Women of Shotokan: Ildikó Rédai

By Dr. Christian Tribowski

To get yourself up and back to competions after a torn ACL is a huge challenge and requires endurance, persistance, and a strong will. Ildikó Rédai, our today´s Woman of Shotokan, mastered the challenge and fought her way back to the Tatami. She is not just a very successful competitor but also national Kata coach of Hungary. This summer, she will face the next great challenge: She will lead her team to the SKIF World Championship in Czech Republic. Our guess: She will prevail. Read this inspiring and highly motivational interview with Ildikó Rédai.

Ildikó Rédai will lead her team as a national Kata coach of Hungary to the SKIF World Championship in the Czech Republic this summer.

Name: Ildikó Rédai

Age: 39

Karate since: 1989

Origin and residence: origin Hungary / residence The Netherlands

Rank: 4. Dan

Dojo: various

Additional information:

  • SKIF Hungary national kata coach and vice chairmen SKIF Hungary,
  • 2x SKIF European champion kata (2011/2014),
  • SKDUN European championships 3rd place (2014),
  • JKS Euro Cup 1st place (2017),
  • JKA and SKIF national champion in Hungary and Netherlands.

What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?

I was a child who couldn’t really sit in one place for too long so I needed to find a sport. When I started karate, I haven’t had many options to choose from and karate just started in the town where I lived. So, my Mum took me to my first lesson, years passed by, and I have stuck around since then. At that time, Karate Kid came out in the cinemas and we had a Hungarian tv show with a fighting girl. But that wasn’t the first inspiration. I liked that you could do many things and that you need some skills which I also had – like flexibility. Running bare feet outside were some less enjoyable parts but we did it – no questions asked …

Ildiko during a seminar

What do you like about Shotokan Karate?

Shotokan karate compared to other styles is hard but still elegant with the long stances and punches. I like also the traditional shobu ippon kumite rules, where you have to score one perfect point to win. It is straight forward, you win or lose, not much space for errors. This should make you work for perfection for the techniques during training.

Is there something you do not like? What is it?

Unfortunately, too many federations are involved in Shotokan karate nowadays. They are not always willing to work or train together or allowed to participate at each other’s competitions or events. Especially, when it comes to open Shotokan competitions and participants get point reductions for performing a kata according to a particular standard and getting judged by a referee from a different federation. Everybody should be more open minded about techniques and why are they performed in a particular way instead of giving a negative feedback to something that is different. The political aspects are my least favorite part of karate.

Training under the guidance of Kancho Nobuaki Kanazawa during a technical seminar in Belgium

What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?

I have many great experiences involving traveling around the world participating on World and European championships or even just for seminars. Getting to know many countries and wonderful karate people and karate masters in the world.Winning European championships definitely one of the most memorable experience that happened. Other great things are the trips to Japan. I had the opportunity to train in many different Dojo’s and see this wonderful country.

Worst thing what happened is injury related, when I tore my ACL during a tournament in 2014. I had a one-year break from competing and I doubted if I could ever set a foot on the tatami again. Luckily, the recovery went well and I could participate at the SKIF World Championship in Indonesia where I reached the finals.

What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?

Training is very often challenging because I train on my own mostly and then I have to rely on myself to get up and go practicing. I visit my Sensei´s abroad, which means a lot of driving or flying. In Belgium sensei Yvan de Windt and in Siciliy sensei Santo Torre helping me and I go there as much as I can to get great inspiration and motivation from time to time. Seminars are also a great source of motivation. There are always some new ideas that I can learn and build into my training. Of course my fellow Karateka, friends, and family are also around and sometimes convincing and encouraging me not to give up. A good talk helps a lot sometimes.

How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?

Maybe I can control myself better to not say or do things over rushed as I might tend to do. It gave me more confidence about myself.

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?

It influences my life almost on a daily basis. During my ACL recovery I had to train like I was preparing for a competition. I couldn’t have this mindset without all the training I did before.

During warm up

How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?

When I started first, I started mostly at Kumite competitions. Later, I also started at kata competitions. After a couple of years, I start mostly in kata and trying to perfect my skills. Although I still like kumite and it is very important to practice now and then, the body unfortunately gets older and I do not have the right speed for it. I hope my karate will improve with the years (that is also the reason why we are training). I’m also interested to implement different training methods from other sports to get some diversity.

What are your personal Shotokan Karate short- and long-term goals?

The short-term goal is to get as a national kata coach the Hungarian team ready for the SKIF World Championship this summer.

I’d like to carry on and taking the next dan examination in the future. Learning from different styles and martial arts is another goal, which I think is very important at a certain level. Teaching and coaching nationally and internationally will be among my plans. Organizing seminars together with other inspirational karate women is also one of my goals. One day, hopefully, I will have my own Dojo and students.

How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?

I’d like to see a closer gap between WKF and other federations with less difference between “sport” and “traditional” karate. Karate is still a martial art. You need some physical abilities and for top competitions you still need excellent condition. But you should not to forget basic traditional values as respect and humbleness.

Yoko-Geri by Ildikó Rédai

Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends? Why?

Karate benefits the health. You have a diversity of exercises for strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility. It keeps you strong, makes you slim and eventually you don’t have to be scared to walk through a dark street if you learn to place some punches and kicks on the right spots. I see many young girls starting. But they leave right at the moment, when they actually become good. I think it is not only necessary to recommend to start. But it is also necessary to encourage to carry on practicing karate.

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