Dá pra ver porque eu sempre admirei Yahara Sensei. Quando ele esteve lá na SEAERJ fiquei bastante impressionado. Lembro do Sensei Takeuchi falando que gostava do jeito dele. Dizia: "Esse cara parece com eu! Ele é Raça Animal!"
Como dizem, um grande guerreiro reconhece outro.... Lembro que o Sensei e Yahara Sensei tinham ambos 33 anos naquela época e o Sensei ficou também impressionado com o nível técnico e espírito de Yahara Sensei, assim como sua humildade ao responder "não sei" sem nenhuma vergonha às perguntas que transcendiam seu conhecimento.
Mikio Yahara: The ‘One Finishing Blow’ Concept
— Yahara Sensei, this is your second time in Russia. Last time you were in Moscow was 10 years ago. Do you see any changes? What do you think about Moscow?
— Actually, Moscow has changed very much since my first visit. And the most evident changes are in the economy. During my last visit it was very difficult to find or buy something in stores. Now walking the Moscow streets I see many various shops, everyone could buy fruits and it’s very pleasant. Maybe it is the most significant change that has happened over the last 10 years. And it has got so many cars.
— The name of your organization is the Karatenomichi World Federation. Is there any difference between Karatenomichi and Shotokan? Please tell us, do you teach Shotokan karate or is it a little bit like another style of karate?
— Shotokan style is the original style and the simple thing I teach is the following: karate was changing during its existence and it is under the threat of disappearing now. I know karate as a martial art, but now karate seems like dancing. I would like to return to the original karate, to its sources. Budo karate, according to my opinion, is when I may finish my opponent definitively by one killing blow. My work basically consists in forming ways and methods by which to increase my technical level up to the perfection I require: only the one blow should be enough for the opponent’s defeat.
— What was your impression of the technical level of the Russian karateka? Are they following your way of karate or are they a little bit far from that?
— I think that in Russian karate there are those things I demand and develop. I think that the Russian karate contains many things, which correspond to my technical requirements. Actually when I came, I was very surprised. I thought that the level of karate in Russia would be much lower because the karate history here is very short. And I was astonished because of the skills and technical level of Russian karateka. And having looked at them I have conceived seriously: maybe they walk the same path of karate as me.
— What way of development did you choose for Karatenomichi World Federation as an organization?
— First of all, I am aiming at creating the true budo karate with very effective techniques. The purpose of the organization consists in teaching people the kumite methods about which I spoke earlier. I want to teach my students be able to win any competition and then to send these people worldwide. I want to have people who know my technique and my aim for perfection. Sports karate is very popular now and many people consider karate like a game. These people usually forget about karate immediately after competition. I would like my students could use karate in their real life, but not play in karate like in the game.
— Sensei, do you think that competitions help us to understand the essence of Budo?
— I am against the type of competition that promotes the development of ‘game’ karate. But the matter is that I always have the debates and conversations with representatives of other organizations to defend my opinion about karate. And maybe my actions remind them about true karate.
— You were highly ranked in many tournaments and also you were the World and JKA Champion many times. What victory do you remember most of all?
— Certainly, I, as well as many other people, remember those tournaments. The most important moments that remained in my memory are those moments when I understood that my opponent wasn’t able to control the situation and his skill wasn’t as perfect as mine. All of you applaud if I use those techniques which amaze my opponent and nonplus him. Perhaps, these moments I remember most of all.
— (Elchin Mehdizade) What is the most important for you, physical or spiritual victory? And did you ever feel the moral satisfaction in spite of defeat?
— Is it possible to be happy having suffered defeat? The matter is that when a strong person loses he doesn’t feel any satisfaction and he will never find both spiritual and psychological victory in this case, because it is karate. However, the victory and spiritual satisfaction could come later, because your defeat stimulates you for new feats. You try to improve the skill and as a result you win. Probably, in this case you will really understand that this victory is the result of your last defeat.
— Sensei, the chairman of the Karatenomichi World Federation is internationally renowned fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Could you please tell us why this person came into the world of karate?
— Actually, it is not as difficult to answer your question as you would expect. I think that there are two reasons. The first reason is psychological: the world of Mr. Yohji Yahamoto is the magnificent world with the brilliant atmosphere and amazing surroundings. Of course, this atmosphere dims the enthusiasm.
Photographers, cameras, beautiful people and clothes have a very strong influence on his emotional condition because he is part of this world. Karate allows him to restrain himself and allows him to follow the spiritual way which is defined by conscience. Karate is the deterrent that gives him a chance to remain himself. The second reason is physical: the work of Mr. Yamamoto implies the sedentary way of life and it does not have a good effect on his health.
Weak muscles are not good for man and due to his practice of karate, he now has good physical condition. I think that Mr. Yamamoto has the budo consciousness that only a true samurai could have. Mr. Yamamoto has practiced karate with me for about 10 years and he is very zealous while training. He came into shotokan due to our friendship and we have been friends more than 10 years.
— There are many books about Zen Buddhism and Budo philosophy being issued now, is there any connection between karate and Zen?
— In fact recently many people have turned to Zen and many books are issued about this; however, it is a fake. But why? Of course Zen could be indicated in the fight. But what is the sense of Zen? If during a combat both opponents had a knife it would be too easy if they just killed each other. In this case it would be an ordinary murder:
Both of the opponents would die and they would be absolutely tranquil, because there is no difference for each opponent. But there is a significant problem. Each adversary always keeps in his mind: what will occur in case of mistake?
Maybe someone will be wounded. The body becomes enslaved and the mind just thinks about fear. This fear disturbs the use of your actual power. Kumite teaches us to stay tranquil. If you follow the Zen way you will have the emptiness in your mind while doing kumite.
Fear and thought disappear from your mind and you don’t feel the fear. In this moment you are able to demonstrate your true power; the power that is available only to you. No emotions, no thoughts about past and future.
This is Zen. That is why people who haven’t the experience of serious fighting or mortal combat, who just write books about Zen Buddhism in the martial arts whilst sitting in their chair, are liars.
— And what is the philosophy of karate?
— Karate has no philosophy. Some people think that the tradition of karate came from Buddhism and karate has a connection with the absolute, space and universe, but I don’t believe in that. My philosophy is to knock my opponent out due to the use of only one technique. One finishing blow!
— Sensei, do you have any time for a rest?
— Karate is ‘the rest’ in my life. You know I am very busy, because I have my own business as well as karate. It keeps my mind in great tension: I always should think about some muddles and deals. Of course it has a bad influence on my sleep and mind. While training my body feels tremendous stress but this way everyone steps closer to the art of karate. My body relaxes after training and it has a good influence on my sleep. By falling asleep after a grueling training session, you are collecting and re-charging your power for a new day, to make it as useful as possible.
— Away from karate, do you like other things, like music?
— Yes, I like music very much. What do you think I like, what kind of music do you think I prefer?
— Maybe modern?
— No, I like Tchaikovsky.
— (Elchin Mehdizade) Tchaikovsky?
— Yes. You know Tchaikovsky is very nice ice cream (jokingly)! And also I like romantic music. The point is that often I am very tired after training and this music helps me to relax. I think that music is even necessary for me. I like “The Million of Scarlet Roses” most of all from Russian music. And the sense of lyrics of this song is wonderful also. I often listen to the CD of a popular Russian singer while I journey on my ship. Actually, I listen to music in two cases: one during the rest, and two, when I drive my car.
— Sensei, do you like high speed?
— Yes, I like it very much. I even do some road events. Some time ago I was in an unbelievable road event: I was driving a Porsche, it is my favorite car and my speedometer indicated 250 km/h. The speed limit of my car was 280 km/h and I tried to speed up more. Suddenly I have seen the car ahead and I have decided to out-strip it. For this purpose I have changed my lane to the wrong lane and have seen that the other car was coming towards to me with speed of about 100 km/h. If there had been a head-on collision there would be something terrible (250 km/h plus 100 km/h is 350 km/h). But probably due to the reaction of the skilled karateka I have decided to turn my car in the direction of the curb because the barrier wasn’t too serious. I have made this decision instantly otherwise we would slam each other with a speed of 350 km/h! I remember how my car was turned over; I remember all my movements and actions at this time (like slow-motion). The only thing I thought is to protect the most important parts of my body: basically, my head. I did everything to receive as little damage as possible. The result was that the machine (car) was destroyed so much that it could not be restored. Nevertheless, nothing happened with my health. I think I was inimitable in this car (joke).
— Sensei, do you also like to read in your free time?
— Yes, I like to read very much. Usually I read books about the samurai and how bravely they passed away as a result of hara-kiri, ritual suicide. It is very important for me and I will tell you about this without any embellishment.
The matter is that already three of my friends have died in such a way, the last from them in December last year. The most courageous way of hara-kiri is crisscross: first from left to right, then from below to upwards to get hieroglyph “ju” that means “ten”.
Maybe you know the famous Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima; perhaps you even read his books. He was my student. We trained together for one and half a years and he was much older than me: he was 45 and I was 24. And one week before his passing away he came to the dojo and we were training together again. After training we were in the traditional Japanese bath “furo”; his behavior was normal, he laughed (in fact he was very cheerful person) and nobody — even I — couldn’t suspect that he was going to leave his life. But you see it was a very important decision and one week prior to his death he certainly knew that he would do it. I very much respect him for it and I believe that he is a really great person.
There is even a history how Yukio Mishima has made this step. He came to the office of the commander of the military base of the Japan Defense Agency, came into the room and everyone — even those who has thought suddenly something was wrong — had no time or the possibility to stop him. He had locked the door of the room. He was accompanied by his friend Masakatsu Morita.
The fact is that under the code of the samurai, after the worthy person will make a hara-kiri, his friend, collogue or student — someone whom he trusts and respects — must chop the head off. Having opened his stomach with his blade, he felt an inhuman pain and Morita in the meantime held a sword in his hands, and his hands shivered because of excitement or inexperience.
Then Mishima became angry and started to shout at him: "Let’s do it — faster!" After that, he (Morita) struck, but he missed and has split a part of Mishima’s skull. Mishima then screamed even more loudly: "You are fool! What are you waiting for? Let's do it quickly!"
Second impact of the sword of Morita only fell onto Mishima’s shoulder and only after the third attempt he completed the task, (beheaded him). Subsequently the police rushed into the office. Please trust me, these events are true and fixed in the police report. I do not want to scare you; I just want to say that this person I believe had a strong spirit.
— And what was the reason and the purpose of suicide by Mr. Yukio Mishima?
— The purpose was rather great. By then he was already a well-known writer and knew that people would speak widely and much about his death. Shortly before his death Mishima made a political declaration from a balcony of the same building. By his death he wanted to draw the attention of the public to make the effective protest against new Japanese orders and laws. Certainly, he has achieved this purpose.
— Sensei, do you practice any other kind of budo except karate?
— Yes, I practice iaido. I like the spirit of this martial art: one single sword blow results in the death of the opponent.
— What human quality do you appreciate most of all?
— Actually all my friends are very strange people. I always conceive: are they people or not? And in general I get tired of it. Maybe you think I am strange human being too.
— Sensei, what is the love for you?
— Maybe it is a usual thing, but I do not know how to answer. Certainly, it is a very difficult question. But I think that the love is impossibility of personal happiness in loneliness. It means that it is necessary to give everything completely and to see the happiness of sweetheart. Only in this case you will be happy. I think it is necessary to offer everything to make everything for the beloved person and then to be happy seeing this result.
— Sensei, would you like to wish something to the Russian karateka?
— Let me ask you this Alexander. What is the most important thing for you in karate?
— (Alexander Chichvarin) Well, it is the great pleasure I have due to the relation with my karate friends in the dojo and out of the dojo. Annually the number of such friends becomes more and more worldwide.
— I think that we (I and my Russian friends) practice karate with the same spirit, mood and ideas. Likely, people who practice karate with very similar ideas have identical inquiries, needs and purposes. The name of our organization — Karatenomichi — means, way of karate, way to karate, way due to karate.
Perhaps this also is the way in which we walk the karate path together; and we should meet many people on this way. Somewhere this way could become wider and somewhere it could become narrower. The most important thing that I want to pass on to you all, is never forget about the source of karate, its basic functions and purposes.
Because if you ignore this and do not execute diligently all techniques, you will absolutely walk other way, which is very far from the karate which I try to bring to your country and to your life.