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.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Here we see an alternate hiki-te by Miyagi and Miyazato

I know it has been sometime since I last posted an article on this blog, I apologies for that but I have been rather busy training, traveling and retiring from my career.

Today I want to talk about Hiki-te, which is commonly referred to as the withdrawing hand or chambering hand in karate. I think that it should be more correctly translated to mean pulling or drawing hand; Hikeru means to draw toward you. Te means hand. So for an example when you punch with your right hand, you typically pull your left hand back to the side of your body.

In your first karate classes your sensei probably told you where to place your chambered hand and that when you chamber it that you should do it hard with power, to make your punch or block stronger. You may have even noticed at a tournament that other styles may chamber their hand differently than you do. Why is that?

Historically we have been told that Shuri-te chambers at the hip, Naha-te chambers at the breast and Tomari-te chambered at the short rib. While these are generalized methods, they are not exactly true because Shuri and Tomari-te Master Choki Motobu chambered his hand at the breast, so that just blows the whole historical theory out of the water doesn’t it. I think what it really boils down to is personal preference at least in the terms of how the founders used hiki-te, nowadays it probably has a historical condensation based on the founders original preference.

In this modern age when everyone is an advocate of MMA or UFC type fighting, why should a traditional exponent of the martial arts continue to use Hiki-te, I know someone somewhere is going to say, oh it leaves your head open to an attack, while on the surface it would appear that way wouldn’t it.

Here we can see Funakoshi Sensei using different applications to Hiki-Te

What was it that Newton said “For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”. The majority of movements in traditional karate are designed to be multi-functional. The adaptation of Hiki-te in old style Okinawan or Ryukyuan Karate or Tode, was used for Tuite or Toide applications, to pull something back to you after your strike or block. 

The problem is that most people do not learn application to the kata and if they do the majority learns a basic interpretation of it. The grappling aspect of karate has been largely ignored by modern exponents. If you look at old style karate you will notice that there are several places where the hiki-te is not always brought back to the side of the body but the rear hand is pulled back to the solar plexus area, this can be seen in both Goju-ryu and Motobu-ryu. Regardless of where you  chamber your hand, one should be able to execute a technique regardless of it's point of origin.

Here we see another application of the chamber by Konishi and Motobu

It is my opinion that a the returning hand or pulling hand is done so with the intention of bringing something back in it, pulling and arm or grabbing a piece of clothing to pull your opponent into your strike or into a grappling application. Now go to the dojo and have some fun trying to work it out!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


It has been a while since I have posted anything. Work has been very busy and the dojo is still going. In March the dojo as a whole went to the First State Tournament and did well.  For the last several months we have been mainly working on Kihon and kata at the dojo, however this month I have shifted gears and been teaching Aikijujutsu. Simply enough I started teaching the basics of Aikijujutsu and some fundamental aspects of Aiki. Since then we have moved into the application of Aiki waza found within the Gojuryu kata. Some people will say don’t you mean Tuite (Toide), well yes and no, while I personally feel that budo is budo, and that must things transcend style, I try to let my students know where what I am teaching them came from, where or whom I learned it from or if I developed it.

Needless to say we are just training and I haven’t had much to say lately, trying to keep up at work and teach, as well as, continuing to develop on my own.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Evolution of Gojuryu Kata

Group shot of Miyagi Sensei and his students in 1948

It is well known that Miyagi Chojun Sensei did not officially leave a successor to Gojuryu. Since his passing several of his students have formed their own associations and dojo continuing what they believe is the most authentic version of Miyagi’s karate. A quick search of the web and anyone can find out who was who in Gojuryu after Miyagi Sensei passed away. There have even been claims made about who was the successor. I am not going to get into a political karate debate, what I would like to discuss is the evolution of Gojuryu after the passing of Miyagi Sensei.

Higa Seiko Sensei, who was a direct student of Higashionna and Miyagi, founded the Shodokan and taught only Miyagi's 12 kata syllabus. Miyagi Sensei’s oldest son, Miyagi Kei, established a dojo in Tokyo called the Komeikan, he passed on the 12 kata syllabus as taught to him by his father. Similarly, Miyazato Eiichi Sensei, took over Miyagi Sensei dojo and then established the Jundokan Dojo in Naha, Okinawa. Early in Jundokan history the kata Fukyu Dai Ichi and Fukyu Dai Ni were taught, however for most of the 1960s to the time of his passing, Miyazato Sensei only taught the 12 kata syllabus of Miyagi.

Meitoku Yagi Sensei, the founder of Meibukan Goju Ryu, and a direct student of Miyagi Sensei, formulated the kata Tenshi, Seiryu, Byakko, Shujaku, and Genbu. He also taught a second Tensho called Tensho Ni or Sanpoaruite Tensho.

Seikichi Toguchi Sensei, was a direct student of both Miyagi Sensei and Higa Sensei, he founded Shorei Kan Goju Ryu. He formulated the kata Hookiyu 1 & 2, Gekisai Dai San, Gekiha 1 & 2, Kakuha 1 & 2, and Hakutsuru No Mai. I find it interesting that those considered the seniors of Toguchi Sensei did not use all of his kata. Yoshio Kuba Sensei who ran Toguchi’s Shoreikan in Okinawa, before later forming his own Kenbukan, only teaches Gekiha and Kakuha. Morimasa Yamauchi Sensei similarly teaches Gekiha and a different version of Kakuha then Kuba Sensei and Ryugo Sakai Sensei of the Ryushinkaikan teaches the two Gekiha. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that Toguchi Sensei was making changes to the Shoreikan curriculum up until his passing.

Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei, was a direct student of Jutsuei Yogi Sensei and Meitoku Yagi Sensei, and briefly of Miyagi Sensei, and founder of the Japanese Goju Kai. Yamaguchi Sensei added ten Taikyoku kata , Genkaku and Chikaku. The Yamaguchi system also practices the unique Sanchin-Tensho kata. Goshi Yamaguchi sensei has also added two kata to what his father developed called Tenryu and Kohryu.

Osamu Hirano Sensei, student of Kenzo Ujita and Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of the Kuyukai formulated the Haiku Ichi and Rensoku Juza kata for his association.

Seigo Tada Sensei, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of the Seigokan. Formulated the Kihon Tsuki no and the Uke no kata for his association.

Kisaku Tomoharu Sensei, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of Yuishinkai formulated the Kitei kata, this kata is unique in that it utilizes the mawash-geri or round house kick.

Sosui Ichikawa Sensei, student of Kanki Izumigawa, and founder of the Sosuikan Seito Gojuryu. Formulated the Gekisai Ha and Sosuiken kata. In addition his dojo also teaches Sanchin (sanpo and zenpo), Unsu, Niseishi, and Tsuru-te. Several of his senior students have added Rokkishu, and Hakutsuru to the syllabus. His senior American student, R. Choji Taiani Sensei, has added the kata Sanchin Koho, his own versions of Gekisai Dai San and Dai Yon to the American branch of the association.

Katsuya Izumikawa, son of Kanki Izumikawa, and current head of the Senbukan Seito Gojuryu. fourmulated the Gekisai Dai San and Gekisai Dai Yon kata for his group.

Tetsuhiro Hokama sensei, student of Seiko Higa sensei and Seiko Fuguchi sensei, founder of the Kenshikai. Formulated the kata Fukyu and Kiyozai 1 & 2 for his group.

Terou Chinen Sensei, founder of Jundokan International and a student of Eiichi Miyazato Sensei, developed the Dachi kata, Formation 11, Formation 12 and Fukyu 3 for his group. It may also be of interest to know that he also teaches Fukyu 1 and 2 in his association. Fukyu 1 is the standard version developed by Nagamine and Miyagi, while it has been said that Fukyu 2 was developed by Eiichi Miyazato Sensei, though Fukyu 1 and 2 were used by both Chinen Sensei and Morio Higaonna when they established the IOGKF, some IOGKF dojo still teach these kata, but the majority have stopped using them.

Zenei Oshiro Sensei, founder of Shodokan Europe, also uses Fukyu 1 and 2, along with 3 kata of his own creation called Shiho Uke 1, 2, and 3.

Toshio Tamano Sensei, founder of Shoreikan International, a student of Seikichi Toguchi Sensei, developed the kata dai ichi and kata dai ni for his group.

John Roseberry Sensei, founder of Shorei-Shobukan, a student of Sekichi Toguchi sensei, developed the Gakusei kata. His group also uses the Golden crane form, which he learned from a Chinese teacher.

Peter Urban Sensei, founder of USA Goju, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, developed the Taikiyoku Empi Go, Unfa, Empi Ha, Urban Han and Urban Kururunfan for his organization.

Lou Angel Sensei, founder of Tenshi Gojukai, a student of Peter Urban and Gogen Yamaguchi, developed the Gesai, Gesaku Sho and Gesaku Dai kata for his group.

Shinken Akamine Sensei, from the Izumigawa lineage, who was the first introduced Gojuryu karate to Brazil. Akamine sensei formed several groups in his time, the last being the Kenshinkan, he developed the katas Uke Godan, Empi Godan, Tekatana Godan, Teisho Godan, Tsuki Godan and Kenshinryu for his group.

I am a Miyazato Lineage practitioner, but I have also trained a bit over the years in the Higa, Yagi and Toguchi lineage dojo’s. I find merit for beginners in some of these later additions to the system, but they are not taught by my direct sensei or in my lineage. I wonder if it is wrong to use some of these as a bridge between the basic Gekisai kata and the Kaishu kata. I have always felt that there was a gap between Gekisai Dai Ni and Saifa. I am by no means advocating that someone would go learn all of these additions to Gojuryu, as they are really Kai-ha specific, but perhaps one or two might not hurt for a beginner to learn, of course advanced students should concentrate on the kaishu gata.