I used to fight and feel good, i would feel great during and after a good kumite session.
I focused heavily on Ikken Hissatsu, the concept of finishing the fight with one blow, it was an integral part of my karate practice.
Training with masters was always a highlight for me and i trained with many karate masters, masters from Japan, Okinawa and all over the world. They were all amazing and focused on many different aspects of karatedo.
One Shotokan Karate master who i really connected with was the late great Master Hirokazu Kanazawa. He would always combine traditional budo style training with karate practice that was aimed at health and well being.
Master Kanazawa had a great balance to his karate, he was a phenomenal fighter, but his kata had an almost poetic feel to them. His kata were mesmerising, for me, there was definitely something very special about his kata.
One time, I accompanied Master Kanazawa from the UK to Cork, Ireland. On the flight he told me that he believed he could live to 120 years, if he wasn’t travelling around the world for 6 months every year. His travelling schedule was truly gruelling to say the least.
Master Kanazawa was actively promoting karate for health and well being. He would focus on correct breathing and I remember many of his senior students were very healthy and also focused on karate for health and well being.
My Sensei would drive us into the ground physically, he would push us to our physical and mental limits and beyond! But he was also into the health side of karate, as he was also heavily involved with Yoga, so we practiced lots of stretching and breathing exercises, just before we collapsed
As i get older i understand more and more, the importance of karatedo and health.
I have introduced some higher stance karate kata into my karate practice and may also introduce some kung fu forms, the flowing circular movements of Okinawan kata are a great addition to our linear shotokan kata. I find my kata flowing much more these days and find myself thinking more about my breathing and flow of the kata.
I believe it is important for all karateka to go through the hard slog stage of karate, pushing yourself to your limits and beyond forges a great spirit. I really believe it’s essential for all karateka to go through it, but in the end, once your weapons and mindset are forged, it’s all about your health and well being!