By Juan Francisco Carrasco
For this special sports edition, I am honored to interview a person that I greatly admire, with whom I have trained Karate for almost ten years and with whom I have shared my day-to-day life in the Dojo. On this occasion, I will interview my Sensei, Pablo Reyes.
Pablo Reyes is the owner and instructor of the Karate / Krav Maga Club, KAIZEN, located in Quito. He has the rank of 5th DAN Black Belt in Shotokan Style Karate Do and is also a Krav Maga Monitor, which is an Israeli self-defense system. Today, we will find out what it is like to be a Sensei and an elite athlete in Ecuador.
When did you start practicing Karate?
I started when I was four and a half years old, and I've been practicing for 33 years now. I hope I will have another 40 years of practice.
How did you decide to start practicing this sport?
When I was a very young child, my favorite show was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My motivation to practice started when I tried to imitate their movements. When I was in preschool, I would come home scratched and sometimes hit by older classmates and that's when my parents made the decision that I needed to learn to defend myself.
What do you like the most about Karate?
That is a very broad question. I like that it strengthens my body and mind. With Karate, I have been able to travel to several countries to compete and train. I have been able to make Karate friends in many countries of the world, thanks to that. But what I like the most is the great positive energy that Karate gives me daily.
What do you like most about being a coach?
Mainly sharing with others. Teaching others and also learning from each of the students. It is a beautiful responsibility to be able to contribute positive values in the life of each child, teen, and adult and, many times, to be their example.
Do you think Karate is a complicated sport?
All sports have their degree of difficulty, whether it be technical, physical, or mental. That is why only the best obtain the best results. Like with any sport, it requires a lot of dedication, perseverance, effort, and sacrifice. I think that what is defined as "complicated" or "easy" is decided by each person according to their own sensations and experiences.
What days do you train? How many hours do you train each day?
Before, when I was a national team competitor, I trained 6 times a week from Monday to Saturday, 3 hours each day. Now at this stage, I no longer have any sports goal as such, and with my age and my work, I try to train 3 to 4 times a week for 1 hour and a half each day.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you won any titles?
A few years ago I stopped participating in tournaments, but my students compete sometimes. The competition is important in some ways, but it is only a passing stage, the martial art lifestyle is forever. I was juvenile and adult National Champion on many occasions for several years in a row, practically in my entire school stage, and I also won some South American medals representing Ecuador.
How long do you plan to continue dedicating yourself to this?
The truth is that I never intend to leave it. Karate is my life and I will practice it as long as my body allows it in good health. There are people who are over 80 years old and continue to practice with their physical limitations of age, but they are present with wisdom and spirit.
Do you have any goal you want to achieve?
At the moment my main goal in life is to continue learning and enjoying everything, including the practice of Karate, nature, and valuable moments.
Do you have an idol who is dedicated to this sport?
An idol as such, no. I think it's good to admire others but always keep your own essence without wanting to imitate or idolize them. I have admired several people from Karate and other sports as well. In Karate, I greatly admire Sandra Sánchez from Spain, who is an Olympic and World Kata Champion. I also admire some of my Senseis. In Israeli Krav Maga self-defense, I greatly admire Kfir Itzhaki from Israel and Michael Rüppel from Germany.
Tell us a moral that you have learned thanks to this sport.
Well, I have many anecdotes during these years of practice, so it is difficult to mention any in particular. The main thing is that I always appreciate and value the respect and gratitude of people (students, parents, friends, acquaintances and family) and that is what I hold dear.
I have been training karate for 10 years now and I am grateful for being a part of this amazing community of athletes in Ecuador. It sadly doesn’t receive the attention needed by the government, and could be even larger if the government would not only focus on sports such as soccer.