Today, we are going to portrait Claudia Rösner as our first woman of Shotokan. Claudia is 48 years old and was born in southern Germany. Now, she lives in Greven, in the north-west of Germany, where she also trains in the Shimazu Dojo. She has practiced Karate from 1986 to 1997. Then she took a break from Karate for almost 20 years. Since 2017, she is back in the game and strives to pass her examination for 1th Dan this summer 2019.
Claudia was so kind to fill out a questionnaire we sent her. To gain an insight into her fascinating Shotokan journey just read her answers.
What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?
A female friend motivated me to try it. Especially, the community as well as the physical challenge and acknowledgement beyond high school sports were very interesting for me.
What do you like about Shotokan Karate?
- The clear and direct motions, which are powerful but for me also aesthetic.
- The challenge, to make a motion constantly more perfect, without not executing it completely perfect ever.
- The fantastic feeling when I realized that I have progressed and I have succeeded in reaching a learning goal.
- The change between tension and relaxation. I like it to learn to apply both at the right time.
Is there something you do not like? What is it?
I am always irritated when executions of Katas and techniques change constantly. Mostly, I cannot comprehend that. Maybe somebody has to explain these constant changes a little bit more.
What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?
The greatest are always related to the community. I love it to visit seminars together with other Dojo mates. But I also enjoy to meet old friends and fellows on these events. It is also a pleasure to meet new people and to exchange about Karate. The daily experiences in the Dojo are also invaluable for me. They are always exciting and mostly funny.
The most negative experience was when I realized that I had followed people who misused their power as Senseis. During my first Karate phase I had 3 Senseis in 2 different Dojos. All of them crossed boundaries. They had no real respect for their students an did not show humility like they taught. That was an important lesson. Today, I evaluate much more from whom I can learn something and who I should not follow. I am more critical today and do not obey to people just because they are good Karateka. Character is more important.
What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?
I have the will to not give up. I want to show that I can make it. Especially, because I am older than the most on my grade-level. I like the point where I have to fight and where I can feel the fighting spirit.
However, there are also days where I struggle to execute powerful techniques with tension. I work hard to accept these days and to focus instead on the right execution of the motions.
Ad: Okinawan Samurai: The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son translated by Andreas Quast & Naoki Motobu
How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?
When I was a young adult it gave me a lot of self-confidence. This was important for me as a woman to develop a relation to my fighting nature. This is a quality in women that societies usually do not nurture and appreciate. I am a physio-therapist. During work I have to be restrained and empathic. I like that but that is not everything what I am. I am more than that.
It is a challenge to stand my ground and to find a position as a woman in Karate. This art is very masculine. Sometimes randori is scary but I force myself to do it. On the other hand, I do not have to prove anything.
How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life? Has it helped you overcome or deal with difficult situations in your life? Is it helping you on a daily basis with the challenges of life?
I had tough times in my life. It helped me to know my inner power, my fighting spirit, and my endurance. It helped me that I just went through it, that I did not stop, although I did not feel strong and warrior-like. It was like in training when I reach my limits.
Training also helped me to realize what is most important in life and that not every compromise is good. Some might be a betray to yourself. I developed certain values that are important for me in my work with people. I do not compromise on these values. I run a private practice now where I can work along these values. It was not easy to reach this stage and I pay a price for this. But it is the right thing to do.
Respect is important. And Karate is about respect. Respect for other, although I do not know their history. But also, to claim that others respect me as a human being. And in the end: rank is not important. I can learn from everybody.
I have also learnt humility and self-confidence in Karate. They are absolutely crucial for my daily life.
Ad: 3 DVD Box Collection JKA All 26 Shotokan Karate Kata
How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?
When I was young, I trained a lot. After my break I had to accept that I am twenty years older now although it feels like in the past sometimes. I feel and know my body better now. I know my limits. But I have difficulties to accept them. Today, I know better where I should challenge myself. I challenge myself quiet often to push my limits a little bit further.
I was not very fast and dynamic back in the days. Today, I try to use my other qualities (e.g. precision, endurance, timing) to compensate for these deficits. In Kata, for instance, I use timing to appear more dynamic. I try to distinguish the slow and the fast passages even more today in order to make them more visible.
I know today, that core muscles are the prerequisites. That’s why I also go swimming and do muscle workout.
What are your personal Shotokan Karate short- and long-term goals?
This year, I seek to pass my 1th Dan examination. That is a huge thing for me and I thoroughly prepare myself for this day.
Beside that I just want to practice Karate and to support my Dojo.
How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?
Some traditional values are good. But sometimes I wish Shotokan would open up a bit more for modern values and structures. Especially, the culture of communication should change. That is crucial for Karate to survive.
As a woman I would appreciate less patriarchy. Women should take over positions as officials and female skills like empathy and „softness“ can be very beneficial for Karate.
Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends?
What I like, might not suitable for somebody else. So I hesitate with recommendations. But if a female friend shows interest, I would recommend it to her. Especially, because then she can also discover her fighting spirit and inner tiger.
If you also want to become a part of the Women of Shotokan just write us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy about requests!!!
Ad: Karate Fighting Techniques: The Complete Kumite by Hirokazu Kanazawa