J.de’C – The Karate you teach at the KDS is constantly evolving. Does this reflect your personal philosophy of how a martial art should be?
M.H. – My Karate is constantly evolving because there is always something to learn and as I mentioned earlier - Karate must improve! I give people methods so that this is achievable but I cannot give technique, this is down to the individual. The method may be how to defend which sometimes works and sometimes not, but the technique is the individuals and others may recognise the fact that the person has changed or something different of their practise; strong or not that is another question.
J.de’C – Sensei, how much emphasis do you place on Kata in the KDS.
M.H. – Kata is important, as it is good for developing strong muscle training and flexible movement. It is important to practise kata slowly, then gradually build up speed. This is based on personal experience, as, when I was younger we had no interest in kata, only kumite. But, I criticise O’Sensei for this, as his idea of Karate was like gymnastics not a martial art. So, when we asked questions he would answer on the spot, just coming up with his own ideas; so students started making mistakes and kata was unreliable for real kumite. As a result, we lost interest in the value of kata.
If we had practised kata correctly as I have previously described, then, if a real situation occurs one can immediately use it!
J.de’C – Recently, you took a group of your KDS students to Japan, to display at a high profile and internationally attended event at the Shotokan dojo. What was the reaction to this display in Japan?
M.H. – (Master Harada immediately broke into a broad smile) Everybody was surprised!!! They said it was unique and I have confidence in that, as I do believe I am a unique person because of my practises with Egami. But it was important that not only I could show but also my people could. They did that in Tokyo and I do believe my group, is the best Shotokai group in the world.
J.de’C – Sensei, do you ever have any other styles attending your courses?
M.H.- Yes they come along and of course, there are differences, but the important thing is to accept that and if they can accept an attack and can manage, there is no need for change. For example, there may be a difference in a defence such as age uke, from the way we practise and someone from another style training with us. But, if they can accept a jodan attack from one of my students and can successfully block, then there is no need to change what they are doing. It is like a car, is the model of the car more important or the real running performance the important factor? But most of Karate’s people are more concerned with what style they do (relating to the model of the car as opposed to the performance of it), this is absolutely nonsense!
J.de’C – Hypothetically speaking, if a Shotokan group approached you to do a course would you consider it?
M.H. – Oh yes, yes, why not! If my schedule was not too busy then it may be possible. But an important thing is that, they would have to say what they wanted to practise with me. If this is clear, then I can prepare a programme and practise with them.
Q. by John Cheetham - In Shotokan the physical aspect of 'kime' is basically total muscular contraction of the whole body, for one split second of time, upon impact, to deliver 'shock' through the target. We hear that in Shotokai there is no
muscular 'contraction' but 'relaxation'. How would you describe the Shotokai difference in physical terms?
M.H. - You mention that it is said there is no muscular contraction in Shotokai, only relaxation, but this is incorrect. We have contraction and expansion of the muscles but the joints must be relaxed! This relaxation of the joints allows free movement at the moment when the greatest effort is exerted by the muscles. As a result, a smooth, continuous but much more explosive action can be achieved from those muscles.
As for Kime itself, this is very difficult to explain. The first time I heard the word Kime was in the first year I joined Waseda University. We had to do 5 attacks – Gohon Kumite; on the 5th attack we had to defend and counter attack. The word “Kime -te” was repeated, it meant to finish or conclude on the 5th attack.
After returning from my first Summer School I started my second term at university. At this time I heard the word “kime” again. Mr. Okuyama used the word Kime with us, but his idea was completely different to the previous explanation I had heard. Okuyama’s idea of Kime was more about “feeling”, but at this time we could not understand what he meant.
Then, in 1949 the JKA Kyokai was created and all the universities began to grade together on a twice-yearly basis. The word “Kime” was used more and more, but each time, its interpretation varied depending on who was doing the examining that day. There was far too much ideology around the word “Kime”.
Later, when I began to practise with Egami, I asked him about Kime. Egami said that "we cannot see it as it is invisible to the eye, therefore it is all based on ideology". To really know Kime one must hit another. I tried to hit Egami using the type of Kime I had previously been taught, but as I touched him I fell over. So, I tried again totally abandoning the concept of concept of Kime I had been given; this time it was completely different! So, I believe Kime is completely nonsense, it is ideology and not realistic!