Karate: A chat with Sensei Egbert Moustache, 4th dan Ashihara karate |04 May 2021
‘The study of Ashihara karate demands strict control and discipline’
Ashihara is one of the karate styles practised in Seychelles and the man behind the style is Sensei Egbert Moustache.
Established in Seychelles as far back as 1995 with dojos on Mahe and La Digue, the Ashihara karate style was introduced here by Sensei Moustache who had the chance to train under Kaicho Hoosain Narker in South Africa.
After that initial training session, Seychelles Ashihara Karate members visited South Africa the same year for a training camp and tournament and on regular occasions thereafter.
Kaicho Narker had also visited Seychelles on a few occasions accompanied by senior students from the Honbu Dojo, while some South African black belt holders had also spent stays of two months assisting in the development of the style.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions set by the ministry of health, karate, including Ashihara were put on hold, preventing group training and also competitions.
With the green light given to resume sports activities, Sensei Moustache shares the new vision to push the Ashihara School forward, as well as some history of the school and his path and progression since taking up the sport.
Sports NATION: How long has Ashihara Karate existed in Seychelles?
Sensei Moustache: This is interesting because we have always been active, albeit for the last 12 years or so our Mahe dojo was not as active as the one on La Digue.
From 1993 to 1994, we practiced a style from Japan’s Karate-do Ryobu-Kai called ShindoJinenRyu. In 1995, while competing in the First All Africa Knock-Down Karate Championships in Cape Town, South Africa as part of the Seychelles Kyokushin team, I met Kaicho Hoosain Narker, the director and chief instructor of the Ashihara Karate International. Before returning to Seychelles, I managed to sneak out to discuss and train at his dojo. Later that same year, I returned to South Africa with a group of students for a two-week intensive training at the Honbu dojo. We have since practiced Ashihara, although we still do some ShindoJinenRyu katas for diversification.
Ashihara karate is very strong on La Digue where our highest ranked are two ladies who are about to test for their 3rd dan. We also have a number of 1st and 2nd dan holders on Mahe island. In Ashihara karate we believe that ranking plays a secondary role and that the development of mind, body and spirit is of greater importance than just merely the chasing rank. Those who were around in 1996 will surely remember when Kaicho Narker had a Red Cross van driven over his stomach next to the Amusement Center.
Sports NATION: You mentioned 1986 earlier, so how long have you been practising karate?
Sensei Moustache: I started t karate training since late 1970s and early 1980s with Shihan Phillip Moustache and was around when the school converted to Kyokushin style in 1986. In fact, that same year, I was the first Seychellois to test and obtain a black belt in the Kyokushin Karate style in Seychelles. A year later, I left for studies in the United States of America (USA) and while there, I had the chance to train in ShindoJinenRyu under the guidance Shihan Kiyoshi Yamazaki (9th dan) at his Japan Ryobu-Kai Karate-do dojo in Anaheim, California. I hold a 2nd dan in that style and since 2010, 4th dan in Ashihara karate. Therefore, I hold black belt ranks in three different karate styles and looking back I can say that it was not an easy accomplishment.
Sports NATION: How long has training been on hold?
Sensei Moustache: It has been about four months and last year we also stopped for about three months for the same Covid-19 reason. However, members were encouraged to practice on their own and we are happy that most were doing some kind of training. I myself never stopped albeit it was not easy. Our Honbu (headquarters) in South Africa arranged some online sessions via Zoom at least once a month and affiliated schools all over the world (including Seychelles) participated.
Sports NATION: How will the school maintain the Covid-19 protocols?
Sensei Moustache: Covid-19 is real, and we take the measures spelt out by the health authorities seriously. We have hand-held thermometers to take temperatures as members enter the dojo. We already have the members’ name, phone numbers and addresses in our database, we only take attendance at every session. In case someone has a high temperature, he/she will not be allowed to train, but will be asked to go home and monitor him/herself. We do not do any partner training to avoid touching and we keep our distance.
There are sanitisers readily available and note also that we train with free flowing air, as the dojo is semi-open air with no walls on three sides.
Sports NATION: In this day and age, what can one benefit from practicing karate?
Sensei Moustache: Well, it is probably a common concept of most people that karate is only for those who are interested in fighting. Without going into great length, I would say that what Ashihara karate teaches is beyond self-defence. Basically, the study of this art like any other art or profession, demands strict control and discipline. A total discipline that encompasses physical as well as mental control under all conditions and situations.
There is evidence, although not concrete, to indicate that if karate is taught as a compulsory programme in primary schools, that juvenile delinquency and all that goes with it would diminish significantly: these include several social ills like drugs, bullying and such. In this day and age, karate training or any type of involvement in physical exercises, will help children (and adults too) to reduce unnecessary screen-time spent on phones, tablets and laptops.
Those who want to indulge in Karate should realise that karate training involves endless repetition. This can be seen as boring, but it is the only means to efficiency and a good instructor will find ways to make it interesting. There is no shortcut to progress, so work with all your strength and spirit when you train.
Sports NATION: What is the future of Ashihara Karate in Seychelles?
Sensei Moustache: The school is a member of the Seychelles Karate Federation of which I am the vice-chair, therefore I can say that Ashihara karate is here to stay. Ashihara karate is an abbreviated karate and there is a need for a style taught with pleasant vestiges of traditionalism and a boiled-down number of techniques to make the learning go quicker. Our katas are non-traditional and very practical in street fighting. However, for those who want the traditional katas, this is where the Ryobu-kai katas are available and is optional in the grading syllabus.
As a matter of fact, following the split of various Kyokushin karate groups and the recent affiliation of the local Kyokushin school with International Karate Alliance Kyokushinryu (IKAK) in Singapore, a few Kyokushin groups from Japan, Europe and South Africa which have seen our website, have showed interest in having our school (because of my Kyokushin karate background) as their representative in Seychelles even if we will not necessarily practice their style exclusively.
Having said all that, I would like to clearly state that our school is not in competition or opposition to other schools or styles. Seychelles is small and we should work together in harmony with respect for the well-being of our sport and to work together and strive to get even more people to get involved in martial arts. The benefits of having more people practice martial arts can only contribute further to the well-being of our nation.
We are probably the only karate school in Seychelles with a functioning website at this point in time, so check us out and contact us as we plan to expand in other districts on Mahe and Praslin.
Our website is: http://www.ashiharaseychelles.org.
Compiled by Roland Duval