Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shinsa _ Grading in Karate

The grading system in karate is really not very old. Having been adopted from Judo by Gichin Funakoshi in 1922, see my previous article How the Masters got their Rank for more on this.

From my previous research we can see that the founding master's of the various Kai-ha, received their 8th and 9th dan in their mid thirties to late forties, and 10th Dan in their fifties. This is in contrast to the later model where 10th Dan was moved up to the age of Seventy. It seems that in the beginning of the ranking system that it was skill not age that determined the level of rank.

If you take a look at the standard time in grade requirements and the hardline stance that Shodan could not be issued until the age of 18, here is what you come up with.

Minimum Time in Grade
Minimum Age
1 year
2 years
3 years
4 years
5 years
6 years
7 years
8 years
9 years

If you go with the newer model that allows adult Shodan at the age of 16, then it changes the whole thing.

This is based of of the commonly accepted time in grade models. So what if you have a 50 year old that has 45 years of training? What rank should he or she be?

It is a conundrum

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kiichi Nakamoto Hanshi Judan

Kiichi Nakamoto Soke was born in 1927 and began his study of Gojuryu Karate-do directly under the founder, Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi at the Garden Dojo in 1937. He continued to train with Miyagi Sensei until his passing, at which time, he continued to follow Eiichi Miyazato Sensei, first at the Garden dojo and then following him to the Jundokan. Nakamoto Sensei was one of the few Jundokan students promoted to 10th Dan Hanshi directly by Miyazato Sensei, and was third in the line of seniority at the Jundokan . Today Nakamoto Sensei continues a relationship with the Jundokan So Honbu and the Miyagi family. He is the president of the Gojuryu Okinawakan Karate-do Kyokai.

Nakamoto Sensei is also the president of the Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu Hozon Budo Kyokai. He is a direct blood line descendant of the Ugushuku Samurai Family. He trained directly under Shosei Kina Sensei, the 2nd head master of Ufuchiku Kobujutsu. He continued his training with Kina Sensei until his passing in 1980, at which time he continued to train with Kina Sensei senior most student, Shinei Kyan Sensei, until his passing in 1997. Today he is a 10th Dan Hanshi of Ufuchiku Kobujutsu.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Martial Arts are Better then Sports

This year marks my thirty-ninth year training  in karate and it is my opinion that the martial arts is a far better hobby for children and adults then typical team sports like baseball, football, basketball or soccer. Research suggests that martial arts has a broader reaching set of benefits then can be gained by participation in team sports because participants of the martial arts gain Self-defense, self-confidence, over all fitness and individuality.
The most common reason for a person to study the martial arts is to learn how to defend themselves, either as an adult or as a child learning to deal with bullies, it really does not matter what style you take, because they all have a similar foundation, taking any type of training is better than never having started. Martial arts training will show you the techniques that you will need to defend yourself, as well as, changing your mindset by changing the way you would think about how you should defend yourself. How to anticipate and avoid potential dangers, in my experience as a martial artist and as an instructor I have learned that most people are vastly unaware of their surroundings. Therefore they do not see potential threats or dangers. In a good martial arts studio self-defense instructors will teach their students how to be aware of threatening situations, as well as, how to avoid those situations if possible or how to protect yourself with the skills that you have been taught.  Consistent training will also help you to develop the reflexes that you will need if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, it will also help build the confidence to stand up for yourself  or your loved ones and fight back if you would ever need too.
The defensive aspect of the martial arts is just one component of a multifaceted art, which encompasses a large amount of benefits to the participant. The longer a student of the martial arts trains, the more they will get out of the practice.
Martial arts is also great for developing self-confidence, which many people lack. As a person becomes more confident and proficient in their technical applications of the martial arts, their confidence will increase. They will become more self-assured, more confident. As a student it is important to have a good teacher that will encourage them along the way and help them to achieve this goal, but these lessons and the confidence achieved will extend far beyond the karate school and into everyday life, which can help future success in school, work, and relationships.
As self-confidence increases in the student, so will the students self-discipline, self-esteem, and self-respect. “Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge. “ (Stevens, E. 2016, para. 11)
“So, learning martial arts will help you to gain this lacking confidence with time. “(Ghosh, S. 2014, para. 7)
Achieving a new belt or ranking is recognition from your instructor and is recognized among peers for the student’s effort, dedication, and progress. Martial Arts ranking systems will vary from one school to the next but they help, not only motivate the student but it also teaches one to set goals and achieve them, to persevere and prioritize how one moves forward in their training.
Belt Ranking has been used since the early 1900’s and was introduced to the martial arts by the founder of Judo, Dr. Jaguro Kano. This method of advancement was used to help the student in many way, they will have to follow a set curriculum and learn specific material for each new belt. Aside from goal setting the further one goes in the belt ranking system the more responsibility one obtains. This leads to leadership development teaching the student how to become a future leader and making them responsible for guiding others along the path that is the martial arts.
Martial Arts training is a physical manifestation of the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’.  In a typical karate class a student may execute one movement or series of related movements, hundreds or thousands of times. What this teaches the student is that progress always happens a little at a time. These small improvements in technique, stamina, balance, flexibility or strength will only come through constant practice of endless repetitions. While participation in team sports may help your child with physical fitness, it still comes in secondary to the martial arts, a recent study concluded “Karate children show better speed times, explosive legs strength and coordination skills.” (Marianha A. 2014, 4{2}) Take sparring for example, this is where a student can show how creatively they can apply their techniques, there are still rules and safety concerns to be followed.  What all of this is meant to teach is how to respect one another and your opponents, and how to participate in games fair and square, and how to be a good sport. These are life lessons that will follow them throughout their lives, even if they have quit training. Also it teaches them how to commit to something, to go to practice even when they do not feel like going.
The martial arts makes each student work independently and holds them responsible for their own accomplishments or lack thereof.
Many students will have the chance to experience the benefits of Martial Arts as children, however most children will abandon their martial arts training when reaching the teen years either because they start dating or to participate in school sports.
Even though there are several lessons to be learned from participation in team and individual varsity sports, the common method of everyone makes he team, often favors the more physically developed players while benching the late bloomers or athletically challenged.
Sports coaches generally will have access to an endless supply of new players that constantly replenishes itself each year, the big, strong and athletically gifted get picked and get to play while the less physically developed get to watch from the benches, this leads to an even greater disparity in skill development as the season goes by. However in the martial arts each person is held accountable for their own actions, abilities and progress.
I am sure that while most parents would consider martial arts for their sons, not that many would consider it for their daughters. However the martial arts is one of the very few sports where both males and females can work and learn together in a positive structured environment, where they succeed on their own merit, whether a natural athlete, studied athlete, or someone who is just trying their best. Martial Artist also provides family members with an opportunity to practice and train with each other, as well as, earn from one another.
Physical fitness and exercise can also be a major component of martial arts training. Childhood obesity is a global epidemic and rising trends in overweight and obesity are apparent in both developed and developing countries. Another component is the increase activity and benefits for ADD and ADHA children. “In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because self-control and concentration are exactly the skills underdeveloped in ADHD kids.” (Hendrie, A., 2012, para. 2). Additionally recent studies have also touted the benefits of martial arts, “In one study of 30 children with autism, children involved in either martial arts and/or Kinesiotherapy experienced significant improvements in language, social communication and cognition, as well as less hyperactivity, temper tantrums, longer attention spans, better sleeping patterns and more independence.”  (Scuro, E,. 2015, para 5)

Typically a martial arts class will often begin with some type of warm up activity or calisthenics, then move into teaching techniques and then repetitive practice, and maybe some sparring, and usually ends with some type of active games. The warm up and practice will take the majority time, and during that period you will be constantly moving; stretching, jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, takedowns, grappling, punching and kicking. The workout you will get will not only help you in the development of your muscles, and will also help build a stronger Cardio-Vascular system. Even if you participate in the most active of team sports such as football, Baseball, Basketball, Lacrosse or Soccer, you will not get that much of a workout. This is simply because you generally will not play the whole game and even if you do, there are still penalty periods, fouls which give you a break in the action. In a martial arts class you have an hour too two hours where you are engaged in an activity for the full time.
Let’s compare baseball to the martial arts. In baseball the most active positions are the pitcher and catcher, everyone else other than the batter is just standing around waiting for something to happen. Baseball is not really a very active sport if you look at it in this context. On the other side the martial arts, regardless of style, maintains a constant set of activity for the entire class period.
It does not matter what shape you are in or what your age is, the study of the martial arts has been proven over the last couple of hundred years to develop its practitioners into awesome specimen. Team sports last for a small season of a few weeks and then the student returns to his video games waiting for the next sport or season to come along. The martial arts has no season and is a year round endeavor, consequently most people that train and stay with it, usually are practitioners for life.
Before the reader was given a brief example of a typical class, but think for a minute, if you practiced just two days a week and spent two hours training on those days, that would give you four hours of training per week, which would equal out to 208 hours of exercise a year. The martial arts is a full body workout, can you imagine the amount of calories that you would burn in that amount of time? Research has concluded that “you can burn 360 – 955 calories during 30 minutes of martial arts.”  (Ainsworth, B. 2000). The change to your physical body in the time frame would be astounding., aside from losing weight, the development of muscles, flexibility and just ones overall health would be greatly increased.
Although practicing karate is primarily an individual sport, it is still in many ways seen as a team sport. Each training session, students work either with a partner or a small group. A certain level of trust and respect is needed in order for this training to flourish since there will be punches and kicks being thrown at each other! In most established karate schools, the dojo is like a family – peers are seen as brothers or sisters; and because of the never ending karate season, these same peers will grow up with each other together as they progress through the ranks. Many friendships forged through training together over the years last a life time. For example I have friends that are fellow martial artists that I meet as a young child who I still maintain a relationship some thirty odd years later and I value those relationships just as much now as I did then.
Several children try some type of martial arts early in life, but seem to abandon the training to become involved in some type of team sport. It is apparent that there are several lessons that can be learned from Individual and team sports, however, current trends of everyone makes the team and everyone gets a participation trophy, gives children a false sense of confidence and security. While everyone may make the team these days, those children that are developed physically better than others are allowed to play, while those that are late in development are little more than bench warmers. In today’s school and league sports the coaches seem to have access to a plethora of players that continues to replenish year after year, so as each  season goes by the more developed student improves and those on the sidelines continue to be left out and heir development gets farther behind. “In the martial arts, however, each child’s success is based on his or her own individual merits.” (Wolf, Y. 2004, papa. 6)
“If your child is an athletic wonder who is able to stay ahead of the game with his natural talents, athletics may very well bring out the best in him or her. But if want your child’s full potential to be nurtured through years of disciplined and diligent training look for a martial art school who offers a serious program taught by world class accredited instructor.”  (Almeida, R. 2014, para. 8)
The current trend for the past couple of decades of allowing everyone to be on a team and everyone gets a participation trophy regardless of their participation level, may have some merits in the beginning but what started out as a well-meaning system has lent itself to produce a generation of self-entitled adults that feel they should have everything given to them regardless of whether or not they have worked for it or not.
However, with all of this being said, at the end of the day it is up to each student to assume responsibility for their own actions when they enter a competition. Sure a coach can give advice from the side of the ring, and friends can cheer from the sidelines, but it’s up to the athlete who is in the ring to take care of business by themselves. This experience is one of the most rewarding I have had, and I am very thankful for the opportunity. These karate lessons translate to life lessons that will always be with me and I think all martial artists would feel the same.

Almeida, R. (October 2014). 12 reasons why martial arts are better for kids than team sports. GracieMag, retrieved from URL
Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, Suppl., pp. S498–S516, 2000.
Calorie calculations from equation: (METs x 3.5 x body weight in kg)/200 = calories/minute
METs x 3.5 x body weight in kg)/200 = calories/minute
Ghosh, S. (March 2014). 10 Reasons to Learn Martial Arts. List  Dose. Retrieved from URL
Hendrie, A. (June 2012).  Karate kids: the benefits of martial arts. Parenting Magazine. retrieved from URL
Marianha A., Bianco. A, et al. (April 2014). Motor and cognitive development: the role of karate. Muscle, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal, 4(2) 114-120.
Scuro, E., January 2015, Novak Djokovic Foundation Blog, Retrieved from URL
Stevens, E. (May 2016). 7 reasons why your child should practice martial arts. Breaking Muscle Magzine. retrieved from URL

Wolf, Y. (July 2004). 11 reasons why martial arts are better for your kids than team sports. Judo Info. retrieved from URL

Monday, February 15, 2016

Change your words and change your mindset

Being a Sensei is not as easy as getting a black belt and having the money to open a dojo or having the option to teach at a YMCA or community center. There really is a lot more to it!

I know a lot of people do this but have little to no training on how to be a teacher. In the beginning it might not seem as bad because most people use a do as I say model, but what happens when the students start asking questions the instructor doesn’t have an answer too? What happens when they stop making progress?

Being a Sensei is more than teaching a set of techniques.

I started learning to teach by apprenticing under my Sensei (father) for several years before being allowed to teach in the dojo on my own. Later I was appointed as the Chief Instructor of the dojo, when he moved away. A couple of years later I opened my own dojo, but I continued to learn. In my professional life I attended Instructor development and multiple instructor, teacher trainer and so called master instructor courses. Over the years I have changed the way that I teach and relate to students, partially due to these classes but also through the help of my wife and my children, and continuing to learn for myself.

While I cannot give you all of the answers or teach you how to be a great teacher in this article, I can give you something to help get you on the way. Have you ever taught a class and heard the student make comments like “I can’t do this” or “This is too hard”? Have you yourself made the same comments? Have you ever said “I will never be that good”?

Chances are that if you continue to think like this, then it will be exactly the way you think it is. 

When you hear your students or possibly even yourself saying things like;

This is too hard, change it too – This may take some time and effort.

I can’t do this, change it too – I can always improve, I’ll keep trying.

I am not good at this; ask yourself what am I missing?

I can’t do _____ - I am going to train my mind and body until I can do ______

If a student says I made a mistake remind them that mistakes can still help them improve.

I have had several students say “I will never be as good as ____, if they would instead change their thought to be “I am going to figure out what ____ does and try it.” Imagine what the outcome could be!

What about those students that say “It’s good enough” how are they limiting themselves? What if they said “Is this really my best”

You would be amazed at the potential people could have just through changing the way that they think or word things.

Change your words and change your mindset

Monday, December 14, 2015

Goju-Ryu Futari Geiko

I thought I would announce that my long awaited book on Goju-Ryu two person exercises "Goju-Ryu Futari Geiko" is now completed and ready for distribution. below is the publishers release;

"Goju-Ryu Futari Geiko draws extensively on the authors 39 years of personal experience, training and research in Okinawan GojuRyu Karate-do. This work covers blocking drills, Sandan Gi, Ippon Kumite, Nihon Kumite, Rensoku Waza, flow drills, kakie and kumigata, ranging from simple to complex partner training drills that will benefit not only the novice but also the most experienced karate-ka. If you are looking for training drills from Old style Okinawan karate, look no further."

I know it has taken a while for this to be released, but I hope that you will be pleased with the results. One aspect of training that I feel doesn’t get much attention is Futari Geiko or if you prefer Nijin Keiko, both literally mean two person training. Most all Okinawan Goju-ryu dojo include some type of two person drills, most include ude tanren or kote kitai, kakie and sandan gi, some also utilize some type of yakusoku kumite. However the majority of other ryu-ha do not spend any significant amount of time on these subjects. I have also trained with Goju-Ryu instructors that require little more than kata in their dojo.

What I have tried to do with this book is provide the reader with a step by step description with accompanying photographs of several two person drills that run the spectrum from beginner to advanced practitioner. It is not all encompassing by any means. I started with a simple stationary drill called Shodan Uke Harai, which is divided up into there sections; Jodan, chudan and gedan, I then moved into Sandan Uke Harai which is a bit more complicated and I showed eight of these drills, I then moved on to Sandan Gi and one variation of this drill, then I moved on to ippon and nihon kumite drills, Body conditioning, flow drills, Kumigata and Kakie, There are some drills in this book that have never been show before in another book, I hope you find it as a good resource. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gekisai Bunkai/Oyo

Here is a small clip of some bunkai or oyo for the beginning section of Gekisai Dai Ichi that I taught in class the other day and thought you might enjoy it.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Status Update and New Dojo

Well it has been a while since I have made a blog entry. I have retired from law enforcement and decided to open up another dojo in Marion, Indiana in conjunction with my father.

We started the construction on the Marion dojo on October 3rd. The building that we are located in was a terrible mess and needed a ton of work, it had sat empty for at least 10 years. when we walked in the door my dad said "This will take us years to get ready", I said three months and we had our first class on January 19th.

walking in the door
Once we got in the building, my father, my son (Curtis) and I put in 10-18 hour days. We usually took a break on Sunday's but not always. We also had help from the students from both Dads Komakai Academy of Karate and my Yushikan dojo, along with my wife Amber, my son's Alec and Nick and my nephew Codie. There was a lot of hard work put into the development of the new dojo.

Since 1994 Dad and I have maintained separate dojo, even though students cross trained and we sat on each others promotion boards over the years and taught in each others dojo from time to time, we were separate and not teaching exactly the same things and Sensei of our own dojos.

We sat down together and hashed out a curriculum and picked the name Okinawan Martial Arts Center for the new dojo ( He had his dojo name since 1977 and I had mine since 1994, so with a new beginning came a new name. We also chose a new logo for the new dojo, separate from the two logo we had previously used. 

After construction

Since we finished the new dojo, we hosted the Central Indiana National Karate Championships and the Keeney Cup and have hosted a seminar with Col. (ret.) Roy J. Hobbs Sensei, with participants as far away as Baltimore. We have combined the two dojo and added several new students to the new dojo. Things are going well and I have been teaching so much, that I have not had time to write much for the blog. I have squeezed in the time to write a dojo training manual and I am working on a second edition of "Entering Through the Gateway of Gojuryu". I am also working on books for Kobudo, Jujutsu/Iaido and another Gojuryu book.

I will try to keep up with the blog and write some new articles for my faithful readers and keep you up to date better on events and happenings. The Yushikan is still here and not going anywhere but I am equally invested in making the new dojo a sucess.

Until next time, train hard and take care.