Ushiro Sensei conducted his very first seminar in Budapest, Hungary during the weekend of October 19th-20th. While the European seminar has been held annually in Germany, the strong passion of the host made this 2nd European seminar in Budapest possible.
People gathered from various countries from Europe (Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland) as well as from US and Japan. This reflected the strong passion of the host, Mr. Fris and his desire to learn bujutsu karate from Ushiro Sensei.
Because more than half of the people were new to Ushiro Sensei’s karate, the beginning of the seminar was spent on explaining the difference between bujutsu karate and sports karate with demonstration. Bujutsu karate comes from life and death situation whereas sports are judged on winning and losing. Hence,the starting point and its essence are different. With that, the seminar started with Sanchin kata.
Due to most of the participants coming from full contact karate background, Ushiro Sensei spent time on demonstrating the difference between sports karate and bujutsu karate as well as what a martial arts is within Japanese culture. The participants had a lot of questions and Ushiro Sensei responded to each of them.
The second day started by addressing the question of “What is Ki?” which is the very condition of bujutsu karate. To simply put, Ki is time and energy. There are time of Chronos and Kairos, the universe time and human time. The energy is something that enables the leap from now to the unknown. Ushiro Sensei emphasized its importance and necessity.
Based on the flow of the first day, the attendees were divided in 5 groups (3 Hungarian speaking groups and 2 English speaking groups). Ushiro Sensei walked over each group and taught separately.
“There is a world that cannot be explained by words” (Words can be only comprehended within the limited scope of the receivers). With that, Ushiro Sensei focused on the 1 touch, not only showing the techniques but inviting the participants to touch his body and feel the difference between a sport body and a bujutsu body.
Veterans attendees from Poland, Italy and Germany were starting to get a better sense of the depth of bujutsu karate and were very focused on making sure not to miss any single message and movement of Ushiro Sensei.
Every single moment you spent with Ushiro Sensei is practice. To showcase this, Ushiro Sensei walked around the table at the party on the first night, chatted with the people and demonstrated some techniques.
Ushiro Sensei emphasized that he wanted each participant to bring back something for continuing practice. Hence he focused his teachings on Sanchin kata and breathing. All attendees, from the first timers to veterans, were able to bring home some learnings from these 2 days.
The next Monday after the weekend seminar, Mrs.Aniko Fujita from Osaka dojuku and Mr. Fris arranged a visit to the Hungarian traditional martial artist Mr. Kassai on the countryside of Budapest. Mr. Kassai and Ushiro Sensei had the chance to discuss various subjects during lunch afterwards.
Feedback from the participants
■A.G (University professor from Hungary)
This was my first time to attend Ushiro Sensei’s seminar. I was really surprised. I’ve heard various theories about Ki. It is life, it comes from the universe and so on. I am very glad that I was able to experience Ki and Sanchin kata.
At the same time I am taking this experience very seriously. I’ve been practicing karate since I was little but I realized that I have to change everything about it. My style is very strong, I need more softness. I don’t need muscle powers. Muscle are for destruction. Harmony is life and is happiness. I am really grateful of this wonderful experience.
■C.R (ex-military from Czech)
Sometimes there are risks for me to attend a seminar at my age but this was a seminar I could learn and grow. I’ve never heard anybody explaining “Ki” into such depth and so simply.
With this great explanation of Ki, I think I understood a little bit of it. I am 60 years old now and Sensei is great even from my age. He is faster, stronger than me. There is no way I can challenge him. He was a real hero and goal for me. I have been practicing karate for 34 years. I am ex-military and have different work now.
■E.A (Karate instructor from Italy)
Each time I meet Ushiro Sensei at the seminar, I am shocked about how much I have to learn. Sensei is so far from me. I feel I can never reach him.
Each time Sensei shows me techniques and ideas that I don’t understand. Ushiro Sensei is a great human heritage, a living treasure.
He always shows me bujutsu karate not only by theory but by demonstration.
I was also surprised to learn that Ki was applied to modern medicine. It is fantastic that people with disabilities and difficulties can get back to their regular life with Ki.
It is a great honor that I can understand the importance of Sensei’s teaching. I am deeply grateful that I have this opportunity to learn from Sensei. Thank you.
■P.B (26 years of karate experience from Germany)
Today was a great seminar. It was the first time to experience that I can remain strong even without relying on my muscle and by staying relaxed. I feel this karate is great for children because you can teach to young people. As Sensei was saying, if you teach bujutsu karate from the beginning, then there will be students that would walk a different path.
■R.G (Former world champion from Hungary)
This was my first time. Ushiro Sensei’s karate was completely different from our karate. It is like as if I have learned a new life. To me, this was a new beginning. I would like to first bring this back home and think about it. This is about life and not sport. Everything was new to me.
When I sparred with Sensei, I couldn’t touch him at all. I would like to practice hard so that I can touch him. Thank you very much for this opportunity.
■S.J (Karate instructor from Hungary)
I had the chance to see Sensei’s teaching on DVD and internet for the past 8 years and thanks to Mr.Fris, I was able to learn from him. It gives me goosebumps just talking like this. Ushiro Sensei is a great person, very authentic and genuine. He is someone I would like to follow. I am grateful for everybody who gave me the opportunity to meet him as part of my personal growth.
Unlike sports karate, when I spar with him, both my mind and my body cannot do anything.
I’ve had some experience in full contact karate and I had the chance to spar with some top athletes. But I have never seen an attack like Sensei’s that appears out of the blue. In my past sparring, there was always some signs before the movement. With Sensei, there isn’t any. In sports, whether you can attack or not is based on your technical skills. But Sensei’s bujutsu controls every attack before it begins. it is unbelievable that a Sensei of 70 years old is capable to such things.
■M.Z (Project engineer from Hungary)
These 2 days were a great learning experience for me. I really sensed what a big person Sensei is. His kindness towards us, Europeans, were felt from his smile. When Sensei was teaching it felt as if Sensei was using our culture and words. I was very grateful of that and I hope I can attend his seminar again.
■Ferenc Fris (The seminar host from Hungary)
Everyday was very meaningful and I learned a lot. There were some challenges but everybody supported each other as a team. This was a great shugyo (training) for me. First I thought I won’t be able to practice at the seminar itself as a host but I could, and I was able to host it which I am glad. I learned a lot and I want to keep on working what I have learned and apply it to my life.
There are walls within the organization but I would like to walk the path that Sensei showed me by eliminating these walls. I am committed to walk this path but I would like to also support other attendees of the seminar to walk this path as well. What you can learn from DVD are limited, so I would like to put efforts so that everybody can meet with Sensei. As I walk through Sensei’s path, I would like to support other participants. This is my goal as the host.
One takeaway is that when you do Sensei’s karate it is not just the external movement that needs to be soft but your heart has to change to enable the technique. I’ve learned the depth. Another big goal for me is to translate “Karate and Ki” in Hungarian. There are a lot of Hungarians, not only within Hungary but in Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, and Ukraine. I want to provide all the Hungarians “Karate and Ki” in Hungarian.
I would like to digest everything that I have learned and felt. With my students, I know there is only Ushiro karate. I may understand how to teach partially but I am learning as well. From now on, I would like to work and learn with Michael, the Berlin head.