Alain Verbeeck (7th Dan) SHOGUN. (France)
On 25th October 2015 Ronnie Watt OBE ORS travelled to France with his NKF karate team to compete in an international tournament. At the end of the tournament Alain was very surprised and honored to receive the Shogun award, which was presented in front of the competitors and audience including many French VIP’s
Alain has trained karate for over 50 years staring in 1963 and was an assistant to Taiji Kase, a legendary Japanese Karate master who lived in France. Alain trained alongside Kase for 35 years. Ronnie and Alain have become great friends during this time.
Interview below translated from French. – Who is Sensei Alain Verbeeck?
Who is VERBEECK Sensei Alain?
Interview with one of the former students of Sensei KASE
It was during an internship at St. Raphae that you met Sensei Kase back in 1968, and since then you remained faithful to his teachings; What were you practicing before you first met Kase, how did this meeting change your life?
In 1963, after the exams, I left with three friends in St Raphael. They, went for holidays, myself for a karate course. We had heard of the arrival of a Japanese expert (Kase) by the judo federation to which we were affiliated. I was a quiet student, only brown belt, I ‘d started karate in 1963. In October of the same year I passed my Shodan black belt. I just loved Karate. As Kase explained, I found as time went on and I grew more and more under the influence of the Karate ‘spell’ and that many other areas of my life improved. Karate does this. Then each year I attended various courses with this great master, so I became an assistant and disciple, and we have travelled a long way together in 36 years.
At first we were touring in France in various courses, Paris, Nantes, Tours, Limoges, Annecy, etc., then worldwide. Try to imagine the atmosphere of a workshop bringing together representatives of countries such as Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, Belgium (throughout Europe) South Africa, South America and so on …
How did he teach you, and how to be as an assistant? What were the rules, the discipline? Do you have any anecdotes to give us about it?
I was influenced by this man at the first encounter, right away, from the first course Iattended and knew that it was he who would guide me. The 15 days of internship at St. Raphael included: 1st week Kata and bunkai; I was a good fighter but my knowledge of kata was very limited – Heian Shodan and Heian Nidan. I discovered I really was fascinated by the Kata. By the time we finished that first week, I knew the 5 and 6 senior kata Heian.
2nd week kumite; morning, evening and during the night. We kept training, so hard by the time we finished our shins and forearms were glowing red with the results of sparing so much. The blocking and punching…we were very glad to have a cold beer and nurse our poor bodies at the end of it all!
After all these years, I have accumulated a number of anecdotes. When I speak to my assistant there’s this one: In special courses in Paris in the France Shotokan Ryu, we travelled far to get to the courses and they were strong, hard courses, sometimes endless. Sensei Kase no longer looked at the time on his watch. When Kase would choose a person to help demonstrate a technique, it was an honour to be chosen, and I’ll never forget the lesson, his corrections are so marked in my mind and my body. After five years have passed, eventually one day he called me after a course and said “Bébec,” he did not know my name, “You worked hard today, you are always present, now you lead me”; I never imagined such a day would come, I quickly shouted “OSS Sensei”, now he called me by my name, ALAIN. After this first real contact he would correct me in my dojo, really began to teach me, during the time at Lens. These days were when I really began to develop into the Karate ‘wizard’ I yearned to become.
You are at the head of the Flanders Artois Shotokan Karate-do Academy; more than a club, it is an organization that has a mission, right?
Being a qualified 2nd Dan teacher, I began teaching Karate in 1972. My journey in the discipline eventually led me to found the Faksa.
I was fully convinced of the benefits karate can bring to the heart and soul, I wanted to share this with others. It turned out over time there was a great demand in my area and that the spirit of the teaching of Sensei KASE was obvious.
The Faksa continues to grow, Master KASE is well represented in the Pas de Calais.
Talk about an adventure; You are aware that all creation generates worries and stress but if the investment is huge, then it becomes a great satisfaction. As a company, and parallel to its mission, it must ensure daily management, administrative order, financial and human, it is necessary to surround a suitable and competent staff.
What qualities do you pass on to your students and which techniques do you value in particular?
A student is an individual with primarily physical, personality based on his story. Before the student said to himself ‘I want to do karate’; the idea he had of discipline (combat sports, self defence) evolved over the years of practice, regular and rigorous. His ability restricted to the limits of his experience.
A karateka however trains in a club with other members sometimes partners, sometimes adversaries. This brings, confidence, courage and respect. Through working together with opponents helps to strengthen the individual. Enriched by the diversity of teaching Karate-do, its techniques, simulations, his kata, and watching others the karateka will become able to overcome any situation in the dojo. As in life, he will have developed an adaptability power; I practice Martial Arts, Karate -do.
What do you recognize a good practitioner?
Imagine a fountain assaulted by a crowd of hungry people and turn our gaze upon the one who finds the way to the front to fill their jug of water to the last drop, without spilling or breaking it, and those who appreciate this water hard won … and preparing to start again.
Like a large family, Sensei KASE was the pillar, father of us all, and as a parent he looked after everyone’s needs and found everyone’s solutions. Now that he is gone, we can not pretend to replace it, which is why three people are not too much to continue the mission that was given to us here in France by Sensei KASE. When the Father is missing, the children pull together to manage the mission, aware that this commitment will lead us to our goals. I trust the personality of members of Shihankaï-like the gears of a clock – that will take us very far.
You want to add something ...?
In France, there were thousands of students from KASE Sensei, and assistants there were many, but the faithful who followed to the end, up until his last breath, could be counted on one hand. The Sensei’s teaching took place in three stages.
1 / his arrival in France until 1994, a traditional teaching of the JKA
2 / in 1995, creating the WKSA; there he reveals the true karatédo his master Sensei Yoshitaka Funakoshi taught him, and then Kase selected his own students.
3 / Then after his illness, he created the KASE HA, very small group of faithful followers and then his teaching is very thorough: 6th sense and 4th dimension. The course of a superb quality and we followed him all over the world, thirsty. He showed us the way, it was our fountain, and the pitcher was filled …
My training has greatly refined, beyond the many courses he taught in the dojo, in our discussions, in hotels, airport halls where we relaxed, he revealed to me some secrets ….
I did my military service in Germany at the time or it was cut in half the west and east. BERLIN called in 1970 in the city was divided into four sectors German, English, French and American and we were in West Berlin in ‘Prisonnié.” It was a semi disciplinary regiment 46RI which gave me the opportunity with my youth and enthusiasm to train with several commando elite regiments with Americans, English and Russians.
I was patrolling every month along the French sector wall with the mission of protecting German Berlin Wall. But most impressive to me was the guards at the citadel of Spandau or we had the heavy responsibility to guard and protect Nazi RUDOLPH HESS the brains behind Hitler ; I can testify that this man impressed me.