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 Sesnei, 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 Sesnei 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.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How the Master's got their rank part 2

Really this should be part one but after I had several inquires, I went back a little further.

The origins of the karate ranking system was started by Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, who barrowed the concept from Judo, along with the Keiko-gi and Obi colors. Funikoshi Sensei started teaching in Tokyo in 1922. The first black belt promotions happened in April of 1924 when Funakoshi Sensei presented certificates and Black obi to seven of his senior students, six of them to Shodan and one to Nidan. Funakoshi Sensei set up his ranking system with a cap at 5th Dan, this ranking structure was also used by Kenwa Mabuni Sensei for his Shito-ryu.

After Funakoshi Sensei and Mabuni Sensei began using this ranking structure several other Okinawan sensei adopted the use of the black obi.  For example in 1926 there are photos of Choki Motobu Sensei wearing a black obi and in the late 1920s photos of Chomo Hanashiro Sensei, Chosen Chibana Sensei and Shimpan Shiroma Sensei can be seen wearing black obi. As the 1930s progressed the heads of dojo began wearing black obi with no official dan designation.

In 1928, Miyagi Sensei teaches in Japan. In 1929, Ohtsuka Sensei leaves the Shotokan and forms Wado-Ryu Karate, he was around 38 years of age.  In 1933, Chojun Miyagi Sensei registers his art as Gojuryu Karate-do with the Butokukai. Some say that he had named it as early as 1929, which would have made him 41 years old.   Funakoshi, Mabuni and Miyagi were considered Head Master of their arts but at this point had no official ranking.

It should be noted that several Okinawan sensei were teaching in Japan in the 1920-1930s (Funakoshi, Mabuni, Miyagi and Motobu) and they had good relationships with the Butokukai but Karate was not accepted as an art until 1937 when the Butokukai awarded Chojun Miyagi Sensei with the rank of Kyoshi, designating him as the first master of karate. Yashuhiro Konishi Sensei was given the second Karate Kyoshi rank at age 44.

In 1939 the Butokukai issued more karate titles;
Ueshima the founder of Kushin-ryu was awarded Kyoshi at age 50
Gichin Funakoshi was awarded Renshi at age 71
Kenwa Mabuni was awarded Renshi at age 50
Gigo Funikoshi was awarded Renshi at age 40

In 1940 Renshi was awarded to;
Seiko Higa at age 42
Shoshin Nagamine at age 35
Gogen Yamaguchi at age 32

In 1944 Tasshi was awarded to Funakoshi, Mabuni and Ohtsuka. It might be of interest to know that Konishi (a student of Funakoshi and Mabuni) was appointed head of the Butokukai Committee that was responsible for awarding karate grade titles.

It was these Butokukai grades that formed the bases for the early karate associations and instructors to deem themselves as head master or some to assume the eventual title of 10th Dan stylehead and by 1951 the Kokusai Budoin and the All Okinawa Karate Kobudo Rengokai was established and in 1964 FAJKO was established and the stricter standardization's of dan grades began, however it was not until 1971 that a blanket standard was put in place.

For Part 1:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The masters and their ranks

I have been doing a bit of research and was surprised by what I have found so far, this is by no means a complete list, but here we can see several well known master's and their ranks and ages.

The Okinawa Karate Federation was formed in 1956.
In 1958 the first Dan grades were issued;
9th Dan Hanshi to Seiko Higa at age 60
9th Dan Hanshi to Kanei Uechi at age 47
8th Dan Kyoshi to Meitou Yagi at age 46
8th Dan Kyoshi to Eiichi Miyazato at a 36
8th Dan Kyoshi to Seikichi Toguchi at age 41
8th Dan Kyoshi to Shoshin Nagamine at age 51
8th Dan Kyoshi to Tatsuo Shimabukuro at age 50

Promotions in 1962;
8th Dan to Katsuya Miyahara at age 44
8th Dan to Shuguro Nakazato at age 43

Promotions in 1963;
9th Dan to Joen Nakazato at age  42

Promotions in 1967;
             10th Dan Hanshi to Kanei Uechi at age 56
9th Dan to Katsuya Miyahara at age 49
9th Dan to Shuguro Nakazato at age 48

Promotions in 1968:
7th Dan to Tadashi Yamashita at age 26

Promotions in 1969;
10th Dan to Katsuya Miyahara at age 51
10th Dan to Shuguro Nakazato at age 50

 Although they were not OKF promotions, it might also be of interest to you that the following promotion were also made;
           10th Dan to Eizo Shimabuku in 1959 at age 39

            9th Dan to Rober Trias in 1964 at the age of 41

I find this very interesting and will keep researching it.

For part two:

Monday, January 13, 2014

20th Anniversary Training and Thoughts

Group photo of 20th Anniversary Participants
On January 2, 2014 I celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the founding of my dojo.  We had a celebration and workout on January 4, 2013. I had several of my students present for the event, but not all of them.  Lloyd C. Johnson III Hanshi 9th Dan, Tony Willis Renshi 7th Dan, and Jonathan Hallburg Renshi 6th Dan all came to celebrate the occasion and were guest instructors for the event. Johnson Sensei and Hallburg Sensei brought along some of their students as well.

We started the day with of course Junbi Undo and then followed with a review of kihon waza by Willis Sensei, we then moved on to Sanchin kata and received instruction from Johnson Sensei. It was then on to a review of Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, Saifa and Seiunchin with me acting as lead instructor for that portion, with comments and suggestion from the guest instructors. We also had several discussions about the different ways each of our kai-ha performed different sections of the kata and why.

We then took a lunch break, and enjoyed a nice lunch as prepared by my lovely wife. After lunch, we resumed training with some more kata and then Hallburg Sensei  taught a session on how to use Koshi and Gamaku as taught in the Shinjinbukan, he then continued by teaching alternate methods for hikite. I then gave a brief overview of the two person drills taught at the yushikan. We then ended by Hallburg Sensei leading us through the Seri Undo as used at the Shinjinbukan.

We then spent a nice evening sitting and talking about budo and firearms, while drinking some Kirin. I enjoyed myself and am grateful that some of my friends came to help me celebrate the occasion
The days leading up to the anniversary and a few days since has had me reminiscing about the past and what lead me to the foundation of the Yushikan. I remember assisting my father at his dojo for several years, I remember him appointing me as the Chief Instructor for his Marion dojo in January of 1992 and in January of 1993 we took on one of the yudansha as a partner, like anything when you have partners it does not always work out. I remember that over the Christmas break in December of 1993 sitting at home with my wife and our eight month old twins, that we had several discussion about how I did not like or agree with certain things regarding the dojo and expressed a wish to start my own.  Having two new babies and leaving an established dojo behind seemed crazy but I did it. After my wife and I spoke, I made some phone calls to my seniors and decided that I would leave the dojo and establish my own. My wife (Amber) drew the dojo mon (patch) that I still use to this day.

My father ended his part in the partnership and concentrated his efforts on his Indianapolis dojo and on January 2, 1994 I began my first class at my new dojo in a dedicated room at the YMCA in Marion, Indiana. For the first time since I started karate or started teaching I used a different name for my dojo then my father did for his. Of course we were still teacher and student but I was pretty much on my own. With-in a month I had branch dojo in Gas City, Upland and Sweetser. By the next month I had 100 students at each branch dojo and 325 students at the main dojo.  In 1995 my wife and I found out we were going to have a third child and I ran all four dojo until May of 1995 when I took a job with benefits for my family and moved to Carmel, Indiana. I turned the dojos over to Pat Mitchell and within a few weeks set up a small dojo in Carmel. In 2000, I moved the dojo to a much larger location in Carmel and in 2005 I moved the dojo to its current location in Swayzee.

My wife is extremely organized and kept records of my students and the promotions I issued over the years. From the first class until the 20th Anniversary I have had a couple thousand students through the doors and out of those I have 10 that I have promoted to black belt. I also have a third generation of my family on the floor training at all most every class. There have been ups and downs like anything but I am proud of my students and happy with the progress.

2013 was a good year and we had a lot of good training, 2014 started out with a bang and I hope w make it through at least another 20.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Goju-Ryu Friendship Seminar

I had a great weekend of training in St. Louis. On Saturday Col. Roy Jerry Hobbs Sensei, Col. Anthony Willis Sensei and I trained together and had a good deal of fun in and out of the dojo.

On Sunday the three of us were joined by Jennifer Byrd of the Goyukan/Dentokan, Jonathon D. Hallberg Sensei of the Ryusyokai, Amos Danielli and his student Len DeMoore from the IOGKF. We had a good time and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.  We wnet through all 12 kata and associated bunkai, compairing and asking questions of each other along the way. In my opinion it was great to get a group of different Gojuryu Kai-ha together and freely exchange things, find out why we do what we do differently and what we do that is the same.

I enjoyed meeting everyone and hopefully we will get to train together again. I also enjoyed meeting Kurt Ecker Sensei and want to thank him for letting us use his dojo.