How to Teach Karate Like Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan

In Buenos Aires, there is a common saying that there are two types of people in the world; those that can be a waiter in a restaurant and those that can’t. Hopefully, you never get the opportunity to appreciate a waiter task challenged person. It can turn an expected mundane experience into a frustrating nightmare.

Teaching is the same sort of thing. Some people can teach and some people just can’t seem to do it efficiently so it makes sense. Hopefully, following Sensei Iha’s teaching method you can improve your karate teaching skills. In karate practice most of us discover that karate means continual improvement. 88-year old Sensei Iha has been practicing karate since he was about 12. Yet he still practices kata every day because he says there is still much to learn. (Yes, I took the liberty to start a sentence with a number. That is perfectly good German grammar. English is a Germanic language, so……) So whether someone gets the kata down to our concept of “perfection” today, or tomorrow is really unimportant. The thought is to continually improve.

Pauline Lee, 7th Dan, and a teacher by profession observed and wrote down Sensei Iha’s teaching method in the 2006 NTS 30th Anniversary Celebration Document.

Sensei Iha focuses on movement first:
1. Teach them the movements as you do it with them. Focus on movement so NO corrections!
2. Do it with them, side-by-side, and a fraction of a second behind them. NO corrections!
3. Count kata for them, but don’t do it. Lastly,
4. Ask them to do the kata in front of you, but don’t count, and don’t comment.

Once a person has the kata movement or form, then you start adding comments. Yet you add only one or two comments per session that a person can easily adjust or fix. They feel like they improved (they did) and your are rewarded in seeing that improvement.

While it is hard to do, refrain from presenting a doctoral dissertation on everything you know about how to do the kata correctly. After one or two easy adjustments or corrections the person won’t remember anyow.
Avoid correcting 10 or 12 things as they do their kata because you will just frustrate them and they may stop coming to class. Step-by-step they will make the necessary changes and adjustments.

Sensei Iha says Americans want to learn Karate all at once, but you only learn karate “little by little”.

Thanks for Reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

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

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

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

Traditional blocks into breaks

Welcome to Our New Webpage!

Traditional blocks into breaks
Turn your traditional block into an arm break

Welcome to the Virginia Dojo! We are happy you are here.

We are very excited about our Self Defense Karate Classes and know you will be, too. My Marketing Advisor suggested we offer you 2 FREE Weeks of Unlimited Classes. Our Overall Martial Art Themes is: “A block is also a punch is also a throw is just a block”

Who are we?  Roberto has been studying Okinawan Self Defense Karate with renowned Grand Master Seikichi Iha since 1979. Roberto is now one of his Sensei Iha’s senior students. Sensei Iha continued to find unique ways to teach proven effective self defense to his students. Roberto has taught US Marines, US Embassy Security Personnel, Foreign Security Operatives, and people just like you.

Why study with us? 

  • We have safe, small, friendly Okinawan Karate classes. Yes, roughly 1/3 of our members are women,
  • We practice natural body movement for proven effective self defense,
  • Our students built a unique practice area (dojo) evoking traditional Okinawan Karate Dojos,
  • Practice improves your self control, reduces stress, helps you get in shape and it’s FUN!

Why are we different from other schools? We practice Kata (programmed movements) from which we derive Kumite (partner drills) and then Bunkai (performing kata while being attacked by other students). These all help you develop natural reactions for self defense scenarios. Many call us the Martial Arts Grad School because we practice self defense applications found in all martial arts that people hadn’t observed previously. When you see it, a lightbulb will go off in your head, “aha! That is why we do that!”

Come Join Us!



Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo

The Virginia Dojo
Roberto’s karate students insisted he rent a more permanent location for his Karate instruction instead of wandering from building to building while renting out space in School gymnasiums and Churchs. In 2017 he and his students decided upon an office space in an office condominium complex. His students have built the Virginia Dojo into an outstanding training space evoking the sense and feel of traditional Okinawan Karate Dojo. Many students drop by just to meditate, or for Yoga or Tai Chi classes. Drop by even if just to see the dojo space, watch a class. Or to try Two Weeks of Free Classes!
Roberto began studying martial arts in 1969.  He studied judo, Shorinkan Shorin Ryu karate, Shotokan Karate, Goju Ryu, and Kung Fu.  He started studying with now Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu in 1979 and continues until now as one of his senior students.
During Roberto’s long-term overseas assignments stationed as a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat), he trained US Embassy Security Personnel, US Marines, foreign security operatives, and people just like you. When stationed in the Washington, DC area he also always built a cadre of dedicated Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate students.  Now retired from the Foreign Service he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA.
His Karate classes in Alexandria are often called the Martial Arts Grad School as he teaches common sense applications found in all martial arts that most people simply don’t see or haven’t experienced. Upon seeing these applications most people say it is like a light bulb going off in their mind.
He 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
“Best of” in 2018 and 2019