Pinto Vilaça 7th Dan
'I first met and trained with Sensei Pinto 7th Dan JSKA at the 2008 JSKA World Championships at the Manchester Velodrome during August that year. I had for many years visited Portugal (The Algarve) for our annual holidays, birthdays and wedding anniversaries and trained with several groups of karateka over those years. I was constantly drawn to the Alvor and Portimao dojo's of Sensei Edmundo Reis 5th Dan JSKA who along with his many students have made me most welcome over the years. As you might understand meeting his Sensei at Manchester was an opportunity not to be missed and I felt that Sensei Pinto needed to be brought to the attention of a far wider audience for his comtribution to Portuguese and European Shotokan Karate. Sensei Pinto gave me the honour of conducting an interview that was to be far more in depth than I had ever imagined. I sincerely hope that everyone who reads the interview enjoys his experiences along the path that we all seek and aspire to.' – Allan Shepherd.
(Allan Shepherd) Sensei, might I thank you for allowing me to conduct this interview with you, to me it is a great honour. If I may ask you, when and where were you born?
(Pinto Vilaça) It is a pleasure for me to accept the invitation to this interview and I would be very happy if my karate experience can be useful to someone.
I was born in Lisbon-Portugal, in June 11th, 1945.
(AS) At what age did you first train in Karate and what were your first impressions? Did you have any reservations about continuing with the training?
(PV) I began in Karate, Judo and Aikido aged 20 years old (1966) in the Academy of Budo. At that time it was the only martial arts school in Portugal.
My first impression on Karate was fascinating. It was unthinkable to have access to such a thing so mystic like Karate. The first months were lived with a suffocating enthusiasm. I remember that the regular classes began 5:00 p.m. but me and some friends trained without an instructor every morning at 6:00 a.m. repeating the training of the previous day.
I have never had any reservation concerning the continuity with my karate training since I had no other interests other than martial arts.
Eventually I gave up the training of Judo and Aikido. They were very different philosophies and I felt that I should concentrate with just one discipline. Therefore I chose Karate.
(AS) Was your first karate instructor Japanese or European, who were they?
(PV) My first Karate instructor was Portuguese – Sensei Mário Rebola. I have the best memories of him and an enormous gratitude to him.
(AS) Did you have a profession before entering into the running of the JSKA in Portugal?
(PV) I began in the Academy of Budo after returning from Guinea (Portuguese colony) where I accomplished 4 years in the Portuguese Air Force. So being unemployed during that period I devoted myself full time to the martial arts which allowed me to progress very fast. After one year I began to give classes of Judo, Aikido and Karate to beginners making small amounts of money just to survive.
(AS) I understand that you spent 1972-1976 training in Japan at Sensei Nakayama’s Hoitsugan Dojo. Who, or what event inspired you to travel to Japan and spend 5 years at the Honbu Dojo with Sensei Nakayama and the up and coming instructors of the time? Do you have any fond or foul memories of your time in Japan?
(PV) I might have to extend this answer.
I started to teach when I was a 1st kyu. Before one training session in the Dojo a man named Ron Clark (a Scottish gentleman) entered who had came from South Africa. He asked me which style we practiced, who was the teacher and if he could join in the class.
I answered that our style was Shotokan, the teacher on that day would be myself and that it would be a pleasure that he join in with the class.
When Mr. Clark got out from the dressing room we all become surprised… He wears a black belt! Any way he took his place in the line up without saying a single word from the beginning to the end of the class.
Back to the dressing room he explained in a very polite way that he was a JKA 1st Dan from Sensei Stan Schmidt (at that time JKA 4th Dan) and showed us his JKA grading book with his 1st Dan signed by Sensei Nakayama. We had never seen such thing!
Continuing the conversation which was always very polite he told us that he had liked the enthusiasm we put into our training but there were some things that we should change. Then I invited him to give the following class. During that training session we all stood gaping! In fact we knew very little about Karate!
Mr. Ron Clark was an engineer working for a big holding company working temporarily in Portugal. He became our teacher and because of his professional commitments we decided that the classes would be everyday at 6:00 a.m. After one month he proposed for us to re-examine our previous grading so it could be ratified by JKA through JKA-South Africa with certificates signed by Sensei Stan Schmidt… I reduced from 1st to 3rd kyu… I was very happy!
In 1969/70 Sensei Clark prepared our team to participate in the European Championship at Royal Albert Hall in England. It was our first contact with a Karate exhibition. I remember that the English team was composed of Andy Sherry, Terry O'Neill, Bob Poynton, Bob Rhodes and Billy Higgins.
During our staying in England Sensei Clark introduced us to Sensei Enoeda and from that day onwards our connection with the JKA started.
As it happened Sensei Clark was sent to another country and to this day I have not seen him again. I would like him to read these words to tell him how much I am grateful for everything he did for me and for Portugal. He was responsible for Shotokan karate’s qualitative jump in Portugal and for our integration into the JKA. Everything he did for about 2 years of dedication to Portugal he made without receiving a single cent!
Without him I would not have meet Sensei Nakayama, Oss Sensei Clark!
Since that time we had regular visits of Japanese Senseis like Enoeda, Tomita, Miyazaki (an extraordinary man), Kato and finally Sensei Kanazawa. It was during a course with Sensei Kanazawa in Portugal (February 1972) that I tried for the first time my sho-dan which I failed!
On that night at the dinner table I asked him why I had failed. He answered - your karate is very rudimentary, you need a good teacher. Then I reply - where can I find a good teacher? - In Japan, he said… On that same day I started packing.
The trip to Japan was a three months extraordinary adventure. It is a long story which I cannot report on now but possibly at another time.
When I arrived at Sensei Nakayama’s Dojo – Hoitsugan I had one of the biggest happinesses of my life…Can you imagine the great Master Nakayama coming down stairs smiling to me and shaking my hand! He seemed so much happier and surprised as I was. The dream finally became reality. I could hardly believe that moment, it was an indescribable sensation!
This was the first lesson that I received from the Master… Simplicity!
Every day at 7.00 am the first class in Hoitsugan had Sensei Nakayama and Sensei Kanazawa teaching… Unimaginable!
At 10.30 am during the second class in the JKA Hombu I have never seen so many top instructors (Nakayama, Kanazawa, Shoji, Yano, Abe, Asai, Ida, Tabata, Osaka, Isaka, Oishi, Takahashi, Tanaka, Yahara, Kawasoe, Kasuya, Mori etc.).
At 18.00 pm, three times a week, I trained at Yotsuya (Kanazawa’s private Dojo).
The first weeks were lived under an extreme emotion. Seemed to be a dream! I remember that sometimes I rubbed my eyes to confirm that it was not all a dream.
In the beginning I could not speak Japanese, it was a very hard time. For instance, trains and subway sign-boards were written in Japanese. Whenever I travelled somewhere I had to ask many times how to go where I needed to, but the Japanese also didn't speak English. I was forced to learn Japanese quickly.
Everything was very different from what I had already seen. It was a country completely different, it was another world! Every day, every minute facing a new surprise a new thing to learn… and I had to learn fast.
Nowadays any foreigner that goes to Japan certainly will find many different things but in 1972 Japan was so much more different than it is today. Also the Japanese were surprised in seeing a European man with strange shaped eyes.
My first part-time job as a barman was in a famous bar of Akabane. All the employees had to dress in a uniform with the utmost rigour consisting of a long-sleeve white shirt and a black tie. Surprisingly the clientele increased because there was a gaijin (foreigner) working there. The manager - Mr Ikeda (a very nice guy but very strict with the barmen) made an exception for me demanding me to use a short-sleeve shirt, take off the tie and open the first 4 buttons of the shirt. This was completely against his rules! He explained this way I could expose my arms and chest and the customers could play and pull my hairy arms and chest!? They called me - Mr. Monkey in a very polite way of course!
I imagined what the Portuguese sailors being the first Europeans to arrive to Japan in 1542 had suffered. They were certainly hairier than me!
These days such a thing would not happen since the foreigners are no longer alien to the Japanese people. But 37 years ago it was really a rare thing.
In the same way karate training in Japan at that time 37 years ago was also very different. The rigidity, the ethics and the respect during the training were something that today doesn't exist.
On the first day I arrived at the Hombu Dojo, about one hour before the beginning of the class, I was doing my own warming up when Sensei Yahara called for a short relaxed jiyu-kumite…he said so, but…well I don't need to say what happened.
Arriving at the Dojo one hour earlier was definitely a bad idea…I thought!
As such on the following day I entered the Dojo right on time. I decided not to take another defeat. At the end of the class I went to the shower when somebody calls me - Sensei Yahara wanted to talk with me…It was a long conversation equal to the one of the previous day. I concluded that to be in a hurry to take a shower was definitely a bad idea too.
The following day, I entered the Dojo just thirty minutes before the class starts. Sensei Yahara wasn’t there so I thought I was somewhat lucky. Starting with the first warming up exercises it wasn’t soon after that Sensei Mori invited me to another conversation!
I got to think that they didn't like me or maybe there was something wrong with me to deserve such punishment. But that was not to be! Surprisingly after some time that ritual finished. I came to know later that it had finished because I had not given up nor interrupted the regular attendance to the classes.
This method of instruction does not work in western countries. If the western instructors used this method they would have no students. In the Japanese karate philosophy we do not learn through words or intellectual theories we learn practicing and reflecting in what we’ve done.
Of course I had difficulties, mainly as a result of the difference amongst our cultures.
But I have “some other very good memories” as well.
I remember the day after my sho-dan examination. Sensei Nakayama in the morning class gave me his congratulations and told me not to buy the black belt since he would offer it to me later. A Hoitsugan black belt (I still keep it religiously) I was most happy…But there was a little problem, I had to continue using the brown belt.
In the Hombu classes the brown belts and the black belts were separated into two groups. As I had already passed to black belt although still using the brown belt I joined the black belt group. However Sensei Osaka called me and said to me - Vilaça you are brown belt therefore you must go to the other side! In these cases the best thing we have to do is - just obey. This situation repeated once again. I couldn’t understand! They all knew that I have passed my black belt. Why did they do that to me? I have been waiting 8 years for that black belt and now that I had graded and passed they didn't recognize me as such!
Every day in the Hoitsugan morning training sessions when Sensei Nakayama enters in the Dojo I looked to his hands hoping for “my black belt!”, but nothing!
After four months I had almost forgotten the black belt and no longer looked towards Sensei Nakayama’s hands. One day he entered directly in to the office and called me…Finally he had a black belt on his hands. He asked me to take off the brown belt and he personally put the black belt around my waist!
This was one more lesson that I received from Sensei Nakayama. Do not be in a hurry!
Since that unforgettable day, I knew deeply in my mind that we are only really sho-dan even when we pass to ni-dan and successively onwards throughout our gradings. We are simply Yudansha.
The readers of this interview probably would prefer that I approached other technical aspects related with the training instead of these type of small stories. Excuse me if I disappoint you but I’ve learned that the stories about training should be reported upon whilst wearing our Dogi.
By the way I tell you another of these small stories. One day I was in the Hoitsugan sauna with Sensei Kawasoe late in evening and I asked him why the other instructors (with exception of Sensei’s Nakayama and Kanazawa) didn't approach the philosophical aspects of Budo during the classes, only kicks and punches. And he answered; Budo is something truly useful when we discovered it and the only way to discover it is training and training! After your body (spirit) discovers the Budo you can easily explain it but if the intellectual knowledge arrives first the body will be forgotten and you are not able to put the Budo into practice.
I understood his message because most people like to speak a lot about Karate... but not much to train.
One more lesson I learned in Japan. Discovering on your own!
And this is one of the great differences between Japanese Karate and Western Karate being true that the training with Sensei’s Nakayama and Kanazawa were substantially different from the training with other instructors of the Hombu Dojo.
At that time in Hoitsugan besides Sensei’s Nakayama and Kanazawa there was some other instructors; Takahashi 3rd Dan, Kanazawa’s assistant in England during a short period while Sensei Kanazawa replaced Sensei Enoeda in England maybe some of the older instructors probably know that story. Takahashi Sensei (unfortunately deceased) spoke English reasonably well and was very useful during the first times of training.
After Takahashi, another young instructor Ishikawa 2nd Dan who took the regular kyu classes. He was replaced by another instructor Kawawada 3rd Dan. Kawawada Sensei today 7th Dan became the permanent instructor of Hoitsugan a position that he still today exercises (I think).
When Hombu-JKA moved from Suidobashi to Ebisu (about 100m from Hoitsugan) many instructors that practiced daily at the Hombu Dojo came to Hoitsugan for free-training notably Kawasoe, Kasuya, Mori and others. As a resident member I had the opportunity to integrate into the free training afternoons and sometimes late in evening. For a long time the Hoitsugan Dojo was the meeting point of many instructors for social events during the whole day. I was very lucky in having lived through that time of intimate contact with the karate instructors. The general foreigners were limited to the class’s time and returned back home after the classes finished.
During that period some foreigners visited Nakayama Sensei, some of them just look for a picture with Sensei Nakayama. Others were really interested in the training as Stan Schmidt and their graduate students like Norman Robison and others from South Africa.
(AS) During your time in Japan did you ever yearn to be back in Portugal and thought that you had made the wrong decision in travelling to Japan? How did you survive for 5 years?
(PV) No, that idea never crosses my mind. Of course I had some difficult moments but when I left Portugal I decided to be in Japan for a very long time, possibly forever. To accomplish this objective was not easy. I managed to do the renewal of my tourist's visa twice (each makes 9 months) and then I was forced to leave Japan. Then I went to Korea (Pusan) where I was 21 days waiting for some documentation from Portugal. Doing this I could ask for a student visa with 4 years validity and renewals every 6 month. This maneuver was only possible with the guarantee of the JKA and of Sensei Nakayama’s sponsorship.
Of course financially it was very difficult. The foreigners could not work in Japan. It was impossible to get a job only in certain situations and all illegal, you took the risk of being picked up by the police and be deported back to Portugal. However I got several part time occupations (arubaito) whilst a student of Sensei Kanazawa found me a part time job as a bartender working from 18.00 to the 23.00 pm for 25 cents per hour which was very low money and every day I went to bed very late. Then I got, through a hippie guy another business to sell paintings (aquarelles) on the street which I myself painted. After this “arubaito” I begin to make rings, necklaces and bracelets in copper wire at my room in the Dojo and sold it on the street. In this period I was to be watched by the police. Other foreigners in the same business had different purposes from mine, they had long hair and were friends of the “marijuana.” I had long hair tied back and when I was approached by the police I showed the JKA card (it was a credential of good character) with no problems. However a student of Sensei Kanazawa (Kanaiwa-san) was an owner of a languages school (Hyroo Language Center) who knew about my situation and offered me a place as a teacher. Low money but better than before.
I usually had my meals at Chinese restaurants which were much cheaper.
In the good days when I was invited I took the opportunity to fill my stomach. I also remember a Hoitsugan student who was my kohai (Ishi san) and an owner of the butchery shop in front of Hombu Dojo that sometimes gave me a steak. It was like a party during the two following days. And I survived like this!
(AS) Upon your return to Portugal how did you apply those newly found experiences and knowledge from the training in Japan? Were you part of an established Portuguese organisation before and after your visit to Japan or did you train under the Japan Karate Association prior to and when returning to Portugal?
(PV) When I left Portugal in 1972 I was an instructor with an organization linked to Sensei Enoeda (our technical director) and through him to the JKA.
When I returned from Japan I reinstated with the same organization. Since then I have been dedicating all my work teaching and making popular Shotokan karate from north to south of the country including the archipelago of Azores. This work had been supported by several Japanese Sensei like Nakayama accompanied by Sensei’s Oishi, Abe, Miyazaki, and Yahara. However my organization was continually linked to Sensei Enoeda and we used to go every year to Crystal Palace courses where I took my Yon-dan on May 6th 1983.
(AS) I read on your website your very interesting article about the Dojo Kun. Could you please explain your thoughts on this subject to our readers?
(PV) Dojo Kun is a combination of rules, precepts or norms whose objective is to model the attitude and behavior of the Karate students. But for each this objective is not enough to pronounce it at the end of the classes in the manner that should be taught.
Certainly it is not enough to read a book of good manners to improve our character; it is not enough to work out with a great master to improve our character or our techniques. We have to apply in practice what we have read in the good books and follow the good master’s advice. It is not enough to read to watch or to say… it is necessary to make it!
The method of instruction and technical teaching of a class and its contents should be always intimately and coherently related with the Dojo Kun.
An instructor cannot teach his students how to use tricks to deceive the referee just for winning the competition and at the same time say the Dojo Kun at end of the class.
The Dojo Kun's non recital is a breach of the instructor’s duty to faithfully pass on the teaching of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. I lament saying this but some instructors have to accept this truth.
To teach Karate without Dojo Kun is like planting flowers in a cement garden!
(AS) How has your personal training regime changed over the years? Is there equal emphasis on kata, kihon and kumite? Do you train in any other discipline to supplement your Karate?
(PV) It is impossible to use the same training criterion all lifelong. The continuity depends on a large part of our capacity in adapting our training to the age. However it is on kihon training that I have more hours training.
In my personal training I never mix kata and kumite. For the kata trainings I start with specific kihon for kata basic positions zenkutsudashi, kokutsudashi, kibadashi and renzokuwaza arms and legs; for kumite training I choose mobility exercises with youriashi, tsugiashi, oikomi, taisabaki etc. If I have a partner I concentrate on distance and timing exercises.
About the emphasis that I give to each one of the three disciplines, it is the SAME. I don't accept KARATE without KIHON, KATA and KUMITE. This was the original principle and conception of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. Besides my personal conviction the experience has shown us that to remove some of these three elements from our training means to destroy the harmonious balance of Karate as KarateDo.
About additional disciplines as a supplement of Karate, I think in Karate like in all of the sports whose practice and improvement on the bases of repetition we should create a plan of appropriate compensatory exercises manly for the muscular, skeletal and joints structures. These are complementary exercises which are extremely important from my point of view and experience especially if we intended to train till the last day of our life in KarateDo.
(AS) Do you have any favourite kata, kihon or kumite drills as part of your personal training regime?
(PV) That is a good question.
We all know that Karate is one of the most complete and balanced physical activity.
I use kihon frequently as endurance training (many repetitions, one or two sequences) or as versatility training (sequences composed of a wide number and variety of techniques) and of course as basic training specifically for kata or kumite.
Relatively to kata, my tokui-gata is Hangetsu. Empi is the antagonistic tokui-gata.
In kumite my tokui-waza is a combination of different gyaku-zuki and finishing with kizami-zuki in different situations also.
Finally let me say something about the general concept of tokui-gata and favourite kata.
After my Ni-dan examination I changed from Kanku-sho to Sochin, for 30 years it was my tokui-gata. Short time before my Roku-dan examination Abe Sensei advised me to change to Hangetsu. I knew this kata quite well but didn't like it. Anyway I should follow the master's advice so I began to give it special attention and to train with it more carefully. After a year I still could not harmonise with Hangetsu.
Suddenly I began to feel the movements much better. Such feeling could only be the result of the increased concentration and repetitions.
Now I can say that Hangetsu it is not only my tokui-gata, it is really my favourite kata!
Today the most used katas in competition are Unsu and Gojushiho. What a pity! It is also a pity the general option of many competitors in making only kata or only of kumite. If we ask them why they will say - because I like kata more than kumite or vice versa. I believe so. But then I would like to put to all instructors for reflection, why do our students enjoy more one of these disciplines than the other?
Can you imagine what answer Funakoshi Sensei would give to this question?
The greatest benefit of karate as a development discipline is the reliance on kihon, kata and kumite. I repeat if we broke the balance of the Karate-Do being removed from our training (or from our teaching) one of those disciplines we will never get to understand nor to benefit from the ‘Karate-Do’ purpose.
I think we should train in what we most need rather than what we most like. I understand that sometimes we need to concentrate our attention in some techniques if an exam or competition is coming soon. However we have to accept that the short time objectives produces short benefits compared with those obtained with long time objectives. Each one of us has to decide if we intended our karate just for the adolescence period or on the contrary for the whole life.
(AS) How do you see your personal contribution for a better understanding of Karate within Portugal and Europe? How do you see the future of Shotokan Karate both in Portugal and the rest of the world?
(PV) As practitioner I concentrate on my individuality and on my own development. As a teacher I concentrate on my students’ needs.
Unfortunately most of the organizations are too much concentrated with sport competition. This way grew the idea that Karate is just a sport and that is far from the truth. I remember Sensei Nakayama saying that some instructors had misunderstood the purpose of the competition that he created. The competition is basically an opportunity to compare our progress with the other karateka. It is a measurement evaluation. There are competitors that only train for the competition forgetting the basic and fundamental training.
As member of JSKA and Shihankai my contribution is to guide Karate in general and specially for the JSKA.
Whenever integrate any international activities (teaching, training, competition, referee, etc.) I guide my position in the sense of the Karate-Do appointed by Sensei Nakayama and followed by the Sensei Abe. In this precise moment I concentrate all my karate efforts on the students' interests. Of course the organisations and leaders are indispensable however they should always be concentrating on the main goal that is - students' benefits.
About the future of Shotokan Karate both in Portugal and the rest of the world, I think it depends on each one of us as teachers and leaders. Changes always happened with Sensei Funakoshi and later with Sensei Nakayama. However, the changes introduced should not harm the values and philosophy of Karate.
I believe that Karate can improve with some new and appropriate changes if the goal is the human being - self-confidence, healthfulness and better social behaviour.
Let me transcribe the words of Sensei Nakayama about competition in an article for “Fighting Arts International magazine” when they asked him to give an advice for all karateka:
“I would tell them to meditate on the words of Anton Geesink, the dutcheman who defeated the Japanese and won the World Judo Championships. Geesink faced and defeated every major Japanese Judo competitor and he shook the very foundations of martial arts in Japan. It was just unthinkable that a young European could so skillfully and cleanly destroy the Japanese masters at their own art, but that is exactly what he did.
I remember that the leaders of Judo and other martial arts in Japan were in a tremendous uproar, and they made elaborate and detailed plans to study Geesink’s secrets of competition. Ultimately, they arranged for a Japanese journalist to interview him in depth to try to discover the training methods this man had used to defeat the Japanese. Geesink’s answer was perhaps the most important statement that I have heard in all my years in Karate-Do and I will never forget it.
He said: the Japanese have devoted themselves to the study of the Judo for competition. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to develop winning contestants and fine champions. I, on the other hand, have never trained for competition in my life. All I have ever done is trained in Judo as a way of life, exactly as Dr. Kano taught. While the Japanese were devising competitive strategies, I was in the Dojo practicing basics and Kata. I defeated the Japanese because I know Judo better than Japanese. The secret is to train every day in the basics. This will make you unbeatable”.
(AS) Was your choice of affiliation to the JSKA Japan influenced by any one person or event?
After Sensei Nakayama’s death I felt like a son who lost his father. My connection to Sensei Enoeda was an institutional connection among two organisations. My connection with Karate and especially with Sensei Nakayama was much more than that. It was principally a deep respect, gratitude and affection. After his death as we all know, several movements of the most senior Sensei’s from the JKA happened in the sense to create new organisations. My option was Sensei Abe, still a long time before the creation of JSKA.
I met Sensei Abe in Japan and I must say that he was one of the instructors that punished me more in those “conversations” before the classes. He was a very distant person of few words. I don’t know if some time he got to look to my face when we made kumite. His glance didn't land on the opponent’s face…It overstepped him!
When he came the first time to Portugal he was very different. Very hard and demanding during the trainings but after the training it didn't seem like the same person.
Sensei Abe is the possessor of knowledge and of a personality that is a result of his family culture. Besides his Japanese nationality that is originating from a lineage of samurais, he is intrinsically a Budo-man. For the general purpose of the Western people the personal relationship with the teacher is decisive to accept him. I don't need to like my teacher, for me it is enough to know that he is the bearer of the knowledge I’m looking for. The friendship will come later, if possible!
(AS) The 5th Japan Shotokan Karate Association World Championships are being hosted by JSKA Portugal in Portimao in October 2010. As a member of the JSKA Shihankai how do you see the importance of this event for both the JSKA Japan and the people (both karate-ka and non karate-ka) of Portugal?
(PV) Such as it has been in previous editions it is an event of the maximum importance for the world organization (JSKA), for Karate Shotokan and finally as a memory of Master Nakayama.
As a member of the JSKA Shihankai and responsible for organizing the championship my main objectives are;
To promote the value and the dignity of true Karate
To create the conditions for all of the invited countries to make them feel at home
To provide to the competitors an organisation that values their performance
To give prestige to JSKA and all its members
To correspond with the expectations of all the entities that supported the organisation
To give happiness to Sensei Abe
To help with the success of the JSKA 6th World Championship 2012 in Mexico.
(AS) I attended the 4th JSKA World Championships in August 2008 at the Manchester Velodrome and watched the Portuguese team collect an impressive collection of 3 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze and a number of semi and quarter final positions. How is the team progressing with their training to gain more gold, silver and bronze medals in front of their many, many Portuguese supporters who will be there in Portimao?
(PV) Yes of course. All of those competitors and others who were there will be present in Portimão 2010. I believe that all they think about to renew or to improve the results of 2008. But the most important aspect is to do the best they can. The result depends on their opponent’s performance.
(AS) Is there any other item of interest that you would like to comment on regarding Karate in general from Portugal or around the World?
(PV) First of all I would like to share with all of you my enormous gratitude to our art of Karate and to all those who helped me along these 44 years of Karate practice. A great part of this debt of gratitude goes to Master Nakayama, Abe and Kanazawa Sensei’s. Also I cannot forget all the other Sensei’s whose lives I have shared along my career. I also want to acknowledge my deep recognition to Master Satoshi Miyazaki for the enormous help that he gave to me in Belgium when in 1972 on the way to Japan opened to me the door as a teacher and as a friend. I also want to acknowledge my recognition to all those that trained by my side helping me with sweat, blood and tears.
In 1989 I left Lisbon City and I steered to my parent’s land, an old village on the North of Portugal. I already had visited the five continents and the largest cities around the world but I sincerely got tired of that. Today, 20 years later I am very happy for having opted for the peacefulness of the countryside.
In this isolation it gives me time to think about Karate. Now I have a better idea about how important is the “concentration”. However, I only got to reach high concentration levels through my own INDIVIDUAL TRAINING. Alone in my Hoitsugan, inside four walls and a large mirror that speaks to me… about me, in a daily long and sincere dialogue with the other part of me!
Just try! Don't ask how you should make it. Each one of us has a different individuality. Nobody knows us better than we ourselves…But for that we have to work alone and deeply concentrate!
About methods, intensity, strength, duration and frequency…The Individual Training will teach you! Try to discover by yourself.
The training groups are obviously indispensable for learning, but the concentration level is very low.
I believe that the secret for the continuity of training in Karate is the Individual Training. Many old high level karateka interrupted their personal training by being devoted exclusively to the teaching or to the arbitration or simple sports leader functions…it is a pity and an enormous loss for Karate.
Allow me to recall Harold Macmillan's words - We should use the past as a jumping-board and not as a sofa.
(AS) May I personally thank you for allowing me this interview, it has been an amazing experience for me personally. I see it as an honour and privilege to have both met and trained with you. After training with Edmundo, Marisa, Arthur, Fernando, Jose, Diana, Francisco, Catarina, Tiaga, Robin and Alex (from London), Mike (from County Cork, Ireland) and many, many others during our annual holidays, birthdays and wedding anniversaries I felt that the story of your contribution to Portuguese Shotokan Karate needed to be brought to the attention of a far wider audience. I would urge any karate-ka whose holidays are taken anywhere in Portugal to pack their Dogi and Obi and visit one of the many clubs up and down the country. Their hospitality is second to none.
Allan Shepherd, September 2009
The JSKA Portugal is directly affiliated to Sensei Keigo Abe 9th Dan JSKA in Japan