Kawasaki Norio 6th Dan International Shihan KWF
Interview by Chichvarin Alexander and Ukolov Yevgeny
This interview was conducted while Kawasaki Norio Sensei was in Moscow for the
KWF Russia training camp on February 18-19, 2006.
— What in your opinion is the technical level of participants of this
training camp in Moscow?
— I see that you’ve made great progress as compared with your results last
year. It’s really very good.
— Last time you paid special attention to forward and rotatory movements such
as “oi zuki”, “mae geri”, “gyaku zuki”. It’s no secret that Yahara Sensei likes
reverse rotatory movements in combination with round blows such as “uraken uchi”,
“shuto uchi”, “kentsui uchi”. However there’re not such movements in the
classical KWF grading syllabus. When are they going to be introduced into the
obligatory grading syllabus?
— Yes, there’re three types of movements in the karate. They are forward,
rotatory and reverse rotatory movements. First of all it’s very important to
master such movements as “gyaku zuki” and “oi zuki”. To master a reverse
rotatory movement (for example spin of the body followed by “yokomawashi uraken
uchi”) it’s necessary to be able to keep a tough axis. I’m going to devote my
next seminar in Russia exactly to this topic.
— You gave young Russian and Ukrainian karateka a lot of advice and
recommendations on how to develop their technique. And what should coaches pay
attention to when working with children of 4–6 years old?
— First of all they should pay attention to discipline, acquaint the children
with the habits and etiquette of karate, and develop accurate movements and
Samurai bearing. And then they should bring up the children to have competitive
— In karate we always deal with such techniques as “shuto uke” and “yoko geri
keage”. However they’re quite seldom used in kumite. What do you think of it?
— I think such exercise as “yoko keage” helps us to strengthen lower
extremities and is quite good for our hips. It’s very important for such
movement as “mawashi geri”. When training we do a lot of big movements (“age uke”,
“soto uke”, “gedan barai”). We train our motor skills. But it doesn’t actually
mean that we’ll be using exactly same big movements in kumite. And “shuto uke”
is not an exception.
— When did you go in for karate?
— I was 18 years old. And since then I’ve had only one coach — Yahara Sensei.
His technique seemed to be incredible for me. Incredible strength and speed… I
was really astonished at him.
— What were the kumite like when you were taking a “Kenshusei” course? What
sort of contact was it?
— In principle it should have been in accordance with the rules however in
reality only few people followed the rules. The blows, especially the ones on
the head, were really abundant. During the time I was taking a “Kenshusei”
course I lost six teeth. (Sensei is jokingly showing the way one of his teeth
was flying out of his mouth.)
— Does it mean that what Amos Richard wrote in his article about “Kenshusei”
— Yes. Amos was my Sempai and my Sensei Yahara Mikio was at the head of the
course. I was taking the course with Yamaguchi Takashi.
— What impact has a “phylosophy of one killing blow”, “ippon waza”, “oi zuki”
had on your life?
— “Kizami zuki”, “gyaku zuki” are more likely to be defensive techniques. In
“oi zuki” it’s very important to brace up and deliver a blow. I’m a persistent
person and never give up.
— Sensei, you’ve got an excellent “mawashi geri”…
— Really? I don’t believe you. It is Yahara Sensei who really has got an
excellent “mawashi geri”.
— By the way, what part of feet, “koshi” or “haisoku”, did you use in
— Both, but I think in competitions (“shiai kumite”) “haisoku mawashi geri”
is less harmful for the opponent, especially when speaking about blows on the
— “Kakato otoshi geri” is very popular in other fighting systems. What do you
think of this blow?
— It’s a good technique. As for me I’m not very tall and my stretching isn’t
good either. That’s why I don’t use this technique.
— During the demonstration performance (“enbu”) you were using such a blow
which is a cross between “uramawashi geri” and “yoko geri kekomi”. Is it
— Yahara Sensei usually uses such a blow. What is important in it is the use of
— Yahara Sensei is the leader of the International Security Service. Does he
teach such special techniques as blows to the throat, groin, eyes, joints for
the neutralization of the opponent?
— We don’t pay much attention to it.
— In honbu dojo you’ve got a big boxing bag. Do you use it in training?
— Yes, of course. It’s very good for working through various techniques and
combinations. I like “oi zuki”, “uraken uchi” and some kicks.
— Do you practice “tameshiwari”?
— Sometimes. I usually break three standard wood boards 2,5 cm wide. However
Yahara Sensei prefers thick and damp wood boards. My own record is two boards of
— Have you ever gone in for jogging, swimming or other kinds of sport in
order to feel fit?
— Yes, when I was young I used to go in for jogging and weight-lifting to
strengthen my muscles. But I don’t do it now. I have no time and what is more
I’m growing old. (Laughing.)
— Have you got enough time for your own training?
— Three times a week I attend a group with the coach Yahara Sensei, and once
a week I coach myself. The rest of the time I teach karate.
— And how do you relax after such continuous and hard training sessions?
— (Everybody’s laughing.) What relaxation are you talking about? We haven’t
got any free time and shouldn’t have it. So we’re training, training and
— Have you got your favorite kata?
— Many years ago I practiced “kanku sho”. When I was a trainee in JKA
headquarters I liked “nijushiho”, later it was “sochin”. One month before the
championship in Nagano (Japan, 2003) Yahara Sensei didn’t approve of my choice
and he made me learn “gojushiho dai”. So one month later I took the third place.
— How do you prepare for tournaments?
— What you should remember is that we haven’t got any competition methods or
technique. Preparation means continuous training where “kihon”, “kata” and
“kumite” are coached as a single whole. Such is indeed the basis of the KWF
system. So no secrets and no techniques at all!
— In the last championship in Japan in the final single combat against
Serikawa Shuuichi you took a classical manoeuvre against “mae geri”. It was
“sukui uke” with the following counter-attack of “gyaku zuki”…
— Oh, frankly speaking, I don’t remember. (Laughing.) It’s so difficult to keep
such details in mind...
— Have you ever had a chance to do some blows when jumping?
— No. I’m not very good at it. I’m an “earthy” person. (Laughing.) But
Yahara Sensei can do them very well, very accurately and efficiently.
— Do you think that kata should be beautiful?
— Samurai sword is perfect and beautiful since it’s made only for killing.
So the same we can say about kata. If the budo athlete using some technique can
kill an opponent the kata is really beautiful.
— What kata are seniors of honbu dojo practicing now?
— It’s “bassai sho”. Last year we were working on “chinte”. I don’t like “chinte”.
— One kata the whole year?
— Have you ever used karate techniques in your everyday life?
— No, never.
— Have you ever gone in for any other kinds of martial arts?
— Yes, when I was a child I went in for judo but I didn’t achieve much
success in it.
— Nowadays the problem of using dope has become very urgent. What do you
think of it?
— I’ve never taken it. I think using it in martial arts is out of the
— Do you pay attention to dan ranking?
— In Japan in contrast to Russia and the West things are much easier. Nobody
pays attention to what “dan” you’ve got. I think your skills are much more
important than having this or that “dan”. For example, when I took up JKA
trainee course “Kenshusei” I had the third dan. During the next decade I didn’t
take any exams until Yahara Sensei made me do it. Now I’ve got the sixth dan and
I’m not planning to raise the level of my dan qualification.
— KWF karate fans all over the world look forward to coming out of training
aids on KWF…
— Well, we had plans about it long ago when finally Yahara Sensei took a
decision to make a film. I think we’ll begin making the film this year. Its
video version will be available on the web site of KWF. By the way, an issue of
a popular Japanese magazine “Karatedo” about Yahara Sensei is coming out soon.
— On the website there’s some information about the deceased Tange Sensei.
Could you tell us something about him?
— His death was really profound grief for us. His strength of mind and
devotion to karate were fabulous. He suffered from cancer. However he went on
training. One day after the training he did the “rei” and … died right in dojo,
in karategi. He will always be a supreme karateka. We’ve got his portrait in the
— Probably one of the most spectacular and unforgettable demonstration
performances (enbu) of Yahara Sensei when he’s using chairs. How old is this
enbu and has it changed after a number of years?
— This enbu is more than 20 years old and we constantly have some changes. We’ve
broken a lot of chairs. (Laughing.)
— What do you think of meditation?
— We usually meditate after training. It helps us to relax.
— Do you believe in “ki” energy, in something supernatural?
— Yes, I do. My wife is from Kamakura, an ancient Samurai city. Some people
in Kamakura have got exceptional ability to see people’s souls. And my wife is
one of them. However I don’t believe in “energetic blows”.
— How do you spend your free time? In Russia for example people tend to go to
the country at the weekend.
— I work as a karate instructor 7 days a week. I prefer to spend my free
time with my family. I would very much like to find some time to travel around
Japan since I haven’t seen much of my country. I hope I’ll have a chance in the
— Have you been to New Caledonia?
— Yes, I was there with Yahara Sensei. We had some demonstration
performances for the inhabitants and tourists. Having broken some wood boards
with “gyaku zuki” Sensei showed them “tameshiwari”. And later in the restaurant
he took a big knife and gave it to me. I attacked him and he showed karate
techniques and his reaction. It was a real improvisation.
— Some of us know how powerful Yahara Sensei’s blows are…
— You know during “enbu”, training and seminars I always assist Sensei.
Although I got used to his attacks I’m always astonished at how powerful his
blows are. (Smiling.) When I see Yahara Sensei I can’t feel relaxed.
— Have you got children?
— No. My only child is my dog, cocker. (Laughing.) By the way, you can often
see it in dog shows on TV.
— In the Karatenomichi Cup in Tokyo we saw a baby in Yahara Sensei’s arms. Is
it his son?
— Oh, yes. The Japanese don’t believe Yahara Sensei has come down to earth
and become and ordinary father! (Laughing.) His son’s going to be a year in
— Have you got a dream connected with karate?
— I don’t think so. But Ibuki (my assistant) wants to become a champion of
the world. He’s young and he’s got plenty of time.
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