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.

Read More

24 Jun

Doughjo Boys

Let’s be honest, how many doughjo boys do you see practicing Karatedo? You know what I’m referring to, right? Those Karateka are in good shape? Factor in what you want (age, diet, co-morbidities, etc.) and then ask yourself, “how many of them are fit?” That is, do they have the requisite strength, flexibility, and stamina to perform Karate-do to a satisfactory level? If you’re even a little bit honest with yourself, I’m guessing you answered: (1) you see a lot of doughjo boys in the dojo, and (2) they don’t have an adequate fitness level to perform Karatedo to an acceptable standard.

Read More

20 Jun

Tou’on-Ryu Book?

Kyoda Juhatsu, Tou'on-ryu, Goju-ryu, Vancouver, BC, Kitsilano, lessons

L to R: unknown, Kanzaki Shigekazu, Kyoda Juhatsu, Kyoda Shigeaki, Kyoda Juko

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book on Nahate, but then my good friend and researcher Joe Swift recently published an excellent book on the topic. After reading through it, I didn’t think there was much I could add to the conversation; so much for that idea. Now I’ve been thinking about writing a book on Tou’on-ryu. Read More

18 Jun

Advanced Bo Kata

Kobudo, Vancouver, BC, Mario McKenna

Yoshimura Hiroshi Sensei

The other day after practice I was talking to one of my training partners in Kobudo and our conversation turned to the advanced bo kata taught near the end of the curriculum. Kata like Urasoe, Chinenshikiyanaka, Chatanyara, Sesoko, and Soeishi. They are all very long and complicated kata that are typically taught only at the higher dan grades and after a long apprenticeship under a competent teacher. Read More

15 Jun

Physical Education & Karate

Karate, 1940, Vancouver, Kitsilano, BC, Goju
Physical education and Karate have an interesting history on Okinawa and mainland Japan. I think that Miyagi, Mabuni, Funakoshi and others were all headed towards and general physical education model of Karate in the hopes of popularizing it (along the lines of Judo and Kendo) on Okinawa and mainland Japan. Indeed, in Karate-do Taikan, Nakasone goes on to state that one of the problems with karate-do was the fact that students had to “start-over” if then went to study under another teacher. I believe they wanted to avoid this dilemma and the fact that it is written in Nakasone’s book points all the more to this trend.

Read More