Foto: Yuri Egorov

Accordind to www.ashiharakai.org, International Association of Karate Ashiharakyokai (IAKA) is a separate and distinct structure started and developed by organizations and clubs, wishing to continue the way of late Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara. In a short space of time, IAKA has spread to many countries, being a high standard association with the intention to be kept harmonious and avoid political intrigues as much as possible. Therefore IAKA has a restrictive membership. To tell more about this organization, AK MASTERS blog interviewed 8th Dan black belt So-Shihan Yuri Egorov, master of sports in karate, the head of Federation of St. Petersburg (since 1995), member of the Technical Committee of the Russian Organization Ashihara-Karate (since 2001) and the Technical Director of the International Association Karate Ashiharakyokai, since 2004.

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AK MASTERS: – How does IAKA differ from other similar organizations and what are the basic principles?
YURI EGOROV: – The basic principle of IAKA is the precise and unclouded adherence to the method of teaching and practice of this karate style that was created precisely by Hideyuki Ashihara. Based on this database, we improve our skills in performing sabaki and the ability to use and coordinate the body in the performance of technical standards. And so, the relationship with the branches isn’t based on a financial pyramid, but on training and approximation to the above described issues.

– IAKA includes members from different countries. How difficult is homogenization given the cultural characteristics of each?
– Never faced in similar problems. First of all, for IAKA is important the study of karate, and not negative interference in national cultures.

– Most of IAKA members are from Russia. Why aren’t many affiliates worldwide and, specifically, in Eastern Europe?
– Initially, the association consisted of two countries: Russia and Sweden. In a consequence, countries from different parts of the world began to join, from Europe, Asia (including Japan) and even Australia. In the present moment, IAKA includes 12 countries. Yes, it isn’t much, but not so little. We don’t care about advertising. People find us. And, apparently, our conditions are more suitable for them in studying karate as Master Hideyuki did. Doors are open to all. But if you are with us, please follow the training as the Master did.

– How IAKA global strategy is made and what is the influence of worldwide club presidents in decisions?
– There is no global start-up. First of all, follow the teachings of Hideyuki Ashihara. And the task of the technical committee is to help in this. Videos, printed products and, of course, summer camps. We don’t have “feudal Japan”, no “emperor”, there are no “servants”, but we have respect for each other. And this is the basis of relations with representatives of the member countries of the association.

– What is IAKA’s global development strategy? How do you see the organization in the coming years?
– As I said earlier, in IAKA there is no such strategy. Who wants to join and learn karate left by the Master without unintended changes is welcomed. Karate for us is primarily a Budo, not a sport. Of course, the sporting component is present, but it isn’t the main one. We certainly hope that in the future there will be more adherents of our views on the study and practice of Ashihara-Karate. Well, as I see the development of association in the near future, I hope more than in comparison with what is at the moment. And above all, a family united by one goal: Ashihara-Karate.

– What is the relationship between IAKA and the Japan NIKO organization?
– There isn’t any relationship. Some of us, including myself, were members of this organization, but we left it. IAKA is a separate and independent organization. We have a diffrent kanji and logo.

– What do you know about Romania and Ashihara-Karate in Romania? Have you ever had any contacts with Romanian practitioners / senseis?
– As a person who lived 19 years in the USSR, I well remember everything that we were taught in school at the lessons of history. And, of course, they didn’t pass Romania. Since the beginning of Romania’s formation in Europe, the Middle Ages and so on. In the 1990s I spent a couple of times with sensei Nicolae Dascălu and somehow in the camp in Denmark with a pair of black belts, but I don’t remember their names. Nowadays, due to Facebook, there are a couple of contacts. I remember that during the championships organized by Shihan Jens, the Romanian team had good results several times. I hope to see the representation of IAKA in Romania in the future.

– Finally, a few words for our Ashihara-Karate public here in Romania.
– You are doing a great job. I wish you more interesting innovations and interviews with interesting personalities of Ashihara-Karate.