Ibuki Tawara can't remember a time before he was in the dojo. This is what he told me when I asked him when he started Karate when we were driving back from a BBQ with YS- oh about a year or so ago. Of course, he wasn't (as far as I know) born in the dojo physically, but metaphorically you could say that he was born into Karate, that it's in the blood, with both his uncle (Tawara Shihan) and his father (Tawara Sensei) both important mainstays of the KWF in Shinshu and Nagano.
And you'll never meet a nicer person. Ibuki Tawara is always the gentleman, has a mischievoussense of humor, is bright and intelligent and modest. It's always interesting to see him when his blood's up though because he loves combat but always has perfect control. If Bruce Springsteen was Born to Run, then Ibuki Tawara was born to Karate. What better could you ask for, really?
Ibuki Tawara has also come through a very character building experience- in his third year at university, some idiot grabbed and fell on his leg, badly damaging Ibuki's knee. Getting him back in the dojo was a long and at times very painful experience involving keyhole surgery and bolts. (I have two in my neck).
I guess only 20 years ago it would have been a career-ending injury. You could tell that being able to move and not being able to train were much, much worse for him- you could see how well he was coping with frustration that he could not practice and compete at what should have been the crowning years of his student Karate era.
Luckily he was able to start training at nearly full power about three weeks before the World Cup so he was able to get some badly needed practice in!
Well, Ibuki Tawara joins Masamichi Otsuka as our second Kenshusei (trainee instructor) and his induction ceremony to the KWF was held on Saturday. Unfortunately I couldn't train; I was finally diagnosed as having pleurisy which may explain my sluggishness and exhaustion for the last month and why I was coughing up blood in Norway (I assumed I had taken a punch I hadn't seen at all) so I just went along to watch and record.
The ceremony was simple: Tanaka Rijicho made a speech and then YS told him what he was up for. He said that for the next two years his most important duty was to keep cheerful and smiling whether he'd had no sleep for days, or was covered in blood. YS said "it is the manner in which you confront and overcome the darkest and hardest moments that will make you grow." So it was more than saying "never give up," rather that's simply understood. It is the manner in which you conduct yourself in front of others, setting yourself as an example, that makes you a leader and makes you command respect. This element of "heijoshin," control, both in karate technique and spirit, is highly prized by YS.
This was followed by a super rendition of Tawara Sensei's trademark- Sochin, with which he won the KWF World Cup Kata last month. Great!
Isaka Sensei just peered at Ibuki Tawara over his glasses, skeptically. If you have ever seen IS looking skeptical, you will know what skeptical means.
Will we couldn't ask for better people to represent the new generation of the KWF. YS said that Otsuka Sensei's Karate has clearly evolved into great KWF Karate and he has successfully made the transition from Zenkuren and nearly half a decade layoff. Ibuki Tawara is steeped in Shotokan and KWF, and now YS will polish (or grind, if you prefer) him up!
We feel refreshed to have two younger generation Karateka who are talented and capable and nice guys.
The division of responsibilities looks like Ibuki Tawara will be the guy you talk to most. He's very open and quick on the uptake and learning English at a rapid rate of knots. Please remember that at Kokushikan University, he spent all day doing Karate, with academic subjects basically just cursory. However, there is one thing that Ibuki Tawara isn't, and that's "Karate Baka."