For a few years I was a Branch Chief for Seidokaikan Karate. This means I was an instructor running a official school connected to the headquarters in Osaka, Japan. It was a very interesting ride being a part of this organization but those stories are for another day. Today, I want to talk about the hook that got me interested in joining to begin with. I was directly recruited by Arne Soldwedel, the International Director. He was a man I knew of and respected for being a ferocious competitor who I would come to find out also holds an extremely advanced understanding of Karate and fighting in general.
Seidokaikan Karate was started by a man named Ishii. He was one of the top instructors under a man named Ashihara. Ashihara was one of the top men in Kyokushin Karate in Japan. Kyokushin is a hard style of Karate that created what we call Knockdown Karate. That is a bare knuckle, bare shin, full contact, KO Karate system.
Ashihara eventually left Kyokushin to form Ashihara Karate. Ishii left before this to form his own organization, Seidokaikan. As in all things, there was a bit of politics that lead to all the splinter organizations. Even with the splinters, Kyokushin is the largest and most funded organization.
Ishii recognized that his organization had to make some big waves to maintain itself if in a market where Kyokushin and its splinters were entrenched. You can’t market your way to success against Kyokushin, known as the world’s strongest Karate. The best bare knuckle fighters were Kyokushin and they had 100’s school in Japan alone. To make that wave, Ishii knew he had to build a team that took on all comers and won in a way that nobody could dispute. Winning a decision was not going to happen. Seido fighters needed knockouts, not advertising.
Seidokaikan fighters were invaders, vikings, pirates, coming in and stealing victories by taking out their opponents. Ishii trained his people to take out everyone that stood in their way. This is the attitude that made me want to join because it was the same attitude I had here in America. I was fighting in places where I was always the outsider. As an unaffiliated school, we only fought people on their home turf.
Ishii’s team took on all comers and made major waves by winning numerous events which lead to their own event where they have dominated year in and year out. Seidokaikan fighters established themselves as knockout artists and entrenched the organization in Japan as one of the top organizations to train in.
To this day, I always approach everything as if we are outsiders. I assume everything rigged against us. I am not paranoid, I am accepting that when we leave things to chance, there are no guarantees what the result will be. We do not have the luxury of coasting, we have to kill (figuratively), to ensure victory.
Seidokaikan designed everything to set up a knockout in a few moves. That is what I intend with everything I do. All roads lead to a decisive finish. It doesn’t matter if we are striking, grappling, doing it all in MMA… we throw to set up the kill shot. I know that I am always 3 to 4 moves from a finish if I stick to the game plan and I want all my athletes to have this confidence as well. We don’t want to grind ot victories and hope for decisions, we want to break our opponents down and set them up for a knockout or submission. This is our way that we must never lose sight of.
In time, this attitude permeates everything you do. You start to see where you are wasting effort and you refine it to get everything done more effectively and more efficiently. We do not train to simply win fights, we train so that we are better people, more efficient and effective in order to achieve the best results in all things. You may not get this right away, but in time, the crossover between fighting and life happens and the battles of our youth make sense in ways we may not have imagined possible.
Combat sports is not something you can play. A playful attitude can get you maimed. You should enjoy what you do but never forget the deadly seriousness of the tasks at hand. When done correctly, it is safe. When done casually, bad things happen. Train to be your best and only compete if you are prepared to defend yourself against another who wants to win at all costs and to attack with the same intent. Everyone can train in Combat Sports, but only those prepared for the reality of competition should compete.
Don’t be scared, be prepared. Train daily to be your best and it will all work itself out over time.