The following excerpts are from an interview with Shuji Tasaki, who occasionally supervised special seminars at the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo, as did fellow Gojukai master Motomasa Mayama, also mentioned in the full interview, and who personally instructed me on many occasions.
Shuji Tasaki was born in 1933 and was well known as one of Gogen Yamaguchi's students back in the late 1950s, winning the very first All Japan Karatedo Gojukai Championship in 1963, when it was a much more brutal style of competition than today. He left Gogen Yamaguchi's organization in the early 1970s to form his own Seiwakai. Currently, he is Hanshi of Gojuryu Karatedo Seiwakai and one of the most senior members of the JKF Gojukai.
What was training like in those days?
Compared with now, it was hell. Lessons now are now more scientific. The first 8 - 10 months were of building the basics intensively and physical strength to be able to use the techniques as a good foundation. No karate techniques were taught in the first 10 months.
You won the first Goju Kai tournament. What are your views of tournaments then and now, and how do you feel about the change?
If trained in Goju Ryu dojo kumite you can continue karate after reaching middle age. Point kumite fighting would not result in this. If you lose your speed you lose your karate. By application, Goju dojo kumite gives you the edge, as it is not dependent on your youth. In karate if you step back you lose everything. Side stepping is good, younger have speed, older are slower. Therefore you must step in to receive. If you train only in modern karate, once you are passed 30 years your karate is over.
What place do you see Karate having in the modern world?
Primarily, spiritual and mental strength. The real value today is that, without karate, in this world of trifling things and conflicting values, it is hard to survive. It takes endurance to deal with things with a definite purpose and target.