Beikoku Shidokan lineage

The Lineage of Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate (Kobayshi)

We are extremely proud of our Shidokan Karate pedigree or lineage. The more I talk with and meet other martial artists the more I realize how fortunate we are to practice Self Defense Karate with Sensei Seikichi Iha. Many martial artists speak in awe of their instructor, or instructor’s instructor, who traveled to Japan and studied with a real Okinawan instructor for a week or two. I can only nod my head in amazed recognition of what we have in our lineage and what they are missing. When I visit other non-Shidokan Dojos I am humbly reminded that if it were not for Sensei Iha I would be doing the same type of stuff they do and believe that I was doing effective and realistic karate.

I won’t discuss people who I meet who tell me their instructor’s instructor was a student of Iha (people I don’t know and have never heard of) or how they attended one of his seminars at one time. Sometimes you see people claiming to be Iha students as they have the Beikoku Shidokan patch but on their left chest where we have the Shidokan Kanji, instead of the left shoulder.

Beikoku Shidokan lineage
Beikoku Shidokan lineage

We trace our lineage back to Sokon Matsamura, the recognized source of all traditional karate worldwide regardless of being American, Japanese or Korean Karate. If someone uses the term Karate odds are they can trace their lineage back to Matsamura, if they can trace their lineage. I always ask about Karate styles and lineage and most people give me a blank, stunned look and ask “Whaddya mean? It is karrady.”

One of Matsamura’s senior students Anko Itosu taught four of the people in our lineage. Itosu taught the world renown Choki Motobu, Miyahira’s famous uncle Anbun Takuda and the teacher known as the last Karate Samurai, Chosin Chibana. Itsou also taught Sensei Iha’s first instructor Shinpan (Shiroma) Gusukuma.

Chibana designated Miyahira as his successor. He had studied with Miyahira longer than any other student.

When Gusukuma died Sensei Iha then began training in Katsuya Miyahira’s dojo.

When I visit most non-Shidokan karate schools I thank God I was fortunate to meet Sensei Iha over 40 years ago and he accepted me as his student after putting me through what I realize now were a few intense trials of my character. Sensei teaches us kata, partner drills, kumite and bunkai. This is unheard of in most schools as they teach kata, maybe one-step partner drills, and sparring. Most karate and martial arts school have little to no self defense focus as their focus is on winning a tournament trophy or sparring match. We don’t spar more often in Shidokan because after getting beat up performing kumite and bunkai there isn’t a whole lot left to learn from sparring.

Our goal isn’t to win a trophy! Our goal is to arrive home safely after an unexpected violent encounter. We train to Not Lose! We don’t necessarily have to win.

One interesting note: Patrick McCarthy is recognized as the Western World’s foremost Karate Historian and Researcher. He founded Koryu Uchinadi (KU), an open self defense school and organization, after being unable to get answers to “why do we do this?” from Okinawan Karate Masters. He studied and lived in Okinawa, Japan, and China, too. I often marvel at how many of his KU applications are similar to Iha’s Beikoku Shidokan applications. In my conversations with Mr. McCarthy I discovered that Sensei Iha’s first instructor, Shinpan (Shiroma) Gusakuma, was also the instructor of Patrick McCarthy’s teacher, Hiroshi Kinjo. Talk about apples not falling far from the trees.

Thanks for reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate, 8th Dan, Kyoshi

Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310

The Meaning of Our Karate Patches

* The Kanji on our left Chest:

Shidokan
Shidokan

This spells out Shidokan means “Warrior Way”, “Right Way”, “Heart Way” or “Gentleman’s Way”. One Japanese woman recently told me it meant Samurai Way. My preferred includes the complete exoteric meanings: Warrior Path.
See https://virginiadojo.com/2020-alexandria-self-defense-karate-warrior-path/

The first character reads “Shi” interpreted as Heart, Central, Correct, Gentleman, Warrior or Samurai.
The second character you will see in many martial arts patches and names as “Do” means way or path.
The third character is also prevalent on many Martial Arts patches and names. “Kan” means place, refering to Dojo (a different character). The Japanese refer to “kan” as a restaurant or eating place.

* The colorful Beikoku Shidokan Symbol we wear on the left shoulder:

The red and black colors represent the intertwined aspirations of the highest belt ranks attainable in Shidokan Karate.  The black belt and the red belt for 9th and 10th Dans.

The circle represents nature’s circular movements in front of a balance or old-style weighing device used even today in small

Beikoku Shidokan Symbol
Beikoku Shidokan Symbol

Okinawan stores to weigh produce. Balances in stores are nearly all electrical now. So you may be unfamiliar with an old-style balance. The common American symbol of Justice is a blindfolded woman holding an old style balance in her hand.

The Beikoku Shidokan Symbol is very similar to Master Akiyoshi Shiroma’s Nishihara Shidokan Dojo.
Iha and Shiroma are cousins. Shiromas symbol has the Kanji “Nishihara Dojo” at the bottom where we have Beikoku Shidokan.

The Kanji at the bottom have some similar characters as those on our chest patch.
The first character is “Bei” meaning rice.
The second is “koku” representing country.
Did you know that “Beikoku” or Rice Country is what most Asian countries call the United States?
The following three kanji characters spell Shidokan.

So our patch represents American Shidokan. When Sensei Iha was promoted to 10th Degree in 2001 he named his style Beikoku Shidokan in honor of his instructor Katsuya Miyahira. Prior to that we just wore the Shidokan patch on our chest.

Want more history? See: https://www.robertoshidokan.com/our-lineage

Okinawan Shidokan Karate 10th Dans: Who is Who

Who is who in Shidokan? Remember Shidokan is MIyahira’s Dojo. Nakazato led Shorinkan, Higa led Kyudokan, Uema led Shubukan(?), Ishikawa had his own dojo. Shinzato led Shinshukan in Brazil and Argentina (mostly senior students who left Miyazato). See note at bottom of page

The Shidokan Dojo Leader Board (picture below taken 3/6/2017 at Miyahira’s Dojo) lists students by rank and seniority. Read first panel from Right to Left:
Kan Seniority (remember Kan means place)
10th Dan
Miyahira Katsuya
Iha Seikichia
Miyagi Takeshi
Hirouki Shinkai (Sensei never met him, and knows nothing about him. We suspect Maybe he has a dojo in Japan)
Shimambukuro Kasaei

You already know that Katsuya Miyahira founded Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate (Kobayashi).
– Shoei Miyazato was Miyahira’s senior student. However, two different times while in Okinawa he was quoted as saying he was a 10th Dan in a newspaper. Miyahira had him retract the statement the first time. The second time he and Miyahira split as Miyahira suggested that Miyazato should form his own organization. (The Miyazato Dojo currently has between 9 – 10,000 students!) Miyazato rejoined the Shidokan organization after a few years well after Miyahira promoted Seikichi Iha to 10th Dan in 2001.
– Seikichi Iha became the first 10th Dan promoted by the Shorin Ryu Karate Associaton headed by Katsuya Miyahira. This is the organization that Chibana developed and presided over until his death.
– Takeshi Miyagi was promoted to 10th Dan in 2003(?) and now presides over the Shorin Ryu Karate Association. He and his students don’t wear Shidokan patches. He has a small organization. He does have a 9th Dan in Mount Airy and two 8th Dans in Baltimore.
– Hirouki Shinkai was promoted to 10th Dan in 2004. We don’t know much about him.
– Kasei Shimambukuro was promoted in ? He always participates in Iha events and often comes to NTS. He was a well-known Okinawan politician.

Miyahira promoted Nakamura to 9th Dan, along with a slew of other students. Nakamura has a small dojo in Okinawa. Dick Kevork from France has a large school and organization and practices under Nakamura. Nakamura promoted Kevork to 9th Dan (He was about 45 years old) and Kevork then signed a certificate promoting Nakamura to 10th Dan! He heads up the Shorin Ryu Dento & Kobudo Organization or something. I will look it up and correct this.

Takeshi Miyagi recently promoted to 10th Dan Morinobu, a student of Miyahira, and Kiyoshi Tchaya his own student.

Argentina: Masatoshi Miyazato was promoted to 10th Dan after his father died. I believe the Shorin Ryu Karate Association then headed by Miyagi promoted him. Iha sponsored his promotion. Does it matter who promoted him? No one else has an Okinawan Karate Dojo and School system as large at Miyazato’s. They recently celebrated their Dojo’s 60th Anniversary! Mercedes Miyazato, Shoei Miyazato’s daughter, and Masatoshi’s sister was recently promoted to 9th Dan. I believe she is the highest-ranked woman in Okinawan Karate.

Guam: Shiroma was promoted to 10th Dan while Ishikawa presided over the Shorin Ryu Karate Association. Iha sponsored his promotion.

My Conjecture: When Iha was promoted to 10th Dan in 2001 the Shorin Ryu Karate Association also promoted 4 Chibana students to 10th Dan. I believe they were: Ishikawa, Shinzato (Brazil), Shimambukuro Katsuyuki, and maybe Uema. People wondered how Miyahira could promote so many people to 10th Dan at once. Yet the Shorin Ryu Karate Association, not just Miyahira, could recognize Chibana students and Iha at the same time.

Many 8th and 9th Dans left Miyazato’s Dojo for political reasons. Some speculate that Shoei Miyazato wanted to leave the Dojo to his son Masatoshi and the higher ranks could get in the way of his succession. You can find these guys on Facebook. I have been in contact with them periodically through Facebook.
– Miyazato’s son-in-law Miguel Corraglio left to form Shidokai. He died of cancer a few years ago. There are still some followers in Argentina and Texas. I think his son now leads the small Shidokai Association.
– Gerardo Cantore left as an 8th Dan to become a Buddhist monk, then studied Ishin Ryu. He is now located in the Patagonia of Argentina heading up the Shin Shin Kan Association as a 10th Dan, promoted by an Okinawan Goju Ryu 10th Dan.
– Santiago Sacaba left as a 9th Dan and now heads up an Association. He was promoted to 10th Dan by another Okinawan 10th Dan. He still often visits the Miyahira dojo with his students and is well known by Miyahira’s senior students. He now lives in Italy.
– Hector Gonzalez left the Miyazato Dojo and started studying with Shinzato’s (Brazil) Shin Shun Kan. He is now rated a 9th Dan and lives in Cordoba, Argentina, the same town as the Miyazato Hombu Dojo. Morinobu often visits Gonzalez. I’ve counted at least 3 times. Yet per Masatoshi Miyazato, he has never contacted the Miyazato Dojo while he was in Argentina.

Morinobu is Secretary of the Shorin Ryu Karate Do Association and travels often. When he visited Brazil they would often describe him as a 10th Dan. I asked Sensei Iha about that and he said he was a 10th Dan in Brazil only. I suspect that way he would outrank Yonamine who left Shinzato and affiliated with Sensei Iha and received the rank of 9th Dan from Miyagi. Iha sponsored his promotion. He died a few years ago and his son Marcelo, 7th or 8th Dan now heads up Brazil Shidokan. Miyagi officially promoted Morinobu to 10th Dan recently.

These are my thoughts. Most of it is based on historical scraps of information found here and there, what Sensei Iha has told me, what I have witnessed, etc.  If something is incorrect please let me know.

 

Thanks for reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate Do (Kobayashi) 8th Dan, Kyoshi

Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310