Here it is a little interview we collected from our heroes Max and Roby, who crossed the Alps and challenged the Swiss snow to partecipate the Takudai 2018 Seminar in Munich, Germany.
To begin, a curiosity: how come a stop in Dachau?
Well, it was due, not only because it was along the road to Munich. As I already posted on Facebook: “A bit of History, not to forget”. Being there, watching those empty buildings, so creeping huge, well, it gives you fullest idea of the frailty of human things, that is how far people can go when they lack the ability of judgment.
Not that I’d like to be disrespectful towards such a delicate subject, but the ability of judgment is one of the purposes of any martial arts’ practitioner. Was it one of the targets of your quest?
Yes, it’s not wrong at all what you’re saying. Facing the big tragic events of History allows you to gain and widen – a lot – your personal perspective. I often say that if I were millionaire, I’d like to spend my time studying… Maybe, because I couldn’t do it when I was young. But, in the end, a karateka is always a student: you study, you understand and then apply yourself.
What you found at Takudai 2018 matched your expectations?
When we arrived, on Friday, after the official introduction of the teachers, we had an “opening training session”, with plenty muscular workout. A lot of it, I daresay too much. We look at each other and then said: «What does have to do with karate? Why are you demolishing my legs?!» [It was under sensei Murakami]
Ah-ah-ah! It means it’s fundamental to keep yourself in a good shape, doesn’t it? Even at your age.
Hmm, the pot calling the kettle black… Of course you’ve to train hard to keep yourself in a good shape, but sometimes it’s not enough. As you say, if in your thirties you can still count on your physical strength, later on you must obviate with technique. Luckily, we coped pretty well… Little effort, great achievement! One of the basic principles in karate-do!
And about your expectations? I see your first approach wasn’t… brilliant.
Expectations? On the first evening, they were under our feet. Believe me, we were discouraged, disappointed and even… sore all over! Anyway, after that there was Saturday, and it was completely different. First of all, about organization: it was perfect. Very German, really. Scrupulous, precise, efficient. As you expect from the Germans!
Since there were plenty people, we’ve been split into two groups. The main gym had many rooms: three hundreds people per room and, trust me, it was priority to stand in the front row. Seminar was in English and Japanese, with German translation, if we couldn’t even watch what the sensei was doing… well, we’d better stay at home!
So, KCK in the first row?
And with the language, how did you cope with it? I’m asking because neither of you are… ahem, polyglot.
That’s true, but karate-do has its own universal language, made of techniques and codified gestures which unite its practitioners all over the world. It makes comprehension possible: we just needed to pay attention, carefully watch the teachers and the rest’s easy… Ah, and obviously, hold on your stance. Always. Till the end. Never step back! The front row was our trench and we defended it.
Oh, yes. If I’m not wrong it was the centenary of end of the Great War…
Yes, we left with a bit of that spirit too. You know, going to Germany…
To finish the answer, Italian language and its gestures are amazing: give a smile here, pull a face there and we’re all friends… If you then speak Milanese rather than French, is nearly the same! Or not?
OK, but what about the teachings?
What we definitely appreciated was the major thread running through. I explain: different teachers took turns in the rooms. We worked with sensei Akita, Miura, Murakami and Naka. Each of them continued what had been previously done by another. This way, our learning resulted to be linear and incremental: we started from fundamentals and then got to kata applications.
What katas did you work on?
Only one, Bassai-dai. It’s my opinion that in a good seminar you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew. I remember that when sensei Naka read the name of our school sewn onto my jacket, he exclaimed: «Ah, Kanku-dai! Nex yar, nex yar!»
Any more anecdotes?
It was very nice sensei Shiro Asano. You see, Asano is one of the eldest Japanese karateka, a former pupil of sensei Nakayama. He’s currently 80, and has difficulties to stand up properly. So, whenever he moved, all the young senseis ran to help him, ready to catch him if he had… ahem, fallen! They escorted him anywhere, walking arm in arm.
This reminded me the post we shared a few time ago [here]: it was very sweet, but it also made us reflect upon the respect and the role of a sensei throughout time. It was nice to know that you can count on your disciples – of course if you taught them with wisdom and respectfulness!
One more thing, hoping not to hit a bitter topic: Food. What did you eat and where? And, most of all, why haven’t you brought us a pretzel back?
Unfortunately, we couldn’t taste anything typical: no wursts und sauerkraut but pizza (Germans don’t put any mozzarella on pizza: they use a kind of emmenthaler cheese, that’s not that bad. Well, it really is better than many pizzas found in many touristic places in Italy…) and then… fastfoods. Not very healthy, but it’s gone this way. About the pretzel: Have you come with us? Nope, so no candy! Some chances are one in a lifetime: you must catch’em!