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TRADITIONAL VERSUSORIGINAL "Whenpeoplestartstudyingkaratein Japan,they think this roughapproachis the way it oughtto be taught,so they don't complain, But you can't do that in America."

by MorcTempleton kata competitor must make up his I Fown k a t a o r e l s eh e c a n n o t w i n . T h i s i s t h e c l a i m , p e r h a p sb e t t e r d e scrlbedas the complaint,of somecompetitorsin the tournamentscene.But to shotokan karate instructor Toyotaro Miyazaki3 , 5 , o f F l u s h i n gN , ew York," the claim is not true, even when it comes from his studentsand refersto individualshe said are ill-suitedto be judSingcompetition.This wasthe situat i o n h e e n c o u n t e r elda s ty e a r .l t i s a l s o t h e s i t u a t i o nt h a t l e d h i m b a c k i n t o competlo | n. At one of the main tournamentshere on the East Coast,the judgeswere not too good, Miyazaki said of the initial s i l u a t i o nt h a r l e d h i m b a c k i n L o k a r a competition. "Many of the competitorshad made up their ovr'nkata," he said."Some of them had good left side kicks in their kata, and eachkatahad somemeaning." T h e s ep e o p l em a k eu p t h e i ro w n l a l a f o r c o m p e t i t i o ns o i t w i l l l o o k m o r ei m pressivethan a traditional kata, Miyazaki said. "At this one tournament,much of t8

Shoiokan instructor Toyotaro Miyazaki, a former tournament comDetitor and now an instructor in Flurhing, New York, offers a blend of tradition and American.style teaching methods to hi5 school's pupilr. Photos bV Ed lkuta


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the kata did took pretty," he said,con' I t i n u i n Bt h d t l i t l l e o l i t h a da n y m e a n i n g . l " S o I w a sr a t h e rd i 5 a o o o i n l ewdh e no n e I of my studentscameup to me and said I that kata competitorshaveto make up t h e i r o w n l d t a f o r t o u r n d m e n loSr e l s e t h e yd o n o t w i n . " Miyazaki not only told the student this belie{ w.!s wrongr but in effect issuedan invitationfor the young compe" titor to ioin his instructorin performing jointkata. "l told the student that if he does verygoodkataand practiceshard,he can still beat thâ‚Ź other competitors wth original kata," l\4iyazakisaid. "But when he competed,he still didn't beat 'Let's comthe others. so I told him, pete together.I will do all the kataand you do anything you like. You can make up your own kata if you want Shotokan karateka Toyotaro Miyazaki offers pointers (top) and individual guidance (bottom) to student! at his Flushing, New York, dojo. A traditionalist when it comes to kata, Miyazaki ha! modified the teaching methods he learned as a pupil in Japan to satisfy his Amcrican students'curiosity for detailed explanations, 20

attendNot long after that l\4iyazaki ed anothertournament.This time he entered the kata competition,performed


movementsand took first At severalsubsequenttournahe entered,he also took first Not long after, he beganto perin weapons tournamenE. With or without weapons.the kata the same,saidl\4iyazaki, who utilizes unusuallythin, light bo for his demgrstratio ns. "You can do anything with this rEapon," he said. Though Miyazakiencourages a traditional approachin studying his art, he dmitted that he hasfound it necessary to break with certain procedures he learnedin Japan. "Basically, my techniqueshaven't changedmuch," he said. "But even in Japan the karate is changing.People fight different." Miyazaki,who was born in Tokyo, '1944, began studying karate lzpan, in .15. aboutage "l saw a couple of demonstrattons when I was fifteen yearsold," he said, continuing that his parentsalso knew the peBon who would later becomehis karateinstructor. "l liked karate and samuraithings

when lwas young," he said. "But the first time I started lessons, I wasn't thinking about becominga black belt. I just liked it, so I practicedhard." Miyazaki continued to study karate even after he enteredcollegeto major in economics.And whenhe graduated four years later, he made the choice to devetop a career asa karateinstructor. In rne late summerof 1966, he left Japanand came to the united states. "l was going to stay two yearswith a friend who was teaching karate in California," he said. "Then I was goingto visit friendsin odler countries." Instead,three rnonthsafter arriving in California,Miyazaki decidedto visit New York where another friend had a karateschool. "He wanted me to become his partner," Miyazaki said. "So'we talked it over. The school urassuccessful,but he had a family and many children,so he wanted to spend more time with them. He also had a regular job, and it was kind of hard for him to teach classes, too." Miyazaki agreedto stay on as a partner in the school,but soon found him-

self faced with greater responsibility. The increasing pressure on his friend eventuallyforcedhim to decidebetween the school and his profession, and almost overnight,Miyazaki becamesole owner of the karate school. As one might guess,the economicsof the situation were of little problemto him. His greatesthardshipcameabout in another area. "The students thought I was so funny becauseI couldn't speak any English," he said, with the words of someone who hascomea long way in dealing with the situation. "l was just doing kickingand punchinginsteadof actually explainingwhat I was doing. Their instructor couldn't explain it to the students since he couldn't speakany English. Maybe some of them thought it didn't make any senseto teach karate without talking." The problemwascompoundedat the same time, Miyazakisaid, by his strict teachingmethods. "When the studentsdidn't do right,,' he said, "l used to get mad. I tried ro explain so often that sometimesthey don't understand what l'm talking

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a b o u t ,b u t I g o t m a d d e ra n d t h e ns o m e studentsquit. This made me feel sorry becausewe had misunderstoodeach other." After 10 years,Miyazaki'smethods are still what many would consider s t r i c t .I n t h e e n t i r et i m e ,h e h a sp r o m o t e d o n l y 2 0 s t u d e n t st o b l a c kb e l t . B u r he said there are now somedifferences between the way he teachesand the way he wastaughtin Japan. " l n J a p a n t, h e ) d i d n ' l p a ) a n e n t i o n t o t h e i n d i v i d u a l ,h" e s a i d ." O r t h e y e x p l a i n e ds o m e t h i n gt o y o u a c o u p l eo f times,and after that, just startedhitting o r k i c k i n gy o u i f y o u d i d n ' t d o i t r i g h t .

"You can do anythingwith this weap. on," claimSshotokaninstructorToyotaro Miyazaki of the bo. The stylist t a v o r sa t h i n , l i g h tb o f o r h i sd e m o n s t r a tions. F o r c x a m p l e i,f y o u d i d n ' t m a k ea f i s t tight, they told you about it once.After that, they startedhitting your fist with a stick, and you had to find out why you are gettinghit." ln contrast,Miyazakisaid,his teaching of karatein Americais considerably lessdramatic. " l n J a p a n ,p e o p l eg r o w u p w i t h k a rate in the street," he said, "so they d o n ' t c o m p l a i nm u c h a b o u t i t i f t h e y


If your performance is wrongin theyaregoingto takeyou down on the hard wooden floor, And people start studying karate in

theythinkthisroughapproach is way it ought to be taught, so they complain.But you can't do that America. People here teach with explanalion. ,' "Studentl are really, really good in ," Miyazzki said in answer to the of whetheror not studentsin are more proficientthan Students America,"But Americansare really in karateand they study all techniques.In Japan,you cannotdo cartain you niquesin someschools,because to do them in the traditionalway." In America,Miyazakisaid,the techniquesof one art often may be seenin the techniquesof peoplein anotherart. This point was driven home forcefully to Miyazaki when he beganserioustournament competition after coming to America. "l wanted to be an instructor," he said,"and I wantedto get moreexperience.But.l'm not tall. Standingnext to an American,l'm reallysmall.But I had

to compete againstthese really big peop l e ". Insteadof enteringtournamentsreservedonly for his shotokanstyleof karate, lvliyazaki entered open tournamen$ in the late 1960sand early 1970s.

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" F o r t u n a t e l y , "h e s a i d , , , lc a m eo u t in first placein most of the tournamenr I entered.But at leastten percentof my lechniqueswere not traditionalshotokan techniques." The wheel kick is an example of someof the techniquesMiyazakisaidhe slartedusingaf[er he came to America. "l never use that for fighting,,,he continued."l usethat for practicefighting. But I did useit once againsta tall opponent who was hard to reach,so I scoredgood." ln 1971, Miyazakiretiredfrom competition becauseof an injury to his Knees.

"l had enoughexperiencein competition," he said."l wasgettingmore and more students,so I had to spendmore and more time teaching." This comment may be connectedto somethingMiyazakisaid later in the infervrew: "Sometimes karatâ‚Ź makes people sick. Many peopleput too much energy into karak and nothing else. Just karate, karate, karate. After ten years, they havenothing.They haveonlf trophies." Miyazaki has.the trophies,but now he is involvedin activitiesthat provide him with as much fulfillment-activities suchas baseball, golf and running.Oth'er activitiesincludeungradingan aspectof tournamentsabout which he hasalways had complaints not judging. Miyazaki said he is interestedin ge .ing more involved in judgingcompetition,especially in Amateur Athletic Union tournaments. He summarizedthese activitiesand his years in karate with a simple senIence: "l tust enioy life."

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miyazaki sensei  

mag, miyazaki, karate

miyazaki sensei  

mag, miyazaki, karate

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