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Famous Sensei

Sensei Matsu Higa0 Style – Chuan Fa and Okinawa-te

Matsu Higa (1647–1721) is a legendary martial artist in Okinawan history who was a direct influence on the development of karate and kobudo, especially with respect to bojutsu. (1) A resident of the island of Hama Higa, he was perhaps a student of the Chinese emissaries Zhang Xue Li and later Wanshu, who would have taught him techniques of chu'an fa.

In 1683 the Ching government sent a large ambassadorial contingent led by Wanshu (Wang Ji) to Okinawa. (2) He was a diplomat, writer, calligrapher and skilled martial artist. Wanshu taught Higa techniques of Chuan Fa (Shorinji kempo). These techniques were modified and transmitted into "Tode", Okinawa Te. Matsu Higa was a short man and had very strong forearms. Often he fought against bandits visiting his home island. Matsu Higa along with Peichin Takehara is considered responsible for the shift in the Okinawa Te to Bushi no Te.

In 1683 the Ching government sent a large ambassadorial contingent led by Wanshu (Wang Ji) to Okinawa. (2) He was a diplomat, writer, calligrapher and skilled martial artist. Wanshu taught Higa techniques of Chuan Fa (Shorinji kempo). These techniques were modified and transmitted into "Tode", Okinawa Te. Matsu Higa was a short man and had very strong forearms. Often he fought against bandits visiting his home island. Matsu Higa along with Peichin Takehara is considered responsible for the shift in the Okinawa Te to Bushi no Te.

What is known, however, is that Matsu Higa was the teacher of Peichin Takehara, who in turn taught Sakugawa Kanga. Matsu Higa was one of the first to codify a system of kata and techniques. His contributions live on in several weapons katas, especially for tonfa, sai, and bo.

Sensei Chatan Yara0 Style – Chuan Fa and Okinawa-te

Chatan Yara (1668 – 1756) from Chatan village that served a Shuri castle. (1) Original name Yara Pehchin, later also called Uekata, which is highest rank for samurai in the former Kingdome of the Ryu Kyu. He is said to have studied martial arts in China for twenty years. He was an expert in fighting with Sai, Tonfa and Bo. His style and Kata greatly influenced Ryu Kyu Kobujutsu. Techniques of Sai was used by Chikusaji - ancient Ryukyuan policemen. It is also said that Ufuchiku, or the ancient Ryukyuan chief police officer, always carried and used Sai (iron truncheon) for the purposes of directing his policemen, guarding VIPs, regulating the crowd and so forth. Pehchin class of feudal Okinawa made arrests, took custody of prisoners and ensured that court sentences were carried out in Kingdome. They were cultivating Sai jutsu. Jutte used in Japan is a modified truncheon.

Sensei Peichin Takehara0 Style– Chuan Fa and Okinawa-te

Peichin Takehara (1683-1766), from Akato, was born to the Kogusuku family of Kumemura. He was a priest, mathematician, cartographer and astronomer. He was samurai as well, learned martial arts from Matsu Higa and later brought a meditation practice to Okinawa martial arts system. Peichin, Pechin or Pehchin is a title of status and they served Ryu Kyu dynasty since 1509 until 1879. As officials they were largely responsible for civil administration and law enforcement. One of his student was Sakugawa Chikodun Peichin Kanga who later became very famous warrior.

Sensei Shinjo Choken0 Style – Chuan Fa and Okinawa-te

Shinjo Choken is a "Dai Jo" or an important figure in Shorin Ryu's history. Not much is known about this martial artist. Again, most information is by “oral tradition”. He is one of the earliest known practitioners of Shuri-Te. He was active in the late 1600's and early 1700's.

Sensei Ko Sokun0 Style – Chuan Fa (Kempo)

Ko Sokun (?-1761) also known as Kushanku, Kusanku, Kong Su Kung and Kouh Shang Kouh. He was a Chinese Sifu (Sensei) who immigrated in 1756 to Okinawa where he served as military attaché. It is recorded that in 1761 he displayed Chinese boxing and grappling techniques to a delighted audience in Okinawa. Kushanku was skilled Kempo master and he is the earliest known ancestor of Pinewood karate style. The royal guards were permitted to study Tode and Yara Pehchin (Chatan Yara) became his student for sometime (?). Later he developed Kata based on training with Kushanku sifu. Form was also developed by Sakugawa and passed to Soken Matsumura. From him was transmitted to Chotoku Kyuan and passed to Tatsuo Shimabuku who used Kusanku kata as foundation for kata Kusanku Sai in Isshin ryu. There are two versions, one with and other without kicks. Kusanku may be translated as "To view the sky".

Sensei Kanga Sakugawa0 Style – Chuan Fa (Kempo)/Okinawa-te

Sakugawa Kanga (1733-1815) Satunuku (Shungo) born in Teruya Kanga in Shuri's Torihori village. Sakugawa became a student of Takehara, who lived in close by Akata village, at the age of 17. His father having been beaten to death by bandits, the young Sakugawa was determined to master the martial arts. Nickname Tode received from hi teacher Takehara. Later he studied under Kushanku a military attaché in Okinawa. Story says that in age of 23 Sakugawa attacked Kushanku while standing near to river bank out of Shuri on a bridge and looking out over the water. As he moved to push Kushanku from behind, Kushanku suddenly sidestepped the attack and instantly grasped his wrist and said: “when you came to Shuri ask for Kushanku and I will teach you not only How but also Why in martial arts”.

With Takehara's blessing Sakugawa became his disciple. Kushanku taught him "Kumiuchi-jutsu" i.e. fighting and grappling techniques and also principle of "Hikite". Upon return Kushanku to China, Sakugawa followed him and remained there for six years. According some sources Sakugawa may have been sent to China to learn Chinese martial arts in order to better train the Okinawa Bubishi. When Sakugawa returned to Okinawa he became the chief Shuri official of the Yaeymama Island area. He was given the title Satunuku of Satunoshi – samurai serving the Okinawa king. As a reward for his service the Shuri government gave him a small Island and names it Sakugawa. He took the name of the Island for himself and became Sakugawa Teruya Chikodun Peichin Kanga. Sakugawa is behind establishing the regulations and rules at Dojo. He was strict to speculation of narrow specialization and emphasized a Chinese traditional way of martial arts.

Sensei Sokon 'Bushi' Matsumura1 Style – Shorin-Ryu (Shuri-te)

AvengerClub.jpgSokon “Bushi” Matsumura (1792-1887) was the forefather of Shorin-ryu.

Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Sho family (Royal family of Okinawa) and eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King. At some point in his career, approximately 1830, he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese Kenpo (fist method) and weaponry. It is also known that he traveled to Foochow in Fukien province, China on numerous occasions as an envoy for the Okinawan King. After his return from China he organized and refined the Shorin Ryu system of Okinawan Karate.

Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin Ryu Karate known as Naifanchi I & II, Bassai Dai, Seisan, Chinto, Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger), Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru (white crane). The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the white crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kenpo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time, is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin Ryu Karate today.

Matsumura was given the title "Bushi" meaning warrior by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. In fact, Matsumura fought many times but was never defeated. His martial arts endeavors has been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles, Shorin Ryu, Shotokan Ryu, and Shito Ryu, for example. Ultimately all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-Te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura. This includes Taekwon Do (Korean Karate).

The bull story

King Sho Ko had retired to his palace and instituted an annual festival complete with martial arts exhibitions and a very popular bull fighting contest.

This was a period of heavy taxation of the Okinawan people and there was much corruption in Sho Ko's court. Sho Ko devised a scheme to root out corruption, Sho Ko would write a poem to outline a subjects corruption and the subject would be commanded to finish the verse. The subjects of Sho Ko's court would not obey the kings command so he became angry and drew his sword and slew all of the members of his court except Matsumura. Matsumura was convinced that he must obey the King even if it meant death by the Kings hand. The King was so impressed with this that he devised another way of dealing with Matsumura, he order Matsumura to fight a particularly mean bull at the upcoming festival. (Okinawan bull fighting is a fight between two bulls, so a fight between a man and a bull was a very unusual event.)

Matsumura devised a plan to overcome the bull. For five nights prior to the bull fight Matsumura visited the bull in his pen and wore unwashed clothes and shielded his face. He poked the bull in the nose with his pen until the bull was in a state of frenzy. When the bull could take no more, Matsumura revealed his face and assumed a defiant position in front of the bull. When the time for the bull fight came, the bull was released into the ring. Matsumura entered the ring wearing the same unwashed clothes that he had worn each night. Matsumura uncovered his face, gave out a loud Kia, and assumed the same defiant position that he had taken in front of the bull each night. The bull, upon detecting the scent of Matsumura's clothes and seeing the same face and pose as he had seen the previous nights, turned and ran back to his pen. The King was so impressed by this display that he gave Matsumura the official title of "Bushi".

Another person Matsumura had an interchange of martial knowledge with was a man named Chinto, a pirate from Southern China (according to some, he was not a pirate at all, but a trader, and he did not plunder). He drifted ashore to Okinawa. Something must have happened to his ship. When he got there, he began to loot and plunder because of hunger. The king received word of this, and sent Bushi to hunt him down and stop him. So when Bushi found him, they fought each other but were matched. Some say that it was because Chinto was very expert at change-body just like Matsumura. When all attempts to apprehend the pirate failed, strangely enough, Bushi befriended him and exchanged martial knowledge with him. Thus we have the kata named Chinto with the techniques in it that Bushi got from him. It is a mystery as to what Chinese system these techniques are from.

Bushi Matsumura studied under a Chinese master for a time by the name of Channan (Chiag Nan) who was a diplomat sent to Shuri from China. Bushi created two kata from what he had learned that were known as Channan Sho and Dai. Later, the names were changed to Pinan (Ping An) Shodan and Nidan. In the Matsumura system, these two are considered the basic, or "kihon" kata.

It is said by some that a Chinese master by the name of Ason taught a Chinese kata by the name of Naifanchin in the area of Naha. Some say that the kata was taught in Naha-te for a while but is no longer had in Naha-te styles. Matsumura studied from Ason for a time. Later, Matsumura took this kata and broke it up into two parts: Naifanchin Shodan and Nidan. The origin of Naihanchi Sandan is more obscure. It is not a Matsumura kata at all, but it may have its origin in Ason's system also.

Sensei Kosaku Matsumora1 Style – Shorin-Ryu (Tomari-te)

AvengerClub.jpgKosaku Matsumora (1829 - 1898) was born in Tomari village, on Okinawa Island. At the age of 15, when in those days boys began to be treated as adults, he started to learn karate from Master Teruya of Tomari. The young Matsumora became one of Master Teruya's main students, even though he had many followers.

Master Teruya taught Katas which were only practiced in Tomari, namely "Rohai", "Wanshu" and "Wankan" (sometimes known as "Okan"). He also placed a great deal of emphasis on good behavior, citing "Karate-ni- Sente-Nashi" ("there is no first attack in karate").

During that era, the practice of martial arts was never conducted in the open or beyond the confines of the courtyard. Fighting traditions were only taught in privacy and always cloaked in an iron-clad ritual of secrecy. There were no training facilities or public teachers available as today. A teacher and his student practiced secretly late at night or at dawn, usually at one’s residence or in the forest near a village. However, worthy disciples who swore special oaths sometimes received the privilege of practicing at the grave site of the master.

One evening, when Master Matsumora and others were practicing at Master Teruya's family cemetery he noticed an outcast watching his moves intently. Master Matsumora approached him. The man apologized for disturbing Matsumora's training and commended him on his level of skills. He handed Matsumora a piece of paper but, before Matsumora could finish reading the inscription, the recluse had disappeared. Matsumora showed the note to Master Teruya, to which he responded "exactly!". Some time later, Kosaku Matsumora had a flash of inspiration and, in a moment, understood the deeper meaning of the message;

"The essence of budo is to denounce immoral consideration, understand humanity, follow a virtuous path, and devote your life to cultivating peace in Okinawa."

During this period of Japanese occupation, at times members of the Satsuma Clan would assault women and children during routine inspections. Often the village men would “pull together” and protect mistreated villagers. Oral tradition strongly suggests that the Satsuma Clan had little or no respect for Tomari villagers resulting in shameless acts of rape and violence.

One day in Tomari, on Haariya Street, between the Takahashi Bridge and Maemichi Street, in the neighborhood of Yamazato Giki, a twenty year old Matsumora heard screams coming from a crowd of angry people. He approached the crowd to witness a Satsuma official in the mist of the crowd holding up his sword and yelling profanity at a villager. Witnessing this despicable act of oppression, he swiftly lunged at the Satsuma swordsman with a moist towel. As the crowd scattered for their safety, the Satsuma swordsman slashed his sword at an evasive Matsumora only to have it yanked out of his hands by Matsumora wrapping his towel around the sword and jerking it away. Matsumora recovered the sword, as the Satusuma swordsman fled. However, during this struggle Matsumora lost his little finger.

A Samurai losing a sword, especially against a weaponless opponent, was considered a complete loss of seirei (spirit). This was a disgrace to the entire Satsuma Clan. In complete awe, nearby bystanders witnessed this unbelievable courageous act by there own audacious Bushi villager standing up against Satsuma intimidation. This courageous act not only rescued a poor defensive villager but also inspired other villagers to stand up against Satsuma tyranny.

Another fine example of his courage occurred during the years 1843 to 1847 when British and French warships appeared in Ryukyuan waters. Later in 1853 Commordore Perry sailed into the port of Tomari making a pervasive appearance. China was unable to offer military assistance; therefore Matsumora decisively formed a coalition of leaders (his self, Oyadomari Kokan, and Yamazato Gikei). Together the villagers called them “Tomari’s Big Three.” Oyadomari stated, “If our Kingdom is destroyed, how can we continue to live? We’ll die for the King.” Finalizing their pledge realizing that this might be their final meeting, the “Big Three” exchanged toasts of water from ceremonial sake cups. According to Bujin code of conduct, Matsumora’s actions were justified. The three taught the villagers self-defense techniques which gave them needed confidence to defend themselves against potential assailing French and British visitors.

These prodigious acts became legendary and were commemorated at Tomari’s Arayashiki Park. A stunning stone monument, inscribed with an epitaph in memory for chivalrous gallant acts, was erected on May 8, 1983.

Master Matsumora had several students including Master Choki Motobu, who became renowned for his great fighting skill. Choki Motobu was reputed to have learned only Naifanchi Kata from Master Matsumora, but this is not true, although he did like the kata and so perhaps practiced it more than others. This Kata has been handed down and practiced in Wado-Ryu because Hironori Ohtsuka, the founder, learned it from Choki Motobu.

Sensei Yasutsune 'Anko' Itosu1 Style – Shorin-ryu (Shuri-te & Tomari-te)

AvengerClub.jpgShishu, Anko (Yasutsune Itosu) (1831-1915) is one of the most influential early 20th century karate pioneers. (1) For those knowledgeable in karate history, his name to you is legend.

It was Itosu who first started teaching karate to the public and was one of the teachers of Gichen Funakoshi (who many know as the father of Japanese karate), as well as many other founders of the karate we know today. He was the creator of the Pinan Kata series, and he modified of many other kata practiced throughout karate today.

But what is history behind this man? What is his heritage, and what truth is there to the many legends about this man? Itosu was born in the Gibo section of Shuri (the capital city), Okinawa, in 1831 and died on January 26, 1915. His first name was Anko (the Kanji for which may be alternately read in Japanese as Yasutsune and his last name Shishu read as Itosu). He is probably most commonly known by the name Anko Itosu. He was born to a prominent family and was well educated in the classics of Chinese literature. He was short by modern standards, but in Okinawa at the time his approximately five feet of height was average. Some sources describe him as stocky with a barrel chest and very strong. He also had immense discipline.

After taking and passing civil service exams, he became a clerk for the Ryukyu government. At least one source he was a secretary to the last King of the Ryukyus (the island chain of which Okinawa was the capital), Sho Tai (the monarchy ended in 1879 when the islands officially became part of Japan). It was through the assistance of his good friend Anko Azato that he progressed to a position of prominence in Ryukyu governmental administration. This was a bond of friendship that existed throughout their lives, and they are often described together by Gichin Funakoshi, who studied under both of these masters. By all accounts he was built strongly, and there are many tales of his incredible punching ability.

The early training of this martial arts legend is shrouded in mystery. Many martial historians refer to Itosu as having been a disciple of the Great Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura. Matsumura was the most influential martial artist of his time who helped bring karate into the modern era as exponent of Shuri-te (meaning Shuri hands or art). It was Matsumura who was a student of Tode Sakagawa (1733-1815) who in turn studied under Kusanku -- after which the famous kata is named (Konku).

Was Itosu the link to this heritage, an interpreter of Matsumura's karate? Upon closer examination this appears to be incorrect, or at least overstated.

The question then becomes how do we ascertain the truth when so much of martial history is based on oral accounts and opinions? While we may never know the truth for sure, we should look to accounts of those who actually trained under Itosu for significant periods of time. One such account comes from Choki Motobu (one of Okinawa's greatest early twentieth century karate masters) who spent eight to nine years under Itosu. In his 1932 book, "Watashi no Tode Jutsu," Motobu is quoted as saying: "Sensei Itosu was a pupil of Sensei Matsumura, but he was disliked by his teacher for he was very slow (speed of movement). There (in the dojo) for although Itosu sensei was diligent in his practice his teacher did not care about him so he (Itsou) left and went to sensei Nagahama." According Motobu, while Sensei Nagahama was quite well known and very diligent, his method or idea of teaching was entirely different from master Matsumura. Nagahama stressed just building of the body. Apparently Itosu adjusted well and trained hard for Motobu reports that Nagahama referred to Itosu as his disciple and "right hand man." It must have been a shock when Nagahama told Itosu on his deathbed (as reported by Motobu), that he had actually only taught him (Itosu) strength building and had never once given thought to actual combat. In other words, his method lacked the idea of liberty in motion and alertness in action, and therefore he wanted him to go back to master Matsumura.

Furthermore, Funakoshi says on page 18 of his text (reprinted as "Tote Jitsu" in 1925), "It is confirmed through written documents and collections that .....(2) ASATO followed MATSUMURA and ITOSU followed GUSUKUMA, according to what has been told through generations." In his later text, "Karate-do Kyohan" (page 8, 1973 edition), Funakoshi says again that "It is stated that ...... (3) masters AZATO and ITOSU were students of MATSUMURA and GUSUKUMA respectively. It is likely that through his instruction many of the seeds were planted for using tode (an early name for karate) as a method of physical and mental strengthening. These seeds combined with Itosu's unique perspective and experience came to fruition in the Okinawan school system as a method of developing the youth of Okinawa. Itosu likely realized, as Nagahama suggested, that he needed further training in combative principles. It would have been highly unlikely for Itosu to return to the Matsumura, however, since he had previously left him. The question then becomes, "Where did Itosu go next?"

If we look at the words of Gichin Funakoshi (the great karate pioneer who is often referred to as the "Father of Japanese Karate.") who is regarded as a top student of both Anko Azato and Anko Itosu, we find that Anko Itosu became a disciple of GUSUKUMA OF TOMARI! (sometimes known as Shiroma). On page 18 of his text (reprinted as "Tote Jitsu" in 1925) Funakoshi states, "It is confirmed through written documents and collections that...(2) ASATO followed MATSUMURA and ITOSU followed GUSUKUMA, according to what has been told through generations." In his later text, "Karate-do Kyohan" (page 8, 1973 edition), who instructed this writer and to whom the writer is greatly indebted". Thus through the combined weight of the statements made by two direct long term students of Anko Itosu (Motobu and Funakoshi), we can logically come to the conclusion that Anko Shishu (Anko Itosu) began his training under Matsumura, left to become a disciple of Nagahama of Naha (a seaport city near Shuri, the capital), and upon Nagahama's death became a disciple of GUSUKUMA of TOMARI.

This would explain the inclusion of the Tomari (a seaport village near the capital Shuri) (4) kata Rohai and Wanshu within the Itosu curriculum. Sokon Matumura was not known to have taught or passed on these forms. To explain the presence of these kata in the Itosu curriculum, other historians have theorized that Itosu, as student of Matumura, must have therefore trained briefly, side by side, with Kosako Matumora of Tomari sometime after 1873. But, the more logical explanation is to assume that Motobu and Funakoshi are correct in stating that Itosu had studied with Gusukuma. He was a Tomari instructor, and both katas are recorgnized as Tomari kata. Itosu continued to teach Wanshu as well as Rohai, which developed into three versions based on the original Tumaidi (Tomari te) prototype. Then there is the kata Seisan. It was a kata taught by Soken Matsumura. If Itosu's primary karate teacher had been Matsumura, surely he would also have taught this kata. But he did not. An explanation for the absence of Seisan can be found in the existing Tomari te (Tumaidi) traditions. For example, the continuing Tomari traditions as were passed down through the Oyadomari brothers of Tomari (5), as well as those of the Matsumora ha Tumaidi (Tomari te) as passed down to Tokashiki Iken (6), also lack the kata Seisan, as does the tode passed on by Itosu. Seisan was not a Tomari kata. (7)

In any event all the forms Itosu apparently borrowed from the Tomari curriculum appear to have been heavily altered when compared to the existing Tomari traditions. Given the existing Tumaidi forms, one can see that Itosu utilized the sum of the knowledge given to him and further altered it to reflect his experience and objectives. It is also interesting to contrast Itosu's kata and how they are performed as compared to the kata of Tomari (Tumaidi) as practiced today. (8)

When one compares the kata of Tumaidi (9) with those traced to Anko Itosu, one is struck by the greater use of open hand techniques and the more upright stances in the Tomari tradition. The kata themselves are performed with a much more relaxed and lighter feel. There is also greater emphasis placed upon the use of koshi (hip area) -- the lower back/hips/pelvic girdle move in more of a figure eight pattern and on multiple planes as opposed to rotating around a horizontal axis as is found in the Itosu heritage.

In his book "Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles And Secret Techniques," Mark Bishop contrasted the karate of Azato (Matsumura heritage mixed with a swordsmanship perspective) and Itosu:

"While Azato believed the hands and feet should be like bladed weapons and that one should avoid all contact of an opponent's strike, Itosu held the idea that the body did not have to be so mobile and should be able to take the hardest of blows. Chosin Chibana (a long time student of Itosu) once said that Itosu indeed have a very powerful punch, but Matsumura had once said to Itosu: 'With your strong punch you can knock anything down, but you can't so much as touch me.'"

Itosu's Legacy

It is through the efforts of this "Father of Modern Okinawan Karate" that many basic exercises and forms were simplified and organized into a curriculum suitable for the mass instruction of students. In addition to placing importance on basics, Itosu took the Channan forms he had previously devised (or had been taught him, according to historians), altered them slightly and renamed them Pinan, which he thought would be more appealing to students. This is evidenced in such journals as "Karate No Kenkyu" by Nakasone Genwa 1934 and "Kobo Kenpo Karate-do Nyumon" by Mabuni Kenwa and Nakasone Genwa 1938. Let it never be said that Itosu lacked enthusiasm, for he didn't stop at the Pinans. He went on to supplement Naifanchi by the creation of a Nidan and Sandan (Kinjo 1991, Murakami 1991) and possibly Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho (Iwai 1992) as well!

Even though questions persist about Itosu's lineage, there is no doubt about the profound and universal impact he had on the development of karate in Okinawa. It was Itosu who brought Karate from the shadows into the light of public study. (4) In 1901 he began instructing karate at the Shuri Jinjo Primary school (Iwai 1992, Okinawa Pref. 1994) and taught at the Dai Ichi middle school and the Okinawa prefectural Men's Normal School in 1905 (Bishop 1999, Okinawa Pref. 1994, 1995). It is perhaps one of the greatest testaments to the skill of this karateka that he developed such a group of superb students, who in turn promoted his art. The karate that descended from Itosu represents one of the great Okinawan karate heritages known as Shorin-Ryu. His students comprise a virtual "who's who" of the founding fathers of modern karate. They include: Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Jiro Shiroma, Chojo Oshiro, Shigeru Nakamura Anbun Tokuda, Moden Yabiku, Kenwa Mabuni, Gichin Funakoshi, Chosin Chibana, Moden Yabiku, and Choki Motobu (who contrary to popular stories spent some eight years of training under Itosu).

In October of 1908 Itosu realized it was time for Karate to reach beyond the shores of Okinawa to the heart of Japan itself. It was to this end that he wrote his famous letter of Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) to draw the attention of both the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of War. After demonstrations were held for several naval vessels, the most important of which was the 1912 visit of Admiral Dewa, karate emerged as an attractive vehicle for developing young fighting men for the imperialistic Japanese government of the period.

On January 26, 1915 a great light in the martial world was extinguished when Anko Itosu drew his last breath at the age of eighty five. It is a shame that he did not live to see the art he so vigorously propagated achieve its world wide popularity, and to see his crusade vigorously pursued on the mainland by his student Gichen Funakoshi.

Sensei Gichin Funakoshi1,2 Style - Shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) was the founder of the Shotokan-ryu style. Funakoshi was born in the Okinawan capital of Shuri into a family of the Shizoku class (upper class). Master Gichin Funakoshi was instructed by Yasutsune Azato and Yasutsune Itosu. He was responsible for introducing Karate to Japan in the 1920's. He was also responsible for changing (or defining, depending how you look at it) the meaning of the word Karate-do.

He changed the 'kara' symbol in Karate from the old symbol, meaning 'China', to the new symbol, meaning 'empty'. In his book Karate-Do Nyumon, he writes: "Just as an empty valley can carry a resounding voice, so must the person who follows the Way of Karate make himself void or empty by ridding himself or all self-centeredness and greed. Make yourself empty within, but upright without. This is the real meaning of the 'empty' in Karate.

“Once one has perceived the infinity of forms and elements in the universe, one returns to emptiness, to the void.” In other words, emptiness is none other than the true form of the universe. There are various fighting techniques - yarijutsu ['spear techniques'] and bojitsu ['stick techniques'], for example - and forms of martial arts, such as judo and kendo. All share an essential principle with Karate, but Karate alone explicitly states the basis of all martial arts. Form equals emptiness; emptiness equals form. The use of the character [for 'empty'] in Karate is indeed based on this principle."

The result of this change is that Karate-do, which formerly translated loosely to 'Chinese hand', now translates to '[the way of the] empty hand'.

Kumite didn’t appear to interest Funakoshi, The relationship between Funakoshi’s senior student Hironori Otsuka (later known as the founder of Wado-ryu) and he was growing strained because of the young man's bright new approach to teaching. Otsuka stressed Kumite over Kata, in sharp contrast to Funakoshi, and developed many pre-arranged kumite techniques much to the dismay of Funakoshi who believed that basics and kata were enough. Influenced by the direction taken by kendo and also by his new and influential friend, Choki Motobu the legendary Okinawan Karate master, he began full contact free-sparring with students wearing the new Kendo protective armour. This was the beginning of the modern style Karate championship and pretty much the end of Otsuka's relationship with Funakoshi.

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Sensei Choki Motobu1 Style – Shorin-ryu (Okinawa-te)

AvengerClub.jpgChoki Motobu was born in 1871 in Akahira village in the Shuri region of Okinawa. He was the third son of Motobu “Udun”, a high ranking aji or lord. The Motobu family was skilled at the art of Ti (a grappling art of the Okinawan nobility). Motobu did learn some of the techniques of his family are fighting system, but because of Okinawan tradition, only the first son, Choyu, was educated and choose to carry on the family’s martial tradition. Because of this situation, he went looking for instruction elsewhere.

Choki began training extensively with makiwara and lifted heavy rocks to gain strength. He endeavored to become as strong as possible and trained with ferocity. He became known as “Motobu zaru” or Motobu the monkey because of his agility and speed. Eventually, Motobu became the student of Anko Itosu (one of Mabuni’s sensei). Now a young man, Choki spent a lot of time seeking out strong looking men to challenge on the street. He won most of his fights and learned much from these encounters. Itosu sensei was not impressed by the young man’s bullying and promptly expelled him form the dojo.

Motobu’s aggressive behavior soon earned him a bad reputation and many Sensei would not teach him. Once man, however, liked the spirit he showed and accepted him as a student of karate. This man was Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. It was from Matsumora that Choki learned many Kata. Motobu still challenged others to fights often and was eager to develop and improve his fighting skills. He eventually asked Matsumora to teach him kumite, but Matsumora told him to continue to learn on his own. Motobu, however, was persevering and is said to have watched the kumite training through holes in the fence around Matsumora’s dojo.

Motobu’s street fighting served him well (to the detriment of many). He formulated his own formidable style of kumite and began to get much attention in Okinawa and in Japan on his trips to the islands. One day while in Kyoto he witnessed a contest where people were asked to match skills with a foreign boxer. A friend coaxed Motobu to give it a try.

What brought Motobu to the attention of the Japanese was his victory over a western boxer in a kind of all-comers challenge match. In the earlier part of this century such bouts were occasionally held in Japan pitting western boxers against judo or jujutsu men, (karate was unknown in Japan around this time). These were not "official" bouts for any sort of legitimate title, but something more like sideshow attractions. The results of such bouts have even been recorded in a few cases. Boxing historians for example are fond of pointing out that, back in 1928 in Yokohama, top bantamweight Packy O'Gatty KO'd a Japanese jujutsu man named Shimakado in 14 seconds. Those 14 seconds included the full count, by the way. E. J. Harrison also mentioned in passing a couple of boxing vs. judo shows in his book, The Fighting Spirit of Japan, first published in 1913. Few of the fighters in these events were champions in their sports, but the shows did arouse interest in a certain section of the populace.

Anyway, this was the background to Motobu's victory which so delighted the people back in Okinawa when they heard about it. Soon after Motobu settled in Japan he went to watch a boxing vs. judo show in Kyoto. A boxer beat several judomen rather easily and then issued an open challenge. Moreover, the challenge was issued in a boastful and derogatory way. Choki Motobu, who was sitting in the audience, stepped up onto the stage (or ring) and in the ensuing battle he knocked the boxer out-probably with a punch, or series of punches, to the head. That is about as much as we can say about it since no contemporary reports of the fight exist. Only verbal research supports our findings.

The Japanese magazine Kingu (King) had published a story on Motobu and the boxer back in 1925, but it was a piece of imaginative, popular journalism rather than an accurate blow-by-blow report. However, the importance of this feature lay not in its accuracy as a fight report but in the publicity it gave to what had previously been an obscure event. King was the major general interest magazine at the time with a circulation of over a million and this is how Motobu's exploits came to be widely reported. For the record, the King story states that Motobu knocked the boxer unconscious with a rising palm heel strike. On the other hand, Seiyu Oyata, a modern day Okinawan karate expert, states that Motobu won the fight by kicking the boxer in the solar plexus and finishing him off with a strike to the neck. Shoshin Nagamine (Shorin-Ryu/Matsabayashi-ryu) says that the knockout came in the third round from a strike to the temple. Motobu hit the boxer so hard that he was knocked down and blood came from his ears. Nagamine was told by Motobu that he had won a hundred yen by betting on himself.

There is no doubt that Choki Motobu was a formidable fighter. Hironori Ohtsuka, the founder of Wado-ryu, knew Motobu in the 1930s and recalled that he was "definitely a very strong fighter." Ohtsuka remembered seeing a fight, or maybe it was more of a sparring match, between Motobu and a boxer named Piston Horiguchi. Motobu blocked all the boxer's attacks and Piston Horiguchi was unable to land a single clean punch on Choki Motobu.

Choki Motobu was over 50 years old when he defeated the Western boxer! People on Okinawa used to say that he liked to fight more than anything else, and certainly he did not seem to mind a good brawl. In 1932, when he was 60 years old, a group of expatriate Okinawans brought him to Hawaii to face the fighters there, presumably boxers and judomen. However, no bouts took place because the Hawaiian immigration authorities considered him an undesirable and he had to leave almost immediately.

Motobu was born into a high ranking family at a time when education and privilege were reserved for the first born son. Consequently, as a third son, he was rather neglected. His elder brothers, however (and particularly Choyu Motobu, the eldest) were good karateka and he may have learned something of the art from them. As a young man, Choki Motobu's ambition was to become the strongest man in Okinawa. To fulfill this ambition he trained himself every day, lifting stone weights and hitting the makiwara (striking post). There are stories that he would hit the makiwara a thousand times a day, and even if this is an exaggeration it illustrates the importance he attached to this training drill. Nagamine recalls that Motobu would sometimes sleep outside, (when he slept inside the dojo he would lie on the hard wooden floor, without a mattress), and if he woke up during the night, rather than turning over and going back to sleep he would get up and hit the makiwara. Motobu was also very agile and quick and he got the nickname "Motobu-saru"(Monkey Motobu) not only because of his rough behavior but also because of his remarkable agility in climbing trees and moving from branch to branch as nimbly as a monkey.

Also, he was a good runner too, and Japanese karate expert Hiroyasu Tamae writes of one occasion when Motobu was fighting attackers then ran off, jumped nimbly onto a roof and began tearing off the roofing tiles and throwing them at his assailants, beating them off in this way. Tamae makes the point that Okinawan roof tiles are secured very strongly to withstand typhoons, and it requires powerful hands and arms to tear them loose, but for a man reputed to be the best fighter on Okinawa it still seems a strange way to act. I guess Motobu's behavior was just eccentric at times. Gichin Funakoshi used to say that he never knew what Motobu would get up to next.

Choki Motobu's idea of a good training session was to go down to Naha's entertainment district and pick fights. This area was well known for street fighting and Motobu picked up valuable experience in this way. Being bigger and stronger than the average Okinawan he usually won these fights but there was one occasion when he tackled a man called Itarashiki and was well beaten. This Itarashiki was a karate expert and the defeat only made Motobu more determined to train hard and learn more about karate.

At this time, around the turn of the century, karate was just beginning to emerge from generations of secrecy and the senior masters were sensitive about the image of the art. They looked upon karate as a physical art, building health, strength and character and they did not approve of Motobu's exploits in the rough areas of town. Nevertheless he was able to get instruction from several leading experts. (Seikichi Toguchi has said that, because of Motobu's upper-class birth, many karate masters found it difficult to refuse him instruction). Motobu originally studied karate with the famous Ankoh Itosu (1830-1915), the leading master of Shuri-te. However, he came to feel that he was not learning enough, and growing dissatisfied with Itosu's teaching he later studied with Tomari-te's Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) and with Master Sakuma. However, Motobu's karate always seemed to bear his own distinctive stamp, arising no doubt from his independent nature and his fighting experiences. He always emphasized practicality, and in time many people came to regard him as the best fighter on Okinawa. True, he was beaten in a shiai (contest) by Kentsu Yabu (1863-1937), Itosu's senior student and a tough character, but we don't know the full circumstances surrounding this. Yabu was Choki Motobu's senior in karate by several years, and at the time of the contest Motobu may have been a comparative novice. This is something that needs clarification, but anyway it is a fact that Motobu was famous in Okinawa for his fighting ability.

I first read about this colorful figure years ago in Peter Urban's book Karate Dojo. Although this has remained one of my favorite karate books, it has little value as a historical source and Urban describes Choki Motobu as a giant of 7'4" "with hands and feet like monstrous hams" . . . an early Okinawan version of the Incredible Hulk in fact, who was almost impossible to hurt and who "preferred to grab his enemies and chop them to death." A couple of years later the American karateman, Robert Trias, trying to inject a note of reality (?) into the subject, told an interviewer that the accounts of Motobu's size had been exaggerated and that actually he was "only 6 feet 8 inches" tall.

Another myth about Motobu is that he only knew one kata, the Naihanchin (Tekki in the Shotokan version). This is incorrect. He also knew Passai-evidently there is a rarely seen Motobu version of this kata-and Gojushiho, and although he may not have practiced them he was aware of the major kata of each style-Shurite, Nahate, and Tomarite. (He provided a list of the major kata in his book). It would be true to say, however, that he did become attached to Naihanchin and for all the talk about him not being good at kata, the photographic record shows that technically his performance of Naihanchin was quite as good-if not better-than Gichin Funakoshi's.

Choki Motobu was not against kata but he did require that they relate to combat. In Naihanchin, for instance, his students were taught to pay attention to various technical points. It seems that the nami-ashi ("wave returning" foot movement) in Naihanchin was originally interpreted as a stamping movement to attack the opponent's leg (now it is usually taught as a foot block against a kick) and consequently many karateka would crash their foot down noisily on the floor while doing this technique. Motobu, however, although he did the movement strongly with a kiai, always kept good balance and put his foot down lightly. It wasn't that his technique was weak, because he once broke an opponent's leg with this stamping waza (technique). He explained to his students however that if the technique was done too heavily and the foot was brought down with a big crash then you might find it difficult to maintain your defense throughout the movement. According to Yasuhiro Konishi, Motobu thought about every detail in the kata in this kind of way.

However, where Choki Motobu really differed from other leading karate masters such as Funakoshi, Mabuni and Miyagi was in basing his style on the study of kumite.

Kata seemed to occupy a secondary position with him. His karate stressed alertness, sharpness, and practicality, and his experience in brawls and street fights showed through in his techniques which were straightforward and effective. Some of his kumite-waza were shown in his book Ryukyu Kempo Karatejutsu. Kumite, (The Okinawan boxing art of karate-jutsu. Sparring techniques), published in 1926. Incidentally, Motobu could not speak or write mainland Japanese at all well and it is thought that someone else must have written it under his direction, or possibly he dictated it. But at any rate the book's philosophy is his and he posed for all the illustrations.

Judging from this book, Motobu used a natural stance and it is noticeable that when blocking or striking he did not pull his other hand back to the hip (the action of hikite) but held it across his body as a guard, where it could be brought into action more readily. He also stressed training the weaker side of the body to bring it up to the natural side. For instance, in hitting the makiwara he recommended doing more repetitions with the weaker, left hand, if you were right-handed. And he also frequently told his students to "Defend the center of the body and attack the center of the body"; an early form of center-line theory, in fact. Motobu also made full use of the lead hand for striking. This was rather advanced for that time, when the orthodox method was to block with the forward hand, and use the rear hand to counterattack. Motobu taught that the forward hand, being closer to the opponent is quicker in action and should be used for striking effectively (perhaps he learned this from the boxers that he competed against).

Choki Motobu relied mainly on hand techniques, with the feet and knees being used in a supporting but effective role, aiming his kicks at the stomach, groin, and knee joints. He often liked to grab and he also used basic techniques of covering or checking the opponent's hands and arms. His attacks were directed not only to the face and midsection, but also to the groin (striking with the knee or foot, or grabbing the testicles) and knees (with stamping kicks). The forefist, backfist, elbow, and one-knuckle fist seem to have been his favorite weapons. According to Shoshin Nagamine, Motobu attached some importance to the one knuckle fist (keikoken), and he would train this technique on the makiwara, striking with full force. Over the years he had found that at close quarters the orthodox forefist punch might be smothered or unable to generate sufficient power and that in such situations keikoken could be very effective. "No other karateman in the history of Okinawan karate," wrote Nagamine, "has ever matched Motobu in the destructive power of keikoken."

As for training equipment, Motobu stressed the use of makiwara, and also recommended the use of the chishi and sashi, the traditional tools for building the strength of the hands and arms. He also used to practice a crude form of weight training, lifting a heavy stone weighing about 130 lbs. to his shoulders daily.

Motobu sensei was actually the first of the Okinawan karate masters to settle in Japan, preceding Gichin Funakoshi by a year or so. He came to Osaka in 1921, but his purpose in coming to Japan may not have been to teach karate. He may simply have moved because, like many Okinawans, he believed Japan offered greater opportunities to make a living. In 1879 the Ryukyu Islands were made a prefecture (Ken) of Japan, and from then until 1945 this Okinawa-ken was Japan's poorest and most neglected prefecture. Consequently, many islanders immigrated to Japan and it was estimated that by 1940 over 80,000 Okinawans were living there. This was of an Okinawan population of something over half a million.

Motobu had been living in Japan a couple of years when he made the acquaintance of a judo teacher named Doi, who encouraged him to try to teach karate in Japan. Motobu subsequently began giving demonstrations and teaching in the Kobe-Osaka area, but development of the art was slow. After a couple of years he thought of giving it all up, but then in the mid-1920s interest in the art slowly began to grow. In 1927 he moved to Tokyo where he probably saw greater potential.

I don't know if much ever came of all this, but there were rumors. Yasuhiro Konishi, who studied with both masters, heard that one time when the two men met, they began comparing techniques of attack and defense, as Okinawans often do. In demonstrating a movement Funakoshi was unable to block Motobu's thrust completely and moreover was knocked back several feet by its force. Konishi heard that Funakoshi was resentful about this. There was also a rumor that Motobu had challenged Gichin Funakoshi to a match and when the two met, he swept Funakoshi to the floor and followed up with a punch to the face, which he stopped a couple of inches short-just to show who was boss, I guess. Konishi could not vouch for the truth of this and it may never have happened. Reading all the available material on Gichin Funakoshi, he does not come over as the type of person who went in for challenge matches; just the opposite, in fact. However, if the two men ever had met in a serious contest then (this is just my opinion) Motobu would probably have won rather easily. For one thing, Funakoshi, who was only 5 feet tall, was slightly built and would have been heavily outweighed. For another, Funakoshi never became involved in fights, whereas Motobu had the experience of numerous streetfights behind him and was a fighter by nature.

But anyway, the years rolled by and "the leadership of karate," if it could be called such a thing, did pass to the Funakoshi school. The Motobu method does not seem to exist today as a distinctive style. Funakoshi organized his teaching well, he had energetic helpers (including his brilliant son, Yoshitaka), and influential friends such as Jigoro Kano, the famous founder of Judo. Funakoshi's first book Ryukyu Kempo Karate (1922) contained forewords by such people as Marquis Hisamasa, the former Governor of Okinawa, Admiral Rakuro Yashiro, Vice Admiral Chosei Ogasawara, Count Shimpei Goto, and so on. Choki Motobu, however, never sought out such patrons, and in fact, according to Hironori Ohtsuka he was quite a solitary man. This agrees with the view of Konishi, who was quite close to Motobu for several years and never once saw him in an actual fight. Konishi felt that, although Motobu was obviously an exceptional fighter, he would never provoke trouble and was actually a very quiet person.

So it sounds as if Choki Motobu calmed down quite a bit as he grew older. He seems to have been a straightforward, intelligent, but uncomplicated type of person who lacked Gichin Funakoshi's education and knowledge of Japanese culture and etiquette. Motobu did not speak mainland Japanese very well-the Okinawans had their own dialect which was often incomprehensible to the Japanese-and even when he moved to Tokyo he had to use Yasuhiro Konishi as an interpreter. Choki Motobu spent 19 years in Japan, teaching karate for most of that time. In 1940 he returned to Okinawa and died there in 1944. Detail account of the

Motobu vs the famous Russian boxer match.

The story of Choki Motobu's contest with the boxer was featured in the Japanese magazine Kingu (King), in the September 1925 issue (No.9), pages 195-204. It needed quite a bit of detective work to track this down and I must thank Mr. R. A. Scoales of the Japan Society of London, and Mr. Kenneth Gardiner of the British Library, for their help. It was Mr. Gardner who finally located a copy of the article for me. I am also deeply grateful to Kenji Tokitsu, the leading authority on Japanese karate history in Europe, who made a translation of the article.

A few observations on this old article might be worthwhile. As I said, when I first heard about it I thought it might give an accurate account of the contest, but although it obviously relates to the events which occurred, both the descriptions of the action and the dialogue are imaginative. The author, someone writing under the pseudonym Meigenro Shujin, does not give his sources, but he had obviously done some basic research and probably had talked to some of the spectators or even Motobu himself. He may have even been at the event, but somehow I get the impression that he was not an eyewitness. In any case the article appeared four years after the events described (if the date of 1921 is correct) and by then people's memories may not have been too clear about what actually happened.

One point of interest is that the artist who did the accompanying illustrations confused the two karate masters teaching in Japan at that time-Choki Motobu and Gichin Funakoshi-and drew the illustrations as if it had been Funakoshi and not Motobu, who had defeated the boxerI wonder what Choki Motobu thought about that when he saw the article?

The story is entitled, When Human Bullets Clash: Great Contest Between Karate and Boxing, and it states that in 1921 in Kyoto a series of contests were held between boxers and Judoka. These gave rise to much discussion and drew many enthusiastic spectators. These fights were often extremely violent and surprised even those onlookers who regularly attended the annual contests at the Butokuden, (of judo and kendo). During the action someone with the appearance of an old countryman went over to the organizers and asked if a late entry to the fighting would be allowed. The following conversation occurred:

"Mmm. Who is it you wish to enter?"
"What? You?are you a judoka then, or a boxer?
"Well what have you trained in then?"
"Nothing special. But I think I could manage this type of contest. So will you let me enter?"
"Yes, let him enter!" cried the onlookers who had been following all this with interest. "Everybody would want to see a surprise entrant."
"But he says he doesn't do judo or boxing. I wonder if he does some form of provincial wrestling."
"It doesn't matter. Since he wants to enter he must have learned something. If not he's an idiot. Let him enter!"
"Well OK!" said the promoter. "Do you know the rules?"
"Rules," replied Motobu. "What rules?"
"It's forbidden to strike with the fists and feet."
"Mm. What about the open hand?"
"That's alright."
"Fine, let's get on with it."
"Wait a minute. What uniform are you going to wear?"
"I'll just wear my ordinary clothes."
"Those you're wearing now? You can't do that. I'll lend you a judogi."

The promoter brought a judogi, and looked at the man, still trying to make him out. As he stripped a murmur of surprise arose from the onlookers. Although his face was that of a man well over fifty, the muscular development of his arms and shoulders was impressive and his hips and thighs looked extremely powerful. Motobu was asked who he wanted to fight, a boxer or a judoka. He replied "Whoever you like," and the organizers decided to send him against a boxer named George. (No surname or nationality is given in the article. The name may be invented).

As the contestants entered the arena a cry arose from the crowd. "Look! A surprise entry, "Who is this Motobu? I've never heard of him. He looks like an old man. What's someone like him entering a contest like this for?”
The contrast between the two men was striking. Here was a boxer, seemingly brimming with vitality, against a man of fifty who stood only 5 feet three or four inches. As they began, George took up a boxing guard and moved about looking for an opening. Motobu lowered his hips, raising his left hand high with his right hand close to his cheek. The spectators thought this looked like some kind of sword dance (karate was more or less unknown in Japan at this time) but actually it was the opening position of the "Pinan Yodan" kata.
George, the expert boxer, seemed surprised by the ability of his opponent whose guard presented no weak spot. He contented himself with searching for an opening, continually moving his fists round and feigning. Motobu kept his position.

George's breathing grew less steady and he realized that he might tire himself out if things continued like this, he edged forward and send out a fusillade of blows to the face. Everyone expected to see the end of Motobu but without moving his position he parried the blows with his open hands and forced his opponent back. Growing more and more frustrated as the fight went on, George steadied for an all out attack. He drew back his right hand and threw a punch with all his strength at Choki Motobu's head.

Just at the moment when it seemed as if Motobu's face would be crushed he warded off the punch with his left hand. The force of the parry unbalanced the boxer, forcing his hips to rise, and at that instant Motobu struck him in the face with the palm of his hand. George, struck on the vital point just below the nose with the rising palm strike fell to the ground like a block of wood.

Everyone was shouting! "What happened?" The organizers went to look for someone to help George who was still unconscious. "What a formidable old character!" Various people who went to talk to Motobu were astonished by his hands, calloused and almost as hard as stone. Even a blow with the open hand would be terrible, they thought, Ryukyu karate, said one.” Hmm, I didn't know such an art existed.” In fact, you have such trained hands that you don't need to be armed. The hands themselves are terrible weapons."
Spectators and contestants continued to talk for hours about the events which had taken place.

--from King Magazine, Sept 1925

For other source material the artist and author must have used Gichin Funakoshi's Rentan Goshin Karate Jutsu, published the same year (1925), since the illustration for "the guard of Pinan Yodan" is copied directly from that book. Of course the posture shown is not an en garde (on guard) stance but an intermediate position of defense before a counterattack is launched. The writer probably chose this stance because it looked very "karate-ish" but it is hardly conceivable that Choki Motobu would use it. Kenji Tokitsu has pointed out it is unlikely that Motobu knew the Pinan kata, and even if he did (i.e. the order of the movements) he did not practice them sufficiently to apply the techniques in combat. Anyway, we know that Motobu's fighting stance was much more natural and orthodox than this. One point that does emerge from the story, however, is that Motobu fought without the use of gloves and struck the knockout blow with his bare hands-whether with the palm or closed fist we can't really be sure. It does not seem that Motobu used palm strikes much at other times.

The nationality of the boxer is not given but there is a tradition that he was German, or Russian. His identity will probably never be known, and even if it was, it probably wouldn't mean very much to us. I mean, it is unlikely he was a well known professional whose record we could refer to. He was probably an itinerant boxer who found himself in Japan and was making some money knocking over judomen. That he was the German Heavyweight Champion on his way to the USA to fight for the (World) Championship, as has been suggested, is extremely unlikely. There simply was no German contender for the title at that time. The top European heavyweight was the Frenchman George Carpentier who did fight for the World title in July 1921 and was stopped by Jack Dempsey in four rounds. The first German boxer to make a name for himself was Max Schmeling, but he didn't win the German title until 1928, when he beat Franz Diener.

As for him defeating the "Russian Heavyweight Boxing Champion, per Bruce Haines in his Karate's History and Traditions, the Russians did not even have organized boxing until after the second World War, when they began competing internationally in all sports. However, he may indeed have been a Russian (or German) who had picked up some boxing in his travels.

All this is not to put down Choki Motobu's achievement but just to try and introduce some kind of perspective into the stories which have grown up about this contest. l think that, sitting there watching the action, Motobu must have realized he had the measure of the boxers, but it still took courage and confidence to step up in front of a skeptical crowd and accept the challenge. When the fight actually began, he did what had to be done; and he did it at an age--50--when most people today are happy to spend their time in front of the television or down at the pub. What a fascinating character he must have been!

Needless to say, Motobu quickly gained a reputation as a master and many curious people came to learn this mysterious new art. Soon, Motobu became a full time teacher.

During this time, Motobu gained great respect for his fighting ability. He was hailed as the greatest fighter in Japan. Many Sensei advised their students to go and train with Motobu and learn his kumite techniques (for obvious reasons). He was also asked to teach at several universities. Because of this, many of today’s great instructors of various styles had the benefit of his instruction, so it is clear that his was a large influence in karate.

.Motobu usually only taught naihanchi kata to his students and it was his own version with many Ti-like grappling and throwing techniques. However, it was his kumite that had the greatest impact on karate. Oddly enough, there is a story of Choki, full of confidence, challenging his brother Choyu to a fight. It is said that Choyu threw Choki around like a rag doll. After the experience, Choki is said to have humbled himself and adopted more of his family’s Ti forms. In 1922, Master Motobu helped Master Funakoshi start the teaching of Karate to the Japanese. Filled with a new outlook on his life, Master Motobu returned to Okinawa in 1936 and began training with Master Kentsu Yabu. Master Yabu was only man to have ever defeated Master Motobu.

Later in life, Motobu seemed to stress the importance of tradition in training. He strongly stressed the importance of makiwara training and became as enthusiastic about kata as he had always been about kumite. In 1936, at the age of 65, Motobu left Tokyo and went back to Okinawa to visit his instructors to talk about the state of karate in Japan and to make sure that he was teaching the kata and techniques in their originally, unaltered form. Subsequently, he returned and continued teaching in Tokyo. Shortly before World War II, he returned to Okinawa and died in 1944 of a stomach disease at the age of 73.

It is obvious that Choki Motobu was very instrumental in the development of karate and that he was the inspiration for many who trained in the art. It is good to see that, today, millions of people still keep the art alive and strive to keep the fighting spirit of karate which Sensei Motobu so dearly loved.

--From The Coslet's Karate Newsletter September, 1992

Sensei Kenwa Mabuni1 Style–Shito-ryu (Shorin-ryu & Goju-ryu)

AvengerClub.jpgKenwa Mabuni is the founder of the Shito-ryu style of Karate. Mabuni was born in Shuri, Okinawa, son of a 17th generation Samurai called the Bushi (warrior) class. Members of his family served Okinawan lords for hundreds of years. During his time, the martial arts (Okinawa-te) was known according to the village where it was practiced: Shuri-te (the hand of Shuri), Naha-te and Tomari-te. Mabuni learned Shuri-te from Yasutsune Itosu, was a student of Sokon Matsumura, and Naha-te from Kanryu Higashionna. Mabuni learned some 23 kata from Yasutsune Itosu. Mabuni also learned several empty hand katas and Kobudo (weapon) katas from Seisho Arakaki (1840-1918), and some white crane Kung Fu forms from Woo Yin Gue, a Chinese tea merchant in Okinawa.

During the 1920’s the insatiable Mabuni participated in a karate club operated by Miyagi and Choyu Motobu, with help from Chomo Hanashiro and Juhatsu Kiyoda. Choyu Motobu was a master of Shuri-te (the antecedent of Shorin-ryu) and gotende, the secret grappling art of the Okinawan royal court. Hanashiro was also a Shuri-te expert, while Kiyoda came from the same Naha-te background as Miyagi. Known as the Ryukyu Tode Kenkyu-kai (Okinawa Karate Research Club), this dojo (training hall) was one of history’s gems. Experts from diverse backgrounds trained and taught there, and it was there that Mabuni learned some Fukien white crane kung fu from the legendary Woo Yin Gue.

By this time, Mabuni had become a highly respected police officer and made several trips to Japan after Gichin Funakoshi introduced "Karate" in Japan in 1922, Finally he moved to Osaka, Japan in 1928 and started to teach Karate. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese martial arts sanctioning body, the Butokukai, (then the governing body for martial arts in Japan) started registration for all Karate school and Master Mabuni named his style as Hanko-ryu (half-hard style) which later in 1930's changed to "Shito-ryu" in honor of his two foremost teachers Yasutsune Itosu and Kanryu Higashionna (the first kanzi character in 'Itosu' sounds like 'Shi' and that in 'Higashionna' sounds like 'to', 'ryu' stands for 'style' or 'school').. Not everyone agreed with separating Okinawan karate into factions through the use of style names. In fact, Shutokan headmaster Toyama questioned Mabuni and others about their use of what he called “funny-sounding names.” Mabuni countered that giving the style a name would not only satisfy the Butokukai, but would give people something they could identify with and feel a part of.

Among Mabuni’s earliest students was Kanei Uechi (not to be confused with Kambum Uechi’s son of the same name), who by 1935 was also teaching in Osaka. In 1950, Uechi returned to Okinawa and established the Shito-ryu Kempo Karate-do Kai. On Okinawa, Uechi is considered the true successor to Mabuni’s art, but internationally, Mabuni’s eldest son, Kanei, is acknowledged as the head of Shito-Ryu and runs the Shito-kai. Younger brother Kenzo Mabuni also acknowledged as the head of Shito-ryu was asked by his mother to take over the style. Kenzo Mabuni was unsure and could not decide at the time what to do. So he went into seclusion and at the end of what became a two year retreat, Kenzo Mabuni decided to accept this great responsibility and hence became the inheritor of his father’s lineage. Kenzo Mabuni lives in the original family home in Osaka, where he headquarters his organization the Nippon Karate-Do Kai.

Kanei Mabuni and his younger brother Kenzo head the karate programs at several universities, a task inherited from their father. Still other early students of Mabuni have their own distinct organizations and followings. Ryusho Sakagami, a contemporary of Kanei Mabuni, established the Itosu-kai just after Mabuni’s death. Sakagami’s son, Sadaaki, now oversees the Itosu-kai from the Yokohama area. In 1948, Chojiro Tani organized the Shuko-kai, where he taught Tani-ha Shito-ryu. Ever innovative, the Shuko-kai, under the present leadership of Shigeru Kimura in the United States, appears somewhat different in technique from the other Shito-ryu groups.

Master Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu Karate, died in Osaka, Japan in May, 1952 at age 64 leaving his name and art in every heart of each Shito-ryu Karate-ka.

Sensei Shoshin Nagamine3,4Style–Shorin-ryu (Matsubayashi-ryu)

AvengerClub.jpgMaster Shoshin Nagamine is the founder of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayashi-Ryu karate. While Matsubayashi-Ryu karate did not exist before Nagamine Sensei founded it, its beginnings had existed for hundreds of years before. According to Patrick McCarthy of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, Matsubayashi-Ryu karate can trace it's lineage from Chinese Gung-Fu to the original Okinawan karate; Koryu Uchinadi-Ryu karate & Yamaneryu Kobudo. This "original" Okinawan karate then developed into Te. Te grew and divided into Naha-Te, Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te. Shuri-Te (Also generically known as shorin-ryu) then divided into Kobayashi-Ryu (Chosin Chibana), Matsubayashi-Ryu (Shoshin Nagamine), Shobayashi-Ryu (Chotoku Kyan) and Matsumura orthodox Hohan Soken). It was not until 1936 that the Okinawan masters met and adopted the term "karate" or "open-hand" to replace the earlier term of Tote (abbreviated to Te) which meant "Chinese Hand". They felt the new term, karate, better reflected the art's unique Okinawan development. Following World War II Nagamine Sensei encountered a book by Ginchin Funakoshi, entitled "Introduction to Karate". He later stated it was this book that helped him make up his mind to pursue karate as a life's ambition. Although there is no documentation of it, one cannot help but wonder if Nagamine Sensei's service as an infantryman in China in 1928 may not also have influenced his subsequent development of the Matsubayashi-Ryu style. 1947 was the first time the public world heard of Matsubayashi-Ryu karate, this occurring when Nagamine Sensei opened his first dojo and named it the "Matsubayashi-Ryu Kododan Karate and Ancient Martial Arts Studies." Matsubayashi is the Okinawan pronunciation of the characters for "Pine Forest." "Matsu" means "pine" and "Hayashi" means "forest." When the two are placed together, the "H" of Hayashi is pronounced as "B," making it Matsubayashi. "Shorin" is the Chinese pronunciation of the same characters. The origin of the name "Shorin-ryu" is the Shaolin Buddhist Temple in China. "Ryu", roughly translated, means style or system. More literally, it can mean "river," which Nagamine Sensei said reflected his thoughts that the art of karate, and specifically Matsubayashi-ryu, is a living, flowing thing. Sensei Nagamine created the name "Matsubayashi, named after two great masters who taught two of his most influential teachers (Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motobu). These two masters were Bushi Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. As a side note, the World Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate Association website reports Nagamine Sensei's nickname growing up was "Gaajuu Maachuu" sometimes pronounced "Chippai Matsu", which means "tenacious pine tree." In the years that followed its opening, his dojo grew in both fame and size. Soon selected nearby American servicemen began to train at his school. In 1960 the United States was introduced to Matsubayashi-Ryu karate when James Wax, an ex-American serviceman, became the first westerner to open a Matsubayashi-Ryu dojo in Dayton, Ohio. Later, in 1962, Nagamine Sensei dispatched a senior student, Ansei Ueshiro to the United States with the intent of firmly establishing Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayashi-Ryu karate in North America. In the 1980's Ueshiro Sensei branched off from Nagamine and formed the Shorin-Ryu Karate USA (Matsubayashi-Ryu) branch. With the untimely death of Ueshiro Sensei in May of 2002, Shorin-Ryu karate USA broke off into two divisions; that headed by Scaglione Sensei (Shorin-Ryu Karate USA) and a new organization headed by Sensei Maccarrone - Karate USA - Terry Maccarrone. Before Nagamine Sensei's death, the U.S. Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do Federation petitioned him to establish a federation in the United States. The federation received his written authorization and the federation was born, under the auspices of the parent Okinawan organization. Nagamine Sensei, in addition to being the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu karate, was the unifying figure that kept it together, at least until his death in 1997. With Nagamine Sensei's death, Matsubayashi-Ryu separated into the separate organizations seen today. Master Nagamine's original school remains open today in Naha, Okinawa. As a matter of courtesy, any Matsubayashi-Ryu stylist or school wishing to train in Okinawa at Nagamine Sensei's dojo should first write the dojo and request permission.

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Sensei Chibana Choshin5 Style – Shorin-ryu (Kobayashi)

AvengerClub.jpgChibana Choshin, founded and introduced the Shorin-ryu style called “Kobayashi.” He was the originator of shorin-ryu ("the small forest style") was born on June 5, 1885, at Tottori-cho in Shuri City, Okinawa. He began training with Itosu "Ankoh" in 1900, after dropping out of the Okinawa Kenritsu Dai-Ichi Chu-gakko (high school). He was then 15 years old.

He studied with Itosu until his teacher's demise on January 26, 1915, at the age of 85. Five years after his teacher's death, he began teaching on his own. His first training hall was located at Tottori-bori and as his reputation spread, he was able to open up a second training hall in Kumo-cho, Naha.

Chibana remained on the island of Okinawa during World War II and narrowly escaped death when Shuri was destroyed by the Americans in 1945. After the war, he once again began teaching Shorin-ryu in Giho-cho which is a section of Shuri City. During February, 1954, until December, 1958, he was also the Chief Karate-do Instructor for the Shuri City Police Department. On May 5, 1956, the Okinawa Karate-do Association was formed and he was appointed its first president.

Chibana's reputation as a karate master continued to spread, not only in Okinawa but also in mainland Japan. By 1957, he had received the title of Hanshi (High Master) from the Dai Nippon Butokukai (The Greater Japan Martial Virtue Association) and in 1960, he received the First Sports Award from the Okinawa Times Newspaper for his overall accomplishments in the study and practice of traditional Okinawan Karate-do. On April 29, 1968, Chibana-sensei brought further honor to Okinawan Karate-do by being awarded the 4th Order of Merit by the Emperor of Japan in recognition of his devotion to the study and practice of Okinawan karate-do.

In 1964, Chibana was advised that he had terminal cancer of the throat. But, because of his dedication to the art of Okinawa Shorin-ryu, he continued to teach even though his body began to weaken as the cancer spread. By 1966, he was admitted into Tokyo's Cancer Research Center for radiation treatment in an attempt to arrest the spread. After some improvement, Chibana once again resumed his teaching of Okinawa Shorin-ryu with his grandson, Nakazato Akira (Shorin-ryu 7-Dan).

By the end of 1968, Chibana-sensei's condition became worse and he returned to Ohama Hospital. Despite the doctors' efforts to save his life, he died at 6:40 a.m. on the 26th of February, 1969, at the advanced age of 83.

Chibana Sensei left five 9th Degree Black Belts to help spread his system of Okinawan Karate-do. Katsuya Miyahira, Shugoro Nakazato, Yuchoku Higa, and Choshin Nakama are presently teaching Shorin-Ryu throughout the island of Okinawa and in Japan. Kensei Kinjo, another of the 9th Dans, died in 1971 at the age of 76.

After Chibana's death, Katsuya Miyahira became the new president of the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Association with Nakazato Sensei assuming the title of Vice President. Nakazato Sensei later resigned from the Association in November of 1975 and formed the Okinawa Karate-do Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan Association.

Next, Sensei and I went to the Yamakawa Community Center, which relocated from where Chibana Sensei’s dojo used to be. We got there a little early, so we first ate at a nearby hotel before returning to the community center. Since we were on Okinawan time (similar to Hawaiian time, I guess), the 8:00 practice didn’t start until a little while later. There we met Isa Sensei, who is technically the successor of Chibana Sensei’s Shorin Ryu. He took over for Nakazato Akira (Chibana Sensei’s grandson) after Nakazato quit over 20 years ago. It was a rather mixed experience watching Isa Sensei and his students train, as their methodology has become rather distant from Chibana Sensei’s teachings. When practice was finished, Isa Sensei took us out to a small bar where he treated us to some drinks and snacks. The awamori hit me a little hard, since I haven’t been drinking all that much lately (and since I had some earlier in the day), but I couldn’t just go to Okinawa without trying some, right? After a while, we excused ourselves and turned in for the night.

Katsuya Miyahira

Shugoro Nakazato

Sensei Chotoku Kyan6 Style–Shorin-ryu (Shobayashi)

AvengerClub.jpgMaster Chotoku Kyan was born in 1870, to a very wealthy family in Shuri, Okinawa, the cradle of Karate. At the tender age of five he was taught the empty hand art of self-defense from his father Chofu Kyan and his grandfather. Every morning Kyan was required to perform specific exercises by his grandfather, who had a very discerning eye and required nothing less than perfection. Being born into a rich family he was able to devote all of his time studying the martial arts and was sent to the best Okinawan Karate teachers available.

In those days, a Karate Sensei had only three or four Kata, therefore Master Kyan went to many teachers in hope of gaining a well rounded view of the art. Kyan's father was an official of the King, and because of this Kyan was able to gain instruction from many of the great Teachers in Okinawa. Sokon Matsumura of Shuri was at that time the Karate Teacher of the King. Matsumura taught Master Kyan the Kata, "Seisan" and "Gojushiho". Kyan learned the most from Matsumora (Shorin-Ryu teacher of Tomari) including the kata "Chinto". Another great teacher of Tomari was Pechin Maeda. Kyan studied quite a while under Maeda Sensei and learned the Kata "Wansu". He learned the Kata, "Passai", under Pechin Oyadomari Kokan of Tomari. Pechin was a title, given to someone in employment of the King. The next teacher Kyan studied with was the small 4ft, 10 inches tall, Yara of Chatan, a power packed dynamite of a man. Chatan Yara Sensei taught Kyan the longest and most beautiful Kata "Kusanku". Some times known as "Yara no Kusanku". His last teacher was Tokumine, who was reputed to be the best Bo, (Staff) man on Okinawa. Sensei Kyan traveled to the island of Yaeyama and studied the Bo and the Bo-Kata "Tokumine no Kon".

After completing his apprenticeship under the six famous Okinawan Shorin-Ryu masters, Kyan started to teach the art at his home. In the 1920's Kyan traveled to mainland Japan to promote the art. On his return he visited Taiwan on a martial arts exchange tour of Okinawan and Chinese Martial Arts. Being proficient in both arts, Kyan invented his own Kata "Ananku". In the late 1920's Kyan moved to the village of Kadena due to personal and financial problems. There he taught a small number of devoted students who were introduced by friends and city officials. One student, Zenryo Shimabukuro of Chatan was introduced by a school headmaster and accepted as a student. Zenryo Shimabukuro studied 10 years under the tutelage of Master Kyan until Kyan's death.

Food was scarce during WWII and whatever food master Kyan obtained, he gave to the children. He felt it was his duty to take care of those who could not take care of themselves. In 1945 at the age of 75, grandmaster Kyan passed away from hunger.

Sensei Eizo Shimabukuro7 Style–Shorin-ryu (Shobayashi)

AvengerClub.jpgEizo Shimabukuro, Kyan Sensei's top student, was born in the village of Gushikawa on April 19, 1925 was left in charge of the Shobayashi Shorin Ryu system at the time of Kyan's death. Having received the tenth dan red belt at the age of thirty-four in 1959, Shimabukuro O'Sensei holds the distinction of being the youngest person to ever achieve such an honor. His 10th dan was awarded by Kanken Toyama Sensei and his certificate is No. 25. Toyama Sensei also made him the Chairman of the Okinawan branch of the All Japan Karatedo League. The Japanese government gave Toyama Sensei the title of "Master Instructor" and the authority to award 10th dans in any system of Okinawan or Japanese karatedo. Shimabukuro O'Sensei is currently the head of the Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karatedo International Association (OSKIA) League (In 1994, Shimabukuro O'Sensei changed the association name on his certificates to indicate "OSKIA" instead of the All Japan Karatedo League.). O’Sensei was recently honored with a Judan (10th Dan) certificate from the Rengokai Association on Okinawa. There are only five people on Okinawa (including O’Sensei) who hold that rank.

Shimabukuro O'Sensei studied Kobujustu (ancient weaponry) under Shinken Taira and incorporated it into our karate system. Shimabukuro Sensei notes that his major instructors were Chotokan Kyan Sensei (1937), Chojun Miyagi Sensei (1938), Choki Motobu Sensei (1943), Zenryo Shimabukuro Sensei (1955) and his brother Tatsuo Shimabukkuro Sensei. In May of 1948, Shimabukuro O'Sensei opened his first dojo. This was the beginning of, what came to be, over 50 years of continuously teaching traditional karate. For 20 years the U.S. Marine Corp contracted Shimabukuro O'Sensei to teach their troops at several different dojo. To date, Grand Master Shimabukuro estimates he has personally trained as many as 35,000 troops including Army and Air Force.

For all he has contributed to karatedo, he continues to aid in its growth and development by sharing his knowledge with other followers of the art. Eizo Shimabukuro O'Sensei has taught hundreds of students, recording each one's name in a book that he takes on all of his tours. Thus, our history is recorded and the spirit of karate-do lives on.

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Sensei Matsatusa Oyama8 Style - Kyokushin(Yong-l Choi)

Oyama, was born Yong-I Choi, on July 27, 1923, in the tiny village of Wa-Ryongri Yong-chi Myonchul Na Do, in Southern Korea. His family, considered aristocrats belonged to the Yangban-clan. His father, Sun Hyang, was the mayor of Kinje, a town near the village where Yong-I Choi was born. As a young child, nine years of age, Oyama began studying Southern Chinese Kempo under the instruction of Mr. Yi, an employee on the estate owned by Oyama's father. Oyama was also an avid reader and was deeply affected and moved after reading the biography of Otto von Bismark (1815-1898) the Prussian Chancellor (1871-1890) of the German empire. Bismark, Oyama read, was instrumental in unifying Germany in a span of only two to three years, making it a nation powerful enough to control most of Europe. The philosophy of Bismark made such a strong impression on Oyama that he decided he wanted to be the Bismark of the Orient. With great aspirations Oyama somehow felt his destiny was in Japan and he left Korea at the age of fifteen. It was at this time in Japan the young Choi changed his name. He adopted the name Oyama from the family that befriended him and took him in, while in Japan.

In 1938, at the young age of fifteen, Oyama wanted to serve the country he now called home and therefore joined Japan's Yamanashi Youth Air Force Academy with the intentions of becoming a pilot. In September of this same year, Oyama became a student of Gichin Funakoshi, Shotokan Karate founder, at the Takushoku University. Funakoshi, a schoolteacher from Okinawa, was credited with introducing karate to Japan. It is this man that Oyama later would refer to as his true karate teacher. Throughout the years Oyama always spoke highly of Funakoshi, remarking in later recollections of his gentle yet overwhelming presence. Oyama went on to say that of the many things he learned from Funakoshi, kata (formal exercises) was the most important.

By the age of eighteen, Oyama had earned the rank of Nidan in karate (second level black) rank. Oyama was still very much a patriot and was always volunteering for special military duty. On one assignment to an airfield near Tokyo, a confrontation provoked by an officer, resulted in Oyama striking the officer. Although found innocent, due to provocation from an officer, Oyama was ordered transferred to an area in the Pacific However, the war was just ending and lucky for Oyama, the transfer was halted. But this luck had an ironic twist for Oyama because it also meant that his driving quest to serve his new country was now over. The announcement that Japan had surrendered WWII quickly ended Oyama’s military career. The stress of losing his career and the dishonor he felt for his adopted country losing the war created great - almost unbearable - stress in Oyama’s life. Oyama found someone Korean like himself by the name of Nei-Chu So. Not only was So Korean but he was also from the same province. Nei-Chi So was a practitioner of the Gojo-Ryu style of karate. Gogen Yamaguchi, nicknamed "The Cat", was carrying on Goju Ryu, founded by Chojun Miyagi in 1930 in Japan. Yamaguchi commonly acknowledged that Nei-Chu So was one of his best students. Oyama quickly resumed his martial arts training under So and a strong bond was formed between the two. So, who was a great philosopher and strong in character, possessed even stronger spiritual convictions. Oyama would not only learn Goju-Ryu from So, but would also be sanctified by him into the Buddhist faith of the Nichiren sect. It was So who inspired Oyama to make karate his life long dedication, propelling him to face his own challenges and develop his own achievements and victories. At the same time he began his training with So, Oyama earnestly took-up the practice of Judo as well. After four years of training, he received his Yondan (fourth level black) ranking in Judo.

Oyama liked to attend the local dance competitions in the area in order to socialize and relax after his martial arts training. It was at one such dance event that Oyama came to the aid of a female who was being accosted by a local troublemaker. When Oyama intervened, the troublemaker, a tall Japanese suspected of several homicides, became enraged and produced a knife. Taunting Oyama, the troublemaker made continuous slashing movements through the air in front of Oyama’s face with the knife then lunged towards Oyama. Oyama blocked the attack and delivered a forceful punch to the head of the assailant, killing him instantly. Because of eyewitness accounts of the incident, the courts as justified in using self-defense ruled Oyama. However, the impact of the tragedy devastated Oyama. To kill a man with a single blow was so overwhelming to Oyama that he decided to give up his martial arts training. Learning that the man he killed had a wife and children on a farm in the Kanto area near Tokyo, Oyama went to the farm and worked there for several months. He did not leave until the widow assured him that she was financially capable of maintaining the farm and that she did not hold Oyama responsible for the death of her husband. This became the turning point in Oyama’s life. His Goju-Ryu instructor, Nei-Chu So advised him to go away, to train his body and soul and to give karate a chance to control his life. Oyama, lacking direction and a goal wondered if karate was a realistic goal. Would karate training give him the much-needed control of his physical strength as well as mental discipline? If karate would provide these traits, then he would have to give himself completely to the training. He realized it would be a long, hard journey.

In 1948 Mas Oyama, taking with him only his books and the basic necessities for cooking, began an arduous training regimen atop Mt. Minobu in Chiba Prefecture. Mt. Minobu is the same place where the famous seventeenth century samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, received inspiration for Nito Ryu, his celebrated double sword system. To Oyama, this was the ideal place to train and be inspired in the same tradition as his idol, Musashi. Of the books Oyama took with him on this journey, none were more important than the collection on Musashi, by Yoshikawa. For eighteen months, isolated in the mountains, Oyama tested himself against nature’s elements with such scenarios as training and meditating under icy waterfalls, performing countless jumps over bushes and boulders and using trees and rocks as Makiwara to condition his hands, feet and legs.

He would begin training at five in the morning, running up the steep slopes. Using large rocks as weights, he would lift the rocks hundreds of times to increase his strength. In addition, he performed kata a minimum of one hundred times each day as well as hundreds upon thousands of repetitions of kihons (basic techniques), continuously pushing himself to the limits of human endurance. At the conclusion of his daily training, he would read various Buddhist writings and sit in zazen and meditate. It was also at this time that Oyama began to contemplate the idea of the circle and point for his karate. He also began visualizing himself defeating a bull with his bare hands. If he could get strong enough and powerful enough that he was able to defeat a bull with his karate, he would become famous. But it wasn’t fame he was after. The fame, he thought, would be a tool. If he could attract interest from others, he could enlighten them on the strengths and virtues of karate and he would succeed not only in his goal of mastering karate, but of instructing others in the way of karate as well.

After eighteen months of solitude, Oyama returned from the mountains. Shortly after his return from the mountain training, the first karate tournament since the end of World War II, was held in Japan. Oyama competed in this All Japan Karate Tournament held at the Maruyama Kaikan in Kyoto and emerged victorious - the tournament’s first champion. But Oyama was an intense young man and still was not satisfied with his achievement. He still felt that something was lacking in his martial arts and that he had not truly reached his full potential. Oyama returned to the mountains for another year of grueling fourteen-hour training days. To this day, there is no other person who has undertaken such a training regimen within the martial arts. After this final isolation and training period, Oyama returned to civilization ready to apply all that he had learned. It was at this time Oyama decided to apply his karate expertise in a life and death battle – a conflict that would set man against beast. Mas Oyama, in order to show the strength of his karate, tested his strength by fighting raging bulls barehanded. It was a mismatch from the get-go for the bulls, not for Oyama. In all, he fought 52 bulls, three of which were killed instantly, and 49 had their horns taken off with knife hand blows. That it is not to say that it was all that easy for him. Oyama was fond of remembering that his first attempt just resulted in an angry bull. In 1957, at the age of 34, he was nearly killed in Mexico when a bull got some of his own back and gored him. Oyama somehow managed to pull the bull off and break off his horn. He was bedridden for 6 months while he recovered from the usually fatal wound. Today of course, the animal rights groups would have something to say about these demonstrations, despite the fact that the animals were all destined for slaughter.

In 1952, he traveled the United States for a year, demonstrating karate live and on national television. During subsequent years, he took on all challengers, resulting in fights with 270 different people. The vast majority of these were defeated with one punch! A fight never lasted more than three minutes, and most rarely lasted more than a few seconds. His fighting principle was simple — if he got through to you, that was it. If he hit you, you broke. If you blocked a rib punch, you arm was broken or dislocated. If you didn't block, your rib was broken. He became known as the God hand, a living manifestation of the Japanese warriors' maxim Ichi geki, Hissatsu or "One strike, certain death". To him, this was the true aim of technique in karate while the fancy footwork and intricate techniques were secondary.

These life and death struggles brought notoriety to Oyama. Oyama used this notoriety to help establish his Kyokushin organization. Oyama's reputation grew with each bullfight and each challenge match, as he defeated wrestlers, boxers and judo stylists alike in no-holds-barred bouts. He was an equal-opportunity fighter, taking on any man from any combat system that wished to challenge him. For nearly fifty years, fifteen million plus members of Oyama's worldwide Kyokushin Karate organization witnessed this man's incredible feats. Whether from the power of his strikes, the strength of his handshake, his remarkable teachings or through the teachings of the instructors and branch chiefs that Oyama produced, everyone associated with him knew that this esoteric name was not inappropriate.

Oyama was a living legend until he passed away April 26, 1994, at the age of 71. He could fight and defeat a bull or another man with little problem; they were tangible opponents that appeared before him. But lung cancer was a hidden enemy, sneaking around inside Oyama's body and tearing it asunder day by day. He couldn't beat the disease with his fists or his feet. Nor could he devise a strategy to ward it off. For years, the cancer ate away at his insides without him even knowing it was there. His death was met with sadness in not only Kyokushin circles, but the rest of the martial arts community as well.

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Sensei Gogen Yamaguchi (1909 - 1989) Style Goju-ryu

Gogen Yamaguchi was born on January 20, 1909, in Kagoshima city on southern Kyushu. He was named Jitsumi. Already as a youngster he showed great interest in the Martial Arts. During his early school days he trained kendo, (Japanese fencing) and it was during this time that he started his karate training under the tutelage of Mr Maruta, a carpenter from Okinawa. Mr Maruta who was a Goju practitioner was drawn to the young Yamaguchi's serious attitude and his willingness to train hard. Mr Maruta taught Yamaguchi all he knew about the Goju system.

He studied Law at Kansei University in 1928 and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto from 1929 to 1937 and received Law Degrees. Yamaguchi established his first karate club at the Ritsumeikan University. Soon the dojo became famous in the city, known for its hard training and fierce breathing exercise. In those days karate men practiced only kata (formal movements) and yakusoku kumite (prearranged sparring) and were unable to have matches between each other since they did not hold back their techniques. It was during this period that Yamaguchi created the first stages towards what is known as jyu kumite (free fighting) and established rules to decide the winner of a match. Some of the rules are still in use today in what is known as sport or competition karate.

In 1931, at the age of 22, Gogen Yamaguchi was introduced to the founder of the Goju style, Master Chojun Miyagi. This meeting proved to have a profound affect upon Yamaguchi's outlook on karate. Previously he had only considered the hard aspect of Goju but after his meeting with Master Miyagi he was determined to train himself spiritually as well as physically. Master Miyagi thought highly of Yamaguchi who seemed to have mastered the hard aspect of Goju so well and in 1937 gave him the nickname Gogen, meaning `Rough'. He then appointed Gogen Yamaguchi as his successor of the Goju School in Japan.

During the years to follow Gogen Yamaguchi often spent long stays at Mount Kurama where he subjected himself to ascetic exercises and hard training with sanchin, meditation and fasting.

Between1938-1945 he was sent to Manchuria on government and military assignments. On several occasions during his stay there, he could thank his skills in karate and his mental training that he stayed alive. During the Japanese-Russian war Yamaguchi was taken prisoner of war and sent to a prison camp in Mongolia. He was kept there under harsh conditions for two years. Once again his strength and skill were severely put to the test. During all these years he still continued to train and develop Goju-karate.

In 1950, he founded the national organization of All Japan Karate do Goju kai in Tokyo, Japan. Gogen received 10th Degree Black Belt from Chojun Miyagi in 1951. He was recognized as one of the greatest Karate masters in Japan. He was the founder of what might be called modern Karate, an advanced stage which illustrates both a technical and social elevation of the art of Karate. From a technical point of view, he had unified all Karate exercise by employing an extremely well organized method.

As a result of the introduction of free-style sparring, the art of Karate had become a more active and popular art in Japan as well as in other parts of the world. Although he studied such martial arts as Judo, Kendo, Iaido, Jo-do, and Kusari-gama (art of chain) in his younger days, Karate had from the beginning captured most of his enthusiasm.

In the general development of Karate, Gogen had contributed several distinguished services. First, he formed a group of Asian martial instructors. He then succeeded in bringing seventy Asian instructors to Japan and traveled throughout the country, holding exchange martial arts demonstrations.

Master Yamaguchi's contributions to Goju-karate and to karate in general have been enormous. Under his leadership the International Karate do Goju kai Association I.K.G.A. (kai=organization) emerged. The organization has increased in popularity both in Japan and other Asian and western countries around the world, today there are about 35 countries teaching Goju kai karate. Master Yamaguchi succeeded in uniting all the karate schools in Japan into a single union, which resulted in the formation of The Federation of All Japan Karate do Organization F.A.J.K.O. in 1964. He added to the Goju system the Taikyoku Kata forms, training methods for the beginner students to prepare them for the more advanced kata's.

In combining his religious practices with karate training, he incorporated both Yoga and Shinto into Goju kai karate and founded in recent years Goju-Shinto. He states that both body and mind are interrelated and through proper breathing and concentration we will be able to understand the essence of the Martial Arts. This is the reason why the Goju School uses the unique breathing exercise called ibuki. This involves concentrating all the muscular strength at one point, bringing mind and body into a coherent whole.

He is known throughout the world as the 'cat' because of his grace and speed in movement and because of his favorite fighting stance which is called neko ashi dachi (cat stance). As a further recognition of merit, he was honored in 1969 by Emperor Hirohito of Japan with Ranju-Hosho, the Blue Ribbon Medal.

The Kokusai Budo Renmei- The International Martial Arts Federation in Japan, whose chairman is Prince Higashikuni of the Japanese Imperial Family had appointed Master Yamaguchi as Shihan (master) of the organizations karate division. Never before has a single man had such profound effect on the development and propagation of karate do. Master Gogen Yamaguchi, 10th dan, a man of intense dedication and determination can truly be called the last of the karate legends. A master of Yoga and a Shinto priest, a man that truly has united both aspects of go and ju into a concerted union.

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Sensei Edmund Kealoha Parker9 Style - American Kenpo

Edmund Kealoha Parker (March 19, 1931–December 15, 1990) was an American martial artist and teacher.(1) He is perhaps most famous as the founder of American Kenpo.

Parker was born in Hawaii and raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He began his training in the martial arts at a young age in judo and later boxing. Some time in the 1940s, Ed Parker was first introduced to Kenpo by Frank Chow. After some time Frank Chow introduced Ed Parker to William K. S. Chow. Mr. Parker trained with William Chow, while serving in the Coast Guard and attending Brigham Young University. In 1953 he was promoted to the rank of black belt by William K.S. Chow.

Both Ed and Professor Chow were Mormons, and Ed Parker was well known as the "Mormon Black Belt" (Black Belt Magazine's first issue had a picture of Ed Parker as the "Blackbelted Mormon"). (2) The General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considered Ed Parker to be a great missionary tool. Ed didn't preach his religion. He hadn't gone on a mission like other young men did, and he felt an obligation to set an example that would influence people towards the Mormon Church.

By 1956, Mr. Parker opened his Dojo in Pasadena, California. His first black belt student was Charles Beeder. The other black belts in chronological order up to 1962 were: James Ibrao, Rich Montgomery, Rick Flores, Al and Jim Tracy of Tracy Kenpo, Chuck Sullivan, John McSweeney, and Dave Hebler. In 1962 one of Mr. Parker's black belts, John McSweeney, opened a school in Ireland, which enabled Mr. Parker to create the International Kenpo Karate Association.

Mr. Parker was well known for his business creativity. He helped many martial artists to open their dojos. He was also well known in Hollywood where he trained a great many stunt men and celebrities; most notable was Elvis Presley. He also helped Bruce Lee gain national attention by introducing him at his International Karate Championships. He served as Elvis Presley's bodyguard during the singer's final years, did movie stunt work and acting, and was one of the Kenpo instructors of martial arts action movie actor Jeff Speakman. He is best known to Kenpoists as the founder of American Kenpo and is referred to fondly as the "Father of American Karate". He is referred to formally as Senior Grand Master. As a young man, Edmund Parker, Sr. came to study at Brigham Young University from his native Hawaii and began to teach the martial arts. By the time he achieved the rank of brown belt, he was already interpreting ideas he had learned from his Chinese-Hawaiian teacher, William Kwai Sun Chow. Chow had collaborated with James Mitose, through the Official Self Defense Club.

It was during this period that Parker was significantly influenced by the Japanese and Okinawan interpretations prevalent in Hawaii. Parker's Book Kenpo Karate, published in 1961, shows the many hard linear movements, albeit with modifications, that set his interpretations apart. While most karate instructors were executing one- or two-move techniques, Parker was using linear rapid fire multiple strikes as well as jujutsu-influenced grabs and holds.

All of the influences up to that time were reflected in Parker's rigid, linear method of "Kenpo Karate," as it was called. Between writing and publishing, however, he began to be influenced by the Chinese arts, and included this information in his system. He settled in Southern California after leaving the Coast Guard and finishing his education at B.Y.U. Here he found himself surrounded by other martial artists from a wide variety of systems, many of whom were willing to discuss and share their arts with him. Parker made contact with people like Ark Wong, Haumea Leiti, James (Jimmy) W. Woo (a.k.a. Chin Siu Dek), and Lau Bun. These martial artists were known for their skills in arts such as Splashing-Hands, San Soo, Tai Chi, and Hung Gar, and this influence remains visible in both historical material (such as forms that Parker taught for a period within his system) and current principles.

Exposed to new Chinese training concepts and history, he modified his teachings as reflected in his second book, Secrets of Chinese Karate published in 1963, just 2 years after "Kenpo Karate." Parker drew comparisons in this and other books between karate (a better known art in the United States at that time) and the Chinese methods he adopted and taught.

Parker had a minor career as a Hollywood actor and stunt man. His most notable film was Kill the Golden Goose [1]. In this film, he co-stars with Hapkido master Bong Soo Han.

Edmund K. Parker died in Honolulu of a heart attack on December 15, 1990. His widow Leilani Parker died on June 12, 2006.

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Ed Parker Kenpo Student - Paul Mills


Sifu Daniel Pai 10 Style – White Lotus Kenpo & Pai-Lung Ch'uan-Fa

Great Grand Master Daniel Kane Pai's grandfather, Po Fong, left his home near a southern Shaolin Temple outside of Singapore and traveled to Hawaii in 1924 with the dream of being able to give his family a better life by using his vast martial arts knowledge. Po Fong later adopted a Hawaiian name, Po Pai. Kane Pai, the son of Po Pai, was one of six children and had a son, Daniel Kane Pai, born in Kamuela, Hawaii. Grandmaster - Po Pai taught his grandson the family martial art style which contained mainly elements of the crane and dragon movements as well as other animal styles which where later contained within a larger martial arts system called Pai Lum Tao. His grandmother was a master of the white crane system and his father was a Judo expert. During this time of training, it is said that Po Pai sent his grandson to the White Lotus Monastery, Byakurenji, on the northern coast of Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, to study Kobayashi-ryu karate-do, White Lotus Kenpo and he received his black belt.

At the end of World War II, Daniel Pai went to work on the Parker Ranch on the "Big Island" herding cattle. During this time, Daniel Pai and Ed Parker, who would become a famous kenpo master, worked and trained together. Pai studied the art of Judo/Jujitsu and massage with Professor Osakis and Richard Takamora. He was also with the Hawaiian Kenpo Association.

In 1951, Daniel Pai joined the U.S. Army and was stationed on the Mainland. He opened his first school in the back of his Sunset Boulevard home just before leaving to fight in the Korean War. He re-enlisted in 1953, and spoke of being in Vietnam in 1954. He retired from active duty in December 1955 and in May 1962 he was given an honorable discharge after completing his military obligation. During his service to his country, Daniel Pai was awarded 4 bronze Stars, Korean Service Medal, U.N. Service Medal and the National Defense Medal.

Dr. Daniel Pai graduated from the Chicago Medical College, Calcutta India on June 29, 1960, with a degree in Homeopathic Medicine. During the 1960's he worked at 20th Century Fox as a stuntman.

Throughout the mid-sixties and early seventies, he opened numerous schools in the United States, with instructors in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Connecticut, Colorado, California, Hawaii and Canada. During this time he was operating a school in Daytona Beach and assisting with the operations across the country. This era peaked with fifty plus Pai Lum and Fire Dragon schools operating in North America. Over the next two decades some of these students, who trained mostly in kenpo, stayed close to Great Grandmaster Pai as he trained new students in Kung Fu and Tai Chi disciplines. Great Grandmaster Pai's martial arts system became known as the White Dragon.

In 1992, Great Grandmaster Daniel Kane Pai was in the process of organizing all his Pai Lum Tao schools with several associated systems under an umbrella organization called the World White Dragon Kung Fu Society.

In 1993, while in the Dominican Republic, Great Grandmaster Daniel Kane Pai passed from this life and was laid to rest with full military honors at the Hawaiian National Cemetery. A legacy of knowledge and wisdom was left with many devoted practitioners of Pai Lum Tao across several decades.


The historical legend as told above has never been substantiated and is even considered dubious by many within Pai Lum. Issues arise when one finds that there has never been a "White Lotus Temple" in Okinawa and that the Okamura mentioned within the legend's text is more likely to have been the founder of the "Okinawa Kenpo Karate" system, namely Shigeru Nakamura. It also raises the question as to why a master of a Chinese martial art would send his grandson half a world away to study an Okinawan martial art system when he could have taught him. Moreover, the date of Pai's alleged travel to Okinawa seems highly improbable, since according to the legend he would have travelled there in 1942, after the Second World War in the Pacific began, which is clearly very improbable, given that Okinawa was one of the Japanese home islands. Another controversy is that Daniel Pai was often called "Dr. Pai" by his students but to date, there is no record of Daniel Pai going to medical school or achieving a doctorate from any academic institution.

Daniel Pai died in 1993. For many years he had told many students of Pai Lum that his successor would be his senior adopted grandson, Pai Li Lung (John Weninger). Other adopted grandsons who were more senior to Pai Li Lung had left Pai Lum over the years preceding his death. (Daniel Pai was married in the 1950's to the former Betsy M. Mullins and this union produced two children, a daughter, Pualei, now living in Florida and a son named Daniel who resides in Virginia. Dr. Pai is also survived by 4 granddaughters, 1 grandson, 2 great granddaughters and 2 great grandsons.) This too has raised some issues. Depending on the school and location, you will get different responses as to who exactly should be named the head of the system. Some contend that no one should be the head of the system since each succeeding master develops something new. Besides the few non-aligned instructors, such as former chief instructor, Pai Tao Chi (David Everett), two competing factions exist within Pai Lum, namely the World White Dragon Society and the White Dragon Warrior Society.

The World White Dragon Society made up of early students of Daniel K. Pai including Pai Shao Li (Steve Mathews), Pai Li Lung (John Weninger), Pai Shinzan (Thomas D. St. Charles), Pai Ching-Lin (David Smith), and Pai Hsin-Lung (Philip Hunter), Pai Ying Lung (Robert L. Skaling-Pai), and Pai Bok Hok (Marcia Pickands), and others. The other competing faction is The White Dragon Warrior Society, which is headed by Glen C. Wilson supported by his wife Hilda Guerrero Wilson, and students. Considering there is no set curriculum, central authority, or standard within Pai Lum, there seems little point to naming anyone the head of the system.

Despite the ongoing controversies regarding the origin and authenticity of Pai Lum Kung Fu, it remains that Daniel Pai was an enigma, both as a man and a martial arts master. Those who spent significant time with him may all agree that his charisma and personal energy were unmistakable and left a lasting impression upon those who met him, even briefly. One never walked away unchanged, and either loved him or hated him, with few feeling ambivalent.

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Sah Bum Nim Jhoon Rhee 11 Style – Tae kwon do

In 1956 Jhoon Rhee came to the U.S. to study at San Marcos Southwest Texas State College and as a member of the Korean Army Officer Training Program. He was called back to Korea to complete a year of remaining active duty before returning in late 1957. Rhee returned to the U.S. entered engineering school in 1958. In 1959 he transferred to the University of Texas in Austin, Texas and needed a source of income to continue his education. He began teaching a non-credited karate (the name tae kwon do was not known at the time) class in 1959. To attract students he gave a demonstration where he would jump into the air and break 3 boards 8 feet high with a kick. This greatly impressed the audiences, especially when you consider Mr. Rhee is 5 feet 4" tall!.

One hundred and eighty four students signed up for Rhee's first class. Of those students, only six made it to black belt. One of those six was Allen R. Steen, who is credited as being Mr. Rhee's first American black belt. In 1962 Rhee moved to Washington D.C. to build a karate empire as Steen would do the same in Texas.

Grand Master Rhee went on to open many schools across the US and overseas (65 in Russia). He has taught many congressmen, senators and celebrates martial arts. On Capital Hill he created karate tournaments between Republicans and Democrats. Rhee is credited for inviting the padded safety gear karate fighters wear when they spar to reduce injuries. He also started musical forms, the "martial arts ballet" - synchronized tae kwon do performed to music.

In 1976 Rhee was named the Martial Arts Man Of the Century by the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club in 1976. His Jhoon Rhee Foundation teaches the "Joy of Discipline" program to public school children. Many have witnessed Rhee's demonstration where he does 100 push-ups in 60 seconds. Pretty impressive for a 68 years young man! In 1999 Black Belt Magazine named Grand Master Rhee as one of the 10 most influential martial arts of the century.

After Jhoon Rhee moved from Texas to Washington D.C. Allen Steen and Pat Burleson would become the focus of Texas karate. While Rhee was the one who planted the seed for karate in Texas, Steen was the tree that grew from it. Even after Master Rhee moved, Steen and Burleson provided him with top quality Texan black belts that enabled Rhee to build his empire.

Allen Steen attended one of Rhee's demonstrations in the fall of 1959. "He (Rhee) side kicked one of the support beams in the gymnasium and cracked the veneer on it all the way to the top - some 20 or 30 feet", remembers Steen. Having done some boxing, this karate looked like something Steen wanted to try. 90 percent of the attendees that day signed up for the $5 a semester classes.

Mr. Rhee was a third-degree black belt when he arrived in the U.S. and in Korea first and second-degree black belts were not allowed to teach. Rhee had little experience in teaching, but had a lot of experience in military life having been a captain in the Korean Army, so he ran his class like a military boot camp. "He was a strict disciplinarian," stated Steen,"On every exercise you wanted to quit, but Rhee would always get you to gut out one more push-up or sit-up. We spent over two months in basic stances before we did anything else. As a result, I was a white belt for nine months."

During that time finances were tight for Steen and he didn't have money do much of anything except go to his classes and karate. He worked out everyday and built himself up from 6 feet 2, 150 pounds to 200 pounds of solid muscle. His competitiveness grew from karate and would later help him in business. After he earned his brown belt, Steen began to give private lessons whenever he returned home to Dallas. After he graduated from college, he moved back to Dallas and opened his first karate school, The Jhoon Rhee Institute of Karate, in June of 1962 close to Southern Methodist University. Shortly after that he returned to Mr. Rhee and pasted a grueling three-hour exam to earn his black belt. Of the original 184 students in Rhee's class, only 6 reached this level of proficiency.

In 1964 Master Rhee held the first U.S. National Karate Championships in Washington D.C.

Rhee is largely credited for having popularized martial arts in North America. He trained with martial artist Bruce Lee to help him develop his kicks and he also trained Muhammad Ali for several of his fights. Rhee eventually awarded Ali a Blackbelt in tae kwon do. In addition, he has also trained many U.S. senators and U.S. congressmen as well as their sons and daughters.

In 1976, he also invented protective gear, Safe-T Equipment, made of foam-rubber for free-sparring. He changed the face of kata well by choreographing the first kata to music which he called Might for Right.

Sifu Dennis Brown12 Style - Shaolin Wushu

Master Dennis Brown is the owner of Dennis Brown's Shaolin Wushu Academy in Washington DC. He is also the promoter of the US Capitol Classics, a nationally rated tournament sanctioned by the NASKA circuit. He is also a member of the board of directors for EFC (Educational Funding Company), which is a billing and business consulting company for martial arts school owners. Over the years he has taught more than 20,000 students.

Training and Experience: Master Brown began his training in martial arts in 1965. In 1982 Mr. Brown was one of the first Americans to get the opportunity to train in China. He initially trained in Nanjing at the Jiangsu Sports Center. He later trained at the Beijing Institute of Physical Training. He was certified by them in 1985. He returned to China several more time to train in Tai Chi, Chin Na and advanced weaponry.

Accomplishments and Honors: Master Brown was recognized by the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC as the Official Consultant of Wushu for the People's Republic of China. He was recognized by Black Belt Magazine as one of the “25 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 20th Century,”in May of 2000. He was also inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame in 1999. He has many other hall of fame nominations and is recognized as a true expert in the art of Kung Fu. Appearances in the Media: Master Brown appeared on the classic " ABC's Wide World of Sports" when he performed at Madison Square Garden. He has been featured on many local and national television news broadcasts, and has been on the cover almost every major martial arts magazine in the US.

Master Brown was also featured on the Discovery Channel special entitled "Secrets of the Warriors Power" which aired in 1998, and the TNT special, “A Tribute to the Masters of the Martial Arts ”, produced by Wesley Snipes.

Sensei Herbert Heinz Style – Shorin-ryu (Okinawa-te)

Airman Heinz never became enthralled at training in any “one separate Shorin-ryu subsystem”; instead he diligently sought after the erudition of Okinawa-te in its entirety. Shorin-ryu was his major martial arts influence but also received exposure to other systems such as Jujitsu, Naha-te, etc. Because of his wholeness approach in learning Shorin-Ryu and other systems in martial arts his repertoire is Okinawa-te, His teaching system involved techniques from all major and minor Shorin-ryu, in addition to minor Nah-te, subsystems.

After attaining Blackbelt in Okinawa and upon returning from the Vietnam conflict, airman Heinz attended Morgan State College (later in 1975 was renamed Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland. There he and a close friend named Bob McPherson, who was a master in Shotokan Karate & Jujitsu, instructed one of the toughest martial arts training program one can imagine. Kumite consisted of “bare knuckles” resulting with many student injuries. Often kata training consisted of hours of repetitious drills which caused several Karate-ka’s to pass out from exhaustion. His most diligent and loyal student was a young man by the name of Riley Hawkins.

Sensei Bob McPherson13

It was over five decades ago, in twentieth century, during the year 1955, Bob McPherson while serving in Hawaii with the U.S. Air Force, a then young airman, was introduced to art and science of judo.   Very quickly, he became adept at judo.  He enrolled at a local dojo and received instruction under a ranked nidan Blackbelt named Francisco Limbago.  The following year the U.S. Air Force granted airman Mr. McPherson special permission to train for six months at the Kodokan Judo Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

 The Kodokan is the world’s most famous international judo facility.  It is considered as the headquarters of the “judo world.”   Literally, means "to lecture" or "to spread information," means "the way," and kan is "a public building or hall," together translating roughly as "a place for the study or promotion of the way."1 During the year 1882 Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo, which is a derivative of jujutsu, developed this art. 

Upon returning to the island of Hawaii, in 1958, airman McPherson was awarded the Brownbelt 3rd kyu.  During the same year he developed an interest in the art and science of karate.  Quickly he joined a “Chinese Kempo” martial arts school.  Along with judo, he practiced Chinese Kempo for nearly two years.  Also worth mentioning, during 1958, he won the 150 lb division of the inter-service judo championships held in Hawaii.  During the same year he received an honorable discharge in July, and returned home to Baltimore.

The following year, 1959, Mr. McPherson began instructing classes in judo and karate at the Druid Hill branch of the YMCA.  During the following year 1960, he started judo instruction at Carver High School, located in Baltimore’s west side, at 2201 West Presstman Street.  There, he instructed tough judo classes for three years.  Only the strong survived.

In 1963 Mr. McPherson met an Air Force Sergeant by the name of Phyle.  Sergeant Phyle introduced him to the Japanese art of Shotokan karate.  The following year, 1964, Sergeant Phyle was reassigned service duty to Alaska and made the decision to entrust his school to Mr. McPherson.   Also during this period, Mr. McPherson studied at the Shotokan Karate Club, located at the newly formed club with its headquarters at 2933 O’Donnell Street.  This club was chartered by the well-known and highly regarded organization, the Japan Karate Association (JKA).  It was there where Mr. McPherson studied under the tutelage of yodan, 5-time Japan champion, Sensei Teruyuki.  Sensei Teruyuki was then the chief Sensei of the East Coast Karate Association and head instructor of the Philadelphia Karate Club (PKC).  This prompted Mr. McPherson to return to his club and share with his students his new discovery and encouraged them to join him in acquiring new membership in the Shotokan Karate Club.  

Years later, Mr. McPherson progressed in Shotokan karate earning several Obi Dan’s.  In addition, he was eventually appointed as vice president of the Maryland Karate Association (MKA).  Sensei’s committed martial arts leadership enhanced and spread the “true meaning” of karate throughout the state of Maryland. 

Sadly, in 1999 Sensei McPherson past away.  He is truly missed.  Maryland martial arts lost a most respectable Sensei that only laudatory remarks can describe. 

Sensei Riley Hawkins Style – Shorin-ryu (Okinawa-te)

Hanshi Hawkins was born on January 4, 1944, in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of the earliest “martial arts instructor pioneers” on the U.S. northeast coast.

SENSEI Heinz encouraged and mentored SENSEI Hawkins to instruct Shorin-ryu the way he learned the art while stationed in Okinawa. Mr. Heinz gave firm guidance to SENSEI Hawkins to always be open-minded concerning learning and teaching martial arts instruction. He persuaded him to not limit his martial arts knowledge and experience by only associating with martial arts alliances that have a political and financial agenda as their chief interest.

In 1965 this Bushi started instructing the art of Shorin-ryu to his younger brothers and sisters on Brunt Street. Later he opened his first Dojo, located on Etting Street, on the 3rd floor, at the Sharp Street Memorial Community House. He requested karate-ka, the neighborhood kids, to come up with a name for the Dojo. They decided to call the Dojo “The Avengers Karate Club.”

This Bushi has been very active involving the art of Shorin-ryu. He and his students have competed internationally, with much success, in karate tournaments. He has trained many international karate tournament champions and is worldwide recognized as a famous and successful karate instructor.

Hanshi Hawkins great success in training Avengers to be victorious in international tournament competition is small compared to his tremendous success in teaching them “life skills.” His martial arts instruction emphasis is focused more so on “a way of life” versus sports competition.

Artilce: Riley Hawkins Karate Master (Need Adobe Acrobat Reader)

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1. http://www.lawrencetown.com/masters.htm
2. http://www.academyofclassicalkarate.com/info/history.html
3. Author, Shoshin Nagamine, Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters, Copyright 2000
4. http://www.okinawankaratedoacademy.com/history.html
5. http://www.ihadojo.com/Origins/chibana.htm
6 .http://www.seibukan.org/history/kyan.html
7. http://www.okinawankaratesanfrancisco.com/shorinryu/index.htm
8. http://www.american-kyokushin.com/cnt.akk.mas-oyama.html
9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Parker
10. http://jgething.echoes.net/
11. http://www.abbahouston.com/texaskarate.html
12. http://martialarts.about.com/od/famousmartialartists/p/dennisbrown.htm
13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodokan