It's what makes us different

'All karatekas should practice at least for 20 years before making their mind up whether to continue or not. Only then all the hard work is starting to bear fruit. Then you will improve quicker and the training gets easier': Sensei Taiji Kase

When one reaches this feeling, one is not willing to loose it." Sensei Taiji Kase was born in 1929. His father was a famous judo instructor, so it was no wonder that Kase started judo very early in his life. He gained also 2nd Dan grade at this art. When sensei Kase was 14 years old, he saw a karate demonstration for the first time. After that nothing could stop him from starting karate training. Sensei Kase was a student of master Gichin Funakoshi as well as of his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi, who had a great influence on sensei Kase.The Second World War changed the life of everyone in Japan at that time. Sensei Kase lived also through that time, and he was one of the pioneers to revive the position of the karate in Japan after the war. People trained extremely hard. Many gave the training up, but those who pulled through are a part of the karate history.

Then it was time to start to spread karate to the rest of the world, also to Europe. Sensei Kase left Japan in 1964. At that time he was already an established and well-respected instructor of the Japan Karate Association. After a short period spent in Holland and Belgium he settled down to Paris where he still lives. Because of his exceptional talent and experience the French Karate Federation asked him to teach. Fairly soon, however, sensei Kase left his post in order to continue his own way of teaching Shotokan karate, free from any sport-political liabilities.

This term means focusing mental and physical power. 'More kime' is one of the favourite sayings of Sensei Kase. Kime is a combination of the basics of karate: strong stance, use of hara (the centre of a body), effective movement patterns, relaxation, strength, timing and strong will. If you want to achieve a good kime, you have to give everything that you have, both in your body and mind. It takes several years to find and to develop the inner energy that you need in order to master your kime.

This stance was created by Yoshitaka Funakoshi and it is typical for Kase style even though it is practically unknown in other styles of karate. Yoshitaka was well known of practical and effective techniques. In Fudo-dachi he combines his fathers favourite stance kiba-dachi (horse stance) and zenkutsu-dachi (front stance). In Kase style it replaces the zenkutsu-dachi, which is commonly used in other styles.

The term 'fudo' means immovable, steady and firm. It is a low stance that gives you a good opportunity to move into almost any direction. In fudo-dachi, the movement of the hip is quite little and the use of the back leg differs greatly from zenkutsu-dachi. Instead of large hip movements one should pay more attention to the use of the hara. 

 O'waza, Chu waza, Ko waza
O'waza means large and ko waza means small or minor technique. Chu waza is half in between those two. Beginners start with large movements because they need to develop their muscles and to learn the perfect course of a technique. One can naturally achieve maximum speed and power with a large movement. Sensei Kase describes this phase of practising as the primary school, and continues that it is a very important stage of development that should be studied carefully and repeated regular trough out every karate career. However, there is no sense in staying at the primary level forever. Sensei Kase said 'It is better to wander 10 km up a hill than 10 km on a flat course. When you go upwards, you'll see more and further after every step you make.'

 When a students body and energy production have already improved to a good level it is not always necessary to use the most extensive range of movement to achieve the maximum impact. You can achieve the same impact with ko waza. The aim of this type of training is to produce the same impact with every technique regardless of where the movement starts from and where it ends.

This term means posture or attitude. In the beginning the trainee learns a technique a certain way, for example there are the exact starting and ending points. When carrying out a strike or punch with one hand the other hand is usually pulled tight to the side. This is about learning how to use the body effectively. After a few years of training these movements become automatic.

The Kase style seeks intentionally to break this kind of learned patterns after the person has been practising already for many years. One should learn to perform a technique from several different starting points, to use far of near reaching movements and to manage to finish the movement by bringing a limb fully controlled into any position desired. The aim is to train the limbs to move fully independent from each other; yet supporting each other. Different postures or kamaes can be used as a trick, a bluff or a shield. They help you to limit and control the opponent's movements and to improve your own techniques.

Seite and Hente
Traditionally Shotokan karate has been a straightforward style for large-sized karatekas. Possible slowness has been compensated by strength. Seite has been the typical way of performing a technique. What it means, in short, is one limb one move. For example, you block with one hand and counter attack with another.

Hente means performing a sequence of movements without changing the hand. The defending hand becomes also the attacking hand and possibly continues to perform techniques many times in a row. This is often a question of gaining time and space for the final blow. Sensei Kase has often said that these are the kind of things one should pick up and learn from different katas.

Open hand techniques
One of the easiest ways to recognise the style is to have a look at the open hand techniques. Shuto uchi and haito uchi strikes derive from sword (katana) techniques. Hands are used to mimic a sword or it can be alternatively imagined that the hands are holding a big and heavy sword. The range of movements in shuto uchi and haito uchi are large and extensive. Although Sensei Kase is well known of his kicks, especially the ushiro geri and kaiten geri he created, it can be said without exaggerating that there is nobody performing open hand techniques like him.

Ura and Go forms
An important principle of the style is that the trainee should master katas both the normal and the reverse (ura) way. Some katas have also a go-version of them. It is a form where the kata is performed by moving only backwards.

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