Friday, September 15, 2017

Seidokan Karate Kobudo

In 2002 Hobbs Sensei and I wrote an article for Traditional Karate Magazine that covered the history of Seidokan Karate. I have continued to research this topic and would like to present some updates here;

Shian Toma the founder of the Seidokan dojo, had many teachers in his lifetime. Among them were Shinzato Sokishi, Uchima Tanmei, Nakamura Shuguro, Shimabukuro Zenryu, Ire Matsutaro and Seikichi Uehara.

In recent years there has been some discussion that he never trained with Shimabukuro Zenryo.
In an effort to research this issue, I spoke with Sensei Walter Dailey. Walter Dailey was among one of the first Black Belts of the Seibukan and a direct student of Shimabukuro Zenryo.

Mr. Dailey assured me that as early as 1962 and as late as 1966 that Toma Shian was present in the Seibukan Dojo learnign directly from Shimabukuro Zenryu. I asked Mr. Dailey if Shimabukuro Zenpo was present for these training sessions and he advised me that Zenpo Sensei was both on and off of the Island during the time. Mr. Daliey assured me that Toma was in fact a student of Shimabukuro Zenryo, he said that other reports of Toma Seki and Maeshiro being the people to teach Toma Shian his kata were incorrect.

Toma Shian is also listed in the lineage of Nakmura Shuguro of Okinawan Kenpo, there seems to be some controversy to this as well, though I am not sure why, as Nakamura himself listed him as his student. There are several pictures of Toma and Nakamura together, additionally Toma and Oyata Seiyu were close friends. In fact after Nakamura Sensei passed away, Oyata and Toma founded the Ryukyu Kenpo Renmei, with Uehara Seikichi as an advisor in 1969.

Aslo in recent years there has been some controversy regarding Toma Shian and his connection to Motobu-Ryu. Toma Shian trained under Uchima Tanmei, who was a student of Motobu Toraju, it has been discovered that Motobu Toraju was a nickname for Motobu Chomo, the son of Motobu Choyu. Motobu Chomo had trained under his father and also under his uncle. He was well versed in the kata of Shuri-Te as well as Udundi. He lived for a period in Wakayama and also trained with his uncle Motobu Choki. It is from Uchima that Toma first learned the Pinan kata and the kata that is called Passai Sho in the Seidokan curriculum.

In 1969, Toma Shian became a direct student of Uehara Seikichi and a member of the All Okinawan Karate Kobudo Rengokai, as well as, the Motobu-Ryu association. Toma was the first person to introduce Motobu -Ryu to North America. He was among one of the first people promoted to 9th Dan in Motobu-Ryu by Uehara Seikichi and was his senior student for several years. Uehara gave Toma permission to name his art containing karate kata as Seidokan Mobobu-Ryu.

Therefore Toma Shian had a dual lineage to booth Motobu Choyu and Motobu Choki.

Another question that has arisen over the years is why are the Pinan kata of Seidokan different from the Pinan kata of the Seibukan? This is really quite simple. Shimabukuro Zenryo did not teach the Pinan kata series, he taught the seven kata - Seisan, Wansu, Passai, Nahanchi, Chinto, Gojushiho and Kusanku that he learned from Kyan Chotoku and the kata Wanchin that he developed.

The Pinan kata of Seidokan are from Motobu Chomo. The Pinan kata of Seibukan were added by Shimabukuro Zenpo from his study under Nakama Chozo of Kobayashi-Ryu. In fact the same question has been asked about why the two dojo share a similar Passai but also have a different Passai. They were added to the respective dojo in the same manner as the Pinan kata were. In fact Shimabukuro Zenpo has added several kata to the Seibukan dojo from Nakama Chozo such as Fukyu 1-2, nahanchi 1-3, Pinan 1-5, Passai Gwa and Jion.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Is it Really Gojuryu?

There are many branches of Gojuryu in the world today. Chojun Miyagi Ryuso left several competent and senior students that all went off and formed their own branches of Gojuryu. Even though there are differences in how they do things, I can safely say that all of these branches are doing Gojuryu, when I say this I am talking about Higa, Yagi, Miyazato, Toguchi, ect.

Lets look at the Gojukai of Yamaguchi, was he doing Gojuryu? I would say yes, even though it differs from what is being done in Okinawa, it sill contains the core kata. It may not use the hojo undo as much as the Okinawan branches and there has been some historical questions but any educated person can view it and see it as Goju.

USA Goju, this will probably start a flame war, but for me it is hard to see this as Gojuryu. Peter Urban made substantial changes to his kata, to me USA Goju looks more like a combination of the karate of Yamaguchi, Rchard Kim and Mas Oyam, along with the things that Urban added and bears little resemblance to Gojuryu.

There are other Gojuryu groups that may teach a few of the goju kata, but then add kata from other styles to round out their curriculum, because they didn't learn all of the goju kata. Yet they use the name gojuryu.

I think this is unfortunate, almost false advertisement if you will. In my opinion if you are going to say that you are doing Gojuryu then you should at least follow Miyagi's blue print: Junbi Undo, Hojo Undo, and the 12 kata. (13 if your in the Miyazato Lineage) The various Kai-ha may have added kata created by their founders, but they let people know that. For exmple Meitoku Yagi Sensei created 5 kata and they classify those kata as Meibuken, not gojuryu proper.

 I think that if your not at least doing the basic curriculum set up by Miyagi, then your doing something different and should call it as such. Kata like Pinan, Passai, Kusanku, and Empi are not Goju kata, if you are teaching these or other non-goju kata and grading people but issuing Gojuryu grades, then I think you are wrong.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


A few times, here lately, and also in the past few years I have had people say to me “You are not the same person”, I even had one say that my mind had been warped because I do not believe the way that they do.

I moved out of my mother’s and in with my father when I was 16, so I am sure my other siblings that stayed with my mother were raised differently and it should have resulted in them being more like her. I am sure that they would say “oh you’re different”, well duh, we have lived separately for almost 30 years, you don’t think there hasn’t been separate growth since then?

Those people that knew me in high school probably wouldn’t recognize me, not just because I cut off all of my hair, but because I am not that person. After high school I became a father and my goal in being a father was to raise good children that would be better prepared for the world then I was. To raise children that would be beneficial to society and not a hindrance.

My beliefs and core values have changed quite a bit over my lifetime. Most people think they are set by the time they graduate college, but I think most people are constantly making small changes throughout their lives. Then sometimes there are major events that alter your thought process or belief system.

I was raised by two parents that had vastly different belief systems and taught me two completely different ways to act. I imagine that this would be confusing to a child, to have conflicting parenting styles.  I am sure that there are parts of my personality that I get from both my parents (good and bad) and I am sure in the beginning my core beliefs were a combination of what I learned from each of them, to a lesser extent I am sure each successive step parent also had some type of influence on me.

One parent believed in hard work and education and one believed in the quick buck, more about how to cheat or scam money if possible.  One parent for lack of a better term had more in common with the criminal element than law abiding citizens. One believed in family values and the other believed that cheating wasn’t wrong unless you got caught and even then you should deny it to the end. I vividly remember his family motto being “Deny, Deny, Deny” and “I do what I want”. I knew after I had children that I did not want to act this way.

By the time I was 20 I was a father to not one but two sons and by the time I was 23 I had three sons. My wife and I were on our own and outside of family holidays we mostly stayed to ourselves, raising three small children is time consuming. After I had children I noticed both my wife and I had to change, we were responsible not only for ourselves but also for the children and each other. Once you are responsible for another life, things change.

While my beliefs and core values had already been changing I think the most significant change in my beliefs system and attitude probably came about when I became a police officer. Many things changed for me then but a lot of the values (if you want to call them that) I was taught when younger no longer held any value, I changed even more as I transitioned into law enforcement and the longer I went in my career, the more I changed. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of those people that become Law Enforcement officers undergo a major change in the way they believe and act.

While I am by no means a perfect person, I do my best to be a good and morally correct person, someone that my children and wife can be proud of. I must have done ok at it because I had a pretty successful career before I retired and my children grew up happy, healthy and work hard at their jobs, they have made some decisions that I don’t agree with but, no one is perfect, all we can hope for is continued progress.

I made some hard decisions not too long ago to distance myself from some people in my life, which has caused some people to try to interject their opinions on the matter. While I can appreciate your opinions on how you feel I should handle such things, I say to you, you don’t know what I lived through. So you do not know the full extent of the matter. Sometimes it is easier to let people run their mouths about you and walk away, sometimes it is easier to let people believe the lies they have been spoon feed rather than tarnish their idols image or expose a truth that is unpleasant. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Old Belts

I have always been curious about the belts I see in this picture of Seiko Higa at his dojo. It is obvious that Higa has on a red belt and Fukuchi Seiko has on the standard Kyoshi red/white belt. However I think it is Takamine that has on an odd belt for gojuryu.


Glyn Jones Sensei wrote an article called the Karate of Chojun Miyagi, which I enjoyed. In the middle of the article he had a list that I am going to share because it goes along with a previous post that I made.
"Now if you are or were a Sensei of Karate and you practiced, refined and taught your Karate for say over 40 years. What would you actually leave behind as your legacy?
1. Students that trained with you during your initial early years of teaching.
2. Students that trained with you during the later years.
3.Students that were of varying levels of understanding and ability in different areas of Karate training.
4. Students that were of varying ages and maturity.
5. Students that trained with you regularly over many years.
6. Students that trained with you irregularly over many years.
7. Students that go on to teach your teachings to the book exactly.
8. Students that go on to develop and expand on your teaching methods.
9. Students that pass your teachings on at a much lower level of understanding.
10. Students that take your teachings off in to a totally different direction to your ideals and beliefs all together.
11. Students that only trained with you for a few months or years.
12. Students that stayed loyal and trained with you for many many years. In Chojun Miyagi’s case; Higa, Yagi, Miyazato & Toguchi come to mind here.
13. Students that go on to have a large following of Students.
14. Students that go on to have a small following of Students.
15. Students that knew your Karate training methods inside out, who you shared your advanced teachings with.
16. Students that in truth had very little understanding of your personal Karate at all."
I have always heard the saying that a student is only as good as the teacher, but I don't think that is accurate. I have students that have trained with me for years, I have students that come and go. I have students that half ass their training and students that work their butts off and are in the dojo everyday. I say that while it is important to have the right teacher, it is equally important to have the right attitude. It is important to own your karate and take responsibility for your own training. Yes it is important to have a good teacher to guide you, but if the teacher is excellent and the student is poor, despite the teachers efforts, then what to do.....

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.