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Berlin Report 2023

The Berlin Seminar was held by Ushiro Sensei over the weekend of June 17-18, 2023. A total of 40 participants attended from Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, and the United States.


One of the themes of this year's seminar was the importance of the inside. It has been about 8 months since the last seminar, during which time Ushiro Sensei has been teaching each branch by Zoom. Based on the videos of Kata and Bunkai submitted by branch chief and sub-branch chiefs, Ushiro Sensei told the Zoom participants that they were finally ready to begin the practice of the inside. At the beginning of the first day of the seminar, Ushiro Sensei told the participants that the inside is invisible and cannot be taught even with Zoom, and that it is more important to experience it through a single touch than anything else.


The actual class began with watching the video of striking brass knuckles, and since the brass knuckles could not be brought to Germany, Ushiro Sensei began with a verification in the form of wrapping the metal handle of the gymnasium where the event was held with tape and placing it on the participant’s belly. When Sensei demonstrated the world of hitting a metal handle and another participant's hand on that metal handle, which is unthinkable in common sense, many participants wanted to actually experience it, and the impact of "Doing it and showing it" and instruction, which cannot be compared to a video, was felt.



Using the metal handles instead of brass knuckles for demonstration




The first day was sword and Sanchin. The second day was Passai Kata and Bunkai after following the review of the first day.

Using a sword to create Shomen and Sanchin to create the center. Ushiro Sensei spent a lot of time making sure that each branch chiefs and their students felt the art and experienced it rather than just through words. This served to indicate that Ushiro karate is not an extension of the sports karate or full-contact karate that the participants have been learning in the past. He also emphasized the importance of "Knowing how much you can't do," and "Ask yourself, why can't I do it?” and that "Evolution and growth only begin by challenging yourself to find out why you can't do it.”


Both Saturday and Sunday began with sword practice
Both Saturday and Sunday began with sword practice
Practicing Sanching together
Practicing Sanching together
Ushiro Sensei checks each country group to adjust their techniques
Ushiro Sensei checks each country group to adjust their techniques

On the second day, in addition to the review of the inside, Ushiro Sensei talked about the importance of acquiring Riai (Essence, principle of the art) through Bunkai. Without proper Kata, energy cannot come from the inside. This is why Kata and solo practice are important, but Bunkai is there as a method of verification. Sensei pointed out in various ways that techniques work if one does not use force, does not do unnecessary movements, does not get caught both mentally and physically, and does not move in such a way that the opponent can read one's intentions. In addition to having the participants feel the difference by touching Sensei’s own body, he also made it possible for the chiefs of each branch and their students to experience "what the difference is" in a situation of one against many where there is no room for deception.


Sensei showed various methods so that the participants can feel the difference
Sensei showed various methods so that the participants can feel the difference
Italy’s sub-branch chief trying to lift Hungary’s participant
Italy’s sub-branch chief trying to lift Hungary’s participant
With Sensei’s energy the throw happens very naturally
With Sensei’s energy the throw happens very naturally

Ushiro Sensei also demonstrated the depth of the energy being transmitted to the participants in rows, straight ahead, side by side, and then side by side again. When the participants received the energy, they all smiled with an expression of "What?” as they were moved by the energy.



The participants cannot hide their surprise as they are moved where Sensei wants the energy to go




During the two days of this seminar, there were numerous comments of “I can’t believe it” besides the regular questions. One after another, they commented that they could not strike when Sensei seized the center, neutralized, as well as the importance of the grip. There were comments, "It looks fake, but it's unbelievable when you experience it.” Each time, Sensei emphasized that these things do not come through training, but rather naturally as they are developed through Kata. He also emphasized the importance of using Kata as they are in Kumite, and that mere fighting with each other is a mass of ego.



Seizing the center. The opponent cannot come in.



Ushiro Sensei demonstrating the importance of using Kata to enter to Poland sub-branch chief
Ushiro Sensei demonstrating the importance of using Kata to enter to Poland sub-branch chief
The opponet’s strike cannot reach the target
The opponet’s strike cannot reach the target

As the European seminar has continued over the years, some of the participants have clearly become softer and more prepared for the first steps in the depths of Ushiro karate. Ushiro Sensei gave detailed instruction on Kata throughout the two days of the seminar so that the participants, who only have the opportunity to receive instruction from him twice a year, could take home with them more study material for the next seminar. Many of the participants who were exposed to his techniques kept smiling, which is a characteristic of Ushiro karate.



Ushiro Sensei showing a deeper goal as he lets everyone feel his techniques
Ushiro Sensei showing a deeper goal as he lets everyone feel his techniques
Everyone has a broad smile once they feel the techniques
Everyone has a broad smile once they feel the techniques


At the dinner table, each branch and its students were seated at the same table so that they could listen to Ushiro Sensei talk, and it was clear that each student of Ushiro karate forms a large family under Ushiro Sensei. The Berlin seminar ended with a handshake and a promise to meet again in Rome in October.




 

■ Participant from Germany

I haven't fully processed it very well yet, but I was really amazed because I could feel there was a feeling of peace, a heart. When Sensei projected Ki, I could feel the harmony there and I felt my mind becoming very calm. The message I received was all about harmony and peace. It was like a release of tension.


 

■ Participant from Hungary


I enjoyed it very much. I have never met such a great Sensei in my life. It was very interesting to be able to feel what Sensei is doing. I used to do full-contact karate, but I switched to Ushiro Karate. Ushiro Karate is completely different from full-contact karate.


 

■ Participant from Hungary


I participated for the first time. I have been doing full-contact karate for 20 years. What is totally different between full-contact karate and Ushiro karate is that the former is in conflict and the latter is in harmony, and that is what made me want to learn. I learned a lot of new things. I was also happy to learn two new iai kata this time. I could feel the energy and the weight. It was amazing to feel Sensei's energy when Sub-Branch chief Ferenc was learning from Sensei.


 

■ Ferenc Fris, Hungary Sub-Branch chief


I met Ushiro Karate during the 2019 Hungary seminar and felt that there will be many changes in the future. What I understood is that bujutsu karate and sports karate cannot be mixed. I had been a board member of the previous sports karate organization until I met Ushiro karate, but after the Hungary seminar, I decided to leave my previous karate behind and study the bujutsu from Sensei and pursue the next step. Then covid came, and I was able to think about various new things since I no longer had a position in the organization. After covid was over, I resumed various activities and found that bujutsu training suited me better.

One thing that helped me in my training was having my son there. I was glad to have him train with me because his way of thinking, seeing, and moving was different from my own, and I learned a lot from him. Practicing with my students always gives me strength and inspiration. Recently, there was a full-contact event in Hungary, and people from K1, Aikido, and various other martial arts came to the event. I thought to myself, "They are also looking for something, but it is going in the wrong direction." I was convinced that doing Ushiro karate was the best way to grow.

When Ushiro Sensei is not here, it is very helpful for me to train with Michael and other people in Poland. However, the best time for me to practice is when Ushiro Sensei is here, so that is what I cherish the most.

Last year I was able to see Sensei for the first time in three years, and the many pointers and strict teachings he gave me at that time gave me power and the opportunity to want to continue to change and grow.


 

■ Participant from Poland

This is the 5th time I have attended the seminar. I used to do kickboxing and tai chi when I was younger. Today, after learning from Sensei I feel as if I have been given another stage. I am interested in Ki energy and have read many books about it, but today I am convinced that energy is there as a very noble force that opens my mind and body. My interest in energetics and the universe is exactly what Sensei is doing. The energy of the universe cannot be explained with the mind, it can only be understood by opening the heart, and the universe will let you do so naturally. The more I learn about Ushiro Karate, the more it teaches me that there are many things to discover.


 

■Participant from Poland


Since I started learning Ushiro Karate, I have gradually seen many changes in myself. One of them is that I have become softer, but I have also changed inside. I am now more in harmony with the people around me. I am very happy to be able to participate again and learn directly from Sensei.


 

■ Marcin Żyliński, Poland Sub-Branch chief

The guidance provided by Zoom was really valuable. Although I did not have the opportunity to learn in person from Sensei, his explanations were really valuable and appreciated. I am very happy to have Sensei's guidance again. Every time I meet with Sensei, I always learn many new things. As I learn the details, I realize how deep Ushiro Karate is. Sensei always surprises me as if I am meeting him for the first time. I am very grateful and appreciative that Sensei always gives us personal advice.


 

■ Participant from Germany


This is my first time experiencing martial arts. I am not a martial arts practitioner myself. My impression of martial arts and combat sports was that they were more rigid, but in the Kata I learned today, I learned that it is possible to be soft. I was surprised that my inner self was moved. In arm wrestling, I felt all over my body. It felt as if my stomach was being leaned over and from there it spread to my whole body. It was amazing to experience that in arm wrestling. The goal of the Ki I am learning may be the same, but the approach is different. The Ki I am learning is not systematic, it is more like gymnastics. Ushiro karate has Kata. I was new to Kata and didn't understand it, but I felt that we were all aiming for the same goal in the end.


 

■ Michael Koethe, Germany branch chief


I had switched from sport karate to bujutsu karate in 2014, when I first met Ushiro Sensei at the New York seminar. I had a lot of problems with my previous sensei and the organization, and since then I made the decision to stop doing full contact karate. My life has changed since I started studying with Ushiro Sensei and learning Ushiro karate. I have become calmer, more self-controlled and more confident than before. My employees have noticed these changes and wondered where they came from, but I think it is because I changed from sports karate to bujutsu karate. I want to apply what I am learning in Ushiro karate to all of my life. I want to pass it on as much as I can, not only to myself personally, but also to my students. I would be happy if all those around me could pass this change on through those close to them. This seminar allowed me to see the depth of it and not just the surface. I am very much looking forward to Sensei's guidance in Awaji.


 

■ Participant from Italy


I have been doing other karate for 24 years, but learning Ushiro karate has opened my eyes to a new world. My way of thinking has changed. I used to be more negative and emotional, but Ushiro Karate has made me more calm and changed the way I treat people. This karate is difficult to learn, but I strongly want to keep learning it. I am now 66 years old, and I want to continue to learn the true strength of karate.


 

■Emanuele Argentino, Italy Sub-Branch chief

Since I started learning Ushiro karate 10 years ago, I have seen many changes in my life. Learning Ushiro karate has changed my life, I don't clash with my opponents, and I see things differently in my daily life. I am more calm and balanced and my life has changed. I will make an effort to eliminate my bad habits before the next seminar. I would like to learn Ushiro karate and pass it on to my students and children. The most difficult thing is to teach this essence to young people, but for that to happen, I must learn more myself.

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