After over 20 years of training and active competition I decided to retire from tournament competition. My last tournament was the 2000 IKA World Cup Tournament held in Los Angeles, California. Several weeks before the tournament I had decided that it was a good time to retire. As my years of training progressed I had become to feel more and more in touch with my abilities and myself. I felt secure with myself and felt I had little to prove both to myself and to my peers. Little to prove, but still much to learn. I took this attitude to the World Tournament and won the Grand Championship in the heavyweight kumite division and also in the Weapons Kata division. I had also placed 3rd in the Gosoku Ryu kata division.
Competition had been good to me. It taught me more about myself than I could ever had believed. It took me around the globe to countries I probably would have never visited had not it been for karate. I learned more about the world, and how people around the globe, no matter how diverse the cultures, are ultimately the same at heart. What all of us wants is goodwill for our families and ourselves. The one common thread that has bound us in a family of universal brotherhood is we love to train in the martial arts. It is our chosen way of life.
Competition is not about winning but about being a part of something bigger than us all. It brings out the best of us, both physically and spiritually. It is about trying our best and feeling good about ourselves no matter the outcome. When we lose it is an exercise in humility and a lesson learned that can be used to improve our performance the next time. When victory comes it is a victory over the human spirit, our own.
With my retirement from competition and my recent victories, I was inspired to pass down some of what I had learned down to my fellow students. Many of these things took years of teaching and guidance to learn and it is my hope that this reference will act as a guide to assist the karate student as they progress. As they become better competitors they will develop a better understanding of karate-do which ultimately will help them become better people.
Everything I learned I owe to my Master, Soke Takayuki Kubota, who has been not only been my Shihan but also an instructor of life to me. Losing my own father to cancer at the age of 2, Master Kubota brought discipline, focus, and direction to my life at a time when it was needed most. More importantly, he is also my friend. I would also like to thank all of the past and present instructors at the IKA that continue to enrich my training and helped me begin to find the true meaning of karate-do. In the spirit of Zen the search continues...
Rod Kuratomi, 7th Dan, Kyoshi - Gosoku Ryu
International Karate Association