Ilja Smorguner – from taekwondo to world-class​ karate athlete


“It’s all in your head” – Ilja Smorguner 

In today’s episode, as our guest, we have Ilja Sorguner (@ismorguner, @Ken_and_Ilja). Ilja is a German karate athlete, national team member since 2013, 2x World championship medalist, 5x National Champion in kata individual. He is also one of the founders of TEAM Ki, a YouTube channel where you can find great information and advice for improving your karate.

In this interview, Ilja talks about his karate beginnings. He reveals the reason why he had started training Shito-Ryu kata and the mindset and strategies he developed to improve his performance. Furthermore, he shares some of his training routines, technical performance, conditioning and much more.


What was your favorite part and information shared in this episode? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. 


Links, information, and people mentioned in the episode:


Show notes:
  • Introduction to our guest [1:10]
  • Ilja talk about himself [2:30]
  • Taekwon-Do experience [2:50]
  • Ilja’s first experience with karate [3:50]
  • We are talking about Ilja’s experience as a competitor and his first experience with Shito-Ryu [5:40]
  • The person that inspired Ilja to get involved in Shito-Ryu [6:38]
  • Ilja talks about his learning experience and people he follows and learns from [8:30]
  • Sports achievements [11:30]
  • Ilja’s first World Karate Championship experience [12:55]
  • The match against Antonio Diaz at World Championship in Bremen 2014 [16:15]
  • The mental part of kata performance [18:15]
  • Ilja’s mental training routine [20:40]
  • “Team Ki”, a YouTube channel that Ilja and his friend Ken had founded [26:10]
  • Vision and mission of “Team Ki” [29:30]
  • Training routine, warm up and cool down routines  [36:00]
  • Why is Ilja considering to change his training routine? [38:00]
  • Iljas explains his karate training in a competition period [40:43]
  •  Useful ways of providing feedback through technology usage [42:48]
  • Ilja talks about his conditioning training [46:55]
  • Strength training routine [50:14]
  • Biggest challenges in Ilja’s sports career [57:40]
  • The power of being consistent in what you do [01:06:40]
  • Morning routines and breakfast [01:07:05]
  • How does it feel to live in Germany and not being able to eat bread and drink beer [01:08:58]
  • Ilja’s advice for the young karatekas [01:10:25]


If you found this episode interesting, you might want to check out this one as well. In this episode, we have a conversation with Vlatka Kiuk, member of Croatian national karate team in kata.


Would you like to get more information regarding strength training? In this article, I talk about top 5 exercises that every karateka can benefit from. Here you can find why maximum strength exercises are beneficial for karate, how to perform each exercise correctly, the number of repetitions and much more. Enjoy.



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