28 Jul

Uechi Kanbun – Draft Dodger

Uechi-ryu, Goju-ryu, Karate, Vancouver, Kitsilano, Martial Arts, Lessons

Uechi Kanbun

The founder of Uechi-ryu Karate-do, Uechi Kanbun (1877-1948) was born in the village of Izumi on the Motobu Peninsula.  At the age of 20, Kanbun reportedly left for the city of Fuzhou in Fujian province, China in order to avoid being conscripted into the military. What some readers may not be aware of is the level of opposition Okinawans felt towards the draft and how that may have influenced Kanbun’s decision.

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23 Jul

Sanchin: Under the Hood

Sanchin, Goju, Vancouver, BC , Lessons, Karate

Sanchin (三戦)is the fundamental kata of Nahate-based styles such as Uechi-ryu, Goju-ryu and Tou’on-ryu. It teaches the core ideas posture, breath and body alignment that each system considers ideal. What might not be apparent among these traditional versions of Sanchin is that these core ideas are not meant to be obvious. That is, on the surface there really shouldn’t be any extraneous movement when performing Sanchin as most of the important movement is occurring “behind the curtain” so to speak. That is, it  involves the coordination of the breath with the contraction of the muscles and the alignment of the skeleton. An observer should only see the deliberate stepping, punching, and turning in a prescribed sequence. It really should look rather dull. Not flashy at all. Continue reading

15 Jul

Karate Study Group

Higa Seko, Goju-ryu, Vancouver, BC,Kowakan, Karate, Hillcrest Community Centre

HIga Seko & Students (Source: http://ryubun21.net/index.php?itemid=2501)

I’m taking a break from my book on Kyoda Juhatsu. So, rumaging through my documents I found this interview conducted by Hokama Tetsuhiro (Kenshikai founder) with Toguchi Sekichi (Shoreikan founder) published in 1986. The interview is quite long, but I thought I’d translate this small piece on Toguchi’s recollections of the opening of Higa Seko’s dojo; which may have been the first commercial dojo opened on Okinawa after the war. As with everything I write on this blog, you’re welcome to use it provided you link back to the source.

Originally published in Hokama Tetsuhiro’s “Karate no Kokoro” (1986) pp.168 – 172

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08 Jul

Karatedo Then & Now

Karatedo, Karate, Goju, Lesson, Martial Arts, Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC

Itosu Anko

I’m finally getting around to translating some of the newspaper articles I have on Karate and Kobudo. I really have too many and I doubt I’ll ever get through them all. That said, here is a short translation of an article entitled “Karatedo: Then and Now – Part I” written by Nakakichi Choboku that appeared on February 25, 1956 in the Ryukyu Shimpo. I think that some readers may enjoy reading. Please note that I didn’t bother translating the second half of the article as it relates the story of Matsumuara Sokon versus the shop keeper in their duel at the cemetery.

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02 Jul



Compared to other parts of the world Vancouver summers are rather cool. It rarely get above the mid 20 degrees Celsius. That’s why the weather lately is such a surprise. Climbing into the high 20s and even 30s, Vancouver is breaking temperature records over 100 years old! Since Vancouver is so far north, the sun sets relatively late in the evening at around 9:30, so with the current heatwave the surroundings stay hot for most of the day.

Training in this heat makes Karate and Kobudo practice feel a bit more like training in Japan and Okinawa; mercifully without the humidity. In Japan and Okinawa, training in a dojo at night can be stiflingly hot. There is no air conditioning and if you’re lucky perhaps there may be a small fan pathetically blowing around the hot air that envelope the dojo. Even opening the windows provides almost no relief from the heat and you are left standing in the dojo melting away drop by drop. Eventually all that is left of you is a puddle on the dojo floor. Read More

27 Jun

Dueling Sesan

Sesan, Vancouver, Karate, Kobudo, Kitsilano

Kanzaki sensei performing Sesan kata

So many people ask me about where they can see Tou’on-ryu kata and I always have to tell them that there are no public videos of the style. Personally, I would like to see some video made public, but that is Ikeda sensei’s decision not mine. That said, I don’t think I’m giving too much away by showing a short segment of a kata (but who knows, I may get an angry email from Ikeda sensei :-). Read More

25 Jun

Karate Jutsu

Karate Jutsu, Vancouver, BC, Karate Do, Kitsilano, Okinawa, Goju, Kobudo

I think the following short article published in the 1930s about Karate gives some interesting insight into the attitude towards the fledgling art on mainland Japan. The tone of the article seems to suggest that already by this time, Karate had been co-opted as a means of indoctrinating people into the prevailing military attitude of the time. I hope you enjoy it.

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