DAVID COOK: ALWAYS QUESTION THE LOGIC OF WHAT YOU ARE BEING TAUGHT AND ENJOY YOUR TRAINING

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Foto: David C. Cook

The Tsu Shin Gen International Budo Association (TSG) is a non-political martial art association in which members from various countries can exchange ideas and experience for the benefit of all. The organization is teaching five systems: TSG-Combat Karate, TSG-Mix Fight, TSG-Kyokushin Karate, TSG-Ashihara International Karate and TSG-Grappling. Although being a small organization, TSG has branches in Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, India and Chile. To tell more about this association, AK MASTERS blog interviewed Soke David C. Cook, 10th Dan. He has over 40 years experience of teaching Kyokushin Karate, Ashihara-Karate, Ashihara International Karate and, more recently, his own TSG-Combat Karate and TSG-Mix Fight styles. During this time, he has studied in Japan and other countries under various karate and grappling masters. He also spent some time studying the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu at the Chinese Legation, in London, in the early 1970.

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AK MASTERS: – What are the differences between TSG organization and others similar and what are its basic principles?
DAVID COOK: – Firstly, I would like to highlight that TSG is totally different from the other Ashihara-Karate systems. In some countries, clubs had established their profile around the name Ashihara before joining TSG, so they kept the name, but adopted our way of teaching. Over the years, we have progressed a lot in the way we train; we always evaluate what works best for our students in order to make them a much better allround fighters. If something doesn’t work, we will take it out of the syllabus and replace it with something else. This way the style will evolve continiously and therefore the students will have a better chance of learning a very efficient style of martial arts. I don’t believe in just punching and kicking in the air, so all Kihon (basics) are taught and practiced with an Uke (partner) and on Focus Pads or Air Shields. All Kata have been designed to be practiced exclusively with an Uke. Depending on the system, the syllabus contains punches, kicks, blocks, throws, takedowns, control positions, joint locks and chokes. The amount of knowledge and variety of techniques we offer to our students is a large one. We support continuously our instructors and Country Represenatives and this can be seen quite easily by looking at our self-study materials that we have, like the educational DVDs and books for each style that we teach.

– The TSG organization includes members from different countries. How difficult is homogenization taking into account the specific cultural characteristics of each?
– We have managed to keep the traditional Budo values where respect plays a big role in our organization. We are a very open minded group, always looking to progress forward and because of that our instructors have the freedom to add any of their own individual knowledge they have to the basic grade requirements.

– How is the TSG global strategy made? How do you see the organization in the years to come?
– There is no specific strategy! We just have an open door policy where people whom are interested in joining us and our way of training are welcome. We have a strong base of experienced instructors whom have been with us for many years and their dedication and knowledge of martial arts play a big role in attracting members.

– How would you characterize the Ashihara-Karate movement worldwide?
– I haven’t had any contact with the various Ashihara-Karate organizations for a very long time, so I don’t have any comment on this question.

– What do you know about the Ashihara-Karate in Romania and what interactions did you have with local practitioners / coaches?
– Apart for Mircea Cârloganu, whom used to be a Branch Chief for Ashihara-Karate at one point in his martial arts career and became a member of our organization a while ago, we have no connections with anyone else from Romania.

– Finally, a few words for our Ashihara-Karate public.
– Always question the logic of what you are being taught and enjoy your training, because there is a physical limit to the amount of time you will be able to train most martial arts. I hope your training gives you happy memories and a stronger character.