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Berlin Seminar 2022 Report

Over the weekend of October 22-23, 2022, Ushiro Sensei held his first overseas seminar in 3 years in Berlin, Germany. While Sensei has been regularly teaching the American branch chiefs and European branch chiefs via Zoom during the Covid disaster, the overseas branches were delighted when Ushiro Sensei decided to hold the Berlin seminar.

The trip to Germany took 15.5 hours one way because the ongoing war which is against the times prevented passage over Russia. And in Germany, people did not have to wear masks which was a big cultural difference.

The seminar had a rich international flavor with nearly 60 participants, not only from the German, Italian, Hungarian, and Polish branches and sub-branches, but also from the U.S. branches. The German, Hungarian, and Polish branches were each accompanied by local interpreters who could speak Japanese, showing the participants strong desire not to miss a single message from Ushiro Sensei.

Practicing Sanchin Kata together

Participants listening intently to the interpretation from Japanese to each language

The 2 days of training began with Sensei's talk on how Ushiro Karate is a fusion of Karate, Iai, and Ki. The morning of Saturday and Sunday was devoted to wooden sword practice, which included swinging, Kiri Kaeshi, Kumitachi, and Iai Kata. Ushiro Sensei carefully explained the importance of Te-no-uchi (grip) and why Ushiro Karate emphasizes the sword, which was then practiced in groups according to each country.

Ushiro Sensei demonstrating with a wooden sword
2 people with a firm grip and Sensei using the softness in the hand
Throwing 2 people away

The afternoon was spent in Karate. Following the participants' wishes, the first day was Sanchin and the second day was Passai. Ushiro Sensei explained the importance of Kata and Bunkai Kumite while demonstrating the accuracy of various Kata and the techniques in each group. “Execute the Kata beautifully and techniques with Kokoro”, “The body follows the internal Ki. Ki responds to Kokoro”. Sensei emphasized these teachings throughout the 2 days of practice while demonstrating again and again that Karate should not be confrontational to defeat your opponent, but rather protect yourself and enable the opponent which is a harmonized Karate.

Ushiro Sensei instructing Sanchin to Poland Sub-branch Chief
Ushiro Sensei instructing free kumite from Kata to Italy sub-branch Chief

A practical guidance on “The Karate fists (arm) that expand and contract”. The attacking mind's fist contracts and the defending fist extends. This demonstration was a surprise to all.

A boy was surprised and pleased to see his own arm extended

In the Ki practice, Ushiro Sensei demonstrated with women and children against a scrum of adults. While they could not throw or move their hands by themselves, they could do so freely when they touched Sensei. They were also enabled when Ushiro Sensei performed the correct basics and Kata. Sensei also said that what he was showing the participants was an unknown world that could not be understood within their narrow viewpoints and that in order to increase their sensitivity to this unknown world, each participant had to expand his or her own capacity as a person.

The woman touches Sensei's arm...
She can easily throw the scrum

This European seminar was the first seminar in which not only Soshinkan Germany but also Italy, Hungary, and Poland participated as sub-branches. Ushiro Sensei gave strict instructions to the Soshinkan chiefs to build their awareness on what it means to be the Soshinkan branch chiefs.

Ushiro Sensei instructing Polish sub-branch members

Throughout the 2 days, Sensei repeatedly emphasized that each country has its own unique characteristics, whether it be sword or Kata, and that these characteristics are a direct reflection of the chiefs of that country, and therefore the chiefs need to study many times more than others. Sensei pointed out that while adults have a hard time breaking out of their habits, children's movements change as soon as Sensei corrects their posture a little

There was a reception at the end of each day's practice. This time, because each country brought a local interpreter, the crowd in front of Sensei was even larger than usual. Ushiro Sensei responded to the crowd's enthusiasm and continued to provide guidance even during the reception. Some of the participants said they were impressed by the fact that Ushiro Sensei not only demonstrated techniques on them during practice, but also talked with them during the dinner, which was an unprecedented experience.

Reception after the seminar

The 2 days seminar flew by. But it was a seminar in which the energy like the sun of Ushiro Sensei illuminated and enveloped all the participants as they received his thoughts and teachings, and energized each branch and sub-branch for further practice for the next opportunity.

Berlin Seminar 2022 group photo

Voices of the participants

■ Department of Exercise Physiology, Germany, age 30

This is the 7th time I have attended Sensei’s seminar. I have also participated twice in the U.S. I am very impressed by Sensei’s movements every time. I had the chance to touch him and it was a completely different feeling from that of a normal person. He is really amazing. The way he uses his body is very interesting.

I think the reason why his teachings are so difficult is because we ourselves have never used our bodies in such a way, and our minds are completely different.

It is impossible to master his teachings by attending a few of his seminars, and I think it is important to repeatedly experience his teachings and learn by seeing, feeling, and doing. He said that we try to understand too much with our brains, but I could understand that we should learn with our bodies first, and the logic will come later.

■ Student, Poland, age 13

I have never attended a seminar like this before, and this was my first time. When I was able to pull a lot of people together, I was like "Wow!”. I was surprised that I could do such a thing. After that, I moved on to other exercises, and looking back, I realized once again that I had such power hidden within me.

I was surprised at how confused I was. I was very surprised that there was such a big difference between throwing with Ki and not throwing with Ki, even though I did it the same way both times.

■ Karate instructor, Poland, age 55

I can only say one word: "Excellent”. After every seminar I can feel that I have improved even in small things. I have participated for the fourth time, and the first time I had a strange feeling as if I was being shown magic, but after the second time, I have been taking what I learned back to the dojo and incorporating it into my own practice. I think it is starting to take shape somewhat. I have been specializing in sports karate, but Sensei's karate is completely different from that type of karate, so I have a lot to learn from him. Sports karate reaches its limits after a certain point. Kicking to the upper body, for example, becomes impossible as you get older. In Sensei's karate, there is a wide range of applications, so no matter how much you practice, there is no end to it.

■ Poland, self-employed, 50 years old 

What was especially beneficial in today's seminar was learning about how to use the body. I think each participant was able to learn what he or she needed according to his or her ability and level. I have attended seminars in Berlin and Budapest, and I am happy to leave each time with something new to learn. This is my fifth year in Ushiro Karate. Before that I was doing Shinkyokushin Karate for 35 years. I switched from Shinkyokushin to Ushiro Karate and I think it was a very good choice.

■ Hungary, programmer, 48 years old. 

This is my second time attending. The first time was in Budapest. I am honored to see Sensei again. To be honest, I don't know exactly what I learned today, but I got a lot of new information. I have been practicing Kyokushin for so many years that I still have some hardness in my body, and I think that Sensei's guidance has been very helpful for me to get rid of that hardness. The more I study, the more I realize that I have not studied enough. I still think that the most important thing is to eliminate the hardness. I learned not only from Sensei, but from each of the participants. I learned that there are important lessons in every single Kata.

■ Michael Koethe, Chief of the German Branch

It was a wonderful event to be able to get together with everyone again after a three-year gap. I was really impressed by Sensei's guidance and stories. I will use what I learned not only in my training but also in my life. Sensei's guidance is outstanding and wonderful. I am glad that I was able to share the learning with everyone. I want to continue learning Ushiro Karate because Ushiro Karate is my life now and it is very important to me.

■ Marcin Żyliński,Chief of Poland sub-branch

I have been wanting to meet Sensei for a long time, since the last time I met him was 3 years ago. I am very happy to see Sensei again. I realize the importance of receiving guidance directly from my teacher. I have tried my best on my own, and I have also received guidance from Zoom, but there are many things that I am reminded of by actually meeting with him and receiving his direct guidance.

I can easily see that what I have been doing is wrong by receiving his teachings in person. His guidance is very qualified, and when we go in the wrong direction, he immediately corrects us so that we can go in the right direction. Even the smallest correction can be useful for our subsequent development.

Every time I see him, he becomes a bigger part of my life. He is an inspiration to me. At the same time, I feel the great potential that Ushiro Karate has. I would like to continue to develop my karate skills. I feel again that I have the fresh feeling I had when I started karate as a child. I would like to continue.

■ Emanuele Argentino, Chief of Italy sub-branch

Every year, every time, I always receive new insights and learnings from Ushiro Sensei. One of the important learnings is that if we regain our original confidence, not our ego, we can grow more and get to a different level. Another thing I have learned is how to teach as a leader, especially to children, to expand their minds. I am very honored to have had the opportunity to learn from Ushiro Sensei's teachings.

■ Ferenc Fris, Chief of Hungary sub-branch

I really learned a lot this weekend. When I look at my son's face and other people's faces, I am convinced that it is okay to change, and I am now able to change myself. I have always known the joys of growth and development, but I never thought I would be able to reach such heights.

The great discovery for me this time was learning that sword training is connected to karate training to such an extent. I would like to practice that more in the next 6 months or a year. I am looking forward to putting into practice what I have studied so far and what I learned during this weekend and into Kata.

The aura of the newcomers was completely different from that of the regular karate seminar, compared to those who have been doing karate for a long time. Even beginners could immediately see a path of growth and smiles of growth. I had never experienced anything like this before. Anyway, it was the first time I met Sensei in 3 years and his smile made me very happy. I am grateful for that.

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