Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan with Virginia Dojo Members 2015

A Simple Karate Lesson that Took me 4 Decades to Understand

One of the first things my instructor (now an Internationally Renown Karate Grandmaster and recognized by the Japanese Government as an Okinawan Intangible Cultural Treasure for his Karate Teaching, Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan) showed me for self defense was to put my back supporting foot into position before worrying about a punch or kick hurtling towards me to modify my beautiful face or body. (Ok, even my mother may not have thought me the most beautiful baby, and the body has now definitely taken on a Smurf-like body) A simple concept and basic thought. I recently realized that while I adapted that only to the movements and applications he specifically taught me and failed to adapt it to the rest of my self defense movements.

Everyone studying martial arts claims they are doing self defense. That is true when responding to kicking and punching.  Yet if you have ever been in a fight you quickly understand that what you practice in the dojo or a tournament is far from what happens in a real fight where your opponent is attempting to modify your good looks.

Maybe you will get a chance to get into a fighting position. It seldom happens, but, maybe you are lucky. After one of you throw a punch or two you suddenly will be grappling, tugging, pulling, throwing, while punching and kicking. Do you practice this? The self defense applications found in traditional Okinawan Karate Kata address all of these scenarios.

Sensei Iha always stresses that if you face an attack on the left or a grab/push/pull, you place your right foot into position first. This positions your body so you can grab and break/dislocate an attacking arm or leg. If you are just turning to block a punch then this isnt’ necessary. It simply isn’t necessary.

So after 4 decades I finally realized that I was only doing the opening kata moves for self defense responses and the rest of the katas were done for sport/tournament type punching or kicking responses, rather than throwing a body or breaking an arm or leg, or putting someone in a head lock.

i have gone through all 27 kata and modified my transitions so that my back foot is in place before I even begin to worry about my hips and hands as I a

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m thinking about grappling defense with each move rather than striking defenses.

This completely changed my self defense karate. It will change yours, too.

If you don’t understand this come try 1 Week of Classes for Free. I don’t care if you do some other style. This will set you on a completely different karate path.


Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo


Roberto is an 8th Dan, Kyoshi, Karate Master, awarded by Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu. Roberto began his martial arts journey in 1969 and started training with Sensei Iha in 1979.  He continues to train with Sensei Iha and is now one of Iha’s senior students.


Roberto focuses on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many call the Alexandria Karate Dojo a Martial Arts Grad School because Roberto teaches proven effective often brutal, pressure points, joint locks and grappling applications that Sensei Iha taught him during 40+ years of instruction. While the applications may be brutal we ensure classes are both safe and fun.  See examples of traditional Kata, Kumite, & Bunkai here.

Roberto is a member of the Mid-West Beikoku Shidokan Karate Black Belt Promotion Board and the National Black Belt Promotion Board. Among his numerous awards are:

“Best Martial Arts Teachers in Alexandria” 2020:

“Best Martial Arts Teacher in Washington, DC” in 2017;

“Best Martial Arts in Washington, DC” 2018;

“Best Martial Arts in Alexandria” 2019; and “Best of” in 2018 and 2019

Virginia Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., #302-B, Alexandria, VA 22310