chapter 1; the karate of yesterday
Sylvain Jouan: Hello Daniel, in a few words, how would you define the man you are in a few sentences?
Daniel TOBIAS: My name is Daniel Tobias, I am 53 years old and I live in Uruguay. I am dedicated to the diffusion of traditional Karate-do, following the line and the legacy that Nishiyama Hidetaka Sensei left us. I define myself as a person who is always searching, studying how to improve the information I give to my students, through research and practice of different traditional martial arts.
SJ: How and at what age did you discover martial arts?
DT; My beginnings were made by curiosity and I started my practice on September 12, 1976, at the Club L'avenir, at the age of 8 years.
SJ; Did you practice other martial arts?
DT: Yes, I started practicing Kendo in 1996 until 2008. After that, for reasons of time, I practiced it very sporadically, but I always have the illusion of returning to its practice when Karate-do allows me. It is a very good complement to our practice, I suggest to all those who can, in addition to Karate-do, to learn its practice. I also participate in Aikido seminars in order to improve our Karate-do training.
SJ: How did you find out about Nishiyama Sensei's Karate-do?
DT: I learned about him through the comments of colleagues who attended his summer camps in Los Angeles. My first contact with him at a seminar was in 1996 in Santiago de Chile, Chile. Since then I have followed his teachings, participating in several seminars in different countries, and I also had the privilege of organizing the last seminar he held in my country, on October 20, 21 and 22, 2006.
SJ: I am impressed with you, you met him and you immediately thought that this way of practicing would be yours?
DT: Yes, this first contact in 1996 in Chile marked a before and after in my practice of practice of Karate-do. Although I had participated in many events with different masters, I had never seen what Nishiyama Sensei showed in that event. I thought, this Sensei is different, he performs complex movements and techniques with an ease that I had never seen before. It really made an impression on me, after the second training I thought, "this is what I want for myself, this is Budo".
SJ: Do you have any anecdotes about Nishiyama Sensei that you would like to share with us?
DT: I have 2 anecdotes with Nishiyama Sensei, the first one was at the Porto Alegre seminar in 2005, after a training session he opened the possibility to ask questions, at one point during the training he talked about the importance of daily training, my question was "if we have pain, discomfort, illness, or any problem, should we go to train? His answer was very simple: "if you feel sick, train; if you have problems at work, at home, with the family, train; if you are dead, stop training", this answer marks the importance he gave to daily training, which is the basis to obtain really positive results,
SJ: It is also a simple, wise and humorous answer!... we eat, we live, we sleep, we breathe, just like we train in Karate-do, it shows that it is not only a sport or a hobby ..... it is a way...
DT: The second anecdote takes place during a seminar dinner in my country, where he told about his beginnings in martial arts. His father, who came from a very traditional family, introduced him to Kendo on the fifth day, fifth month and fifth year of his life. Nishiyama Sensei did not like training but he could not contradict his father. As he grew up, he understood the reasons why his father forced him to practice so rigidly... and finally, when he discovered karate-do, he thanked him for introducing him to martial arts, and whose training shaped his personality.
SJ: Have you met other inspiring Sensei who have influenced your martial arts practice?
DT: I had the opportunity to train with Tanaka Masahiko Sensei and Imura Takenori Sensei at the JKA dojo in Japan for the JKA World Championships in 1995. At that time, training with these two great masters was a unique and very inspiring moment.
SJ: So you participated in the JKA World Championships in Japan? what an experience! Just one year before you met Nishiyama Sensei?
DT: Yes, it was an incredible experience. To be in the Mecca of world karate, where it all started, and to train in the JKA dojo was a unique feeling, I really realized a dream during those years.
Yes, just one year before I met Nishiyama Sensei, which was unexpected. Shortly after I came back from Japan, I was told that Sensei would be in Chile, that I should go and meet him and participate in the seminar. I made a big effort to be able to travel, but the decision I made was the right one, it really changed my view of Karate-do, and the way we should practice.
CHAPTER 2 : Karate Today
SJ: You live in Uruguay, can you tell us about the life of your dojo, your students?
DT: Well, we are a dojo located in the center of the city of Montevideo (capital of Uruguay), we train 3 times a week. Our training is oriented towards Budo, health and self-defense. Our students range in age from 5 to 60 years old. We are a very heterogeneous group, but with the same principles and values, as many parents say, we are one big united family. We also teach at Elbio Fernandez School and High School, where students go from kindergarten (4 and 5 years old) to elementary school, where we have about 100 students. We do activities between the dojo and the school, where friendship, camaraderie and respect reign, which makes us very happy, because we are training children where the values of traditional Karate-do are the fundamental pillars of their training.
SJ: Nishiyama Sensei passed away on November 8, 2008, leaving first a big void and then a chaotic situation, how did you live and go through this period?
DT: Those were very sad days, where I had mixed feelings. I wondered what would happen next. It was very difficult to reach Nishiyama Sensei and now that he was gone, how and where would I continue. This period of uncertainty was very complicated, there was no organizational chart for these situations, how to move forward and who would be responsible for continuing his work. As it always happens, when the guide dies, the political and personal differences to fill this void, people became more separated, generating more distances between the different countries and groups that make up the ITKF (at the time), and as always the most harmed are all the students of Nishiyama Sensei, who were not interested in the name or acronym of the moment, We cared about the practice, to continue to grow and improve in all respects. Over the years, I have been able to find in the World Budo Karate Association (WBKA), a transparent organization, where the values and principles of Budo are the pillars of the structure and today we live together in different countries and groups of individuals, where the most important thing is the practice, the sharing of knowledge and the daily search for improvement as people in order to be able to transmit it to our students.
SJ - What if you could ask sensei something else?
DT - Well, I don't know if asking is the right word. What I would do is thank him for all his hard work and dedication. He left us a very important work and a very clear methodology, which I think we have a great responsibility to pass on to the new generations. To honor and respect his memory, we must continue to study and practice, so that his work reaches all karate-do practitioners in the world, regardless of styles and organizations.
If I could ask him for anything, it would be more time to train with him.
Chapter 3 - The Karate-Do of tomorrow.
SJ: How do you see the years to come and the development of your activity?
DT: At the moment, we are in the middle of the development and growth of our school. The movements that have been happening around the world within Karate-do have led us to a new beginning since 2017. Today, we are slowly and steadily growing. In our country, we are spreading the word about a health and self-defense oriented practice, Budo oriented in Karate-do. Children and adults are joining us, as well as children, youth and older adults who look favorably on our practice. At the same time, we are working on integrating our program as a curricular activity in public and private education in our country. I see a very encouraging future for the development of Traditional Karate-Do in our country, in South America and in the world.
SJ: Let's imagine that you find Aladdin's lamp, what wishes could you formulate for the future of Traditional Karate-do in the next decades?
DT: It would be nice if everyone who is leading organizations today, regardless of style, would put their egos aside. My wish would be that we could all train together, regardless of organization or style, that we truly share a passion for training, to continue to learn from all and with all. I understand that this is the best way to continue to learn and pass on legacy knowledge.
SJ: I know you are in charge of the development of the World Budo Karate Association (WBKA) in South America, we know each other a little, you communicate a lot, you are open and I like that, could you tell me where and how we can find you on the web?
DT: Thank you very much for your words, I practice and train daily to become a better person and to be able to share with my colleagues and students the knowledge I have gained. Yes, I am working to spread the legacy of Nishiyama Sensei through the World Budo Karate Association Right now we are planning next year's activities, we will have news and communicate it in time.
You can find us on the web on our school page: https://thetraditioncontinue.com/ and on our organization page: http://www.worldbudokarate.org/.
There we share a lot of information on how to study and practice the different techniques of karate-do, how to improve and take care of our health: stretching, nutrition, different articles on how to improve different pathologies (ASD, hyperactivity, Down syndrome, etc.) according to our training system.
Lastly, I want to thank you for the opportunity of the interview to spread the word about our organization and that all practitioners who want to join us can do so. Thank you very much!
SJ: I hope people will take the time to read you, want to know you, share your passion, support you and want to build bridges with you, with us across countries and continents,
Thank you Daniel!