22 Jan

Kyan Chotoku’s ‘Other’ Student

Vancouver Karate & Kobudo, Karate lessons, Vancouver, BC, Kitsilano

The late Shinjo Heitaro sensei

I have to apologize as I’ve been quite busy lately and haven’t been able to post much to the blog as I would like. I expect I’ll be quite busy until the end of March, but will post when I can. I appreciate your understanding.

In today’s post we’ll learn a little bit about Shinjo Heitaro, a little known student of Kyan Chotoku. Way back in 1988 on my first trip to Okinawa I was fortunate to attend the 25th anniversary demonstration for the founding of the Myobukan dojo of Matsuda Yoshimasa. Matsuda had been a long time student of Shinjo and in the program guide for the demonstration was a short bio about Shinjo. The following is a translation of that bio which appeared on page20. While there isn’t any video of the 25th anniversary demonstration that I could find, there is video of the 30th anniversary demonstration held in 1993 that can be found here.

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28 Dec

Tradition in the Dojo

Tradition in the dojo

Japanese etiquette and terminology are part of the tradition in the dojo. But these traditions can be problematic when they are transplanted outside of Okinawa and Japan For myself, before I moved to Japan I was very much what you would describe as a “traditionalist” – kneeling bows, heavy Japanese terminology, kamidana, etc. But after living there for an extended period, learning the language, culture and customs, I came to have almost a different view on the value of tradition. Read More

23 Dec

Sanchin by Otsuka Tadahiko

otsuka tadahiko sanchin goju kensha

I’ve been rereading sections of Otsuka Tadahiko’s “Goju Kensha Karate-do Kyohon” published in 1977. For those of you who may not know, Otsuka’s “Goju Kensha Karate-do Kyohan” is a 13-volume series outlining his training methodology for Goju-ryu. For its time, the series was unparalleled and provided detailed explanations of preparatory exercises, fundamentals, kata and applications. Years later, the series was  reprinted as one book and included an instructional DVD; segments of which you can view here. Continue reading

19 Dec

Pechurin by Kinjo Akio

As I have mentioned previously, suparempei (壱百零八手) is also known by the name pechurin. It is this author’s idea that the correct characters based on the original pronunciation and meaning are not “one hundred continuous steps” [i.e. pechurin (百歩連)], but “one hundred continuous techniques” [also pronounced pechurin (百技連)]. Using Fukien dialect, “one hundred continuous steps” would be pronounced paburin (パープーリン)and “one hundred continuous techniques” would be pronounced pagiirin (パーギーリン). However, their meaning is the same, which are one hundred techniques performed continuously.

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15 Dec

Go and Ju

Go and Ju, Otsuka Tadahiko, Goju,

I was rereading Otsuka Tadahiko’s Goju Kensha book series the other day and was impressed again by their content. I was struck by the many similarities in pedagogy the books described in relation to the Goju-ryu and Tou’on that I learned. One thing that I found interesting was Otsuka’s classification of kata into Go and Ju (strong and flexible). The “Go’ kata according to Otsuka were: sanchin, gekisai-sho, sesan, sanseru and pechurin. The “Ju” kata were everything else. Read More

11 Dec


Vancouer, Karate, Kobudo, Rehab, BC, Goju, Uechi

I won’t forget this day. It was May 9 of this year and like always I made my way to the gym to lift some weights. I remember it was a good workout, but nothing out of the ordinary. The following day my forearms were a bit sore probably from the weighted dips I had done the previous day I thought. The next day at Kobudo practice my arms ached and made it a bit difficult to do Bo basics. Now I thought I had really over-done it with the weighted dips. By Monday’s Karate-do practice my arms felt like they had been bruised and beaten to the bone, but little did I know that  it was only the beginning.  Read More

03 Dec

The Strategist

Like any dojo, from time to time I am contacted by people who want to observe a practice or rarer still, want to train with us. Before I left for Japan, I received an email from a person asking me if I taught tonfa and sai, where classes were held, would I consider teaching privately, and how much would I charge. The request in the email struck me as a bit odd for a couple of reasons. First, all the information that was asked for, save the private lessons request, were on the dojo website. So, either I’ve not laid it out simply enough or the person didn’t bother to read it. Second, and more importantly, the request for private lessons and the associated cost seemed presumptuous and lacking propriety.

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