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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Soon Pretorius(Miguel Harker)     Osu Sensei, I am honored to be able to ask you the questions I have always wanted to know about you & your Karate.

(Soon Pretorius)     Thank you!

(MH)     What is the name of your Association & how many schools do you have?

(SP)     We are called "The Karate Academy of South Africa" and have approximately 106 karate schools in Southern Africa. 

(MH)     You are affiliated to Keigo Abe Sensei’s JSKA, tell us a little about him as an instructor & as a person.

(SP)     Sensei Abe is an unbelievably humble person with an incredible wealth of knowledge! His teaching is normally very basic but he does have a unique way of expressing himself! He took me to his house on a recent visit to Matsuyama where one could really experience the history of this legend!

(MH)     Could you please tell us about what you learned on this trip? 

(SP)     Sensei Abe took me to his house in Matsuyama which is more than 400 years old and he is the eight generation staying in that house! It had been an absolute life experience to be guided through history by sensei Abe. I shall never forget the experience! I have learned so much about the Japanese cultures and traditions. Sensei Abe took Sensei Nagaki’s wife and me for lunch one day. He then with such patients demonstrated to the two of us the correct way of eating Sushi! A remarkable legend!

(MH)     How has your association fared at the first 3 JSKA World Cups?

(SP)     We competed in Germany in 2002 with a small team and managed to win 6 gold doing especially well in the team events. In 2004, the 2nd JSKA World Cup was hosted in South Africa. We did enter a large team and could win more medals than actual entries! The prestigious open team event was won by the Academy team! The 3rd JSKA World Cup was hosted in New York, earlier this year; we brought back 41 medals, more than any other country in the world!

(MH)     What do you put this success down to?

(SP)     Only hard work from a team of passionate students and supporters!

(MH)     Tell us about your family involvement in Karate.

(SP)     I have 2 boys, aged 16 and 15, and a girl of 12. They all train karate and enjoy the occasional karate excursion! My wife is involved in "The Karate Shop" and helps tremendously with advice, motivation and support! We currently have 20 classes per day in our 5 schools in Pretoria, so you can imagine the amount of work involved.

(MH)     You mention the ‘Karate Shop’, could you please tell us about this?

(SP)     We started selling Karate attire since starting to teach Karate in 1984! This grew into eventually the establishment of “The Karate Shop”! We were also very fortunate when Antonio Espinos (President of WKF) introduced me to the Adidas brand and we managed to secure sole selling rights.

(MH)     What is your Karate philosophy?

(SP)     Karate is about building character, staying fit and winning friends! My philosophy of life is to seek peace! Often this can only be gained by IPPON! 

(MH)     In what ways do you think karate builds character?

(SP)     The great things in life do not come easy! One must understand that true success is only gained by right choices and sustained effort in achieving those goals!

(MH)     If you had to compare your teaching to a major Sensei past or present, whose technical specifications do you follow?

(SP)     My style of Shotokan karate was influenced greatly by sensei’s Norman Robinson, Koos Burger and Malcolm Dorfman! Many other instructors also influenced my karate like sensei Shirai, Kase, Asai, Abe, Enoeda, Kawazoe, Naito, Andy Sherry, Kanazawa, Terry O’Neil, Tanaka, Nagaki and the list goes on! Sensei Abe and Richard Amos do still get me excited about technical detail!

(MH)     You mention the likes of Andy Sherry and Enoeda Sensei, did you spend time in Britain studying under these men, and what did you learn from them?

(SP)     I trained under both these “giants”! Sensei Andy is the leader with a set and not negotiable standard of technical efficiency! He knows what he wants and hardly ever deviates in attempting to reach those goals! Sensei Enoeda has the typical Japanese abrupt method of teaching and believes in the value of basics! It had been an honor to train under these masters!

(MH)     What are the most emphasized points that Abe Sensei teaches?

(SP)     Techniques are demonstrated with meticulous technical detail and then expected to be done without much ado! His emphasis hip support with all techniques and relaxed body posture before the execution of a technique!

(MH)     How do you adopt the samurai way in life, business & Karate?

(SP)     The samurai was trained to serve! I believe one should accept this philosophy and seek ways to serve in business, life and Karate. To be able to serve means to be strong and trustworthy. A misconception does exist that the weak should serve but this will only result in a very weak society! 

(MH)     Who of the old Sensei’s have you trained with & can you tell us which one was your favorite class.

(SP)     I guess training with sensei Shirai in his private dojo in Milan left some great memories. It was long and extremely hard training. A one hour kihon kumite session would always conclude his four hour session!

(MH)     How would you describe Sensei Shirai’s karate, and why do you think he has the reputation he has? 

(SP)     Not a very patient man with extremely high expectations! When we arrived in his dojo in Milan, he was stretching for at least two hours before teaching a senior class! His technique especially his kicking techniques are brilliant! He does expect everything from every one of his students!

(MH)     If you could train with anybody for one week, who would it be & why?

(SP)     My wish would be to train with Masatochi Nakayama sensei! I believe he had an immeasurable amount of knowledge and wisdom about our ancient fighting art! 

(MH)     What is your favorite Kata & why?

(SP)     My favorite kata is Sochin! The emphasis on the sturdy and uncompromising foundation in fudu dachi combined with a bold and determined presumption fits my understanding of karate-do!

(MH)     What is your outlook on competition Karate?

(SP)     There is too much emphasis in the very small segment of karate! Karate is not about winning medals and trophies! It about building of the character of the participants! Instructors must devote their time to improve the quality of service to the students rather than focusing on the performance of students. Rather spend time on discovering better ways to present ideas than trying to turn students into top performers. Top performers reflect themselves and not their instructors!

(MH)     What do you do in your spare time?

(SP)     I enjoy my family! I also do a bit of motivational talk across the country. I also do a bit of biking when I have time! Being committed to teaching and managing karate in Southern Africa does not leave one with much time to spare!

(MH)      Osu thank you again Sensei & I am sure many people will learn from your humble approach to Karate that the way of the Samurai is the way.

(SP)     Osu thank you Miguel.