg

1st - s.ibuchi(jpn)
2nd - i.eldaruchev(rus)
3rd - h.keshta(egy) and a.prenov(kaz)

Female Kumite +60kg

1st - t.fanjat(fra)
2nd - e.fonseca au(usa)
3rd - e.podborodnikova(rus) and c.feo gomez(esp)

Male Kumite +80kg

1st - s.maniscalco(ita)
2nd - i.gary(fra)
3rd - c.robb(sco) and j.horne(ger)

I think it was great to be able to watch the best fighters from around the world fight it out for the number one spot. The fact that the World Championships was held in Japan, the birthplace of the Sport/Martial Art made the competition that bit more special.

I was surprised at the fighting style that tended to be successful, the techniques were very flamboyant compared to what I’m accustomed to. The most popular technique was still reverse punch, but it was performed in a very embellished way and then the finish was very important. Like Richard has already said, if the fighter didn’t recover well or get into a dominant position after the technique then they didn’t get the score. Again like Richard has already mentioned, it was great to have benefited from Oliva Sensei’ experience the week before watching this tournament because you could see his theories in action.

Throws and head kicks were very popular but these tended to be in the earlier rounds, a lot of the fighters became cagey in the last few rounds, obviously they didn’t want to mess up.

The European fighters faired very well in the tournament as a whole, though I didn’t like their way of moving. A lot of them were bouncing too much and actually becoming airborne on every bounce. I find that this makes you vulnerable to attack whilst you’re ‘in the air’. Also, most of the Europeans tended to bounce the majority of the time away, and then make a sudden dash for a single point just before the end. England seemed to be using this strategy in a lot of fights, however the match occasionally went to a referee’s decision which didn’t always go well for England. I’ve always preferred to get points early and hold them rather than having to ’chase’ the game for 3 minutes.

I was surprised at how many bouts went to encho-sen or extra time, where the first to score would win. I was even more surprised at the amount of play-acting there was with regards to injuries, in fact some bouts were won purely on a fighters acting ability. I thought, or rather hoped that at this level of competition, there would be no place for that sort of thing.

On the whole it was a great competition, and the crowd really got into some of the matches making the atmosphere electric. I was obviously disappointed with England’s performance but this was the first major challenge for the newly formed English Karate Federation (EKF), so the only way is up for us.

Hero Worshipped - Kids would follow the Japanese team around to get their autographs...

The full tournament results can be viewed here:

Sunday, November 23, 2008



I’d been looking forward to this tournament since before I arrived in Japan, it was receiving a lot of hype from the English Karate Federation and selections for the England team were still taking place when I arrived in Japan. The hype for the tournament in Japan was great too, a lot of the subways in Tokyo were carrying posters advertising the event and the karate magazines were publishing profiles of the favourites from around the world.

Amy and I were asked in September by Arakawa sensei if we would like to volunteer at the competition to which we both readily agreed. Apparently we were likely to be interpreters. Anyway, the week before the event Amy attended a meeting with Arakawa Sensei and Richard at the Budokan to find out what we would be doing and when. I think someone must have realised that Amy and I don’t speak Japanese because we weren’t on the volunteer list!

Anyway, it was decided that we would be better off watching the event and taking tons of photos instead. The funny thing is that we were still listed in the official tournament program as part of the ‘local organising committee’.

The Nippon Budokan
Amy and I were both working at our day jobs on the Thursday and Friday of the competition, but we could watch it over the weekend. We wanted to be sure of getting great seats so we set off ridiculously early and arrived at the Budokan before most of the teams and officials on the Saturday morning, so we headed to the local McDonalds for a very suspicious looking breakfast!

Amy and I outside the Budokan

At a more reasonable hour we headed to the Budokan to see it decked out in all its glory, 4 matted areas each with a huge electronic scoreboard were set up inside with a huge officials table on one side. There were two big screen TV’s in the top stands and TV camera’s everywhere.

We decided to sit right in the middle of the north seats so we had a great view of all 4 areas, we were also right next to the TV commentary team. This was to be a bit of a pain later on when people kept coming to ask for the famous presenter’s autographs etc... but it did have its advantages, directly in front of us we had a small TV that showed what the TV crew were editing for broadcast at the time, this meant that after every point we got a slow motion action replay! We had the best seats in the house!

Male Kumite -60kg
These guys were very fast and mobile, England’s Ritchie McMillan crashed out in the first round against R. Scott from Wales. He was moving well and trying hard but the Welsh fighter had better timing, the score finished at 4-1.

England Vs Wales

Canada’s S. Larose beat Belgium in the first round and Australia in the second, but lost to Kazakhstan with a 4-1 score in the third. Kazakhstan’s D. Assadilov beat Japan’s Keita Fujimoto convincingly with an 8-2 score in the first round, much to the crowd’s disappointment.

Kazakhstan then beat Serbia and Canada and went onto the finals by beating Iran (2-1) and France (0-0, ref’s decision). Kazakhstan faced off against Croatia’s D. Domdjoni who had beaten Germany, Colombia, Pakistan and Brazil to get to the finals.

Croatia vs Kazakhstan -60kg Mens Kumite Final

Croatia comfortably beat Kazakhstan 5-1 in the final which was held at the end of the day.

One of the many takedowns during the competition

Male Kumite -65kg
Thomas Canham from England comfortably beat Israel 7-0 in round one; and he had a good fight with Kazakhstan in the second but lost the match 8-4.

England's Thomas Canham in action...

Adam Kovacs from Hungary (who helped Oliva Sensei at the Shiramizu champion seminar) easily dispatched New Zealand (round one) and Canada’s L. Lafleur in round two (2-1), he then beat Kuwait and Italy to meet Japan’s Takuro Nihei in the fourth round.

Japan's Nihei in action

Japan had to beat off Switzerland (4-1), Syrian Arab Republic (1-0) which went to extra time, Nihei getting the reverse punch first.

Nihei again

He then beat Azerbaijan (3-0) and got a bye in round 4 because the guy from Netherlands was KO’d in his previous round.

Adam Kovacs (Hungary) and Takuro Nihei (Japan) fought for a place into the finals. The Japanese crowd went nuts when Nihei walked onto the mat, the atmosphere was great. It was a very dynamic fight, despite the lack of techniques, both fighters shifting around looking for a chance to score. Adam looked calm and collected throughout the fight but Takuro looked a little uncomfortable. Adam threw a reverse punch which scored, Nihei eventually equalised with a few seconds left on the timer. The match went to extra time, the crowd start to rally once more behind Nihei, with shouts of ‘NIPPON NIPPON’ that went rippling through the arena. It was over in 6 seconds, Adam threw a solid body punch to get the final point and win the match. It was great to see Adam putting into practise what Oliva sensei was teaching the previous week. The only techniques you throw should score, Adam only threw two techniques in the match, and both scored!

Hungary's Adam Kovacs vs USA's George Kotaka

The final was held at the end of the day and it was to be Adam Kovacs (Hungary) against George Kotaka (USA). I’m going to put my neck on the line here and say that I was disappointed with the quality of the refereeing in this match. The referee scored a number of points for the USA unsupported by any of the officials. The match went to extra time with the scores tied at 3-3. The final technique was a weak body kick by the USA fighter which scored and won the Match. My gut reaction was one of outrage, I thought that the referee made a mistake in stopping the match when he did and he panicked into awarding a poor technique the score. The crowd didn’t think the technique was good enough either and complained loudly but this obviously didn’t affect the outcome. The final score was 5-3 to the USA.

Female Kumite -53kg
Canada’s J. Guilette lost in her first round to Brazil, Sarah Donnelly of England also crashed out in the first round against Vietnam so I decided to support my second team – Japan. Natsuki Fujiwara (Japan) was on good form throughout her matches, she beat Kazakhstan (1-0), Israel, Turkey, Italy and Brazil (5-2) to meet Germany in the finals. Once again the final match was held at the end of the day. The bout wasn’t great; both ladies bounced the time away with neither fighter willing to risk losing everything.

Japan's Natsuki Fujiwara in the final against Germany's K.Knuehmann

The fight went to extra time, the referee ended up awarding a point to Japan for a body punch that didn’t look particularly great. A lot of the non-Japanese spectators didn’t agree with the decision and the stadium erupted in a collection of cat-calls and jeers. Right or wrong, the fight was over 1-0 to Japan.

Female Kumite -60kg
Natalie Williams of England is a really good fighter, so I was keen to see how she did in this event.

England's Natalie Williams working hard

Despite this I was also supporting Japan’s Tomoko Araga because she was by far the cutest lady on the Japan team, much to the disgust of Amy!

Natalie (England) beat Costa Rica in round one (7-2), Senegal Republic (5-2) in the second, and the Czech Republic (1-1, referee’s decision) in round three. Canada’s N. Varasteh beat Hungary in round one in extra time, though I actually thought Hungary scored first as both fighters through reverse punches together. I think Canada must have had a better position in relation to the referee’s and judges because she won the point, the match ended 2-1 to Canada. Canada then dispatched India and Turkey to meet England’s Natalie Williams in round four.

England versus Canada, at the start of this match I got an email on my phone off Lawrence it simply said ‘England vs Canada, Area 1’. But I was already watching the fight. I thought the two fighters were very well matched; both score one point and took the match to extra time. Both fighters moved in, I thought Natalie had the score but the referee decided that Canada was their first. Canada went on to beat Spain for a place in the finals against Russia.

Tomoko Araga getting ready for her next fight

Tomoko Araga (Japan) coasted her way through most of her fights, she won round one (3-0) against Dominican republic, in round two she made it look easy with a 9-0 win against Macao and round three 2-1 against Columbia. Round four she was pitted against Serbia. Tomoko dominated the fight, she got a point early on and kept the pressure on her opponent, she held the lead up until a hook kick to the head connected just before the buzzer to win Serbia 3 points. Tomoko came back and dropped the Serbian fighter to the mat with a great takedown but was unable to get the score because she ran out of time.

I thought that Japan would have gone on to win this division because she was by far the best technician out of all the fighters. I was thoroughly disappointed that the cute Japanese lady didn’t go through! In the next round Serbia got beat by Russia.

Final - Canada vs Russia

The finals wasn’t particularly great, Russia verses Canada. Once again both ladies bounced a lot of time away, but Russia eventually came through with 2 points to win the match.

Male Kumite Open
The draw for the open divisions was done the same day, so the fight order wasn’t listed in the programs. This made the next two categories very difficult to follow. To make matters worse, they were running the reperchage on two of the areas during the start of the Open categories too.

England's Rory Daniels

England’s Rory Daniels fought his way through most rounds but lost out on the finals against Greece by 1 dubiously scored point in extra time. He went onto finish 7th overall in the reperchage.

The most impressive fighter was Rafael Aghayev from Azerbaijan. The crowd loved him, he’s a small guy, one of the smallest in the category, he had some great take downs and his body shifting and timing was excellent. In one of the matches he was fighting a guy almost twice his size, he collected a few points and then spent the last thirty seconds body shifting out of the way of a thousand punches whilst staying in the corner, it was really impressive to watch. Aghayev is also a total showman! He played up to the crowd very well; the Japanese crowd warmed to him immediately and gave him the same attentions and cheers that they gave their own team.

Aghayev in the final

Aghayev beat S. Margaritopoulos (Greece) 2-0 with simple but effective body punches in the final.

Female Kumite Open
The female open was also difficult to follow;

England vs Japan

Natalie Williams (England) lost to Japan’s Yuka 8-0 with a minute to spare! Sato came up against a fighter from the Slovak Republic in a fight to get to the finals. This was a very noisy affair; the crowd was very vocal in this match. I thought there was going to be a riot when the Slovak fighter threw a good hook kick to the head, the kick connected but the referee didn’t score it. To be honest the kick looked like a score. The crowd started jeering but the Japanese spectators didn’t take this lying down. They answered with even louder shouts of ‘NIPPON NIPPON’ which quickly drowned everyone else out. The noise added to the excitement of the match and I think perhaps it should have been the final. Japan ended up winning the match putting Sato in the final against Spain’s G. Casanova Rodriguez.

Female Open Final - Japan vs Spain

The final match wasn’t very good compared with the previous one; both fighters did very little all the way through, the match went to extra time with the scores at 0-0. The crowd was restless, both fighters ended up getting contact violations and the match went to a referee’s decision. Japan ended up winning with 2 flags and the referee’s vote against 1 flag for Spain. The crowd started jeering again; the Europeans that were sat near us clearly thought that there was some bias because Japan was the home team!


The ‘attraction’ was actually a demo of a bunch of very badly choreographed dancers of all ages. When they were in unison it was good, but most of the time people were moving at the wrong time, or on occasion in the wrong direction. For the biggest karate competition in the world, the demo was below par!

All the event finals were held in a special ceremony after the ‘attraction’. Each fighter and all the referee’s for that match were introduced over the loud speaker and there was a light show put on which made the whole arena dark until huge spot lights came on and spun in every direction.

It was good enough to get some ‘ooohs and aaaahs’ out of the crowd anyway. After the final matches most of the crowd hit the Budokan exits.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and the customary national anthems of each winning country.

Male Kumite -60kg

1st - d.domdjoni(cro)
2nd - d.assadilov(kaz)
3rd - h.rouhani(iri) and d.brose(bra)

Male Kumite -65kg

1st - g.kotaka(usa)
2nd - a.kovacs(hun)
3rd - w.rolle(fra) and t.nihei(jpn)

N. Fujiwara - Female Kumite -53kg Champion

Female Kumite -53kg

1st - n.fujiwara(jpn)
2nd - K.Knuehmann(ger)
3rd - G.Celik(tur) and E.Ponomareva(rus)

Female Kumite -60kg

1st - m.sobol(rus)
2nd - n.varasteh(can)
3rd - k.strika(srb) and v.dogan(tur)

Female Kumite Open

1st - y.sato(jpn)
2nd - g.casanova rodriguez(esp)
3rd - e.anicic(cro) and e.medvedova tulejova(svk)

Male Kumite Open

-sorry, no group shot!
1st - rafael raghayev (aze)
2nd - s.margaritopoulos(gre)
3rd - s.maniscalco(ita) and g.arkania(geo)

The day had seriously over ran against the scheduled time, by the time we left the Budokan we had to quick march to the train station to catch one of the last trains back to Sugito. When we got back we headed straight for food and then off to bed. It was past midnight and we were back up again in a few hours for the journey back to Tokyo!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finalization! The theme of Oliva Sensei's Kumite Seminar

Richard here, with my take on the Oliva Seminar!

l-r David (Seiritsu foreign student), myself, Oliva Sensei, Lawrence, Wessel (Seiritsu student)

These are the 5 steps to executing a precise technique written in Japanese - explained below the pictures.

When an attacker comes in, one single technique to score. When they stay still, double techniques. When they move back, multiple techniques, the best being 3 point skills.

This picture Carl has explained about all the things a fighter needs to take into account.

I won't repeat what Carl has written, but I want to point out the main theme of the seminar.

Scoring a point. Properly. With finalization. Of which there are 5 stages and 7 distances possible.
For every technique thrown, it needs 5 stages to be scored.
1. Observation. From a safe distance, the fighter observes the opponent and all the other aspects of the match (time, score, refs, coach, etc) and makes a choice.

2. Preparation. the technique with an approach, including a feint, a misdirection, an irregular tempo, all to throw off the opponent of the incoming attack.

3. Execution. Good execution of the attack without damage.

4. Retraction. Quick retraction of the technique to cleanly demonstrate control.

5. Finalization. Return to a safe distance or push foward to a safe position, both from which the fighter can attack again.

The morning session was divided up into 3 one-hour segments. 1) Reviewing what is a scoring point. 2) Defensive tactics. 3) Combination tactics.

The most interesting part was watching one person stand up still in hachiji daichi and their partner throw a full speed gyaku tsuki at their stomach with the level of control needed for a jodan head punch (uniform touch only, no actual body contact) and see Sensei decide if the technique could have scored or not. For most people, especially Japanese fighters used to just diving forward, steps 4 and 5 were weak. Either the students were hitting too hard meaning too much contact from not controlling their technique. Or they were over extended. Or they didn't complete - finalize! - properly with a clean retraction and back to a place of safety. Or they didn't use their whole body torquing in and out of the technique.

Torimasen. No point. It amazed me at the seminar how many techniques he said would not score in the WKF system, so much I was skeptical at first of this one part of his teaching. But when I spent the full 4 days at the WKF Worlds, I felt a moment of enlightment, wow, I think I get what he meant, because for me the thing that stands out the most at the tournament was how much torimasen was given by judges. Soooo many techniques did not score because the fighter did not use their complete body and follow the 5 steps above. It was perfect to have the tournament right after the seminar to really see what he was talking about.

Fully precise techniques adapted to the WKF rules.

The best defense is using both arms, one rising the other dropping, while twisting the torso and sliding out of the way but in a position to counter. The drills Carl wrote about standing at the wall were designed around this.

Brain. Heart. Body. Different fighters utilizes different aspects to fight, none are better than the other, but each are good to know as to whom you face and how to change one's own behaviour.

Sensei defined distance was defined as one full zenkutsu dachi length or longer between fighters was long, a little less than was medium, and half or less was short.
There are 7 distances: very short, short, short medium, medium, long medium, long, very long.

A fighter who mainly fights with his heart uses his muscles next and brain last. They like to score in the first 30secs of the match always at a short distance. They only go forward and they have little control. Their rhythm is the same and they want to push to the other side of the mat. They don't listen to their coach. According to Oliva Sensei, a typical Japanese or Asian fighter.

A fighter who mainly fights with his body, then brain and then heart likes to score in the middle 1 min or so of the match. They like a medium distance, very good with leg skills, their tempo is smoother, up and down, good foot work and they like the center of the ring. Oliva Sensei said he sees type of fighter most often in African countries.

A fighter who uses their brain first followed by heart and lastly body likes to score in the last 3osecs of the match, they use a long distance, they can move in various directions, their tempo is irregular, and they like to fight in their side of the ring, if not moving all around it. Oliva Sensei said he sees this type of fighter mainly in Europe.

(I had this goofy thought about why there were there so many Europeans in the finals at the WKF champs. Maybe it's because of the stereotype white people can't dance, they're movements are all quirky and irregular! While not good for the dance floor, this is maybe great for kumite as no one can time their rhythm hence expect their attack, perhaps maybe even getting frustrated and a headache from watching them move all herky-jerky...)

Now these are just his observations and of course there was a variety of types he said.
What he did stress, much of this over dinner at night, was that most people forget parts of the 5 steps of scoring a point, so it is like trying to drive a car with one wheel. All the wheels of course need to be working together.

A long attack requires a short defense turning the body and slipping to the side.
A short attack requires a long defense slipping to the side to gain distance.

Attacking is done pushing off the back leg and defending it done pushing off the lead leg as one twists off the linear line.

A beginner fighter needs to work on the 5 steps straight through from one of the 7 distances.
An intermediate fighter makes their tempo irregular, provides false information to the opponent to cause them to make a mistake like dropping a guard or throwing an attack, and then the fighter executes their own precise attack, with their recovery normally setting up the next technique.

Another way to look at this is first training the 5 steps, then developing irregular movements in the 5 steps to throw off the opponent, then finally being able to alter the 5 steps for winning the championships, but he didn't talk much about this stage. He said of the 5 steps he really only taught 3 (execution) and 4 (retraction) as to learn his whole system would take 2 weeks of study 2x a year for 3 years if we did the homework he leaves us.

It sort of reminds me of the long term athlete development 'LTAD' of training to train, training to complete and then training to win.

Well, Gekkan Karatedo, one of the 2 most popular karate magazines in Japan (the other being JKfan magazine) sent a reporter to the seminar who stayed for the afternoon and took many photos, lots of notes and interviewed Sensei, then more pictures of him punching me!

What we plan to do is organize a seminar series between Shiramizu in the Kanto area (Tokyo) then have some friends in other dojos around Japan host seminars so that we can bring Sensei over for 1 to 2 weeks next year.

He also kindly gave me his huge kumite system textbook, written in Spanish! After listening to Mr. Estevan Perez spewing off Spanish instructions to the many Spanish speakers at the worlds, I feel like I need to learn Spanish, in a hurry.
More soon!