Beikoku Shidokan Symbol

A Brief History Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate

 

Virginia Dojo

Beikoku Shidokan Symbol
Beikoku Shidokan Symbol

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.

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 De,  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 Matsamura (1809-99): We trace our karate lineage back directly to the recognized source of Okinawan karate, Sokon Matsamura the personal body guard 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 Matsamura or Warrior Matsamura.   

 

kihon jutsu gyaku

Gusukuma’s 3 Karate Principles

 

kihon jutsu gyaku
Sensei Gusukuma’s 3 principles

Grand Master Seikichi Iha’s first instructor the infamous Shinpan Gusukuma outlined the three foundational principles of karate as kata, jutsu, and gyaku. Without all three, the martial application is lost.

Kata is the foundational form by which the body develops proper posture, breathing, balance, flexibility, and unified muscle/tendon/hip control for maximum outpower.

Jutsu encompasses the bunkai, or analysis of the martial techniques; only some of which are derived from kata. Over time, these techniques become muscle memory. Almost all kata movements have multiple bunkai, but bunkai is not limited to kata analysis nor the bunkai of curriculum.

Gyaku is the “reverse”, or the continuous counter-application to the bunkai. It is represented in the spontaneous free-flowing of movements as counters to attacks. Oyo bunkai in the curriculum is a baby step toward gyaku; moving from block printing to cursive, yet still within the “wording” of kata. Gyaku is free composition based upon the “theme” of kata.

Sensei Iha reminds us that it is the responsibility of the dedicated student to seek out partners for the exploration of jutsu and gyaku. There we find the joy of exploration.

copied from the Iha Dojo Facebook page.

Roberto

Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo

==========================

Roberto is an 8th Dan, Kyoshi, 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.

   

As a retired Foreign Service Officer he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the 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 in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking. See examples of traditional Kata, Kumite, & Bunkai here.

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

“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 Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019

 

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

 

How to Train when The Dojo is Closed!

How to Practice Karate When Your Dojo is Closed

How Do You Practice Karate When the Dojo is Closed?

 

Great question Grasshopper! After starting training with Sensei Iha I suffered (?) through 4 overseas diplomatic assignments. That did not stop my karate training though as I found innovative places, people, and ways to train. You can do the same.
(Pressed for time? Skip down to the next to last paragraph for training hints.)

In Argentina I had long work hours and a new baby at home. The first year I did kata at home in our utility room. Then we moved to a penthouse apartment overlooking the zoo and not far from the US Embassy. It was a 20-minute drive to the Embassy or a 10-minute walk through the zoo. I would walk home on my lunch break to do kata on the balcony or on the roof overlooking the zoo with the Rio de Plata in the background. I really enjoyed watching the guanacos (low-land llamas) spitting hockers at unknowing tourists and giraffes stealing kids’ ice cream cones on my walks to and from the Embassy.

In Santiago I had an enormous room available for training with the local Marine Detachment, US Security Personnel, DEA, and other people. I held normal classes with 2-10 students in class.

In Milan I could Kata outdoors in my yard, we lived in a Contessa’s ground floor apartment, or in the Consulate Gym. Most of my students were with DEA, CIA, Customs, Secret Service and other unnamed agents.

In Vienna I had a wonderful yard again for kata, plus a near-by gym, and the US Marine Detachment’s residence. Most of my students were Marines, Security-types, and foreign security operatives. Historically, Vienna was filled with spies, or as we say, intelligence agents. It still is. I had ample student interest.

While stationed overseas I would infrequently see Sensei Iha. Yet I did kata. I did Kumites 1-16 like kata, switching between attacking and defending. I would do bunkai imagining the attacks and then attack from each position on the quadrant. Then I did more kata! I recall sitting at a beach in Chile watching a beautiful multi-color sunset enjoying the view, the breeze and trying to do Kusanku Dai kata mentally. This effort left me drenched in sweat and I had moved no more than the hand holding the beer to my mouth. The effort of doing the kata mentally wiped me out! You might be happy to know that I ordered another beer.

When possible I would set up a makiwara and kicking bag. When that was not possible I did knuckle pushups (I hate them) and kicked telephone poles. Note: While recalling tales of Kung Fu Masters killing trees from constant kicking and punching I unhappily report that all telephone poles survived! My images of telephone poles knocked down by an energetic karateka were shockingly jolted into painful a very reality.

You can figure out your own way to practice Karate. Sensei Iha says you only need one friend to practice with. His friendship with Sensei Miyazato is a good example for all of us. Make Friends with Karate!

Sign Up for Karate Classes via Google Classroom. Enter your GMail account, or sign up for one, click on the square dots in the right hand corner and scroll down to Google Classroom, then enter the class code: cai2ldf.

Roberto

Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo

==========================

Roberto is an 8th Dan, Kyoshi, 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.

As a retired Foreign Service Officer he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the 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 in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking. See examples of traditional Kata, Kumite, & Bunkai here.

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

“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 Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019

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

 

VA Okinawa Karate Dojo class

Ways To Do Kata and Make Them Interesting for You (Incentives to keep practice boring katas!)

Practice Your Karate Kata!

First things first! Do your kata. Karate is the pathway between self defense and self improvement. Kata is the initial vehicle for that.

Attitude is everything! I used to hate, detest, dislike Kusanku Dai. I don’t know why I just rebelled at it. When I lived in Chile I was doing this kata before my Goju Ryu class started in the dojo. One of the most attractive young women I have seen watched me from start to finish and said she thought the kata was one of the most beautiful she had ever seen. Now being a serious guy and not vain at all, I suddenly realized that Kusanku Dai suddenly became one of my favorite katas. (Note to self: Erase this stupid comment, Do Not Publish! That is just stupid. No one will believe you.)

The Beer Virus is gonna make us all kinda crazy, grouchy, itchy, you pick a term. Kata will help us stay sane. When life sucks, when you are at the bottom of the pit of emotional well being, you still have your kata. Kata are yours! They are Free! Plus they make you feel better as you imagine your boss, tormentor, ex-, whoever getting pummeled by punches and kicks as you block their feeble attacks on you.

If you do your toughest, hardest to learn kata as described in this article you will perfect it within a week or so as you will have now made that kata your own. Sure there will still be improvements we’ll tweak, but you will notice a completely different feeling when preparing to perform the kata.

Tell me which kata you do/did. Make a list by each day. Send me at the end of the week. Don’t lie, er, I mean stretch the truth. I will know when I see you if you were just tugging at my leg, or gnawing on it like a junk yard dog. If you only did your kata once every day in the morning, afternoon and at night then avoid saying you only did it once. If you didn’t do any kata at all one day say that, too. It is ok. This course isn’t graded. We will determine if it is even pass/fail. Well, if you get promoted right away that is a pass, right?

– Kata that you already know you practice just one time per session. e.g., Kihon Katas. If you know all the way to Chinto or beyond then choose one or two Kihon Katas only to practice during your session. You can mix it up with each session.
For Katas you are working on learning, do what you can. We can fix what you don’t remember.

– Now take one of your kata most recently learned, say Pinan Sandan, or Matsamura Passai. Do it 5 times! (WTF, 5 times!) Yes.
You don’t have to do it extremely fast. Start Facing in one direction and do your kata. Now face in another direction (I try to go clockwise) and do the same kata. Face in another direction and do your kata. It is starting to get a little more difficult without the dojo front wall or mirror for landmarks, isn’t it? Do kata until you repeat the kata facing in the direction where your started. Whew. That was either very easy or very disturbing.

– To keep my incentive up I put a bottle of beer facing the direction of my first kata. (Colin, Maria, and Serah: soda, juice or water for you!) After completing a full circle of kata I take a sip of beer. Hmm. Now this is the really hard part: do I do another round of kata, or sit down and finish the beer as a reward for doing one kata round? I am sure that if you could imagine me doing this, then you would think I would do the right thing in your mind and not even think about drinking the rest of the beer until I had done another round of 5 kata before drinking that beer. Well, you are right. That is not a good reward for me because I usually decide to stop and drink the beer. So I use ice tea now. Even after that beer can we still do another round of kata, and reward ourselves with another beer? Let’s try! Here we go! (For some reason wine and kata don’t mix. Wine slows down your coordination much more quickly than beer.)

– Let’s mix this Kata performance up a little.
1. Do your kata at 3/4 speed.
2. Now do it as if you were a ballet dancer gracefully, but absolutely no power.
3. Now do it slowly and controlled like in a Tai Chi class. Wow, now you identify some foot transitions that you skip over when you do the kata quickly.
4. Let’s try some dynamic tension. Everything tightens up. Remember your legs and toes. Your muscles fight against you with each move. Exhale at the end of each movement so you don’t fall and hit your head on the coffee table.
5. Now do each movement of your kata as fast as you can. Stopping after each move to breathe.
6. Do your kata at 3/4 speed again. Isn’t it easy now?

– Another thing to do is just do all the kata you know start to finish. After a while you will be so intensely moving in a zen state that you will finish the kata, wonder where you are and have no clue as to which kata you just competed. I often wonder if this isn’t the real goal of entering the “Warrior Path”.

– Now if that works for you and you think you have this puppy in your pocket and are ready to take it home to give to a friend, try doing kata slowly, at whatever speed you want, but imagine self defense techniques besides block, kick and punch. Ahhh, grasshopper, you have just put 15 years of training, or more, under your wings! Congratulations! Now go over and pick up that red-hot brazier with your forearms like David Carradine. You have earned those fresh branded dragon marks on your arms. If you look you’ll see mine say “hibachi”. Well, that is what it is supposed to say but that thing was so damn hot I dropped it quicker than a dog with a porcupine in its mouth so I only got the first couple letters. I was still quite proud of the letters until I worked in Bosnia. I had no idea “hiba” is a very dirty, offensive word in Serbian slang.

Do Your Kata!

Roberto

Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo

==========================

Roberto is an 8th Dan, Kyoshi, 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.

   

As a retired Foreign Service Officer he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the 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 in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking. See examples of traditional Kata, Kumite, & Bunkai here.

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

“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 Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019

 

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