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Interwiew with René Smaal

15/04 2016

Karate Live brings you interview with RENÉ SMAAL - WKF European Champion, who lives in Netherlands.

2016 K1 Premier League - Rotterdam 2016 (NED) Male Kumite -75 Kg 3rd Place
2015 K1 Premier League - Paris 2015 (FRA) Male Kumite -75 Kg 1st Place
2014 K1 Premier League - Hanau 2014 (GER) Male Kumite -75 Kg 1st Place
2014 K1 Premier League - Lotto Dutch Open 2014 - Male Kumite -75 Kg 3rd Place
2013 K1 Premier League - Frankfurt / (GER) Male Kumite -75 Kg 3rd Place
2013 48th European Senior Karate Championships (HUN) Male Kumite -75 Kg 2nd Place
2012 Karate1 Hanau 2012 (GER) Male Kumite -75 Kg 1st Place
2012 47th European Senior Karate Championships (ESP) Male Kumite -75 Kg 2nd Place
2012 K1 Nederlands 2012 (NED) Male Kumite -75 Kg 3rd Place
2011 46th European Karate Senior Championships (SUI) Male Kumite -75 Kg 1st Place
2010 45th European Karate Senior Championships (GRE) Male Kumite -75 Kg 3rd Place
2007 34th European Junior & Cadet Karate Championships (TUR) Junior -75 Kg 3rd Place
2004 31st European Cadet & Junior Karate Championships (CRO) Cadet -70 kg 3rd Place

In March this year ( March, 19, 2016) You won the Bronze medal in the K1 in Rotterdam. Can you describe your journey to the bronze at this tournament?

My journey to the bronze was as the most a big tryout. I've been using the Karate1 Premier League's to prepare to the European Championships in Montpelier in France at the beginning of May. 
There where many things I wanted to try and test which I could and that made me feel happy.
Also many learning points which I´m working on right now.
I´m happy with the results but I know that this wasn't my goal.

Last year at the K1 in Paris, you were the first. Were there tough fights? Who were your opponents?

Yes, there where some tough fights, for example against Oualid Bouabaoub from Algeria who got 3th place at the World Championships in Paris 2012 -75Kg. Also I came against Tom Scott from the USA which was a good fight.
In the final I had to fight against William Wierdis from Italy who fought a very impressive tournament, winning against some of the best fighters of the world.
It was the beginning of the seasons and it was clear that I was in a great shape.

At the top level competitions you have participated successfully for 13 years. Which medal is the most valuable for you?

My most valuable is of course the gold at the European Championships, -75Kg in Zurich (Switzerland)
This was just a dream which came true.
Honestly I´m even more happy with the whole periode from 2010-2013 at the Europeans, where I got the bronze in 2010 and then 3 years in a row got in the final of the European Championships.

How does your preparation before the competition looks like?

I train very hard the months before and make sure my condition strength is good.
We train every weekend with the national team of Holland which helps me to fight with good fighters.
My goal is to keep doing things that make me feel happy, so even in training I always try to enjoy as much as possible. Having the right people around me is very important to support each and motivate other and talk about the things we want to achieve.
I´m very grandfull for having a coach Anthony Boelbaai who has always believed in me and is there in good and bad times. We stay in touch and we have a huge connection.

What place has karate in your life?

Karate is my life!
Everything I do in my life is because of karate.
I enjoy it so much and even my work is being a karate teacher in my own dojo.
This makes me to wake up always with a smile and think 'I will do karate today' !
I can't think of a life without it.

Who was your first teacher, can you remember your first dojo, and when you got a white belt?

My first teacher was my dad Jaap Smaal who tought me everything I needed.
It was in his dojo where I learned it from the beginning.
I started karate when I was able to walk....straight a way to the first kata, loved it!
My brother was always my big example who punched and kicked me around which made me to be strong and alert.
Once again it ment that I had the right people around me which helped a lot.

How was your first match in kumite?

Scary. I didn't know what happened to me because I used more kata.
It was clear I was flexible, my kicks worked well.
At the beginning I didn't win but because of hard work slowly I started to win more and more and this made me even more motivated. I´m not a quitter so I kept on working and training.
Some people start winning everything and everywhere, I´m a person who works hard and then succeed.

You are leader of karate seminars. Where will be your next seminar?

I have given many international seminars and I like it.
It´s nice to show people my technics and skills which I learned my whole carrier.
My next seminar will be during the RENE SMAAL SUMMER CAMP AND CUP in Ireland, from July, 22-24.
This will be the second camp + cup, last year in summer it was a great success.

My good friend Martin Nulty has been organizing this with his club, he has been really lifting the karate level in Ireland.
This year double number will be there to train and learn from each other in a friendly way.

The good thing about it is, that people use it as a sports holiday and there are no ego's.

And are you interested in other sports? What are your other interests?

I do like other sports, like Kickboxing and Taekwondo.
I practice both in Holland which I enjoy because I don't like doing the same things to often.
In Holland we are good in Kickboxing and have a lot of knowledge about it, this made it possible to train with the best fighters and coaches. The things I learn I translate to karate and it works and that gives me a kick.

What are your plans for this year and for the future?

My big goals for this year are the European- and World championships.
All my fights before that I´ve been using to be at my best to achieve my goal.
My other goal is to grow my own dojo which is going very good.
I love to teach my students and see them enjoying karate and using my technics.
They motivate and inspire me always.

Do you like travelling? What is your favourite place in the world?
As an athlete I like to travel to many places all over the world. In August last year I was in Asia, Thailand for training and Taiwan for a training seminar I had to give, this was amazing.
It´s so good to meet new people and cultures which I wouldn't have been able to meet if I didn't do karate.
I´ve been to Greece many many times and I just love their karate and training methode and especially the people.

Thank you very much for the interview. We wish you all the best in the future. Karate Live