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.

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