Go, Igo, Weiqi, Baduk Go, Igo, Weiqi, Baduk. Kaz's original Igo-advice & fundamentals of Igo: The year 2012 latest Go (Weiqi, Baduk) advice


You don’t have to learn the latest joseki or the latest fuseki (opening).

You don’t have to learn the latest joseki or the latest fuseki (opening).



You don't have to learn the latest joseki or a newly
developed opening (fuseki). If you like to learn them more than
three meals, then please do so.
But you don't have to.

Your goal is to become a strong Go player,
not a master of a new joseki or a new opening.

Do you know that Cho U 9dan (張栩 九段), who achieved the grand slam has
gotten more titles than most top Japanese pros,

never studied some opening variations, which would not
appear in his games since he was an insei.

He only kept examining his favorite fuseki and tried
to be a master of it.

Amateur players don't have time to study all kinds
of joseki and opening variations. When your opponent
tries a new joseki or fuseki, almost always you have
a way to avoid it.

Otake Hideo 9 dan (大竹英雄) doesn’t like an
"avalanche" joseki and almost always avoids it; he has still
won many games.

I always think that new joseki and new opening variations
are like fashion. They can come and go. Keep in mind
that pros come up with a new joseki every day.

Even pros in Japan have a hard time keeping up with new
josekis in South Korea and China. Japanese top pros once
avoided playing an "avalanche" joseki with Korean and
Chinese pros. When it comes to an "avalanche", if when
you make one mistake, you lose a game immediately.

I recommend that you learn basic josekis, which have been
around for the 30 or 40 years. You could find them in
my website ( http://www.kazsensei.com/ ).

For example the attach-and-extend joseki has been around
more than 50 year, and is likely to remain as joseki for
the next 30, 40 or more years.

The attach-and-extend joseki is good because it is applicable
to so many situations. That's because it's so basic and
important.

That's a classic example of a basic joseki, and I think that's
what you should learn.

One of the reasons you should learn joseki is to acquire
basic tesuji and good shape, so you can apply to ohter
situations.

Also if you learn the meaning of each move of a joseki,
you can remember the joseki for a long time. (my website
explains the meaning of each move, tesuji, and shape of
some basic josekis as well as how you can apply them
to other situations.)

I also have to mention that a new joseki or a new opening
may not exist in the next decade. No one really knows
which new joseki and opening are going to stay for the next 10 years.

Another important thing is that many amateur Go players may not
be able to study Go continuously.

When you get maried and have a child or children, and / or when you
get promoted in a higher position in company, you will probably
have no time to play Go for some years.

After a few years, you will find time to play Go again.
But some joseki and some opening that were once the most popular
may not be played anymore.

So your effort to learn new joseki or new opening may not
be paid off. Thus unless you're a pro or a top amateur,
you don't have to study the latest joseki or fuseki.

Instead you should learn basic stuff such as life-and-death,
tesuji, and shape because they have never changed for a few
hundred years, so they will very likely remain for the next
a few hundred yeras.

Moreover, they will also help you face a new joseki or a new opening.

It's because whether you know new joseki or new fuseki variations,
you always have to face a new fight. And when it comes to fight,
the more you know tesuji and shape, the better you can fight.
And the more you know life-and-death problems, the more likely
you make life or kill the enemy groups.

Learning or memorizing a new joseki or a new opening, on the
other hand, may not help you fight well if you encounter a
completely new joseki or a new opening.

When I get to 6dan, I could understand the meaning of each move
in josekis.

This is why I state that unless you're a pro or a top amateur,
you don't have to learn them.

To conclude I recommend learning the most basic joseki, which
have been around for many years.

I’d like to tell you my experience, too.

I went to America to go to university. I stayed in the US
more than 5 years and never studied or played go seriously.

After I went back to Japan, I played the 4 major amateur
Tokyo tournaments, and without knowing the most fashionable
josekis, I could still get about 85% winning ratio.

When my opponent tried a new joseki, I just avoided it.
When my opponent tried to make the Chinese fuseki or the
Kobayashi fuseki
, I played White 4 approaching Black 3
to avoid it. After that, my opponent and I had to face a new
situation, and whoever stronger was going to win.

Learn your favorite opening, master it, and keep learning move, so you can win more!



I often recommend that you have your favorite
opening.

The reason is:

1. You can learn neither all josekis nor all
opening variations. If you try to learn as
many openings as possible, you may not be
good at any opening. Keep in mind that
Takemiya Masaki 9-dan(武宮正樹), known as the
famous "cosmic style" of Go
, has been playing
the 3 star point oepning for many decades
and still plays different games.

2. If you have your favorite opening and keep
playing it, you can get better at it. So the
possibility of winning ratios may very well increase.

I've recently read a book written by Cho U Kisei
(張栩 棋聖, 王座 in 2012)
. In the book he says he never
studied the opening which would not appear in his games.

(Come to think of it, Cho U pro often came up with
a new opening. I assume that he created them intenationally.)
It's better to play an opening, which he knows very well,
and his opponents don't know much about it. When he takes
the lead in the opening, he could more likely win a game.
You can apply his strategy to your games.

3. If you keep playing the same opening, you often play
the same or similar joseki. This means that you may
very well retain josek and build more. It's hard to
retain joseki if you don't use them. Use it or lose it.

4. Even if you stop playing Go for a while, as long as you
studied one fuseki deeply, you may very well get them back
rather easily.

I need to explain 4. more.
Amateurs often stop playing Go for a while because they
get very busy working, taking care of the family, starting
other hobbies and activities, etc.

I’ve met many people who stopped playing Go for a year,
five, years, or even twenty years. They used to be an avid
Go players, so they eventually come back to play Go.

But if they had studied many opening and joseki variations,
then the chances are that they don’t remember any of them.

Ideally, though, you never stop studying Go.

Regardless of how busy you're, as long as you keep studying
Go even for 5 or 10 minutes the chances are that you may
not forget a lot of what you have learned.

How do you do that? For example you could leave your Go books
in a bathroom and read it once or twice a day.

The reason I say this is that one day I realize the following:

Rather than studying Go intensively for 6 months and not
studying for another 6 months, it seems better to study
for a year continuously even if the study is not intensive.

Some of my language talented friends have told me that
there are similarities between learning Go and languages.
And I have read some books and articles written by language
specialists who can speak several languages.

They all say that you should learn a language for a certain
period of time continuously. If you try to learn it
intensively in a short time and stop using it, it will
escape from you very quickly.

A person who speaks six languages once told me that
human brains work in such a way that brains tend to
forget things if a person stops learning or playing.

This means that if you stop playing Go, then your
brain thinks that the brain doesn’t have to retain
your Go knowledge and experience and starts inputting
new information in your head. It makes a lot of sense to me.

(This topic “Learn your favorite opening, master it,
and keep learning move!”
relates to the next topic
“You don’t have to learn the latest joseki or the
latest fuseki (opening)"
.

How long humans can concentrate? What about Fujisawa 9dan? Key to learn Go quikcly!



As is known, concentration is a key to learning
quickly as well as to playing a good game.

By the way, generally speaking, how long how long
is it possible for humans to concentrate at maximum?

The answer is probably 3 hours.

As an insei, I learned this number from a book
written by Serizawa Hirobumi (芹澤博文) 9 dan Shogi
pro
(Shogi (将棋) is Japnaese chess game) and also
a 5 dan amateur Go player.

Serizawa and Fujisawa Hideyuki (藤沢秀行, Shuko
is also known as his name) both loved drinking, and they
drank together often; they were like brothers. (I have
an intriguingstory of them at the end.)

Serizawa Hirobumi wrote in his book that once he
thought of a move for a long time and played it.
When he saw the time, he spent 3 hours for that move.
Then he felt that natured called him; he went to pee,
and pee and blood came out. He concluded that a human
being could continue concentration 3 hours at maximum.

(I also read the same kind of story somewhere; someone
concentrated for 3 hours and peed with blood. But I don’t
remember which story that was... Sorry! But I do remember
the number “3 hours”. )

Later I learned that Fujisawa Hideyuki Kisei(棋聖)
also thought of one move for 2 hours and 57 minutes
and played an unbelievable killing move against
Kato Masao (加藤正夫) 9 dan in the 5th game of
the 2nd Kisei best-of-seven title match.

Kato challenged Fujisawa’s Kisei title and won
three games and lost one game. All he needed was win
just one more game to get the Kisei title.

But Fujisawa’s tenacity to kill the group in the
5th game overcame Kato. After this game, Fujisawa
was completely and utterly exhausted and couldn’t
move for a while.

But because of this winning, Fujisawa revived!

He won the 6th and 7th game and defended his Kisei
title. (This 5th game is shown in my website:
http://www.kazsensei.com/ ).

So this means that you can improve your concentration
up to 3 hours. (I haven’t. :(

Whoever concentrates his/her study can learn quickly.
And whoever concentrates a game better than the opponent
is likely to win.

Pros often say in a Go magazine that“I lost my
concentration momentarily and made a mistake,
which turned out to be the losing move.”

So concentration IS important in order to win.

Pros are usually an expert at concentration.

They have built the ability to concentrate for a long
time. But this ability didn’t come overnight. Years
of training as a childhood has made them build such
an incredible concentration.

Amateurs can improve Go as well as concentration if
they don't have one, yet. They just need some training.

The problem is that unlike children, many adults don’t
have much time to study Go; they have to work and
take care of the family, etc.

So even if you have only 15-minute study time every day,
I think it’s a good idea to create an environment in
which you could completely absorb yourself in Go.

Using a timer is one way to improve your concentration
when you solve Go problems. You may think that
"studying only 15 minutes" doesn’t help me much.

But in fact concentrating 15 minutes is not an easy thing,
I think. Being able to concentrate for 15 minutes anytime
anywhere is not easy, either. I mean can you concentrate
your study or work in an ear-splitting construction site?

But if you could do that, you could learn Go anywhere
anytime. So you could become stronger faster than other
people.

If you have trouble concentrating even for 15 minutes,
that’s a good start. When you get used to it, then
you can increase the time little by little.

If you really want to become a strong Go player,
you should use your time efficiently as well.

For example many people watch games on the internet
and on TV Go program in Japan. It's fun, a lot of fun.
But are they really concentrating? Are they thinking
about next moves and reading moves as much as you
play a serious game? If the answer is "no", then
you may have to find a better way to study Go.

I also sometimes think that watching a strong player's
game on the internet may not be the best use of time.

Let me give you an example.

Suppose you're a 10 kyu player. Does watching a game
between 5 dan amateur players help you learn?
I'm not sure if that's helpful.

1. How do you know that those strong players have
solid basic foundations? If they are full of
common amateur mistakes, then the chances are
that you're learning common amateur mistakes.

2. Suppose those two 5 dan amateur players have built
solid basic foundations. In that case you can learn
something.

But what if they started playing an "avalanche" joseki?
Is it going to be very useful for 10 kyu players?
Isn't it better for them to learn at their own level?
It’s very likely that they are learning
something way advanced, which may take you 3 or 4
years or possibly longer to understand.

If you're a 10 kyu player, you can't tell how easy
or difficult a game is. Is it better to solve
life-and-death problems at 10 kyu level than
watch a an "avalanche" joseki? It's up to you to
decide.

By the say, I have already written on my blog that
it is important to "Find a book or problems at your own level"
( http://kazsensei.seesaa.net/article/251502535.html).

I must say that my advice is often for adults, especially
those in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, since a more than
half of my Go students are at those ages.

If you’re a child or a teenager, then you could become
5 dan from 10 kyu in a few years if you study hard;
in that case learning an “avalanche” joseki may by okay.

But for adults I think it's wise to know that you could
avoid an “avalanche” joseki and can still become a strong
player. To become a storng Go player, you need to build
basics foundations, not an "avalanche" joseki.

Pros have developed an incredible concentration when
they were teenagers.

This is one of the biggest reasons that many pros
often learn other subjects, different from Go, very
quickly and become good at it.

For example cosmic style Takemiya Masaki(武宮正樹) 9dan
is known as an expert in golf, backgammon, mah-jong,
and singing. He even made a record debut once as a singer.
He also won a backgammon title once.

By the way, here is an intriguing stroy about Serizawa
Hirobumi (芹澤博文) 9 dan Shogi pro
and Fujisawa Hideyuki
(藤沢秀行, Shuko
9 dan.

Suppose a god of Go knows Go 100. How much do you know of Go?

Fujisawa and Serizawa once drank and talked about it.
They decided to write down on a piece of paper and handed
it in. Fujisawa’s answer was 6, and Srizawa’s was 7.
Fujisawa liked his answer, and Serizawa was embarrassed
by his answer because his number was higher than Fujisawa.

(Serizawa, by the way, was a talented shogi player,
but never got a major title.)

Reviewing is also important in order to be a better Go player

Reviewing is also important in order to be a better Go player



Reviewing your game is also important.

I’m aware that many people have a hard time
remembering a game, and that’s fine. It takes
a lot of time and training to remember your game.

In order to record your game I highly recommend
playing on the internet because a game is automatically
recorded.

It's also a good idea to review your game right
after you play. If you review it, you may not
remember why you played your mistakes.

(By the way, many, many amateur players have told me
that they don't remember their thoughts after they
played a game. So for those people I always give comments
during a game. )

Pros review their game 3, 4, 5 hours or 8 hours
if they have time. Top pros review their games
until they are satisfied.

Amateurs, of course, don't have to review one game
for many hours. And if you review the most important
part just for 15 minutes, that will be wonderful.

Ideally you ask a pro or a Go teacher to give
commentary on your game. It’s because unless
you’re a 5 dan or stronger, you may not find
your own mistakes and proper moves easily.

If you have never asked a pro or a Go teacher
to review your game, I highly recommend it.
You would be surprised by how much you can learn.

I’ve been teaching Go for many, many years.
Usually I teach the same people for a long time...
3 years, 4 years, 5 years, and longer.

Based on my experience some people learn more from your
games than from playing with a pro or a Go teacher.
The reason is that some amateur players play with
peers completely differently from playing a pro
or a Go teacher.

It’s like "Jekyll and Hyde".

They change their Go personality drastically.

I’ve taught people like that. One day I realized
that I should teach them differently.

By the way, I should mention that you don’t have
to review all your games. Even if you get a game
commentary from a pro or a Go teacher once a month,
and if you go over it for a while, that will help
improve your Go.

How much you can improve depends on how much you review.

If you get 100 game commentaries and don’t have time
to review any of the games, then it’s better to get
one game commentary and review it many times.

The important thing is to review continuously.

It takes time to learn.

One of my Go students got my lessons and keeps
reviewing it at least once or twice a year, depending
on how busy he is at work. But every time I meet him,
he has been improving.

In order to become a better Go player, reviewing a
game is essential. Otherwise, you keep making the same
mistakes over and over again.

But I think it’s the same as chess and other mind
sports, and physical sports such as baseball, soccer,
Olympic sports, too. And I bet reviewing is necessary
for business and investment. I don’t think any company
lets workers keep making the same mistakes and lose
money over and over again.

When it comes to Go, even if you don't review your
games, you never lose money. But if your goal is to
become a better Go player, then you should fnd the
more efficient way of improving, and one important
study is reviewing.

If you study very hard, then you can become stronger,
but without a reviewing process, your improvement
would be slower, not efficient.

If you don’t study Go and don’t review, but only play
many games, then you may very well keep making the same
mistakes, which are going to be ingrained in you.
The longer you keep making the same mistakes, the more
they become a habit. When the same mistakes become second
nature, it's going to be very hard to get rid of them.

After that, even if you try to learn basics, it's not at
all easy because your mistakes prevent you from learning basics.

I can tell you this because of my teaching experience.

In Japan I have taught so many amateur players who never
studied basics for 10, 20, or 30 years.

One day they started taking my lessons, but I have always had
a hard time making them stronger because getting rid of
their common amateur mistakes takes 2, 3 or 4 years.
At the same time they also learn basics.

But it’s much faster to learn basics from the very beginning.

Sadly they eventually give up learning basics.

For amateurs I think it’s important to get basics
as soon as possible before you land in common amateur
mistake syndrome.

It takes adults much longer time than children.
So adults have to study basics much longer time than
children if they want to become stronger.

Reviwing is one important way to prevent you
from making the same common mistakes.


The following is an unusual pro case; just FYI.

When Yamashiro Hiroshi(山城宏)challenged
Kobayashi Koichi(小林 光一) Kisei(棋聖)

of the 16th Kisei best-of-seven title match, the
score was 3-3.

They played the last game to determine the winner.

In the final game Yamashiro was winning by half a
point in the endgame. Interestingly during the game
both Yamashiro and Kobayashi thought that the Kisei
title was going to move to Yamashiro about the same time.

But at the very end, Kobayashi found a move to gain
one point and turned around the game. As a result,
Yamashiro not only lost the title, he also
lost the glory and about $600,000.

After his loss, he kept studying the game for almost
3 month in Nihon Kiin.

(Like I said, this is just FYI.)

I’m not encouraging any amateur players to do this.

The importance of life-and-death and tesuji problems



Life-and-death problems are the one of the
most important if you want to become a strong
go player. Even if you study the opening,
the middle game, and the endgame, if you
make one mistake in a life-or-death situation,
you would lose a game.

Also most Go players I taught always lack the
ability to solve life-and-death problems.

For example when I taught adult kyu players,
they often had a hard time recognizing a false
eye. So they didn’t realize that their big
group was dead until the end.

In fact this happened to me and others when
they and I were dan players… Oops! In other
words, recognizing a false eye may not be as
easy as you think. I think it’s partly because
in a real game many stones are so mixed up that
things don’t look as easy as life-and-death
problems.

(That is why I’ve been making many false eye
problems in my website: http://www.kazsensei.com/ )

If you don’t know what to study, I would recommend
life-and-death and tesuji rather than any other study.

This is because
1. life-and-death can often determines the winner,
2. studying life-and-death and tesuji will definitely
help you become strong whereas reading Go books
on some abstract concepts
such as moyo may take a long time to understand,
3. when you learn tesuji, your fighting skill
improves significantly. In fight if you make a
mistake, you may lose many stones.

So whoever knows more tesuji is more likely to win a
fight, thus more likely to win a game. Additionally
if you learn tesuji, your shape becomes beautiful and
strong. Tesuji can also appear in the endgame as well.

So learning tesuji helps you throughout a game.

(That is why I’ve been making a lot of life-and-death
problems, tesuji problems, and shape problems in my website:
http://www.kazsensei.com/ )

Ideally, of course, you study everything if you have time,
but still you shoud focus on life-and-death problems.

Pros who are good at life-and-death problems often become a top.
This also proves how important life-and-death is.

Cho U (張栩先生) has been making records of the fastest
winning ratios, getting more titles, etc. He is famous
for being good at solvinh life-and-death problems as well
as making great life-and-death problems.

Sha Imin (謝依旻先生) has been getting more women's titles
in Japan than any other women. Her most favorite study
is life-and-death problems.


By the way, solving them once or is not good enough.

I always recommend that amateur Go players solve many
easy problems over and over again.

I emphasize "over and over again" more than "many problems."
Reviewing problems once or twice is not good enough. 10
times, 20 times. The more, the better...

You don’t have to repeat every day. You could repeat
it over a year or some years.

Find a book or problems at your own level and solve easy problems

Find a book or problems at your own level and solve easy problems



In order to improve Go as fast as possible, finding
a book and problems suitable for you is also important.

In my experience so many people in Tokyo, probably
more than half of Go players, read books more
advanced than their true level.

Suppose you choose a book over your head.
What’s going to happen?

Suppose you're a 1dan player and memorize some
avalanche joseki variations. I think learning avalanche
joseki for 1 dan player is way advanced, but suppose
you do that and you play it in your real game.
But when your opponent deviates from those variations
(this happens all the time since most people at 1dan level
don't know what to do), you may not be able to handle it.

(I never recommend an "avalanche" joseki to any
amateur players. It can be even very complicated to some
pros because Korean and Chinese pros come up with new
joseki variations all the time. Thus, it's
almost impossible for amateurs to keep up with
everything.

Ootake Hideo 9dan pro has almost always avoided an
"avalanche" joseki because he doesn't like complications,
and he has won many games. )

Reading an advanced Go book may very well be very
boring or at least less enjoyable. If it’s not
enjoyable, you can’t concentrate for a long time,
and that is not an efficient use of time.

In fact there are so many basic things 1 dan players can
learn, and if they learn them, they can become strong.
Learnin an "avalanche" joseki takes a long time, and
many amateurs can't apply those variations to other
places... Those variations are not basics.

So I recoomend that amateurs learn basics at
their true level.

But the problem is tht finding a right book is not easy.

Suppose you’re a 1 dan player and love to study fuseki
and have studied fuseki all the time. This means that your
middle game and endgame level may very well be weaker than a
dan level. So you might want to find a kyu level
middle game and endgame books to study.

But which kyu level? Who knows?
What criteria are used to assess your Go level,
so you could find the right book?

In that case I recommend trying some prolems, which takes
a minute to solve or three minutes at most.

If it takes more than five minutes, it may very
well be way over your head.

The easier, the better.

That way you can build basic foundations.

When you solve easy problems many times and feel
confident about them, then you can go on to try
more difficult problems.

The following example supports my argument.

I once saw an interesting Japanese TV program about how to
train children in the ski jump. Teachers were
former Olympics medalists, and they let children
jump a very small ski jump first.

When children get used to that and gain basic movements,
the teachers allow children to jump a little bigger ski
jump. The children try the jump many times again, and
become good at it. And they are allowed to try a harder
one, and so on down the line.

If the instructors let children a very high jump at the
beginning, kids might very well end up with broken bones.

I think that learning Go is the same.

You should learn problems step-by-step.

Easy-to-understand problems are easy to learn, and
because they are easy, you can learn fast, too.
It is also an efficient use of time.

When you learn a lot, sooner or later, you can
make a strong foundation of Go.

Then, you can try hard problems and see how easily
you can solve them. You may be able to solve them
more easily.

If a hard problem still takes time, then you continue
to solve easy problems more to make a stronger foundation.

It just seems to me that without building a strong
foundation of Go, solving hard problems may not be
the most efficient way of learning Go. It might
take a longer time to become strong than learn basics frist.

BTW, some people make an apparantly easy mistake and lose
a game, and then they often say, "Well, I know this shape.
How stupid was I to make such a simple mistake." Maybe
they are rihgt. But what I saw was often different.
They havent't practiced enough, so they made such mistakes.

Of course, if solving hard problems makes you learn faster
than most people, then, that's fine. I have no objection
to your way of learning. You should keep doing it.

But if that is not working, then it may be worth trying
solving easy problems.

I should also mention that it’s good to try hard problems
sometimes to see how well you can do. This can give some
people more motivation to study easy problems.

I study Chinese. I don't understand Chinese and Taiwanese
TV dramas and movies. But sometimes I watch and enjoy it,
and this gives me more motivations to study Chinese.

Last but not least, I believe the most important thing is to
study enjoyably. You should find your own way to
study enjoyably.

Here is related reading in this blog:『The proof of "solvingt easy problems repeatedly" will help you improve your iGo! Part I』
http://kazsensei.seesaa.net/article/106538039.html

Is playing as many games as possible the best way to become strong?

Is playing as many games as possible the best way to become strong?



This article relates to the previous one:
( http://kazsensei.seesaa.net/article/251432166.html )

Many people in Japan try to convince kyu players
that they should play as many games as possible
in order to become stronger. Ironically I haven’t
met anyone who has become strong without learning
basics.

My experience tells me differently; you should
acquire as much basics as possible. You should
study basics far more than play many games.

If you just play thousands of games without ever
learning basics, you are going to end up with your
own Go style, the style without tesuji or correct
shape.

I have met so many Go players in Japan with their
own style. When they started taking my lessons and
learning basics, it was extremely difficult to get
rid of their style because their styles were
ingrained in their mind for a long time.

After years of teaching, many of them still struggle
to get rid of them.

So I suggest the following:
If you have 4-hour free time, I recommend that you
study at least 2 hours, and then play a game for
an hour and review the game for an hour.
( I think you need to study more, but it's up to you.)

To be honest I don’t know how many hours you should
study. But please learn basics far more than playing
games. Let me give you my experience.

I’ve been studying Chinese.
Every day I go to a supermarket and a convenience
store because Chinese part-time workers are there.
I speak to one person for one minute every day,
and in total I have two one-minute Chinese lessons.

I sometimes prepare for this one-minute lesson for
about 30 minutes, sometimes an hour. I write down
my jokes in Chinese and practice pronunciation
many times.

When I meet a Chinese worker, I always record the
conversation.

After the lessons, I listen to the recording and
correct my pronunciation on my way home. When I get
home, I write down the conversation and look up new
words.

Additionally I try to correct their Japanese because
I like quid pro quo. Every day I write down Japanese
advice and give it to them the next day. In fact
I'm good at correcting foreigners' Japanese mistakes.
The reviewing time and the Japanese correction in total
take me about 30 minutes.

This means that if you play a game an hour, there
must be many things you could learn...

Although I must admit that without a Go dictionary,
Go books, or a Go teacher, it may be very hard to
find right moves. So comparing my experience with
reviewing Go may not be a good one.

Because of that, how much you like to review a game
is up to you.

The relations between Go and gymnastics.



( There are some sloppy English mistakes.
Please forgive me.)

On my blog and facebook I always emphasize how
important it is to build a strong basic foundation
and how important it is to practice repeatedly.
Here's another example.

Once I saw a very interesting TV program about
Japan's top gymnasts.

In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens the Japanese
male gymnastics team in the all around event won
the gold medal for the first time since 1976.

The Japanese male gymnastics team was once the best,
surpassing the former Soviet Union.

In 1952 the Soviet Union male team in the all
around event won the gold medal.

In 1956 the Soviet Union male team in the all
around event won the gold medal, and the Japanese
team got the silver.

In 1960 The Japanese male team in the all around
event won the gold medal, and the Soviet Union got
the silver.

In 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976 it was the same result.
So the Japanese team was the number one for many years.

After that, the Japanese team couldn't win the gold
medal anymore. They got the Bronze only twice.
The Soviet Union kept winning the gold medal repeatedly.

Then some Japanese gymnastics instructors, who are
former Olympic medalists, went to the former Soviet
Union and learned about how the Soviet team trained
in children.

They trained children in the basic movements over and
over again it seemed like forever. When the Japanese
team kept winning the gold medal, they stopped this
endless basic training method.

In fact the former Soviet Union team learned this
from Japan after they lost out to Japan in the Olympics
for several times.

The Soviet team visited Japan and learned about how
the Japanese team was training in children.

And the Soviet team started training in their students
the exact same way; eventually they started winning
the gold medals again.

So the Japanese team went back and started teaching
children an old-fashioned way, and after some years,
their efforts paid off.

In the 2000 summer Olympics the Japanese male gymnast
team won the gold medal again. In the 2004 Olympics
they won the silver.

Moreover, Kohei Uchimura, Japan's best gymnast, won
all-around finals in the 2011 World Championships
in Tokyo, Japan.

This was his third All Around World Championships win;
he is the first person in history to achieve this.

I read somewhere that in South Korea children have to
solve so many basic problems repeatedly. So I think
there are similarities about Go and gymnastics.
(If I'm wrong, please correct me... Thanks. )

When it comes to adult Go players, I also think it
is important to practice basics repeatedly because
unlike children it takes adults a long time to learn basics.

Go is one of the most difficult games, and you have
so many things to learn such as the opening, middle game,
the endgame, tesuji, and life-and-death, shape, invasion,
attack, defense, moyo, etc. It takes a long time to learn
each of them. Without learning the basics, it’s not easy
to become strong.

But when it comes to Go, some people don’t seem to care
about learning basics. Instead they keep playing…

When I think of the Olympic gymnastics, if you have 3-hour
free time, it seems like a good idea to study at least
2 hours to learn Go basics.

(When it comes to a tournament or the Go Congress,
it’s different. It’s a great to opportunity to play
many serious and casual games. You have the opportunity
to meet and make lots of Go friends and play with many
players. It happens only once a year! Please don’t miss it!)

The importance of basic foundations of Go



Acquiring basic foundations comes first and foremost. To do so, you have to practice repeatedly.

You should learn basics as much as possible.

My definition of basic foundations is that there
are basic foundations for 10 kyu players, for
5 kyu players, for 1 dan players, and so on.
I believe that you should learn various levels of
basics as you improve.

I can tell you the reason, comparing other things.

For example if you want to build a tall building
(i.e. a strong dan level), you want to build strong
foundations, right? Without strong foundations,
a building could collapse if an earthquake hits.)

When it comes to ski jumping, children learn step
by step. First they have to master a 1-meter jump.
When they get used to it, they try a 2-meter jump,
and then 4-meter jump, 8-meter, 10-meter, 20-meter,
30-meter jump, and so on down the line.

Without learning basics and try 100-meter jump like
Olympic ski jumpers do, they would end up with broken bones.

My language experiences also taught me the importance of repetition.

I never went to high school instead I became an insei (a Go apprentice). After I quite, I studied English by myself. Despite the lack of high school education, before I decided to go to university in America, my English was much better than many Japanese students in terms of speaking, listening, and writing because I practiced them repeatedly.

I once studied German by myself. I learned how to pronounce correctly and practiced basic expressions so many times.

But I stopped it. It’s been about two decades, but I still remember some of the German expressions. I use it when I meet German travelers in Tokyo, and they understand me.

In case of German, I practiced repeatedly, so I still remember them. But when I studied French, I didn’t do that.

After I graduated from university in America, I went to a prestigious French language school in Tokyo for 3 months. Each lesson lasted an hour. A teacher always gave students homework, and I did that, but didn’t have time to study French outside class.

Studying a language for an hour or an hour and a half each week is not at all enough to learn basics. After many years have passed, I don't remember any French now.

My karate experience also tells me the importance of repetition.

I started learnin, Kyokushin Karate(極真空手), as an adult.
One karate class usually lasts an hour and a half.
When I went to a dojo as a beginner, all karate
students, beginners and black belts alike, had to
learn the same basic movements for at least an hour
almost nonstop. After that, we learn various things
for 30 minutes.

Sometimes we did kumite (a fight). For the 3 months,
however, black belts never let beginners to try the
kumite because it’s too dangerous. In fact 3 months
is not long enough to solidify basics. It takes at
least a year and usually a couple of years to learn
basics.

(When I was a beginner, I always left a dojo, breathing
a sigh of relief that I survived today again. It was
always a fear to enter the dojo. I was sometimes knocked
down. It took me about 3 years to lessen the fear. )

In a Kyokushin Karate dojo, regardless of how strong
you become, you have to learn the same basic movements for
the first hour of training.

They often teach the basic movements for an hour and a half
continuously without doing any advanced learning.

In fact Kyokushin Karate has been known as one of the
strongest karate organizations in the world among other karate
organizations. Later I found out about the reason for that;
it's because they do basic movements for a long time,
much longer than any other karate organizations, or so I've heard.

I went to a dojo at least 4 days a week and at most 7 days a
week after work. That means that I learned basics at least 4
hours a week and 10 hours a week. I must say that I was one
of the most avid students, and I always hungrily learned basics.

Some students hated doing basic movements and loved fighting.
So they didn't take basic movements seriously.
But they seemed not to improve as fast as I did...

Looking back, I'm glad that I took the basics seriously, so
I could move the proper way, and because of that, I didn't
get hurt easily or badly except the black belt test...

After 5 years, I took the two-day black belt test and passed it
and got the black belt along with a one-month injury... Ouch!

( I have to add that even though the black belts do the basic
movements with beginners for an hour, black belts are supposed to
think differently. During the movements, they should be imagining
an enemy movement and attack, and they respond based on the
basic movements. Since the movements go very fast,
black belts have to think those things very quickly, using
their brains at the maximum speed. Those black belts who don't
do this will not become strong anymore.

Fortunately for Go players, they don't have to repeat as much as karate
students do. Yet, repetition is necessary and crucial if Go players want to build
a basic foundation and improve fast.

Go pros do the same. Even though they play apparantly easy-to-
understand moves, their brains are working at the maximum
speed during their games. )

While I was learning karate, I started questioning Go schools’
teaching methods.

It seems to me that go schools in Japan teach very little
basics and let students play many games.

Many Go schools in Tokyo usually give only a 30 minute
commentary with the use of a big Go board and let them
play a game an hour.

Go schools give a lesson only 30 minutes a week!

That's too little!

Go is one of the most difficult games. And even children
study Go many hours in order to improve. It takes adults
more time to learn basics than chilren.

After Go school, many adult Go players don't have a lot
of time to study; they are busy working, taking care
of their family, etc. This means that at least
in Go school it might be a good idea to help them learn a lot
of basics.

(Also ideally the lessons should be organized. In Japanese
Go schools different teachers just pick topics randomly
every week.

For example when I teach the attach-and-extend joseki, I
try to teach in an organized way. Here is an example:
http://www.kazsensei.com/faq#WhyMakingWebsite from 1. to 7.)

Naturally most Go students have a hard time becoming strong.

But Go teachers give praise and keep raising their scores
instead of raising their Go skills. Naturally their levels
are inflated every year... But I was not the management,
so I didn’t say much.

I’d like to reiterate that without learning basics
of ski jump, you can end up with broken bones.

When it comes to Go, if you don’t solidify your
basic foundations, you could be playing a game with
invisible broken bones.

To be continued...
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