May. Paris. Oleksandr GORBACHUK and his disciples Masaru YAMADA, Kazuyasu MINOBU, Inochi ITO and Satoru UYAMA celebrate a historic one for Japan team bronze in the world Cup. Photo:

In an interview with “SE” Ukrainian coach at the fencing swords told how despite the difficulties of translation, he managed to achieve impressive success with the Japanese national team, explained why every champion needs to be a little Japanese man admitted that he felt current students for the first time beat his former teammates, and revealed the secret how he managed to get to bow Olympic champion in Rio 2016 Korean Park sang-Yong.


– Last time we talked, when you along with their wards visited the camp in Koncha-Zaspa before the world Cup in Budapest-2013. Since then it took not much time, but the Japanese Spagnou fencing has reached a qualitatively new level. Almost all of your students during these four years, managed to get on the podium of the world Cup, and not once, and last season they began to win and team awards. How did you achieve such progress?

– Work is a system of training, gave us good conditions for work at the Olympic center in Tokyo. A large role was played by joint training with strong teams, in particular, the Ukrainian, as well as participation in various competitions, maybe not of the highest rank, but thanks to them, athletes were growing up.

For example, we played on tournament of memory of Leonid Averbakh in Kharkov.

– Before the Games in Rio in sparring to the Ukrainian handball players came women’s national team of Korea. So here it is only one night spent on the Olympic base in Koncha-Zaspa. Then early in the morning the Manager of the team went in search of another hotel, and when he asked what they both did not like it here, said, “But it really is the main Olympic training center in Ukraine?” How do you feel your players here?

– Not really complaining, although our food is, of course, not very happy. Second, the coach helps them kuhovarit. They brought their sauces, soups and five kilograms of rice. By the way, Japanese rice is one of the most delicious in the world, and for the body of the Japanese is actually kind of dope. They have rice instead of bread goes, they’re hungry.

As regards conditions in General, Yes, of course, worse than in Japan. But I believe that athletes, even useful sometimes to withdraw from a state of comfort. It is only once in a stressful situation, you can learn to make decisions quickly, and this is very important for fencing. Still we have individual sport, and even if the coach has time to give you a hint, the athlete may not be enough time to perform. So I always tell my students: “I work with you in training in order to then in competition you could think for themselves”. At first, we came to the ridiculous. The head of the athlete after each shot, incurred or obtained, in the direction of the coach was turned, like a robot.

– Oleg Mateychuk, Ukrainian specialist working with the Japanese men’s foil, told me that the iconic silver his apprentice Yuki OTA at the Olympics in Beijing 2008 all the weapons in the team were huddled together on four tracks. Today is a training base for swordsmen in Tokyo?

– Now each weapon has four tracks. And in the second quarter of next year is expected to open a new hall exclusively for fencing, thirty to forty tracks. It will also be located on the territory of the Olympic centre in Tokyo. It is a huge complex to all sports, restaurants, hotels, medical and rehabilitation centres. There is even something in the likeness of kindergarten. This is a special room, where the athlete, who became a mother, but wants to continue his career, can leave your child at the time of exercise. During the day the child they feed, entertain, put to bed, and in the evening mom is taking it.


– The team is the tip of the iceberg, but what about its Foundation?

In Japan fencing is engaged in quite a lot of people, that is, the mass present. We have programmes in schools, each institution necessarily has its own fencing hall. But all this is rather at the Amateur level because there are not enough qualified personnel. In Japan, the coach is not very popular profession, because he gets naked rate without any allowances. Athletes after a career spent mainly working as a physical education teacher is a budget job with benefits and a pension, there is a thirteenth and fourteenth salary, in General, it is possible to live quite comfortably. And only in the evening after school they can an hour and a half to teach the kids the fencing completely free, it is as volunteering. In the institutions of other problems: there is often only one coach forced to close all three weapons, that is absolutely wrong from the point of view of achieving the result it in the first place.

Second, it has its own life, and quite active, with lots of competition, however, low levels. Sometimes, cause some guys to collect, but they say they cannot come because they have at this time your OFP collection. You have to call to the Institute, and not always there go to a meeting.

– And what is the championship of Japan?

He used to collected a total of forty participants, but we managed to achieve this number increased two times. In Japan, not as we do, who wants that participates. At the national championship still need to qualify. The first eight in the previous year, the admission gets automatically. Then there are competitions among students, as well as by regions, and, finally, the championship in Tokyo. Then there is another tournament, which brings together all the losers and compete for two more places.

I had one interesting case which is associated with the athlete Shogo Nishida, which I was preparing for the Olympics in Beijing. Incidentally, this is the second coach of our team. Nishida was then the number one team, he had good results and he won a ticket to the Games-2008. But I missed the regional finals and was forced to participate in the same tournament for the losers, to gain admission to the championship of Japan. In the semifinals, he fought with pyatibrat and inferior 14:12. In the end, still managed to turn the battle, took first place in the selection, and went on to win the championship. But couldn’t even get if you got only one shot. I was trying to convey to the leadership of the Federation that it is wrong. Just imagine, I ask, how are Nishida spoke at the championship of Japan. And I say that he didn’t get there the first number of the country which is preparing for the Olympics. Yes, I will laugh colleagues from other countries.

Since then eight years have passed, now how big is the probability that someone from the core team at the national Championships will finish the fight early?

– Accidents happen, especially now, when there was a good Junior and the circle of candidates for the national team expanded, I was just happy with. Before I had even artificially create competition. For example, in last year neither of my boys took first place. Won the guy who at the time visited a number of international tournaments, in particular the Universiade. But after graduation chose not a career. A couple of years he never appeared, and recently I got an SMS in which he wrote that he wants to train again. They say he agreed with BOS, the company that employs that will assist in the preparation for the Olympics and getting into the team of Japan.


– The last Cup success of your wards, as well as the results Kazuyasu Minobu and Nozomi Nakano who once in the eight, were the best Japanese fencers at the Olympics in Rio, has not gone unnoticed in Japan? Or is it that the measure of success is the exclusively Olympic medal?

– Any Olympic medal of the world championship. There are still the Asian games. They are held every four years, but only if you brought from there gold, getting a bonus and a salary Supplement. In 2014 we won the silver – it was a big success for Japan, given the level of competition in men’s epee in Asia, where there are Korea, China, Kazakhstan and a number of other interesting teams. But we said thank you. Exactly the same story and with the world Cup.

– The last world Cup was one of the most successful in the history of Japanese fencing. For the first time in the individual competition at the pedestal rose from two representatives of the country in foil Dr. Toshiya Saito and Takahiro Sekine. Step away from the medals stopped your ward at the sword Satoru Uyama. And in the women’s sabre in the eight made their way at once three representatives of Japan. All this is a direct consequence of active preparation for the home Olympics?

– I think, it’s not just that the next Olympics will be held in Tokyo. Just had some work done, including Oleg Mazacam. Also works Elite Academy (it’s something in the likeness of our boarding school). She invites promising young guys and they train together with us at the Olympic center. Female rapier now invited bronze medalist in Atlanta French franc Boyden. Three sablistka in eight – here it is necessary to acknowledge the work of the Korean coach. In Japan, he is also responsible for men’s saber, too, but there is currently smaller prospects. Certain problems are in women’s epee. Gave birth to her second child and left Nozomi Nakano, who was in the top eight at the Olympics in Rio. With spagettini now more of a Japanese coach, I act more in the role of a consultant. Although they continue to give the girls lessons, and training plan too, I be – common to all.

– In Soviet times, liked to be medal plans, this tradition we have preserved to this day, she’s just not really advertised. How do things stand in Japan? And what place is given to fencing in the aspirations of the hosts of the upcoming Olympics?

While we haven’t made any plans for Tokyo 2020. For a start, will try to qualify there for the maximum. Although something like the Japanese too, as far as I know. Mateychuk told that to Beijing, he was approached by boss and said, well need to write to the Olympic Committee of Japan that we will have six medals. It was immediately clear that this is some kind of adventure, only we could not understand why it is needed. It turned out that under six medals were allocated a certain amount of money. Won in the end, only one medal – silver Yuki OTA. But it was a huge success for Japan. And for the money built infrastructure, laid a good track, bought equipment, including a video, opened an Elite Academy finally invited foreign coaches.

– There are many cases when people were returning to the sport for the sake of performing at a home Olympics. Therefore, not only somewhat surprising was the decision 30-year-old fencers Yuki OTA, Vice-champion in Beijing and London, to finish his career after the Games in Rio. Or something we don’t know about?

– PTA a very large stress was the defeat at the Olympics in Rio. He arrived in the rank of the current world champion, the leader of the world ranking and lost in the first battle not the strongest opponent (the Brazilian Guilherme Toldo – Approx. A. S.). And that, you know, lays an imprint on the psyche. I saw his insane eyes and how much he was upset no one wanted to see, no one wanted to chat. Although, of course, all it tried to support.

– OTA once already quit fencing after the 2008 Olympics. Do not suppose that he can come back here again?

Yeah, it was really two years is not fenced after he won silver in Beijing. But then he returned and again came to their level. Even won the world championship in Moscow. An outstanding athlete, of course. But it is unlikely that we’ll see him again on the track. I think that was his limit. Besides, now to get into the team, he would have to withstand serious competition from the young athletes, not just in this age. From Yuki OTA now other interests. As I understand it, he seeks to make a career in the Olympic Committee. Besides, just a month ago he was elected President of the fencing Federation of Japan.


– Famous figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova once said, “every champion needs to be a little Japanese.” You agree with it?

– It is true, the Japanese will fight to the end. Let something they do not know how or they have not, but they will still try fully giving himself. But there is the Japanese have one trait that I still can not accept, not to understand. Whether it’s fencing, volleyball or football, they lose and smile. Maybe it’s genetically they way nature made it, to be obedient, to give in to elders, not to fight back if they get hit, just stand back. But still, it seems to me that the bad people have to react differently. Although now there are moments (perhaps it was passed on to me), when Japanese athletes, reservices, can hit with a sword on the floor or mask to drop. Through from the habit of smiling they have not escaped, of course. But they already know that I do not like it, and if I catch a glance at some of them smile, that person immediately turns away and tries to make a serious face.

– It seems to me that the people who from the mother’s milk absorb strict adherence to the rules and discipline must be harder than others to cheat and deceive, as in fencing, in my opinion, without it anywhere?

– As for fencing, we teach, uncovering the secrets of how to win. But there are moments that are absolutely unacceptable to the Japanese, for example, cause the opponent to hit his shoulder or arm hurt. The Ukrainians, the Russians in this regard, of course, much more than any tricks.

– From what I hear, the Korean fencers plowing almost around the clock, so the competition for them is a celebration. The Japanese are working on the same principle? What is your typical training day like?

– It all depends on what system you are. Remember the Soviet Union. Fifteen republics, many different schools. The Union championship was like a mini-world Cup. People plowed, and if someone didn’t maintain its place for twenty applicants in the queue. The Koreans are working according to this principle, no one is spared. They seek out human muscles, which can cope with heavy loads, and then put on the power fencing of the brains. But with the Japanese such an option would not pass, because they are weaker than those of the Koreans and the Chinese too. We therefore very much attention to physical training, and this, incidentally, is bearing fruit.

Now I remember one situation where I day by day more and more loaded by their athletes. Load, and see that they are starting to get hooked. One complains that his leg got sick, the second refers to the fact that he’s supposedly the Institute should not come to practice. At some point I ceased to understand, they’re just tired or it really is so hard that the next day they won’t be able to do. I decided to consult with his superiors. Korean coach saber, and he’s a great authority, too, was present. I said, “the Load can’t be distributed, I want to add and see that the guys are hooked”. What I heard in response: “Addicted? Sorry. Put next!”

And who put the people once or twice and miscalculated, and so bit by bit collected to at least some competition to create. To remove these, to collect young – so everything have to start from scratch, there’s just no time. In General, all should be a sound approach: the loads should be alternated with a good recovery. Man is not a machine, if he did not rest, can not continue to operate fully. And we like that. The first training session from 9.30 to 12.30. The second – from three or four to seven. Fencing sometimes both, sometimes one model of OFP. And on Saturday we are always fighting practices are simulated competition.


– Who knows more phrases: are you Japanese or your students in Russian? According to eyewitnesses, you don’t rarely strong language are treated in the hearts during the battles…

– Sometimes it happens, unfortunately. But I think they are not so much the words react, how my angry face. Actually, I’m more Japanese words you know, they have with foreign languages is really bad. When I arrived there, I also had English and Japanese to teach. Such a mess in my head.

– In order to acquaint our readers with your wards, offers little to distract from the conversation about fencing. Someone on the Japanese team are always a perfect way?

– Probably, Satoru Uamy. The rest of the Japanese in this respect little different from other athletes. Sometimes you walk into a room and there are cowards, and food are all mixed up. I adhere to the view that each man for himself must determine the comfort zone. But sometimes not hold back: “What a pigsty you doing?”

– What language pigsty talking about?

– I usually choose a simpler phrase. (Smiles). Although you must give credit to the Japanese, unlike our athletes, which can a week in one go, they are after each workout Laundry bear.

– Who of the disciples and what often have to write a scolding?

– Perhaps Ito. There are some educational moments in the learning process, when you ignore the athlete, do not give him lessons. To create a team – this is not only to teach athletes to fence. They should not be greedy, have to help each other, seemingly small things, but they are important too. And there were moments when greed was evident and I eradicated under the net, and so that people came to my house with tears in his eyes and on his knees asked forgiveness. Three times this happened to different athletes. And the hall had to kick out – this also happened.

– And addictions wards are fighting, or the Japanese have not?

– The Japanese don’t really abuse. Oyama, as I understand it, smokes on the sly, hiding this. As for alcohol, I control the process before the competition, I go into rooms, I remind you that it is a taboo. And then – please, we can together to drink beer, wine or champagne, especially if you have something to celebrate.

– Who among your students is best singing karaoke?

In Japan we often go to the bowling alley to play, but karaoke too, as it were. However, the most interesting case occurred in Kharkov, when I after the tournament Averbuch took the boys to the restaurant. We sit, then rest. And then announce a contest: each table should perform a song. The winner of the prize. I have kids say, “You must sing”. They naturally give excuses. “I don’t want to hear, that’s an order!” I said, of course, as a joke, knowing that they won’t sing. The evening went on, I forgot about the contest, and then when it comes to our table. They get up and start to sing. It was very unexpected. A foreign country, surrounded by foreigners and the Japanese in this respect, people are very fearful. The guys went over himself, overcame his fear, sang, and even the main prize was won. They were called on stage and handed a beer.

– Who in your team is the most popular among the ladies?

Actually, all the guys have girlfriends except Minobu. He with a young lady seven years met. A year and a half years before the Olympics, she began to strain in terms of the fact that she got married. He explained that it is not up to the wedding. But she put an ultimatum: either get married or split up. Minobu chose the Olympics. They broke up. That’s the story. He’s a freelancer now, as I understand it.


The first team success at the world Cup, the Japanese epee fencers achieved at the stage in Paris-2017, having won the fight for the bronze the national team of Ukraine. How did you feel at that moment?

– I was overwhelmed with emotions. Any strong team to win the prestigious and Ukrainian – twice. Good school, Champions of the world, with some of the guys I fenced. I really wanted to show their work.

– At the recent world Cup in Bern, where the Japanese team managed to repeat the bronze success you lost in the semifinals on the priority of Korea, as well as round earlier, Ukraine. But if our team was used in new composition for her, the fact that managed to turn the match into extra time, could be considered a success, what has prevented you?

– Korea is the strongest team in the Asian continent, powerful, sporty and brazen, able-bodied, its athletes are quite different muscles. Previously, Koreans dealt with us very quickly. We only the last five years began more or less compete with them. A couple of times even won in the final of the Asian Championships and in the match for fifth place on the stage in Paris. Usually, when a team is confident, and feel that the opponent is weaker, it literally eats him, but it is another to stand up to her, and she begins to be cautious. It happened in our case, we showed the teeth and the Koreans began to be afraid. With some of our fighters, they don’t want to fight. When does a tactical battle, the battle is not so fast and it allows a weaker team, like us, to recharge, to think, and there is a chance.

– In contrast to the Ukrainian national team, where the role of the finisher is almost assigned by Bogdan Nikishina, the Japanese team meetings are done by different athletes, and even at one tournament. It is a good life or bad?

– It’s true, I give everyone a chance. Partly repelled from the opposing team, watching who of my guys will be easier to fence with who she ends up meeting. And still trying to understand on whom you can rely on at a crucial moment in the world Cup or the Olympics. The last battle – this is a stressful situation. Sometimes I have already decided that the finish will be, for example, WaMu. But you can go to ito. To say that preparing for the last battle. And look at his reaction. Sometimes even in the eyes that the person is afraid. For me this is important information.

– When on the stage of the world Cup in Bern, you are suggested to finish a meeting with a Columbia 19-year-old newcomer Koki Kano, he faint?

– No, this guy is mental all right. I understand that at this age breakdowns are inevitable, but communicating with colleagues from other countries, came to the conclusion that we should not be afraid to trust young players.


– As-that we with Anatoly Gerey talking about doing a crazy competition in the men’s sword, and he uttered the following sentence: “it Seems to be already not the first year go on competitions, stew in this mess, and then out of nowhere appears some Coca Kano straight to the podium of the world Cup gets”. For you, his bronze in January of this year in Heidenheim also was a surprise or not?

Cano fought for a medal at the Junior world championship last year. It was the first sign that he’s capable. Plus in training I occasionally, so to speak, is passed through the athletes themselves, that is, with fence and see who has what strengths and weaknesses. From Kano, I saw quite a lot of advantages, it has speed, a hard hand. And most important he is not afraid to perform tricks. But with all this I also was not expecting such a breakthrough in Heidenheim. And, of course, was very pleased that after some time, he was able to confirm that success with another bronze in Paris. Then it also the world championship was in 16.

– Kano to 19 years stood on the podium of the world Cup in Heidenheim. The same was the Olympic champion Rio Pak San Yong, when he won his first gold at the stage of “Grand Prix” in Qatar-2014. Parallels between them are appropriate, or is it Korean this visitor from another planet?

– More second. The first acquaintance with puck I had at the tournament in Legnano. At the hotel after the competition I rode in the Elevator with the coach of the Korean team, and asked him, what is this new guy they got, so interesting. Pak at that time was already a world champion among juniors, won in Moscow in 2012. I remember his answer. “Our school is very strong,’ said Korean coach – we were the winners of the world Cup, winners of the world Championships and even Olympic medalists, but such as it has not been, it is unique!”

– All of our epee fencers, and those were eight, beat Pak San Yong, and then in the “pool”, could only Vitaly Medvedev. In your opinion, which one of Ukrainians more likely in opposition to him?

– The guys, who work hard through the acute effects. You need to enter the distance through the Batman, seizures. Koreans really don’t like flying weapons, and start to make mistakes. Yamada – the swordsman just such a plan and manage it three years ago at the Asian championship won the Puck in the “pool” 5:0. Minobu won him in a sweatshirt. I think a good chance of a confrontation with a pack of young Ukrainian boys Vladimir Stankevich and Jan Owl. Nikishin, too, as he has to win.

By the way, I played Puck a few years ago in Heidenheim. We arrived there five days earlier to practice, the Koreans were there too. And my athletes something I could not cope with them. I suited up, took the sword, the mask, well, I’ll show you guys how they need to fence. The first fight I won the bronze medalist of the London Olympics of ruchechnik Jeon Jin Seong – 15:13. And then said Puck: “you’re Now connected”. And I won, too, if I’m not mistaken, with the score 15:10. My guys were in shock. And puck now, every time he bows, shakes hands and says “Sensei”. (Smiles).

– In the final of the Olympic games in Rio 2016 on which side were your sympathies young Korean Park sang-Yong or experienced Hungarian Geza Imre?

– I was rooting for PAC. Because I am impressed by his swordplay. The person is not defended, risk creates. It is beautiful and audiences like.


– On account of your sympathy in the fight for the bronze Rio 2016 between the Ukrainian team and the Hungarians, it’s pointless to ask, as I understand it…

– I watched this meeting online. And I have chills ran through my body when Bogdan caught up with Radley. When you have only one shot, I was inside some kind of faith that now come to pass and he evens the score. But then he got the second, and the time to recoup was no more…

– Nikishin were in the Ukrainian national team when you were there on the first cast. As a senior fellow, noticed him even then, glimpses of this fantastic ability to save the team, it would seem, in hopeless situations?

Is leadership to Bogdan did not come immediately – probably in the last five years with experience when he became more confident, their tactics and implementation techniques, when ending the meeting, felt able to pull the team on a pedestal.

– Looking like Imre 41 fences in the final of the Olympics, rises to the podium of the world Cup, your former teammate, 37-year-old Bogdan Nikishin, have you thought about what hurried, after a career of 33 years?

Thought, but, unfortunately, injuries made themselves felt. I remember my last competition – the European championship-2005. There we took second place. So, I’m giving myself injections in the knee did, it was very hard. Besides, Vladimir Stankevich created a very good team. Was strong competition, and needed to show a good result to get into the team because other things being equal, preference was given to young athletes. And I was very unsuccessful last season. I at all competitions have lost the battle 15:14. With the score tied in the end could not decisive shot to apply. I think it broke me psychologically.

– So how much interest have you sold yourself as an athlete?

Not entirely sure. The reasons are different, one of them is the change of coaches. I started, also, by the way, as Dima Kyrychenko, Alexander Epishov. But he died at the age of 37, God rest his soul. Then went to Leonid Viktorovich the Sun. But he passed away. Then I started to train with Irina, Odokienko. I also received lessons from George Shahbazyan and Sergey Paramonov. And tried each of the coaches have something to gain from.

I now look like Stankiewicz works with his son. Immediately felt, his school, his vision of fencing. And I, already being in the team, continued to experiment. Fenced in the same style, then in another. And when you are in search of and constantly trying, it will shoot three times, and three no.


– What fights in the first place comes to mind, when it comes to your career?

– Remember the team victory at the European championship-2001. I the first two fights unsuccessfully ottenthal. Maksym Khvorost pulled the team, the score was equal. And I in the penultimate battle could make the handicap in four shots for Dima, Keruchenko. And he brought the match to a victory. I also won the “sword of Tallinn”. Estonian television even showed those historical pictures when in 2015 the first two steps of the podium of this tournament has raised my students Minobu and Oyama. It was very nice.

– To learn how you were an athlete, it is enough to see how fencing your son Eugene Gorbachuk ? Or is he the Pope?

Say, like a little stand, figure. But I was tougher swordsman, by nature we are different. While still living with me in Japan, Jack came here and won the cadet championship of Ukraine. Then spoke on “the world” in Tashkent. The trip was expensive and the athletes who passed on the Ministry to send could not, and I said that my son will go. And there he was in the top eight, and on equal fought with the Hungarian for a medal. Given the fact that was attended by about two hundred people, and the son prior to that, no international tournament is not called for, I think, it was a decent result. But he’s here now, and I was there, and that’s the problem.

– Why did this happen?

– Eugene went to school at the Embassy. When he’d finished it, said he wanted to fence and get into the national team of Ukraine. For this he needed to return home, enroll here in University. I did not interfere, because they saw what kind of life awaits him if he stays in Japan. School, home, Pref, friends he wasn’t there. He’s a big guy, of course he wants peers to communicate. So the last two years, it is located in Kharkov. Coached by Irina Ivanovna, Odokienko. I also periodically ask Maxim of Sticks to work with him. Possibly connect him to his duties. On the Ukrainian level, he fences well, a team at the Junior misses, but the international result, and I was primarily interested in it, yet.

– During a meeting at the airport “Borispol” you said you’re going to go on the weekend in Kharkov. I thought with the family to see, and you happen to be fenced..?

– First of all, I went to my parents and brother. But I love fencing, sometimes it’s tempting to take up arms. And since the tournament turned up. In this way, Dima, Keruchenko participated. Thought will meet him in the finals, but my son at his entrance into the two won.

So you in the final your son fought? And how?

– First, the idea was not at full strength to fence, to give. Because, I think, no. Said to him: “You’ll be easy prey”. And so it happened.

– I wish that next time son you still beat.

Thank you, I want it too.

Anna SAVCHIK, Sport-Express in Ukraine