He has inspired so many people to take up karate and inspired so many within karate
Luca Valdesi is the most decorated karate competitor in the WKF
22 WKF European Championship gold medals in individual and team kata, 3 silver and 1 bronze
6 WKF World Championship gold medals in individual and team kata, 1 silver and 2 bronze
Amongst many other titles
In Ryu Shotokan’s first ever interview we speak with LUCA VALDESI
Team Ryu:Hi Luca, can you tell us when you first started karate and what made you begin?
Luca:I started learning karate in 1982, I was 6. My uncle was a brown belt and I started to learn with him.
Team Ryu: When you were younger what inspired you and who has been your biggest influence in karate?
Luca:As a youngster my ambition was very big and the person who has been my biggest influence is my father Adrea Valdesi.
Team Ryu:What is your most memorable tournament and why?
Luca:That would have to be the World Championship of 2008 in Tokyo and the reason for that is I won in my 3rd world title in Japan.
Team Ryu:What is your favourite kata to perform and why?
Luca:I like Unsu a lot, for the performance of the body, for the difficulty in the execution
I also like gankaku, because it's a different way to show your power…. take your body under control but take your mind into fight…. it’s very difficult. Like I say all the “the quiet and the storm”
Team Ryu:What do you think are the key elements to your continued success?
Luca:I think the most important element is the training with the motivation. When I’m in the dojo I train myself very hard and never I lose the focus of my training. When I feel tired, that is the time to push a little bit more, not only for the body, but for the mind and the soul.
Team Ryu:What appeal did kata have, rather than competing in kumite?
Luca:Kata is the soul of karate. It’s important to understand that the kata is the training to prepare the body for kumite, and when your body is ready the kata becomes the fight. Only like this the kata can be complete, and can become very interesting for all the people, competitor and public.
Team Ryu:What would you typically do to prepare for major competitions?
Luca:I have my programme....... if you want to know more you can come to karate & relax. I share my knowledge with everybody.
Team Ryu:Ha Ha Ha that’s a great link into your karate and relax seminars, this summer will see your 6th edition of Karate and Relax seminar in Palermo, tell us a little bit about this and what has made it so popular across the world?
Luca:Karate & Relax is a perfect way to do very good karate and holiday with the family (or alone).
The big friendship we have with the best champions of the world, and the perfect organization of my sensei, my father Andrea, permit us to have the best seminar in the world. In the last 6 years we have had in our seminars more than 30 countries from all over the world and everybody says to me "thank you for the best experience of all my life"..
When I hear these words, for me the seminar was a great success!
We have 6 sensei training in kata and 6 training in kumite, all the sensei now are coaches of national federations. It means that everybody can discover and understand how the best competitors in kata and kumite have to train.
Team Ryu:You have brought technology into your training a lot more and even have a research facility at the karate and relax seminar, can you tell us more about this?
Luca:This year in the winter edition of karate relax we introduced ‘Karate & Relax Lab’.
It's a new way to prepare the competitors; it's a study of biomechanical movements, of physical preparation and technical suggestions to improve the performance. Of course we have to use some technology to do our searching and studying, I feel this is very important.
Team Ryu:Going from a competitor to a National coach has it changed your view of competitions in any way?
Luca:Yes, now the competition it looks easier. When you can watch your opponent without the competition stress, you can do a different analysis. The problem is that you keep the stress of "first match" for every competition.
You have no possibility to discharge the adrenalin...
As a coach I want to show to everybody that my karate is very good, so I have implemented my training for competitions and I took my principals.
Team Ryu:What are your aspirations now for your karate career?
Luca:I would like to help the Italian team to become the best team in the world, but at the same time, I enjoy teaching around the world. The best thing for me is when the competitors, after 2 or 3 days of hard training, tell me: “wow, now I understand.. I feel a lot better".
Team Ryu:What changes do you think are needed to bring karate into the Olympics?
Luca:I think that our world federation are doing a very good job to help our sport.
The changing of the rules to make more spectacular competitions is the first step to go to the games.
I also think that the introduction of technologies can help us.
During the matches the most important factor is the competitor, so I think it would be better to see ONLY the competitors on the mat. So, for example, the referee can sit away from the tatami, like the coach during the finals, and use some tablet or similar to give the point. 1 referee and 2 competitors, everybody understands who is the competitor this way.
With the kata something similar, to score the match on a tablet.
Video replay is also a very important point, and in the kata use threating of difficulty so everybody will know what's the best kata for each round , like for instance the jumps in unsu and kanku sho.
Team Ryu: What does the future hold for Luca Valdesi?
Luca:I hope to continue this life. Teaching competitors and seeing the levels of their improvement, it's an amazing sensation.