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

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

 

Shinpan (Shiroma) Gusukuma per Sensei Nakasone

Hirakazu (Koichi) Nakasone, 9th Dan, Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu, Sensei Iha’s student, explains that Gusukuma Sensei was a high school teacher and that teachers were given a special honorific title. Gusukuma Sensei was a very intelligent person who understood a lot of bunkai (applications). Nakasone Sensei once asked Iha Sensei why Gusukuma Sensei knew so much about bunkai and Iha answered that Gusukuma was a very small man – 1.5 meters high (approx. 4′ 11″) – so he needed technique! He also studied Goju Ryu, Kempo/Kenpo (Japanese term derived from Chinese quánfǎ), Naginata (bladed pole weapon), so given all that, his way of thinking was broader. Kata, application, the use of “Hin-di” (hand changing technique during an attack as a response to defense), being able to adapt to changing situations and attacks in an intelligent way, “Dinki Ohen” (your responsibility to self-adjust spacing) – are some of the skills, strategy needed to be ready to take on anyone using the principles of karate. He was revered by masters of the day such as Yabu Kentsu and Motubu Choki and was known to help resolve arguments between them on technique.

He was also known for being detailed in his study of kata. He was featured in an encyclopedia of karate with many prominent sensei of the post-war period. (Referring to: “Karatedo Taikan – A Broad View of Karatedo.” Chief Editor: Karate Researcher Genwa Nakasone. Authors: Genwa Nakasone, Hironori Ohtsuka, Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Shinpan Shiroma, Choshin Chibana, Chojun Miyagi, Shinken Taira. Originally published May 5, 1938.) He studied kata for technique with a modest attitude — no need to show off. Nakasone Sensei explains that people in Okinawa who show off their karate tend to be challenged (to prove themselves). People who really practice can drop someone with one strike and so there is no need to show off or strut. They also have the mindset that if you hurt someone else, it will also hurt you.

Nakasone Sensei goes on to explain the idea of striking true to the centerline (pointing to vital organs in the centerline of the body) – not striking for “points” (as in sports karate). He says that one can develop the feeling of striking to the center by hitting a makiwara blindfolded. You develop an awareness of where your target is. Practice helps with the feeling of distancing also (“maai”). Then you can build on that. Then you have the skills to take on anybody of any size. Also, use natural motion without posturing and stay relaxed. Don’t force breathing, or reveal the rhythm of your breathing — just breathe naturally without any thought to it. If you show your breath timing to your opponent, you show the point when you are weak. These are some of the things Gusukuma Sensei thought about. Because he was a school teacher, he had more time and income that allowed him to study karate more deeply.

Gusukuma Shinpan died suddenly at 64 years old (possibly related to a head injury he had sustained during WWII).

copied from the Ihadojo Google Classroom.

Thanks for Reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

8th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu

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