Can I firstly say a big thank you for being so willing to do this interview with us; it’s a great honor to have an interview with you for OSU MAGAZINE. How and why you first started on your path in the Martial Arts?
Well this was a Bruce Lee Film I saw, and I was fascinated by the moves, punches and kicks – at this time I did not had an idea about the differences of Karate and Kung Fu – so I was looking for a Martial Arts school in my Area. The next one was over 15 Miles away, and with the age of 12 I needed to go with the bicycle or a little motorcycle. But it was fun and a challenge to.
Having practiced and taught karate for a long time, what would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of this path?
That you get your mind focused and your body gets fit, is sure a good thing! But this Art is bringing people together! Not just friends, not just that you can travel around and make a lot of experience. No, in my point it change everything! Until I was 34 or 35 I was absolutely sure, that I will never get married and I never have kids. But 5 years ago I met Sempai Marina in my Dojo – now we are married and we have a wonderful son. We were travelling, we met wonderful people and we made a new family thrue Karate – it can’t be more wonderful!
Knockdown karate “back in the day” is very different to the way it was practiced today. What kinds of developments have you personally seen that are for the better?
More Techniques! More Speed! Mare Agility! It looks better now! Lets say 20 years ago, the most seen Technique was a Gedan Mawashi Geri and Tsukis. If you look at the Tournaments now it is spectacular. The other Aspect I think is realy importend, is that Kyokushin People try to remember the meaning of the Kata. A lot of Bunkai in Kyokushin was lost, cause of the Sport Aspect. Tradition and the old Secrets of Karate was lost because of Tournament Rules. But now I think some good Karatekas want to remember and want to come back to the real Karate. Karate was not made as a Sport, Karate is an Art – a special kind of Art!
And for the worse?
I am a Karateka, not a politician.
In the new age of modern martial arts how can Karateka around the world ensure Traditional Karate continues and does not get too “Watered down”?
That is simple. Forget about the Tournament rules and Judges! You will automatically find back to the real Budo Karate. As well we should look at our Katas a bit better and try to understand what the true meaning is. Did you know, that you can use the Naihanchi Kata for Ground Fighting? Also when we look at a typical Kyokushin Kata like Seienchin, you will find different Judo throws in there like a Kata Guruma or in the Kanku you find Hip throws. Now maybe you know this, but have you ever really trained it? Karate was made to fight against people with sticks, swords, armor and knifes. Now when you get the right mindset, you sure train in the right way. Its for life, not for a Tournament.
In your own personal teaching, what would you say, technically speaking, are the most important things to stress?
Study the Human body, understand all Katas, learn about Body Mechanics. Budo Karate in any Kind of way, is the best foundation there is, cause it is the most realistic way of learning Karate – just add some parts and some more know how to it.
How would you say it has developed you?
15 Years of being in Security and also worked as a Bodyguard, I sure used the typical techniques. The Result was a lot of destruction, splintered bones, bloody noses and real bad words. After understanding the Kata and now using Techniques I did not understand before, it made it all easier. I could knock people out, I could hold them and lock them down without breaking something or ripping out an arm or something. Let’s say it this way – it made me more peaceful and made me think of life in another way. As well I teach Karate also in another way!
Who would you say has been your biggest role model in Karate and why?
I can not name one single person, cause my journey through all the countries and meeting all this great Karatekas. But sure Shihan Beat Näpflin from Lucern Switzerland inspired me a lot. He brought it all under one roof. Family, Karate and Friends. This is also my Goal. And People like Hanshi Dustin Seale (Chicago IL) and Shihan Antonio la Salandra (Rome Italy) are helping and supporting me to find the right way!
What is your favorite kata and why?
Tensho! This Kata makes you feel good! And all the Techniques in there are great for pure Selfdefence! Just wunderfull to use them and people don’t get it, why they sit on the bottom within a split second. If you are tired – do Tensho. If your are out of breath – do Tensho. Go get a friend and let him hold you on the Gi – do Tensho – and you will see what there is happening!
Please tell us what styles you have studied and the specific characteristics of each style?
I always studied Kyokushin Karate, and I love it! Kyokushin Karate is a Budo Karate and it is real.
As well I trainied Krav Maga. Krav Maga Moves are Karate Moves in a kind of shortcut way. But very effective and very straight. So for Karatekas very easy to learn and the Techniques have only one reason – go in there and destroy it.
To complete it I study Kyusho. Presure Points are very usefull, to prevent violations. Well this stands against the way of Krav Maga, but Life is always a Yin Yang Situation. If we want it or not. As well Kyusho shows you the meaning of your Kata and it shows the real Bunkai we need to understand.
What is the philosophical basis of Tatsu Ryu Karate Do, and when did you develop this philosophy?
Tatsu Ryu Karate Do was developed January 2008 and is a pure Budo Karate. Our Focus is reality based Karate, what it was and what it always should be. The Tournaments are just a nice Add to it.
“On Ko Chi Shin” Means to learn from the past, to get new ideas
This is also the Philosophy. Karate is not Sport, Karate is an Art!
What is your opinion of mixing styles?
Sosai Masutatsu Oyama said to his students – go to other Dojos, go to other Teachers, learn what ever you can. Kyokushinkai Karate is the personal Karate Mix of a Fighting Genius Sosai Masutasu Oyama.
I have it the same way. I can go to an BJJ Lesson and the worst thing which can happened is that I learn something! The Martial Arts World is so beautiful! Go out there and have a look at it!
What is the present state of knockdown karate in Europe?
It is very good! And we see a lot of collaboration between the different federations. That is good, that is what we need. The Karateka at the End wants to train and some want to go to a Tournament. And the Tournaments are the Events which shows the public what we are doing. Now when we are doing something in the public, we need to do it the right way. Not a small little event in a garage. No, a big one maybe with a very nice Dinner and you come in a Tuxedo. And this is where we are going right now. The Officials think a bit more about the Ambients and think a bit more about the Audience. We need to stay away from the Cage fights and show sportingly high standard fights!
In Kata there we need to do a lot of Work. Here the Sport part is to deep in the Minds of the Karatekas. That needs to be changed. Bunkai is the Solution.
What are the most important characteristics of a successful martial artist?
Keep your head low, eyes high, mouth shut; base yourself on filial piety and benefit others!
If you think of this, it says it all. You can also go and read the 20 Rules of Gichin Funakoshi. But this says it all.
My son is now 1 year old, he also lets me look at the world with open eyes – there is a lot to see out there!
My hopes are, that my family stays healthy and that I can teach Karate for a long time! As well I hope my students learn Karate in the right way and that they meet also a lot of good Martial Artist out there. For example one of my students is going to Australia and he is going to train at the Dojo of Cameron Quinn – how great is that. Thousands of miles away, but the Karate Network is working! OSU!
Shihan thank you for granting us this interview
Thank you for having me! And the best wishes from the Hard Rock Mountains of Switzerland! OSU!