Interview with Sensei Katsuya Yamashiro

Conducted by: David Lambert – IOGKF International Editor

Yamashiro Sensei, IOGKF International Chairman, is rapidly becoming one of the World’s most popular senior instructors. But not a great deal is publically known about this amazing instructor who is a delightful, yet very quiet and reserved man. Yamashiro Sensei sat down with our International editor for the following interview...

When did you begin Karate training? Who was your first instructor?

I started Karate at the age of 16, while I was in high school. The name of the instructor escapes me at the moment, but I practiced Uechi Ryu at this club for 3 years.

Why did you begin Karate training?

There isn't a specific reason for me starting Karate. I was one of those who didn't do Karate as a child in Okinawa. But I always imitated the Karate movements from about 8 years old and played around with it a bit. So practicing Karate just happened naturally.

What was training like when you began?

When I turned 18 years old, I started training in Goju ryu. I used to watch lessons with Yasukazu Miyagi Sensei, but he didn't teach Goju-ryu to me. Shuichi Aragaki Sensei usually taught me from the time I was a white belt with one to one sessions every day. I practiced it mainly under Aragaki Sensei.

When did you do your Shodan grading?

I was 19 years old when I passed my Shodan test.

Please tell us about your training history.

Basically, in 1975 (age 16) I practiced Uechi ryu for three years in high school. In 1978 (age 19) I was introduced to the Kamihara Dojo. Finally in 1987 (age 28) I was introduced to Higaonna Dojo.

What was training like 30 years ago, compared to today’s training?

It has changed. As for repetition before, we’d only practice one technique many times for maybe two hours. For basics we only ever practiced it in sets of 1,000. 1,000 times, again and again under Higaonna Sensei. Terauchi Sensei’s training was also very hard work and when practicing Go techniques he was severe. It was hard training, but I still continued practicing in this manner. It was very mentally challenging, and it was at the times very severe physically.

Please tell us about your successful tournament career.

1993 – 1st place - all Okinawa full-contact karate lightweight championships

1995 – 2nd place - all Okinawa full-contact lightweight championships

 1998 – 2nd place - all Okinawa full-contact  lightweight championships

1998 IOGKF world Championships

2003 – 1st place - all Okinawa full-contact Karate middleweight championships

2004 – 2nd place - all Okinawa full-contact karate championships

 2007 – 1st place - all Okinawa full-contact Karate lightweight championships

2008 – 1st place – all Okinawa full-contact Karate lightweight championships

What is the highlight of your Karate career?

Highlights in Karate are the same as breathing. "Goju-ryu is coming and going," This is the same for my Karate, the highlights are always there.

When did you first meet Higaonna Morio Sensei? What are some of your greatest moments with Higaonna Sensei?

I met my teacher at the age of 19. I was surprised with the severity of Higaonna Sensei’s teaching at the time.

Higaonna Sensei’s Karate for me is the history of Okinawa Goju-ryu. There are techniques and ideas in all of his teaching. I want to take care of this and protect it.

You have travelled the world with Karate. How many countries have you travelled to?

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Canada, China, Russia, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, U.S.A., Poland and Denmark.