19 Jul

Upcoming Seminar

Gokenki Students

This Saturday I’ll be hosting Fred Lohse (www.kodokanboston.org) and Russ Smith (www.burinkan.org) who will be teaching a session on the connection between Feeding Crane and White Eyebrow Kung fu to Karate-do. If you’re interested in attending, please do. Or if you have any questions, email me at: kowakandojo@gmail.com

When: Saturday, July 23, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Where: Vancouver Mind Body Centre: 4364 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC

This will be a no-gi event. Just wear some comfortable clothing and bring some water.

Suggested minimum donation for the seminar is $25

See you there!

11 Jul


I’ve been very lucky to have had good teachers in my limited study of Karatedo and Kobudo. As I’ve said before in earlier posts, I’m still amazed at the patience each one of them showed me despite my level of understanding and competency with their respective arts. In talking about how they taught, I think it reflects how Okinawan martial arts are taught – at least into the 1980s and 90s. Read More

04 Jul

Stances aren’t natural


I think that many Okinawa Karatedo teachers secretly look at foreign “Kudrodee” and inwardly mumble to themselves, “what the he!@ is that?” Its true, most of these students’ kata is weak or at times downright terrible. Their backs are rounded, knees knocked inwards, elbows flaring away from the body, shoulders rolling forward, just to name a few. Why are they moving this way? Read More

29 Jun

BJJ & low back pain

BJJ, injury, research, low back pain

Photo from Jujitsu Mania

Injuries in Karate-do, unfortunately, are part of the training. For the most part they are minor and Karateka grudgingly accept them. However, occasionally they can be quite serious and can force a student to stop training for an extended period or even permanently. Most of these more serious injuries seem to occur in younger Karateka especially those that engage in competitive sparring. The more a Karateka spars then the more likely she is to become injured. But what about grappling arts like Judo, Wrestling and BJJ? Read More

24 Jun

Strength: Who’s doing the heavy lifting?

Tou'on-ryu, hojo undo, strength, Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Karate-do, Kobudo, Dojo, Lessons, Vancouver, BC


Strength and conditioning have always been a part of Okinawa Karate-do, especially those styles classified as “Nahate” such as Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, and Tou’on-ryu. I’m sure you have seen many old photos of younger Karateka doing their “strongman” pose showing off their level of muscular development and low body fat. Read More

15 Jun

Karate & Injury

Karate Injury

Photo from Blitz Magazine

How many Karateka have you met that have some kind of injury? Sore arms, sore back, bruises, wonky shoulder, bad knees, the list of injuries that Karateka can sustain seems endless. Karate-do students tend to be a stoic bunch so they clench their teeth and get down to practice; rarely saying anything about what’s ailing them. Sure their injuries for the most part are not life-threatening or debilitating, but they can and often do interfere with the quality of their practice. It seems injuries happen to all Karateka at one point or another in their training . Yet it is ironic that the very thing that they love could potentially be hurting them. Read More

10 Jun


Zen circle
One thing that I realized when I moved to Japan is that Japanese (and to a somewhat lesser extent Okinawa) culture is at times very rigid. There is a right way or “kata” for doing almost any activity – not just martial arts, but sado, ikebana and many other cultural arts (for a wonderful overview of the function of kata in Japanese society, read Kata: The Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese by Boye Lafayette De Mente). Heck I’m sure there is a correct kata for baking cupcakes. The skill required and the attention to detail to perform these kata are phenomenal – almost bordering on obsessive-compulsive, but we’ll get to that later.