We have been having a lot of Fun with great success with Outdoor Karate Classes at 10′ Distance with everyone wearing a mask. People have learned the self-defense movements and we even go over applications, or how to use them. This has worked out much better than I expected! Plus people enjoy being outside in the weather. We have skirted a few rainstorms. Yet we have been rained out a couple of times, too! When that happens we just rever to our Zoom classes.
One advantage of doing karate in a parking lot is that you must plant your back foot before moving into position. This is fundamental for self defense karate. In sport karate, you often move your back foot into position as you begin to kick or punch. It simply doesn’t work in self defense, especially if your step gets shorted or you step on a brick or bottle.
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.
We focus on proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many 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. 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 Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019
Virginia Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., #302-B, Alexandria, VA 22310
1. We will look at the Governor’s guidelines for gym openings and follow them strictly.
Right now that entails non-contact social distancing Outdoor Classes that begin Mid-June.
2. We will continue with Zoom classes from the dojo for overseas folks and those that are tied up at work, or those that don’t want to get out of the house yet.
3. After cleaning the air duct system in February I installed a UVC light in the dojo air duct system to control mold and bacteria. Scientific documents also claim that this also kills MRS and SARS viruses. Covid-19 is a SARS virus, but there haven’t been any tests conducted on it yet. I also ordered two additional UV-C lights for use in the dojo after class.
4. We will look at other virus killings/neutralizing measures we can implement in the dojo.
– I will add a second UVC light in the air duct system just in case.
– I will use MERV-11 air filters in the dojo to filter out pollen and dust reducing the work of the UVC lights.
5. We will practice outdoors and in the dojo with masks on, maybe with gloves once contact resumes?
6. Non-contact kumite and bunkai can still be done to get up a good workout and keep your timing.
7. Hand sanitizer or handwashing will be mandatory.
(Note: I need to put Teflon tape on the utility sink couplings so we can use that, too.)
8. There is abundant disinfectant/virucide to clean the floor before and after each class. The virucide is most effective when left to dry on the mats. I will get a sprayer so we can spray before and after class.
9. What are the Class times when the dojo reopens?
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. He is also a certified in Martial Arts Fitness Instruction and in Self Defense Instruction.
As a retired Foreign Service Officer Roberto now 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 Mid West 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
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
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)
Hirouki Shinkai (Sensei never met him, and knows nothing about him. We suspect Maybe he has a dojo in Japan)
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