At my karate club people call me Sensei, and my friends just call me Richard.

2017/05/13

Karate vlog #00! How it all began for me in Japan!


(Filmed in March 2014, Tokyo)

Hi it's Richard at Kenzen Sports Karate in Victoria, Canada, but I'm not in Victoria.

I'm still in Japan, it's my last week of 9+ years of being the head coach of Seiritsu Gakuen junior and senior high school. And you might be wondering what is a karate club in Japan in a high school?

Well here you are as a person, you can join a dojo and go into a junior high dojo or high school, or you can go straight into a JF or SH dojo, and then from there you join a competitive league, so you can compete in the city, you can compete in regional, you can compete in national, and if you get on the national team yu can compete in world competitions.

And this circuit is under the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF), each of them as a different level. In Japan, there's lots of different styles, Wado, Goju, Shotokan and Shito, and while a private dojo might have one specific style, in this system normally they let any style come in.

And kids can compete in kata, if they have a certain style they can do it, and in kumite sparring the rules are all the same so the style does't matter. So how did I get into this club? It's 51 years old, I'm the 3rd head coach and it was started a long time ago, in 1963, you can see this, by (the late) Akino Sensei, ok and this is what the club used to look like.

This is all the old pictures back from the 60s. Akino Sensei was a Wado practitioner, a Wado sensei, so as the club got older, as you can see by the change of styles. Ok, then in 1995 (not '85), his name was Kakiya, and then from 2005 I joined, you can see me there. So a non-Japanese teaching Japanese people. So what happens was is that I got a 3-month contract, and then I got a 1-year contract, then a 3-year contract, and then I got tenure. And right from the very first month when I was coaching, we had lots of really top athletes, but they were a little scattered, so I had to bring them together and get them learning to train together as a team, and then we won our first Tokyo city tournament, and we won that for 2 years running, and that took us to regionals and to nationals.

And you can see above me here these are pictures at regional and national tournaments, this is the girls team that was winning with me first, this is a regional, a regional, this is a national tournament, regional, regional, national, and these are only some of the tournaments that we went to. On the other side, on the top up there, you can see just some of of the certificates that we won at city, regional and national tournaments as well.

So this was that first team I was telling you about, the girls did really, the boys did really well, and actually the governor of Tokyo awarded our club, while I have been head coach, a medal to just congratulate us on all the success we were having in promoting karate Japan's competitions. While I've been in Japan these 9 years, there is a really famous karate magazine, called Japan Karate Fan magazine, and one year I wrote an article in English and Japanese every month, and so it was called Richard Sensei's Corner, and that was a lot of fun.

And what I did in this article series is I talked about karate is like overseas and why people do it, and why we come to Japan, um and it was a lot of fun and it helped explain who I was, how I had been coming to Japan for 21 years and going back and forth since university age, sort of learning the Japanese way of doing things, overseas way of doing things and try putting it together. And when I was going through those trials of 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, I had to keep proving myself that the students were learning good basic karate, it wasn't just for competition, there was a tradition side, and there was a sports side.

And well it just paid off because now after 9+ years I'm leaving Tokyo and going to Victoria so this is just a little bit about where I am right now, and where we are going and I hope to see some of you at our new club from September (2014), Thanks! Bye!!

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