Its that warrior in you that keeps you going. The more that you train and the more that you push yourself, the stronger your character becomes.Carol See Tai
The budo aspects of Shotokan karate become to often neglected. Carol See Tai reminds us about the importance to be a warrior and to develop a strong character. However, one cannot achieve both by staying within ones comfort-zone and to dodge every bullet. Thus, she also reminds us that we have to train hard, fight tough, and except the challenges life confronts us with. Carol does this in an exemplary way. After the passing of her beloved sensei, Shigeru Takashina, she has picked up the torch in order to carry the fire of Shotokan further to the next generation. Her path has not been easy. But she has been accompanied by good fellows. Enjoy this moving portrait of Carol See Tai.
Name: Carol See Tai
Karate since: 1972
Origin and residence: Trinidad, Florida
(Kyu/Dan) Rank: Roku Dan
South Atlantic Karate Association
Women’s team member 1981 thru 1991,
National collegiate 2nd place 1981 Sioux Falls, SD
National Collegiate champion 1982 Denver, Co
Womens team kata 1st place 1983 Santa Monica, Ca
Womens team kata 3rd place 1985
Chief Instructor and board member of the late master Takashina’s dojo in Coral Springs, Florida.
What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?
When I was 12 years old I was enrolled in Ballet classes. My brother Larry went to the Trinidad karate association (Sensei David Chin Leung) to start taking karate lessons. After his 1st session he told me, “ you should come with me to take karate classes, you would like it.” That was the beginning of my martial arts training in Shotokan karate.
What do you like about Shotokan Karate?
I love Shotokan karate because it is a traditional martial art. It dates as far back as master Funakoshi in 1922 when he brought Shotokan karate from Okinawa to Japan and to this day, it is being taught and practiced throughout the world as a standardized martial art. It is like both education and philosophy, in that we are all teaching, learning and practicing the same techniques and developing the principles of budo and the perfection of oneself.
Is there something you do not like? What is it?
In every organization there is the struggle for power and this creates a diversion or disruption of the pursuit of the true objective. The politics destroys the ability to see the true martial art objective, which is the discipline of mind, body and spirit through the way of life, the budo.
What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?
My greatest experience was when I enrolled at the University of Miami and I realized that the karate instructor was sensei Shigeru Takashina. This was a continuous great experience for 37 great years. (Four years at college and the rest at the South Atlantic Karate Association Headquarters dojo.)
I can’t use the word “worst”. However, I can say that my “saddest” experience was the passing of master Takashina, my sensei, in September 2013. This has led me to understand what he meant when he told me “don’t get involved in politics”. I then experienced a rough political path in trying to continue the legacy of my sensei. The details I would rather put behind me. However, I have to mention that I am grateful to some very important people who stepped forward during that time and continue to do so, to contribute their time and effort to get master Takashina ‘s dojo and legacy to where it is today, six years after his passing.
What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?
Training is always challenging. Sometimes it’s the perfection of the techniques, and sometimes it’s my life outside of the dojo that’s challenging my training. Somehow I am able to find the perfect balance, because without it, I can’t find harmony. I believe that a truly good instructor motivates his/her students. My sensei, along with my classmates and my family members have also helped to motivate and encourage me in the past.
Now that I am the chief instructor, it’s the students that motivate me and who have led me to another aspect of my karate training.
How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?
Shotokan karate has taught me a lot about respect. The ranks and the ranking system teaches me to respect everyone in the dojo and that carries through to my daily life.
The discipline learnt through the traditional training teaches me to be humble.
It has helped me to develop a strong character while maintaining humility and respect for others.
As we say: mind, body and spirit.
How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life? Has it helped you overcome or deal with difficult situations in your life?
I have been training practically my whole life, and I have gone through some difficult times not related to karate. During these times, I used my karate training to push myself through and find the strength to deal with my controversies.
Its that warrior in you that keeps you going. The more that you train and the more that you push yourself, the stronger your character becomes.
How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?
They are many technical aspects of Shotokan karate which haveevolved, especially over the last several years. I find that as I continue to train, I have to adapt and re learn certain basic movements.
Scientifically, the moves have evolved to become more effective as a whole.
What are your personal Shotokan Karate short- and long-term goals?
For myself I want to keep training to improve all aspects of my karate and become an excellent instructor.
My overall goal is to preserve and continue Master Takashina’s legacy.
How should Shotokan Karate evolve in the future?
It would be awesome to see all the Shotokan groups in the USA come together, putting aside the politics and focusing on learning and sharing the knowledge of the Shotokan way.
As karateka, not to focus as much on the competition and winning, but to concentrate on the development of budo.
Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends?
Yes, it is good to develop awareness and for self defense as well as to develop a strong mind, body and spirit.