It has been 12 years since the passing of the late Grand Master of Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo, Seikichi Odo. In the Okinawa Kenpo ‘family’, the years may weigh on us with fear, pain, joy and hope. We have come so far since Odo sensei’s passing, yet it seems like yesterday when he was telling me to do my kata, “one more time.”
I really thought my sensei spoke very little English. I felt sorry for him. Afterall, he DID keep telling me to repeat my empty hand or weapons form, OVER AND OVER, by saying “one more time.” LITTLE DID I KNOW there was something else going on…
The debate in Okinawan Karate on rank, (read: I am a [enter the Japanese title describing black belt level], or senior student (read: I trained with this master for 2 weeks in Okinawa back in the 1980s, therefore I am a senior practitioner], or I trained under the guy who opened the first dojo in America, or other various ‘criteria’ people have created in the karate world to promote their marketing efforts of their school is so well…1980s.
I loved this movie. I still do. It needs more fight scenes though.
Don’t get me wrong: The idea of having ranks in Okinawan Karate is awesome. But what do they really mean?
Since antiquity, the ritual of Misogi 禊 has been performed in Japan, the Ryukyu islands and all parts of Asia. In ancient times it was the Yamabushi 山伏, the ‘mountain hermits,’ that would perform such tasks as extended periods with no sleep, breath training and of course the infamous “standing or sitting under the waterfall in winter time.” Ceremonies such as these, represent the heart and soul of ancient East Asia that still finds it’s way into everyday circumstance. Take for example the salutation of ‘How are you?” – in Japanese one would say ‘O genki desu ka?’ お元気ですか? Note the word Ki in this common phrase. Ki is the word for life force, life breath, vital air or energy in the Japanese language. This is an example that underlies how integral the world view of life force, energy and the soul are central in Japanese vocabulary.
Yes, that’s cold water. Notice the ice and snow next to him. Brrrr!
In the traditional ‘old ways’ of Okinawa Kenpo practice, I personally knew of many Okinawan karate sensei that would participate in such ceremonies. I was lucky enough to study under the late Seikichi Odo. He introduced me to several Yuta (Traditional Okinawan Shaman) which performed various ceremonies including variances of Misogi and their applications within Okinawan Karate.
Bushido roughly translates as “the way of the warrior.”
Bushido 武士道 originates from the code of conduct from the samurai. It emphasized frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery and honor. It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei, the late Seikichi Odo was from an Okinawan dynasty of samurai. This was a rarity within Okinawa as well as within the martial arts community. The first use of the word 武士 (Bushi) was found in one of Japan’s oldest books, the 古事記 (the Kojiki-“The Record of Ancient Matters”) written in approximately 712 A.D. What is most important is that the use of 武士 (Bushi) at that time also related to the concept of the ‘educated warrior-poet.’ Some people say that the days of Bushido 武士道 are extinct.
I don’t believe that. Neither should you.
Bushido, the moral code of the samurai, took decades of organic growth. Our dojo, Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon, keeps 武士道 (Bushido), alive in every dojo practice.
Posted in Bushido, karate, Karate Dojo, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo
Tagged Bushido, Karate, Kinjo Seiko Bo Bo Kumite, kobudo weapons, Martial Arts, Okinawa Karate, Okinawa Kenpo
温故知新 or “On Ko Chi Shin” roughly translates as “study the old, understand the new.” It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei would say “keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future.” At the time he was referring to “a true” kobudo application of a defensive maneuver involving multiple assailants with implements of minor and mass destruction. They say the old ways Okinawan Karate have been erased with time.
I don’t believe that. Neither should you.
Okinawa Kenpo “old school” style
AND NOW FOR SOME EXCITING NEWS…
Posted in karate, Karate Dojo, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo
Tagged 8th degree black belt, Gonzalo Flores, Gonzo Flores, Martial Arts, Okinawa, Okinawa Kenpo, okinawa kenpo karate, Okinawan Karate, On Ko Chi Shin, Seikichi Odo
We practice a traditional style of Okinawan Karate that traces back it’s roots to the late 1400s. The framed scroll you see at my acupuncture and medical clinic is the lineage chart that illustrates the genealogy of our karate system.
Naha Bushi Sakiyama lineage of Okinawa Kenpo
Posted in Choki Motobu, Four Ways of Fighting, karate, kata, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, Ryukyu Kempo
Tagged Fearless, Karate Ni Sente Nashi, Martial Arts, Shigeru Nakamura, Taketo Nakamura, The GrandMaster
Okinawa Kenpo, a complete ‘hard and soft’ system of Okinawan Karate, has a curriculum based on classical kata (empty handed forms) and kobudo (weapons-based forms). In addition, there is a foundation that involves rigorous body conditioning, a unique blend of nerve strikes, “knock out” strikes, and an aspect of bunkai which I call, translational bunkai. What separates Okinawa Kenpo from all other karate is the long standing established use of the Bogu Kumite ‘Gear’ to allow for free form full contact reality-based fighting.
Kenwa Mabuni, circa 1925, wearing Bogu Gear.
Shigeru Nakamura introduced the world to the Bogu ‘Kumite’ Gear in 1923. In 1925 he introduced the Bogu equipment to what was known as Siam, (now known as Thailand) and introduced the Bogu Gear to Indonesia and Malaysia in 1927. Historical records show that he had several prototypes that his uncles were developing around the turn of the century. Shigeru Nakamura, felt that the system that was later to be called “Karate” was not rigorous enough in its training methods and that new training methods and equipment needed to be developed. Shortly before he was made the next head of a Ryukyu Ti lineage that traced its roots back to the late 1400s, he pursued this endeavor and thus creating the Ryukyu Islands version of ‘mixed martial arts.’
Shigeru Nakamura, my teacher’s, teacher.
Posted in karate, Karate Dojo, kata, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo, Seikichi Odo, Shigeru Nakamura, Taketo Nakamura
Tagged Dan Inosanto, Gonzalo Flores, Kenwa Mabuni, Larry Gradolf, Okinawa Kenpo, Ryukyu Te, Ryukyu Ti, Traditional Okinawan Karate
Okinawa Kenpo is rich in tradition with regards to kata (non-weapons based forms) and kobudo (weapons-based forms). It has an amazing array of formulated nerve strikes, “knock out” points, joint locks, ground fighting and a myriad of internal dynamic Ki building exercises that are specialized in the Okinawa Kenpo curriculum. The problem is very few people were lucky to study for a really long time in Okinawa under different Okinawa Kenpo sensei as well as not having enough opportunity to “enjoy” the mulitiple kumi-te waza (no rules, no gear, full contact fighting, usually involving Marines or other service personnell.)
Yes, this means you.
The problem with Okinawan Karate, at least for Okinawa Kenpo, is that it seems it clearly was not learned as a whole system.
Posted in How to Tie Your Belt, karate, Karate Dojo, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo
Tagged classical okinawan karate, Karate basics, karate philosophy, Karate uniform, karateka, kobudo weapons, Okinawa Kenpo, sempai, time in okinawa
Say It Ain’t So
There has been some written material in the martial arts literature with regards to the “Gojushiho” katas known in Okinawan, Japanese karate, Korean martial arts.
Um…not that kind.
Upon first glance, you think “yeah sure Gonzo, one is a short version and the other is a long version- [Dai and Sho].” Variations of these Gojushiho Sho and Dai kata are also known as “Ueseshi,” “Sushiho” “Hotaku” and “O Sip Sa Bo” among other variant form names. You can see some variations on You Tube here.
Oh no! No more weird stuff with kata– let me be ignorant in peace!
In addition, you can read in the martial arts literature and on informational sources that this kata means the “number 54” written like this: 五十四歩
All of this information is correct. Unless you are talking about the kata forms by the same name in Okinawa Kenpo. In fact, the discussion about tournament karate with JKA (Japan Karate Association) referees does not apply to this conversation or topic. The kata known as Gojushiho Ichi (aka Gojushiho Koryu) and Gojushiho Ni (Gojushiho Chu) have a completely different connotation in Okinawa Kenpo. This is the story of a kata by any other name…
Posted in Gojushiho Dai, Gojushiho Koryu, Gojushiho Sho, karate, Karate Dojo, kata, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo, Seikichi Odo, Shigeru Nakamura, Taketo Nakamura
Tagged Matayoshi Shimpo, Okinawa Karate, Okinawa Kenpo, Traditional Okinawan Karate, Ultraman
The problem with karate today, especially karate practiced in the United States, is that it is typically:
 no longer traditional,  no longer reality-based and  not easily transmitted.
Traditional Okinawan Karate? That’s a Clown question Bro!
The problem may just stem with the times; we have to compete against video games, reality TV and the many variations of what people consider martial arts.
Will someone PLEASE give Mr. Dos Santos a glass?
What makes Okinawa Kenpo, ‘Okinawa Kenpo?”