The ten (10) most frequently asked questions about ASAI: よく尋ねられる１０の質問と回答
1. What is the difference between standard Shotokan and Asai-ryu Shotokan?
Asai karate is based heavily on Funakoshi/Nakayama Shotokan karate or JKA Shotokan. What is different is that our style has the added techniques of Master Tetsuhiko Asai. JKA karate is typically a long distance fighting method and it ignores or de-emphasizes the techniques from a short distance fighting method.
Asai karate supplements that short fall with the techniques from White Crane Kung fu which Master Asai trained in while he lived in Taiwan. Most of those kung fu techniques are not new to JKA karate, they are simply not taught much. Thus, they may seem foreign to you. Such techniques involving the elbow and knee, short stances such as neko ashi and sanchin, open hand techniques, etc.
Asai karate differs slightly in kumite concepts such as not adopting sanbon and gohon kumite. Our kumite concept is to encourage a defender to step forward and not to step back. Instead of the linear moves we prefer the circular and natural movements and techniques. We also teach how to generate power from the core muscles while the exterior muscles remain relaxed.
Even though some of the concepts and methods are different, the fundamental techniques are the same. For most of the shotokan practitioners the transition or getting adjusted to Asai ryu karate will be easy and enjoyable, once those differences are understood.
2. When the Dojo becomes a member, do all the students have to register for individual membership?
No they are not required though it is recommended. It is totally up to the students to decide if they wish to affiliate themselves with ASAI. The only time we require their membership is when a student takes an ASAI dan examination or applies for a dan diploma.
3. Do we have to learn Junro kata?
Junro kata are a part of the ASAI exam syllabus so the five Junro kata will be required only if a student wishes to take an ASAI kyu or dan exam. These kata are not mandatory if a student is not interested in an ASAI exam.
You may wonder why these kata are included in addition to 26 JKA kata. Junro are designed for the students who are five kyu and above. You will realize that these kata supplement the Heian kata. Junro has many techniques that Heian have only a few of, or not at all, such as neko ashi dachi, jodan barai, yoko kekomi, mawashi enpi uchi, tenshin, nagashi zuki, morote zuki to name a few.
We do not expect the new members and non Asai style practitioners to know these kata nor learn them right away. We allow a grace period of two years or even longer for a new member dojo. We expect, during that time, the practitioners who are five kyu and above will be able to learn these kata.
4. How do we learn Asai karate?
There are only two effective ways to learn Asai karate. One is to participate in a class or a seminar taught by an ASAI instructor. This is the best way to learn the Asai techniques and kata in person. It is almost impossible to learn from the written materials or even through video tapes. The other method is to take a program from Online Dojo taught by Sensei Yokota. It is not as good as an in person training during a seminar but it is a viable alternative. Unfortunately, he is not taking any more Online Dojo students at this time. What has to happen is that the ASAI member instructors will have to learn the Asai karate só that they can teach their students instead of depending on Sensei Yokota. It will take some time but Sensei Yokota believes in a few years there will be multiple instructors around the world who can teach Asai karate.
ASAI considers tournaments as one of the necessities in running a dojo or an organization. On the other hand, during the last two years we have not hosted nor endorsed any tournaments. Why? This is because karate tournaments have become too sports like event instead of staying as a budo competition. There are two specifics we are very much concerned about. One is a technical one. We believe in ippon shobu but the trend of the tournaments is going toward sanbon shobu. In budo the concept is, when you receive a decisive attack you are dead and you will not have a second chance. The second one is not a technical matter but we consider it more serious. We see the serious decline of the tournament etiquette such as bowing, attire, etc. among, not only the competitors but also the coaches. We also witness the improper behavior and actions by the spectators. At this time, there is no rules and regulations to control them.
So, what are we going to do about this? ASAI has just re-organized its Shihankai, Technical Board, was formed recently. One of the projects is to establish tournament rules and regulations. If a tournament is held under the new rules and regulations then ASAI will be able to endorse such a tournament. I hope we will have the official document before the end of 2015. That document will be distributed to all the country representatives as well as the dojo members who wish to receive a copy.
In short, no the instructors are not required to have an examiner’s license to give the kyu ranks to their students. They are free to give the kyu examinations and grant the appropriate kyu ranks and the certificates. The certificates must not say anything about ASAI and must not have our logo. The instructors we authorize to give the kyu examination must have at least sandan ranks (either from ASAI or from other legitimate organizations). We make an exception to the instructors who are ranked at only Nidan with two conditions. They must have a minimum of three years since they received the Nidan rank. Another condition is that those Nidan instructors promise that they will take a dan examination from ASAI to become Sandan within one year from the time they affiliate with ASAI.
If you wish to have an ASAI kyu certificate, we have our official certificate with our logo printed. This certificate can be licensed to a member dojo (for an annual license fee). If you are interested in licensing the certificate, contact ASAI to get the detailed information.
7. How do we get a dan rank from ASAI? Does ASAI recognize the diplomas from other organizations?
One is, of course, to take a dan examination from one of the ASAI examiners.
The other is to receive a lateral dan recognition. This means that ASAI respects and recognizes the diplomas from JKA and its lineage organizations. They include JKS (Kagawa), ISKF (Okazaki), SKIF (Kanazawa), JSKA (Abe), Karate no michi, WSKF (Yahara), etc. If you have earned a shodan diploma from, say, JKA, you do not need to take another exam to receive an ASAI shodan diploma. All you have to do is apply for a dan recognition and you will receive an ASAI shodan diploma. If you have trained enough time after receiving a diploma from another organization, you may take a dan exam for the next level. Contact ASAI for the requirements (note: you must be an ASAI member before you can ask for the examination details.)
Dan recognition is a very important subject for ASAI as we pride ourselves as a holder of high quality shotokan karate. We do not wish to compromise our level or “water down” the quality. At this time, we do not recognize a diploma that is issued by a local or an international organization that is not related to JKA or not having a Japanese chief instructor with JKA experience. We make some exceptions for some organizations. If you are not sure if your diploma would qualify, the best way is to send us a copy of your diploma for an evaluation. (Please note that you must be an ASAI member before you can send any diploma for an evaluation.)
8. Please explain about the ASAI Examiner license that will allow you to give a dan diploma.
When the instructors receive their dan diploma of Sandan and above, they can apply for an examiner‘s license. An examiner‘s license authorizes the instructor to conduct a dan exam and decide on the exam results. There are four classes from A to D. For an example, a “D” class license requires a minimum dan rank of Sandan and it allows an instructor to examine the first kyu students to Shodan. An “A” class license will allow an examiner to grade up to Yondan. For the higher ranks above Yondan, a multiple number of examiners is required or it may be decided by the Shihankai, ASAI Technical Board.
9.What is KarateCoaching?
KarateCoaching is an internet karate teaching site (www.karatecoaching.com). Sensei Yokota is the major contributor at KarateCoaching and they have many video teachings performed by him including Junro kata. He has no business or financial relationship with them. He considers that this video site is the best internet karate teaching tool so he works with them and recommends this site. When one becomes a member of ASAI, he or she will receive a one month free subscription as one of the benefits.
KarateCoaching is the best internet tool for the one way video. However, for a better teaching method it will require an interactive feature. Sensei Yokota started Online Dojo program three years ago using the internet conference tool, Skype. He provides a one on one private lesson to the domestic and the overseas practitioners who want to learn directly from Yokota Sensei. As of July 1, 2015 he is not taking any more students as his schedule is too busy to take any more private students. When and if one of the students quits or graduates there will be an announcement that there is an opening.
10. What about the instructor training privilege?
This is a program to assist the member instructors to improve their teaching ability. Teaching a karate class requires more than knowing how to execute the techniques though that is also mandatory. In addition to that skill, an instructor must have a knowledge of how to transfer his skills to his students. They need to know how to plan and conduct a proper class for the students. In addition, they need to learn the effective teaching method and how to schedule the class contents properly (exercise, kihon, kumite, kata, etc) and to allocate the appropriate amount of time. There are a lot more teaching skills one needs to learn and it does not come from just teaching a lot. Sensei Yokota has done the research extensively of athletic coaching and instruction. He now has a reputation of being one of the most effective instructors in the entire Shotokan world.
Here is how the teaching of instructors is conducted. When Sensei Yokota visits a member for a seminar, an extra night will be planned for this instructor to run a class. Sensei Yokota observes the class and evaluates the instruction that was given. Then, he will make the comprehensive evaluation of the class and provide the analysis and recommendation of changes and modification of teaching method or approach. This service is provided free of charge to the member instructors if they host a seminar. If an instructor requests this separately without hosting a seminar, it can be done using Skype. There will be a fee associated with the observation, analysis and recommendation. If anyone is interested they should communicate with Sensei Yokota directly to get more details and some specific information.
If you have more questions and require further information, you can read the “Shihan Yokota Interview” at this blog site. You can also contact the country representative of your country or ASAI headquarters (www.asaikarate.com).
There are more than a dozen Facebook ASAI pages that are managed by the country representatives. Accessing one of them is probably the easiest way to get in touch with ASAI.