Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate of the Kobayashi lineage
Wait! What? What does all this mean? How can I explain what I do without just saying I practice “karaddy”?
You practice Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate of the Kobayashi lineage.
Most simply: Shidokan refers to Miyahira’s school.
Shorin Ryu refers to Itosu’s style of Karate.
Kobayashi means this is Chibana’s lineage.
Beikoku Shidokan members are only 5 steps away from the karate taught by the founder of almost all Karate practiced world-wide: Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura. Bushi means warrior. So your self-defense karate is very close to what Bushi Matsumura was teaching as the Head Body Guard to the last 3 Okinawan Kings. You decide whether you think the technique applications would be effective for a King’s Body Guard.
Many people arrive at the dojo telling me they are a black belt in “karaddy” and want to practice. Some say they are an instructor and want to teach. After training with our green and brown belts most slip away to never return. As I ask about their background it becomes readily apparent that they don’t know the history of their school or style. This is understandable before you get to Black Belt, but maybe you should have an idea of what you are doing.
One of my neighbors told me she was testing for black belt and I asked the name of the style. She didn’t know. (I already know what school she practiced at in Old Town) She could tell me it was Japanese though because they had Japanese language classes! I asked her the names of the kata she had to perform for her black belt test. Well, she didn’t know that either! I know, I wondered the same thing!
Many people arrive at the Dojo and tell me they are a student of a student of a student of Sensei Iha. While I have only been a student of Sensei Iha for 40+ years, I seldom recognize the person named. There is a Supreme Grand Master 12th Degree in Maryland who claimed for years to be a student of Sensei Iha. I met him twice when I trained every day in the Hombu Dojo in the late 70’s/early 80’s. When I moved to this area Sensei told me to go take over his school and teach! While claiming to be an Iha Student, every time Sensei came to Virginia or Maryland to give a seminar he was “occupied” and couldn’t attend. Now he won’t attend Sensei’s seminars because he outranks him!
A Brief History Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate
When my instructor, Seikichi Iha, was awarded his 10th Dan in 2001 he named his dojo (school) Beikoku Shidokan. Beikoku meaning American. Shidokan was the name of his instructor, Katsuya Miyahira, who gave his world-famous dojo in Okinawa. There are more Shidokan Dojos in Okinawa than any other style of karate. Iha honored his instructor by keeping the Shidokan name and adding Beikoku to it. The Gold Kanji at the bottom of the rope design spells out Beikoku Shidokan. We wear the patch on the left shoulder. Prior to 2001 we were happy to train at Original Okinawan Karate in Lansing and wore the Shidokan patch.
Seikichi Iha, Hanshi, 10th Degree was Katsuya Miyahira’s senior student. Iha Sensei’s name is still listed in rank order right after Katsuya Miyahira’s name, signifying senior student status, on Miyahira’s Shidokan Dojo Rank Board. Seikichi Iha learned karate first from his uncle and then from the infamous Shinpan (Shiroma) Gusakuma in 1950. When Gusukuma died in 1954 he then began studying at the Shidokan Karate Dojo with Katsuya Miyahira. Iha moved to California about 1973 and then moved to Lansing, Michigan in early 1975 where he established the Original Okinawan Karate Dojo. In the first few years in Michigan, the dojo moved around a bit and finally settled at the current E. Michigan Avenue location in Lansing around 1977. Iha’s karate combines the best of Miyahira and Gusukuma karate using natural body movements and soft blocks for proven effective self defense. Full-contact champion, Koichi Nakasone, 9th Dan, Sui Di, and his students, are the most well known Iha students in Okinawa.
Katsuya Miyahira (1918-2010) studied longer with Chosin Chibana than any other student. In 1948 Miyahira named his karate dojo: Shidokan meaning: “Warrior Way”, “Right Way”, “Heart Way” or “Gentleman’s Way”. Chibana relinquished his karate association duties to Miyahira before his death. Shidokan practitioners wear the Shidokan kanji on the left chest.
Choshin Chibana (1886-1969) Known as the ultimate Okinawan Karate expert. Many refer to him as the Karate Samurai. He called his karate: “Kobayashi”, yet others pronounce the Kanji letters as “Shorin Ryu”. Shorin Ryu is confusing as there are three unrelated styles of Okinawa karate called Shorin Ryu, easily differentiated by the Kanji characters but in English hard to distinguish.
Anko Itosu (1831-1915) was One of Matsamura’s most famous students. He was known as the Grandfather of Okinawan Karate and is in the lineage of nearly all Okinawan styles. Both Chibana and Gusakuma were his senior students.
Sokon Matsumura (1809-99): We trace our karate lineage back directly to the recognized source of Okinawan karate, Sokon Matsumura the personal bodyguard to the last three Okinawan Kings who named his self defense techniques Shuri-te. Shuri being the Okinawan capital. Te or de, meaning hand. Another name used is Sui-de, or “our hand”. He was also widely known as Bushi Matsumura or Warrior Matsumura.
Thanks for Reading!
Robert Roberto Curtis
Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate (Kobayashi)
Virginia Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310