Training with Terauchi Sensei
By By: Alexander Egeberg - IOGKF Denmark
IOGKF Denmark member, Alexander Egeberg writes about his experiences of training with Terauchi Kazuo Sensei in Kiyose, Tokyo, Japan. This is an important article for anyone considering training with Terauchi Sensei and clears a lot of the air about this legendary Karate Master’s training methods…
I’ve written the following, in the hope that more people will do as I did.
In the summer of 2009, I travelled to Japan. This wasn’t my first trip to “the Pokemon islands”; my first time in Japan was in 2004 for the IOGKF World Budosai, the second time was in 2008 (once again for the Budosai) and the third time was for the WKF World Championships (also 2008).
This time however, was a very different experience for me.
The previous times I’ve been to Japan, I’ve travelled as part of a larger group (either as part of the Danish IOGKF delegation with about 100 other people, or with the National team for a competition), but this time I didn’t travel with a big group.
I’d always thought of Sensei Terauchi as a very unique character in the world of Karate. His methods, sense of humour, and way of teaching had always (at least in my opinion) been very different from the Danish mentality.
You’ve probably heard some of the old “horror-stories” about Sensei Terauchi’s training, at least I had – so it was a strange mixture of excitement and nervousness that I felt on my way to the first morning session at the Kiyose Dojo in Tokyo.
Sensei’s dojo was quite small, and the classes weren’t exactly crowded. The number of people was ranging from 7 students to being only Sensei and me.
The training was scheduled to be 2 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the evening. Sometimes the sessions were a bit longer, depending on when Sensei felt that my techniques were acceptable (or weren’t complete failures).
The training was very hard, and the heat and humidity didn’t make it feel any easier! At times, it was only Sensei and I in the dojo - so there was no place to “hide”. The primary focus of the training during my stay in Tokyo was Heishugata (mostly Sanchin). I’d estimate that at least 2.5 - 3 hours a day was spent training in Sanchin. The rest of the time was spent with Junbi Undo, Kakie, Ude Tanren, Kumite and Kata.
When coming across certain techniques, Sensei would stop and tell stories about “the old days”, or i.e. the differences in performing Sanchin in Goju Ryu vs. Uechi Ryu. Sensei is a fascinating person, with a love for Goju Ryu only surpassed by his love for the words “Mo ichi do”.
As I mentioned earlier on, I had heard a lot of the “horror-stories” about Sensei’s training. My only previous experiences with him was from Gasshuku’s, Miyagi Chojun Festivals, and Budosais; but training alone with Sensei helped to paint a more diverse image of what I believe to be one of the best instructors, not only within the IOGKF, but within all of Karate. In order to dispel the myth about the “mean Sensei Terauchi”, I will say this: Training with Sensei was definitely a challenge. Sensei is very tough, and very strict – but he is not mean. He’ll push you to your limits, but when you leave the dojo, there is not a doubt in your mind, that his reasons aren’t to break you down, but to build you up – both physically and mentally.
I started out by saying that my reason for writing this article is to have more people do what I did. If you have the time and the money, I can highly recommend taking a trip to Tokyo to train with Sensei Terauchi – whether it’s for a week or for a month; I promise that you won’t regret it.
- I have already started saving up for next summer, where I plan on going back again to train for a month with Sensei.