Monthly Archives: February 2013

Winners of the All Japan Karate Championship KATA PT. II

Years 1968 to 1977 MALE/FEMALE KATA Division
Year # DIVISION 1st 2nd 3rd

Teaching Karate Part 1

Part I, teaching Karate I have written numerous articles on human development and now KarateCoaching has been kind enough to ask me to adapt my research to karate. I may or may not have a better idea, but by sharing we begin our dialogue and hopefully everyone finds something of value. Before we even discuss karate technique and curriculum we need to define our task. Which is primarily teaching humans to move, unless any of you has some cosmic connections and are working with alien life forms. That  question aside we will confine our discussion to carbon based life forms on earth. So with “all due respect,” to everyone that knows more than I, a large list, I would like to make some suggestions. For example instead of thinking of your particular style as the Acme of martial arts, try to simply examine our task and that is presenting martial arts as a codified system and tradition of combat practices. Adding to this component that some instructors will include philosophical interpretations in their teaching of the their martial arts. Then setting aside the presumption that your style is the Higgs Boson particle of Martial Arts, there are likely areas of pedagogy that are not included in your curriculum.  
  • How to teach
  • How to understand human movement.
  • How humans move as a bio-mechanical system
  • How humans are motivated to pursue a practice that includes some privations and pain.
  Just like a mathematics problem let us identify the constants and the variables. If I can presume to select the first constant all instructors have some intention of showing or telling students how to move. Next all instructors will try to enhance this movement by embellishments of power, speed and control. Next most instructors confine themselves to a particular curriculum, even the ones that are “progressive minded,” still select punching, kicking, blocking etc., as the areas of study. The variables are the fact that we must use humans as our object of design. With these few parameters in mind a Sensei might be well served to understand pedagogical science in order to communicate his/her message. Then would it not be helpful to understand the pathology of healing, training and stress to the human body? Then it may be helpful if the instructor understands the curve of human learning and mastery. Very few argue that there are few shortcuts in creating an elite athlete and most buy into the 10,000 hours of practice to mastery. But that elite athlete is the top 1% of students. And I am not discounting the elite athlete but do you also know how to teach the other 99%? Can you teach the kid with two left feet? Would you like to be able to handle all the ADHAD kids that walk in your door? These questions depends on what your goal is and how you measure your progress to that goal. For example, tomorrow a family comes in a mom says I want you to teach my son or daughter karate. And I want the best Sensei I can find to teach my kid.  I wouldn’t, nor would the that mom put up with me just being average. And should this new young karate student decide to enter a tournament no parent wants an instructor whose students only lose. But if every parent wants their kid to be a winner and every Sensei subtly implies they will make that same kid become a winner, and every school in the country has the same goal, we have a problem. At the end of the day only one kid in each division never lost. So we either dance around this problem or we present different goals. Sure winning is great and I would love all my students to always win in all the tournaments they attend. But I recognize that everyone else is chasing that same rabbit and my student and their parents are going to be disappointed if we all focus on winning as our goal. But what if we taught everyone student and parents to see the “long term.” After adjusting everyone’s eyes to see long term, think about how to motivate the karate student to stay with you long term. Karate like most activities for young people has a problem keeping students when they get into their teen years. Sure we can find a few isolated examples of young people staying on through their teens. But most kids quit their sport of choice by age 15. In all sports kids that start young usually quit by age 15. The US Olympic Committee working with the USSA, (US Snow Board and Ski Association) sampled a wide range of coaches and children to discover the main reason for quitting their sport of choice are the following:
  1. Coaches, we could say the Sensei
  2. No playing time, meaning young people need competition. If presented correctly it provides the correct challenge young people need to develop.
  3. Too much emphasis on winning.
  4. After this some admit to seeking other interests
But according to this survey and the Positive Coaching Alliance the number one reason kids quit is adults. There is a movement in the USA to begin a dialogue about changing the culture in Sport. We all agree sport is a terrific learning ground for so many life lessons, but we need to change our focus to the future. The President of USA Karate is an example of a forward looking instructor, John DiPasquale has been pursuing his vision of providing scholarships to college age karate students for a couple of years now. And after more than two years people are starting to listen. I personally watch his organization hand numerous college scholarships. Can you imagine how powerful program becomes with the parents? Now adults are providing a vision of the future for karate students. But karate needs more steps forward.  The next step might be changing our focus about being the best dojo, style or organization and start teaching life lessons. Instead of teaching winning at all costs we should teach character. I will tell you a story about winning at all costs. Many people over the years have said that Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” But did you know According to the late James Michener's Sports in America, Lombardi claimed to have been misquoted. What he intended to say was "Winning isn't everything. The will to win is the only thing." When pressed on this  quote Lombardi admitted he did say “winning is everything,” but also said I want you to understand that is not what I wanted my players to learn, my life is about preparation. Here are some things Lombardi did say and write down. What Lombardi was really about:
  1. Pay the price, Spartan dedication
  2. American Zeal to compete
  3. Strive for perfection
  4. Responsibility of Freedom
  5. Discipline
  6. Leadership is earned
  7. Will is character in action
To be continued in Part 2…. Areas of philosophical adaptation to teaching karate (will be released March 3rd) Doug Jepperson USA Karate Technical Committee Park City Karate Living at 6,500 feet above the sea. Doug headshot  

WJKA Instructor in Sacramento


In collaboration with Sierra Shotokan PRESENTS CALIFORNIA CAPITOL SPRING KARATE CAMP Special Guest Instructor Sensei Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan  Friday, Saturday and Sunday April 26, 27 & 28 2013 Friday, April 26, 2013 1 6:00 pm – 9:00pm Adults All Black belts Saturday, April 27, 2013 10:00am – 11:00am All Youth 12:noon - 2:00pm All Adults all ranks 2:30pm – 5:30pm Adults All Black belts 5:45pm Dan Examinations Sunday, April 28, 2013 9:00am-12:00noon All adults all ranks Fees: Make checks payable to AMA Sacramento $45.00 Per Class $65.00 2 Classes $75.00 All Classes all weekend DEDUCT $5.00 FOR PRE-REGISTRATION ON OR BEFORE April 1, 2013 Location: 3880 Truxel Road, Suite 100, Sacramento CA 95834 For more information contact: Sensei Michael Johnson at (530) 906-5299 EMAIL:

Winners of the All Japan Karate Championship KATA PT. I

Years 1957 to 1967 MALE KATA Division
Year # DIVISION 1st 2nd 3rd

Debunking Shotokan Myths

Shihan Yokota: Debunking Shotokan Karate Myths

Shihan Yokota Yokota Shihan Koss Yokota is a 8th Dan Shotokan master who started his martial arts journey in the Hyogo Prefecture, more than 49 years ago. In 1981 and 1982, he was crowned champion of the Hyogo prefecture which he represented at the JKA All National Championship in Tokyo.  He currently serves as the technical director of the World JKA Karate Alliance (WJKA) and has recently published a book named "Shotokan Myths", in which he exposes myth and misconceptions many western Karate practitioners have.     What motivated you to write a book about Shotokan myths? I have been practicing Shotokan karate for 49 years.  Along the way I have come across with the questions and doubts in the way we practice but I was a blind follower until very recent.  I always kept myself under radar so to speak and did not express my opinions.  When two of my teachers passed away (Master Sugano and Master Asai, 2002 and 2006 respectively), I decided to come out.  I am aware that it is a taboo for a Japanese instructor to speak up and criticize his own organization or his teachers.  When I hit the age of 60 I figured someone has to do this dirty work for the sake of Shotokan karate.  There are many incorrect and wrong teachings and training methods.  Some are kept behind the curtain of mystery.  Some are simply believed so blindly they became the "fact" or "truth".  I wanted to tear down this curtain and show what real Shotokan karate is.  We must not follow teachers blindly.  We must think and continuously ask questions.
JunSuganoMaster Jun Sugano (1928-2002)9th dan JKA, Vice Chairman of JKA TetsuhikoAsaiMaster Tetsuhiko Asai (1935-2006)10th dan JKS, Founder of JKS and Asai style karate
  Where do these Shotokan myth come from? Who first propagated them? The word "Myths" came to me because I have trained in many dojos in Japan, US and some other countries and found that some wrong ideas were believed by almost all the practitioners.  It bothered me as no one seemed to doubt or question them, let alone challenge them. I also realized there is a cloud of mysticism around the Asian culture particularly of the martial arts.  Some Asian instructors hide behind that mysticism curtain as it makes them look good or give them more value. I felt it was about time that some one to step out and blow away the cloud so we can really understand what Shotokan karate is.  Without this process we cannot expect Shotokan to truly improve or advance.  With the current trend, it will end up in a museum not too far in the future as the people begin to realize the mysticism does not work in a real fighting.   What is your definition or idea of what "real Shotokan" is (or should be)? An excellent question!  Some people define it to the original JKA lead by Master Nakakama.  I go even further back to Funakoshi and his roots. I want to find how the original karate was when he brought it to Japan.  During the years of propagation of karate in Japan, Funakoshi had to compromise many things.  For instance he had to de-emphasize the throwing and join locking techniques from bunkai as he did not want to compete against Judo and Jujitsu.  He also emphasized "gentleman's way" by tagging the art to "self defense".  I do not mind he changed the names of kata and adopted judo uniform, etc.  But I want to search for the original techniques that are more martial art and not the techniques that are modified for sports karate.   Why didn't you simply debunk the myths and create a new style with it? Some people may do that but that is exactly what I want to avoid.  Putting a different wrapping on the box will not make the thing inside the box different.  My last teacher was Asai sensei.  He introduced a lot of techniques from White Crane kung fu into his karate but he did not call it Asai karate.  He continuously called Shotokan karate.  He is my model and I teach his style of Shotokan karate.   By introducing white crane techniques, doesn't Asai sensei make his Shotokan teaching less authentic? You are correct that Asai sensei introduced some kung fu techniques.  I call it "extended" shotokan karate because it is still based on Shotokan karate.  Indeed it has some techniques and kata that are not found among the regular shotokan organizations like JKA.  So, we keep authentic shotokan as a core and we have some extended or additional techniques to supplement the areas where we think Shotokan lacks, namely close distance fighting.   Unless you are the creator of the kata, how can you be certain that the bunkai or meaning of the kata is the correct one, or the one that the creator meant to propagate? That is very true.  Most of the explanation to bunkai before 20th century was handed down from a master to the students verbally.  This is why there are many different interpretations and many were lost.  We assume Funakoshi sensei learned all the bunkai to the kata from the two sensei he had; Itosu and Azato.  In order for us to believe Funakoshi sensei's bunkai was correct, we have to assume the bunkai Itosu and Azato were correct.  There is no way we can prove those assumptions are correct. I know many parts of bunkai were lost through the handing down process over many generations.  Even though we will never know the true intentions of the creators, it is still our responsibility to research and investigate to find the "true" bunkai.  Doing a kata without knowing bunkai I call it karate dance.  Some of the instructors chose to drop off all kata practice from this fact.  However, I believe there is enough value left in practicing kata.  It would be a totally different topic to discuss on the value of kata.   Have you trained in Japanese Dojo? What were the differences in the understanding and beliefs about karate. I was a member of JKA dojo in Kobe between 1963 and 66, then 1970 and 1971, and 1981 till 1983.  The Japanese students are very serious and well disciplined.  They are also very diligent and never give up.  They do not cut corners and follow to a letter of what the instructors ask them to do.  On the other hand, I must say that I found most of them lack the sense of curiosity or mind of investigation.  They follow the orders but never dare to ask "why?" or "is this true?"  I do not think it is because they are incapable of doing so but they are discouraged to think that way.  I hate to say but it is mostly to protect the sensei so they will not be challenged.  One other thing I noticed recently in Japan (I travel to Japan very frequently) is that sports karate is becoming more popular and the martial arts karate is more difficult to find.   Being a Japanese instructor, are there concepts that you understand differently from your Western counter parts? Many Japanese truly believe that they have a unique culture that no westerners would understand completely.  When they speak among Japanese instructors in Japanese, I sometimes hear comments like: "They (the westerners) cannot know (comprehend)  this kind of thing because they are not Japanese". I think the gap of communication definitely is one of the causes of the myths and mysteries.   What benefits does Japanese speaking instructors have over non Japanese speakers? The advantage I have over the western instructors is that I can get the comments that are not made up or modified from my sensei as I am a Japanese student of his. Another advantage I have is the ability to read the martial arts books that are written in Japanese.  I have more than couple of hundred books that are not only on traditional karate but on wide range of other martial arts and most importantly on ki. .  I have not seen any good books on Ki that were either written in English or were translated from the Japanese originals. Unfortunately to the western practitioners, the level of martial arts (of all traditional karate styles) books in English is very low.  There are only a few books that are worthwhile as they were translated from the original Japanese books such as Hidden Karate.  I wished more good books were translated and that would narrow the gap of understanding martial arts and what are commonly believed by many of the western practitioners.   What are the difference in the conception of Ki between a Japanese teacher and a westerner one? This is a thousand dollars (pounds) question.  I can write a book on this.  I believe the difference is not in the conception between the westerners and the Japanese or Asian teachers.  It is the degree of understanding or the lack of by the western teachers.  I am not saying this to belittle the western teachers.  I know the western teachers are very intelligent and diligent in studying the subject.  But I think the subject of Ki goes beyond the power or martial arts.  It in fact enters into the realms of religion and spiritual concepts which I believe the westerners have problems accepting. kiKi (or Qi/Chi for Chinese martial arts practitioners) Your book, "Shotokan Myths" mentions that pre-JKA Shotokan karate katas most likely had no Ki ai or at least, involved no yelling. Could a Ki ai be done without the yelling? Yes this is exactly the point of the chapter in my book and the title of the chapter is "Silent Ki ai".  The higher level of Ki ai in martial arts is one without any sound.  As you know, Ki ai is made when a Kime (tension or focusing of muscles) is made such as at a delivery point of a punch. This is done by tensing your diaphragm and usually the diaphragm is pushed upward resulting in squeezing the lungs thus the gush of air goes up the throat and you will have a yelling. By controlling the vocal code you can let the air out without making a sound but creating a Kime.  In martial arts we must be able to make a Kime not only when we exhale but also when we inhale which is a difficult tast but can be and must be done.  Try to make a Ki ai as you tense your diaphragm as you quickly inhale.  It is diffcult to make a sound even if you tried.  What you did is a Kime without a Ki ai.  You can do the same thing as you quickly exhale.  Ki ai is not a wrong thing but it is unnecessary to make a kime.   Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:

The Japanese custom of drinking tea and its health benefits

A sporting life fueled by tea By Maria Uspenski, Founder and CEO of The Tea Spot We are greeted every few weeks or so with new information about the health benefits associated with drinking tea. But what does all of this research mean for the athlete of today? The most direct benefits for athletes arise from tea's amazingly rich antioxidant content. Many studies have demonstrated that intense or prolonged exercise generates considerable amounts of reactive oxygen species (oxidants) within the human body. These reactive oxygen species can produce oxidative stress, i.e. damage to fats, proteins, nucleic acids and - ultimately - muscle cells. Such oxidative stress has naturally been linked with fatigue and overtraining, and it has been suggested that the human body's natural oxidant-defense system is not powerful enough to prevent the oxidative stress associated with rugged exercise. Thus, the argument goes, athletes need to accelerate their intakes of foods which are rich in antioxidants. Tea would thus be a sought-after beverage, since it may rank ahead of all others in terms of antioxidant potency. Observers of the athletic scene sometimes wonder if it is more than a coincidence that the best endurance athletes in the world - Kenyan runners - sip tea throughout the day. So is tea a near-perfect sports drink? If a couple of cups of tea are consumed about an hour before exercise, the caffeine content is likely to enhance performance in high-intensity athletic events. When tea is consumed post-exercise, its rich antioxidant content may well boost recovery and limit oxidative stress to muscles. If you add generous amounts of milk (either soy or cow) and sugar to the tea (as the Kenyans do), it can stimulate protein synthesis and glycogen storage in muscles. teacup It's true that more research is needed in this area, but it is hard to find fault with the idea that tea is an attractive drink for athletes. In fact, our present state of knowledge suggests that green, oolong, and black varieties of the beverage all suit athletes to a T. I recently had the supreme pleasure of indulging myself in a week-long biking challenge, Ride The Rockies – this year, reputedly the toughest and longest route – about 540 miles and 27,000 feet of climbing in 7 days!  What made this event most meaningful was the company and support of my brother, sister-in-law, and fiancé, not to mention our spectacular Colorado scenery and terrain.  And what made it possible was several months (maybe even a lifetime?) of training, and good nutritional choices along the way. I’ve been a big fan of electrolyte-replacement fluids, carbohydrate drinks, and recovery drinks both during and after endurance events.  But in the weeks leading up to this ride, I was getting tired of consuming as much sugar as our 150-200-mile training weeks had me drinking.  It was the only sugar I was consuming in my diet at this point, and it made me feel like flossing and giving my dental hygienist a call every time I got off the bike.  So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and transition to freshly brewed tea. Since keeping your digestion under control while consuming 4000+ calories per day is key, the teas we chose to have me cold brew overnight to use to rehydrate during my rides were HojichaThinMint Green (both roasted green teas, with moderate doses of caffeine, 20-35 mg per 16-ounce bottle), andOrganic Rooibos (caffeine-free).  All three of these teas are extremely low in tannins and super easy on the stomach – no sugar, great flavor, and a robust sense of nourishment.  I carried one bottle of pure water and one bottle of tea with me for my rides, which ranged from 46 to 92 miles.  At my pace, this took anywhere from 4 to 8 hours in the saddle, depending on the grade and the weather conditions. Rooibos (Afrikaans for “red bush”) tea contains no sugars, dyes, or additives; it’s a natural substance, containing naturally occurring levels of sodium and potassium electrolytes, and the minerals calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.  Due to its composition, rooibos has become a popular fluid replacement for athletes in South Africa, where it’s grown.  And we’ve noticed here in Boulder, Colorado that many climbers like to rehydrate with our Red Rocks, which is red rooibos blended with vanilla and almonds.  Because they’re high in antioxidants and flavonoids, rooibos extracts are used in shampoos and skin-care products as well. There haven’t been many studies done on tea versus sports drinks, and it’s clear that you’re not going to get any carbohydrate replacement from steeping your leaves – a very necessary step in keeping your body fueled for multi-hour events.  Maybe next year I’ll try grinding them and munching, or else mixing tea with whey protein powder…and we haven’t done a detailed chemical analysis of our rooibos teas, having only tested for caffeine (none) and polyphenol antioxidants (as high as our green teas). So my experience is purely anecdotal, and consists of a sample size of only one tea-loving body…but it was extremely positive.  I started out every morning with freshly steeped organic Pu’erh – brought the bricks, easy for travel, and of course, my Tuffy Steeper.  The teas for the road were simply steeped in a 32-ounce jar overnight, then strained into my plastic bike bottles through the Tuffy.  I alternated between the three, and chose depending on the difficulty of the climbs (when I wanted the caffeine lift!) and the length and heat of the rides. The green teas gave me just enough of a boost when I needed it, and their flavor and aroma were uplifting and refreshing.  I’m so thankful to have brought these along for the big climbs – we had two days with over 7000 feet of vertical!  And rooibos, you’re my BFF in the desert climes – I now really see why Red Rocks is our most popular iced tea among the Boulder crowd.  (It used to be my warm calming cup, in the evening, with cream).  The red tea was restorative and rehydrating, without any of the artificial feeling in your mouth or between your teeth.  I didn’t have to wait in the long sport drink lines at the aid stations, and I rode faster than most of the folks who did, as did my lovely colleague at The Tea Spot, Andrea Doenges, seen here in our striking Tea Spot jersey!   By the way, KarateCoaching visitors can receive a 15% discount with this promo code: karatecoach13 Many thanks to our friends from the tea spot theteaspot_1334948873_600
February 6, 2013

Shotokan Mysteries

This is the draft of front and back cover pages of Shotokan Mysteries. The sub title will be changed to "The Hidden Answers to the Secrets of Shotokan Karate". The cover page will look something like this.  I also need a ISBN number.   Initially only in soft cover version is available through Amazon in March or possibly end of Feb.  I will add the cover cover version as well as Kindle feature.  The price will be $20 for soft cover and $30 for hard cover. I will inform you when it becomes available. Cover front and back
February 6, 2013

Karatedo Kyohan the original Japanese 1935 edition

Karatedo Kyohan I have a copy of original edition.  Unfortunately, not in a real book format.  These pages are copies of the real book.  However, I can read the pages so I want to share some of the interesting pages here. I believe the reprint of the English version is available and it will be introduced here on this blog soon.   List of contents Contents list Heian Shodan Heian Shodan Enpi Enpi Gankaku Gankaku Tekki Tekki Kumite photos   Jiyu kumite     Kumite 2 Kumite 2   Bunkai Bunkai 1 Bunkai 2 Bunkai 2 Makiwara   How to make a Makiwara