Bushido Kai Karate At Mount Holyoke College

Welcome to Mount Holyoke College Bushido-Kai Karate

Table of Contents

Bushido-Kai Karate is the Mount Holyoke College Karate Club and a member of Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai and the International Karate Association. As a member of Shito-Ryu Karate and the IKA the club is fortunate to have two of the world’s finest Grand Masters (Soke) as its Master teachers. Bushido-Kai Karate is dedicated to teaching traditional Karate-Do and self-defense through the philosophies of both Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai http://www.seitoshitoryu.com and the International Karate Association. http://www.ikakarate.org

Bushido-Kai Karate is headed by Barbara A. Arrighi, Sensei, 8th Degree Black belt. Arrighi Sensei was awarded Hanshi on August 2, 2015 by Tsukasa Mabuni, 3rd Soke Shito-Ryu International Karate-Do Kai.

In 2005 Arrighi, Sensei, was promoted to 7th Degree Black Belt and Kyoshi by Mabuni Kenzo, 2nd Soke Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai.

Assistant Instructor David Wiley, was elevated to Godan, 5th Degree Black Belt by Mabuni Soke at the 2003 International Seito Shito-Ryu Karate Championships held in Oregon.

Karate Club Information

Bushido-Kai Karate Club training session is Wednesday Dance Studio 2, 6:00pm-7:00pm at Kendall Hall the year round. Students are taught Kihon, Ippon, Nihon, and Sanbon kumite, kata and bunkai, self-defense, and jiyu kumite (free style) fighting. The Karate club is taught in a traditional Japanese style with formal opening and closing of class. For more information please email Arrighi Sensei at barrighi@mtholyoke.edu

Students are encouraged to attend class if they are interested in training in traditional Japanese style Karate Do. Class begins promptly at 6:00PM. Please arrive early dress comfortably and speak with the instructor prior to taking the first class. When meeting with the instructor you will receive information about the training course, club expectations and student responsibilities.

As members of Shito-Ryu USA Karate-Do Kai there are monthly organizational trainings with advanced instructors open to all Shito-Ryu USA Karate-Do Kai dojos. They are announced in advance and are free to all students.

Directions to Kendall Hall Bushido-Kai Karate Dojo

Bushido-Kai Advanced Training
McGinness, Hanshi far left back row, Arrighi, Hanshi standing center middle
Bushido-Kai Karate Dojo
Karate Terminology

Sensei – Teacher
Shihan – Teacher of Teachers (Master)
Soke – Originator, headmaster
Sempai – Senior student
Kohai – Junior student
Karateka – Student of Karate
Kumaete – Assume a ready position
Naotte – Relax or return
Seiza – Kneeling
Kihon – Basic
Kata – Form
Kumite – Engaged hands
Hadari – Left
Migi – Right
Bushido – “The way of the Warrior”
Kime – Focus

Dojo – Training Hall or Place of the Way
Karate Do – Way of the Empty Hand
Yudansha – Black belt ranked students
Shomen – Front or head
Kai – Organization
Do Gi – Uniform worn in Karate
Hai – Yes
Iie – No
Hajime – Begin
Yama – Stop
Rei – Bow
Kiai – Sprit shout
Dan – Level or degree
Kyu – Grade below black belt
Zanshin – Alertness/awareness
Embusen – The footwork/pattern in kata

Standard Class Protocol
Reishiki Opening Ceremony
Tachi Rei – Standing bow to Sensei

Seiza – Sensei sits (formal sitting position), the class sits in seiza facing shomen and prepares for class. Head student (sempai) calls out:

Mokuso! This means “Close your eyes and Clear your mind!” After about a minute, the sempai student calls out:

Kaimoku! This means: “Open your eyes!”

Zarei – Next the class performs three zarei or sitting bows. The head student calls out:

Shomen ni rei! This means “Bow to the front of the dojo.” After the class finishes this bow, the Sensei will turn around and face the class and the head student will call out:

Sensei ni rei! – This means “Bow to the Teacher!” As the class bows to the teacher, the teacher will return the bow. As each student bows, they recite “Onegaishimasu” which means “Please teach me!”

Otagai ni rei! – This means “Bow to each other!” Both the teacher and the students will bow to each other at the same time. This is to acknowledge that we are all students of the art of Karate Do. At this point the Sensei will indicate that the class should stand up and practice will begin.

For more information and to join the Karate club please see class hours above: Or contact Ms. Arrighi, Sensei at (413) 538-2304 or on campus ext. 3303 at the Campus Police Department, or student Karate Club President.


Bushido-Kai Karate is under the direction of Ms. Barbara A Arrighi, Hachidan and Hanshi. Shitoryu USA Karate Do Kai.

As head of the Karate Club Arrighi, Sensei is both a licensed Hanshi ( Teacher of Masters). As such, she is the highest ranking woman and only woman Hanshi in the Shito-Ryu style. She is a founding member of Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai and a member of the Board of Directors. In addition, she is the founder and editor of Shito-Ryu Times the national organizations newsletter.

In 1994, Arrighi Sensei was elivated to 5th Degree black belt and was awarded her Shihan licence by Grand Master Takayuki (Tak) Kubota in Gosoku-Ryu Karate Do.

On July 5, 2015 Arrighi Sensei was promoted to 5th Degree Black belt Kubotan Instructor by Kubota Soke.

In 1990, Arrighi Sensei was certified as a Kubotan instructor trained by Grand Master Kubota himself the inventor of the Kubotan. Arrighi Sensei has been associated with the International Karate Association since 1981 under Grand Master Kubota’s teaching. Arrighi Sensei has learned many of the “street” karate and self-defense techniques taught in Gosoku-Ryu system and has passed the techniques onto her students. She has studied and trained with Kubota Soke continuously since 1981, and in those years she has attempted to learn as much Gosoku-Ryu karate and self-defense as is possible. http://www.ikakarate.org/

Ms. Arrighi is the Deputy Chief of Campus Police at Mount Holyoke College and has trained in Karate-Do since 1972. She has taught Karate/self defense courses at the College through the Department of Physical Education since 1975 where she teaches 8 one credit RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Basic physical defense and Keychain Option classes. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/campuspolice/

In July 2000, Ms. Arrighi was elevated to a Staff Instructor for RAD Keychain self-defense program. Ms. Arrighi teaches Seito Shito-Ryu Karate and 8-1 credit RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Basic physical defense classes.

Ms. Barbara A Arrighi
Arrighi, Sensei with Mabuni Kenzo, Soke 1995

In 1994 Ms. Arrighi was awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award” and in 2005 the Instructor’s Voice Award (TIV) by RAD Systems, Inc. in appreciation for dedicated service and for being a regular contributor to the Organizational Newsletter. In 2007, Ms. Arrighi was again awarded the Instructor’s Voice Award”. http://www.rad-systems.com/index.html

Ms. Arrighi has been teaching (RAD) Basic Physical Defense since 1994. In addition, Ms. Arrighi teaches the Advanced RAD, RAD Kids, Keychain Defense, Weapon defense and RAD for Seniors. Certified in 2001, by the National Self defense Institue’s SAFE Instructor program she hopes to bring the self defense and safety awareness program to many women. As a Domestic Violence instructor for Massachusetts and RAD she teaches women about the cycle of violence and safety planning. http://www.radkids.org/

Ms. Arrighi is the Deputy Chief of Campus Police at Mount Holyoke College and has trained in Karate-Do since 1972. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and Holyoke Community College majoring in Police Administration and Criminal Justice and a graduate of the Massachusetts State Police Academy. She is certified Massachusetts Police Defensive Tactics Instructor, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence investigator. As a DT Instructor she has taught regularly at the regional police academy.

According to Arrighi Sensei, training in Shito-Ryu again was like coming home to an old friend. Arrighi Sensei and her students were very excited about having the opportunity to both train with and learn from Kenzo Mabuni Soke.

In 1996, Arrighi Sensei was invited to train at the Hombu Dojo in Osaka Japan. She along with five other Shihans trained with Kenzo Mabuni Soke at the Hombu Dojo in Japan for three weeks. Arrighi Sensei reported, “it was a trip of a life time.” To be in the place where so many karate masters trained, taught, and developed Shito-Ryu and other karate styles was an overwhelming experience. Arrighi Sensei said she felt emotionally overwhelmed most of the time and the opportunity to train at the Hombu Dojo was beyond her wildest imagination. Arrighi Sensei felt the spirit of the great masters in the Hombu dojo at all times. No matter how hard you trained, you could feel their spirits asking you to train even harder, which I did.

In addition, there are several assistant black belt instructors that assist Arrighi Sensei in teaching karate classes. All instructors are certified through both Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai and the International Karate Association. Each instructor has had many years of training and teaching experience.

Mr. David Wiley, Sensei 5th Degree Black belt has trained since 1972 along with Arrighi, Sensei. He is certified as a 5th degree black belt through both Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai and the International Karate Association.

Mr. Newton Bowdan, MD. 3rd Degree Black belt has trained with Arrighi, Sensei for many years.

Karate Styles

Bushido-Kai Karate Club is a member of Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai and Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai and affiliated with the International Karate Association. Students learn the traditional, kihon and katas of Seito Shito-Ryu. In learning Shito-Ryu Karate students will learn the ancient katas of Shito-Ryu and Bunkai and the “street” fighting and self-defense techniques that are applied to each kata.

Both styles are Japanese styles in teaching, tradition and philosophy. Under the direction of Tsukasa Mabuni, Soke (Shito-Ryu) and Kubota Takayuki, Soke (Gosoku-Ryu) Arrighi, Sensei has taken the best of both styles and used them as the frame work for her own teaching.

Arrighi, Sensei has enjoyed the teachings of both Headmasters and feels they are without exception two of the finest karate master teachers and people she has ever known. Bushido-Kai Karate is very lucky to be associated with these two great teachers.

Introducing the 3rd Soke:
Tsukasa Mabuni

My name is Tsukasa Mabuni. My grandfather is Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu. My father, Kenzo Mabuni, succeeded as the 2nd Soke of Shito-Ryu when my grandfather passed away in 1952.Continuing with Budo tradition, I have succeeded the role of 3rd Soke of Shito-Ryu, upon the recent passing of my father.The organization of Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai will continue on with the same objectives. I urge all Shito-Ryu Karate-ka worldwide to support the organization which my grandfather founded. The same organization which my father developed as an international entity teaching Seito, or authentic, Shito-Ryu. I met many of you at the 2005 Shito-Ryu International Championships in Osaka in July 2005. I look forward to meeting you all again, and meeting those I did not see this year, sometime soon in the future. TSUKASA MABUNI, Soke of Shito-Ryu

Seito Shito-Ryu Karate-Do

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our teacher and mentor, Mabuni Kenzo Soke, at 2:45pm 26 June 2005. Kenzo Mabuni (30 May 1927 – 26 June 2005) Soke of Shito-Ryu, President of Shito-Ryu Nippon Karate Do Kai & Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai

Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai

Shito-Ryu is headed by Mabuni Kenzo, Soke Shito-Ryu Nippon Karate Do Kai.Mabuni Soke is the son of originating Shito-Ryu Grand Master Kenwa Mabuni. Mabuni Kenzo, Soke teaches Seito Shito-Ryu “Pure” Shito-Ryu as originally taught by his father.

After Kenwa Mabuni’s death, his wife approached their third son, Kenzo, and asked that he take over the system. Kenzo had begun his karate training with his father at age 14, but as an adult had never considered taking on the grave responsibility of assuming his father’s position. Kenzo took two years to weigh the commitment before stepping for ward to become head of Seito Shito-Ryu. From that time he has dedicated his life to preserving the true lineage of his father’s karate. Now in his seventies, Kenzo Mabuni is considered one of the world’s foremost instructors of Shito-Ryu. He travels regularly throughout Asia, South America and the United States educating practitioners in the extensive body of information left by his father.

Since 1994, Mabuni Soke has visited and taught at Mount Holyoke College many times. In July 1996, Mount Holyoke College hosted the First Seito Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Championships. Seito Shito-Ryu karate practitioners from all over the world attended the tree day event at the College. From all reports the event was a great success and everyone had a wonderful time.

Below is the Go Do Shin, it is the “Spirit” and teaching philosophy of Seito Shito-Ryu Karate Do.

President and Head Master Mabuni Kenzo, Soke 10th Dan
Mabuni Kenzo Soke, Son of Founder and Grandmaster Mabuni Kenwa
Five Way Spirit or path of Shito-Ryu Karate Do

1. Always remember the spirit of first beginning (Will)

2. Always be courteous (Morality)

3. Always give your best effort (Growth)

4. Always follow your heart (Common sense)

5. Always maintain harmony (Peace)

Seito Shito-Ryu Karate History

Karate was forged by the Samurai (Bushi or Peichin) class of Okinawa as the means of both self-defense and law enforcement. Its development was substantially influenced by the Chinese boxing arts, especially those around Fukien, China. Much of modern day karate can be traced back through one of two renowned Okinawans, Itosu Yasutsune (1830-1915) or Higashionna Kanryo (1845-1915 or 1916 depending on source), who are widely recognized as the founders of the two main lines of Karate, Shuri-Te (Shorin Ryu) and Naha-Te (Shorei Ryu), respectively.

Shito-Ryu Karate is unique in that its lineage descends directly from both Itosu and Higashionna as its founder Mabuni Kenwa (1889-1952) was a direct student of both of these great masters. Mabuni Kenwa started his training at age 13 with Itosu where he quickly absorbed many of the Shuri-Te forms. According to Mabuni Kenzo, after only one and a half years of intense training, Itosu recommended that Mabuni seek out Higashionna. From that time, every day Mabuni would go to Itosu and train after school and then it was off to Higashionna for training until midnight. Mabuni was around 27 years of age when both Itosu and Higashionna died, both dying within one year of each other. According to John Sells in his book Unante, The Secrets of Karate, Mabuni was so saddened by Itosu’s death “that he built a small shrine in front of his teacher’s grave and stayed nearby for a full year.” After the death of his two primary teachers, Mabuni trained with a number of other martial artist including Arakaki and Gokenki and over time became one of the most respected martial artist of the time.

During the 1920’s, when Karate was gaining interest and support on mainland Japan, Mabuni ventured to Osaka, Japan at the request of the Japanese government. In 1927 he moved to Osaka, never to return to his homeland. There he established a small dojo and began teaching his unique art. As time proceeded, his students began to call his Karate Hanko Ryu or Half-Hard Style. In the early 1930’s, when pressed by the Japanese government to formalize a name for his Karate, Mabuni choose the name Shito-Ryu which has no literal meaning. Instead, Mabuni formed this name by taking the first characters (kanji) from the names of his two primary teachers, Itosu and Higashionna. When viewed in this context, the characters take on the “on-yomi” or Chinese rendering so that Ito-Higashi becomes Shi-toh. In this way, Mabuni chose the name of his style to honor and respect his great teachers.

Mabuni Kenwa taught many great practitioners who in turn taught other well known and respected modern practitioners, including Fumio Demura, Hayashi Teruo and Kuniba Shojyo, and the spread of Shito-Ryu Karate is now worldwide. However, Mabuni Kenwa only issued five Shihan Menjo in his life and died without naming an inheritor. When he died, Mabuni had two of three sons survive him, Kenei and Kenzo (no information on the third son.) Mabuni Kenei had long left the family and lived in Tokyo where, although he had no formal karate training with his father, had established the Shito Kai with Iwata Manzo (one of the five to receive a Shihan Menjo from Mabuni Kenwa.) Mabuni Kenzo had begun his karate training with his father at the age of 14 and continued diligently until his father’s death in 1952. After his father’s death, it was his mother that came to Mabuni Kenzo and requested that he take over the style. Mabuni Kenzo could not decide at that time and went into seclusion for two years to contemplate this great responsibility. Of course as we all know, he decided to accept this responsibility and is the inheritor of his father’s lineage.

From that time, Mabuni Kenzo dedicated his life to preserving the true lineage of his father’s karate. He was not concerned politics or image and remained unknown to the outside world while his older brother and others were spreading their influence in the name of Shito-Ryu Karate. In 1993, upon the request of his good friend Ozawa, Mabuni Kenzo traveled to Las Vegas and and exposed the world to Seito (pure) Shito-Ryu, the true karate of his father, Mabuni Kenwa. In April of 1994, Mabuni Kenzo conducted seminars in Albany, New York and Phoenix, Arizona. Subsequent to these seminars, Mabuni Kenzo established the Shito-Ryu Karate Do Kai of America comprised of dojos that had requested of him consideration as his direct students and received formal acceptance by his senior instructors, the Nippon Karate Do Kai Shihan Kai.

Pechin Sakugawa (1733-1815) Shuri-Te
Ankoh Itosu (1830-1915) Shuri To-De
Kanryo Higashionna (1853-1915) Naha-te
Traditional picture Shito-Ryu Karate Do Founder and Grandmaster Mabuni Kenwa (1889-1952)
Mabuni Kenwa utilizing protective gear
Mabuni Kenwa, Sensei right with Konishi Sensei
Shito-Ryu Katas
 Itosu Ke Higashionna Ke Mabuni Ke
 Pinan Shodan Sanchin Shinsei
 Pinan Nidan Tensho Kenshu
 Pinan Sandan Seienchin Kensho
 Pinan Yondan Saiha Juroku
 Pinan Godan Nipaipo Chintei
 Jitte Sochin Happo Sho
 Jiin Shisochin Aoyagi
 Jion Seipai Myojo
 Matsukaze Seisan Shinpa
 Wanshu Kururunha Shiho Kosokun
 Chinto Unshu Kenpaku
 Bassai Sho & Dai Niseishi 
 Kosokun Sho & Dai Sanseiru 
 Rohai Suparinpai 

12 Shito-Ryu Dosa Kata

Heiko dachi Dai Ichi, Dai Ni, Dai, Dai San, Dia Yon

Nekoashi dachi Dai Ichi, Dai Ni, Dai San, Dai Yon

Zenkutsu dachi Dai Ichi, Dai Ni, Dai San, Dai Yon

About Kata

You may be asking yourself, what is kata? Kata has been described as simulated fighting, as one locked into mortal combat with a dangerous enemy, and one seeking perfection in their karate techniques. Kata is all of this and more. Kata is the heart and soul of Karate-Do. Without kata we are no better than street fighters with no history, lineage, or art to pass on to the next generation. Karate is alive and well today because of kata and the dedication of those that passed it along to their students. Kata was handed down from one generation of karateka to the next. In its history, karate training was forbidden by law and it was an executable offense if one was caught training in karate. Many karate masters risked their very lives as they trained in darkness and in secret so that Karate could continue.

Kata is the most difficult part of karate training. It requires a student to work on perfecting technique, power, kime, zanshin, kiai, embusen, breathing, and much more. In addition, each kata has bunkai which is the actual application of the kata fighting techniques. Many hours can be spent on learning the kata, bunkai and its defense and counter attack techniques. A kata that is well performed is a work of art and the student that understands and performs the bunkai well, understands the battle within the battle. For kata is not just a series of moves linked together, it is a series of battles one or lost by the karatekas understanding of the kata.

As was mention in the Style section, Bushido Kai Karate is associated with two styles of Karate. Both Shito-Ryu and Gosoku-Ryu have a number of katas within the curriculum. Shito-Ryu has the most kata of any karate style numbering over 60. This is because Shito-Ryu katas derive from two great masters Itosu Yasutsune and Higashionna Kanryo both teachers of Grand Master Mabuni Kenwa. In addition, Mabuni Kenwa developed a number of his own katas. Both Shito-Ryu and Gosoku-Ryu are Japanese styles therefore the katas have similar roots.

Karate Techniques

Uke Waza
Blocking Techniques
Age Uke – Upper blockKosa Uke – Cross arm block 
Yoko Uchi – Forearm inward blockKote Uke – Back of the hand block 
Yoko Uke – Forarm outward side block Kakiwake – Wedged block
Yoko Barai – Forearm outward side parry Gedan Barai / Harai Uke – Downward parry block
Wa Uke – Two arm circle block Ko Uke – Wrist block
Tsuki Uke – Thrust blockSashite – Inward sweeping palm block 
Ninoude – Back of forarm inward block Kensasae Uke – Two hand outward block (open hand at fist) 
Hijisasae Uke – Two hand outward block (closed fist at elbow)Tsukidome – Withdrawing forearm block 
Kakete Uke – Hooking hand block Sukui Uke – Scooping block 
Ura Uke – Inverted block (small circle with wristUkenagashi – Inward palm sweeping block 
Shotei – Palm heel block Shuto Uke – Knife hand block 
Gassho Uke – Praying hands block Hariyuki – Two knife hand pushing block  
Kara Uke – Empty or void blockOura Uke – large circle inverted forearm block 
Tsuki Waza
Thrusting Techniques
Seiken chudan tuski – center thrust  Age tsuki – Rising thrust 
Seiken Jodan tsuki – upper thrst Furi tsuki – round house thrust 
Uraken uchi – back fist strike Ipponken – one knuckle thrust 
Hariken tsuki – four knuckle thrust Nukite – spear hand 
Tateken tsuki – verticle forefist thrust Morote tsuki – Two arm, two level thrust  
Shuto uchi – knife hand strike Urashuto – Ridge hand  
Kentsui uchi – hammer fist Shuho – back knuckles peaked hand 
Hiji Waza
Elbow techniques
Hiji chudan ate – center elbow strike Hiji otoshi ate – downward elbow strike
Hiji age ate – rising elbow strike Hiji jodan ate – upper elbow strike 
Hiji yoko ate – side elbow strike  Hiji ushiro ate – rear elbow strike 
Geri Waza
Kicking Techniques
Hiza Geri – Knee kick Yoko Geri – side kick 
Chudan Geri – center kick Koshu Geri – Back heel kick 
Jodan Geri – upper level kick Kakato Geri – Heel stomp 
Sokko Geri – Groin kick Ushiro Geri – Back kick 
Sokuto Geri – knee joint kick Hizagaeshi – knee sweeping kick 
Mawashi Geri – round house kick Fumioroshi – Toe stomping kick
Dachi Kata
Heisoku dachi – feet together Heiko dachi – Forward parallel  
Musubi dachi – Open toed stance Zenkutsu dachi – forward stance 
Namiheiko dachi – Parallel stance Kokutsu dachi – Back stance 
Uchihachiji dachi – Toes inward Nekoashi dachi – Cat stance 
Sotohachiji dachi – Toes outwardSanchin dachi – 3 Point stance 
Shiko dachi – Sumo stance Kosa dachi – Cross leg stance
Seito Shito-Ryu Karate Titles
HANSHI (Leader, 8th Dan)
KYOSHI (Full Teacher, 7th Dan)
TATSUSHI (Expert Teacher, 6th Dan)
RENSHI (High Example, 5th Dan)
SHIHAN (License to Teach, 5th Dan)

Japanese Classical Martial Arts

Yokogawa Kakuhan a warrior-monk of Yoshino (armed with a nagamaki) in combat with Sato Tadanobu, a loyal retainer of Minamoto Yoshitsume. While fleeing from the persecution of his half-brother, Yoritomo, the latter was attacked by allies of Yoritomo at Yoshino. To allow Yoshitsune time to escape, Tadanobu donned the armor of his leader and single handedly fought a larger force led by Yokogawa Kakuhan.

Bushido-Kai Karate dojo is committed to teaching karate, self-defense and Japanese Classical Martial Arts (koryu bujutsu). In the summer of 2004 the karate club hosted a regional training in Jodo, Masaki Ryu Bujutsu Kenkyukai (MBK) taught by Sensei John F. Quinn of Virginia. The seminar included basic techniques (kihon) and prearranged forms (seiteigata) of Jodo. While living in Japan for over 20 years Quinn Sensei trained in both modern Karate and Japanese Classical Martial Arts. Quinn Sensei is a highly skilled instructor and founder of the MasakiRyu Bujutsu Kenkyukai (MBK) a group dedicated to teaching and preserving the arts taught by Nawa Yumio Sensei – 10 generation headmaster of Masaki Ryu.

In December 2014, Arrighi Sensei was promoted to Shodan in the art of Jodo by Sensei John Quinn. This was a very great honor for me and I am dedicated to my continued training with Sensei.

Kagami Biraki 2006 – an annual event sponsored by the Hobykan (MD) directed by Dr. David A. Hall (seated front left) yagyu Shinkage Ryu (kenjutsu) Jikishinkage Ryu (kenjutsu), Shindo Muso Ryu (jojutsu) and Masaki Ryu (manriki and kusarigama-jutsu) Sensei John F. Quinn (seated front right)

Shito-Ryu Times

The Shito-Ryu Times, is the official organizational newsletter of Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai and is intended to enhance, encourage and continue the development and growth of Shito-Ryu Karate Do through the exchange of information, ideas, training methods, and technique. Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai Shihan Kai extends and welcomes articles to this newsletter by any member of Shito-Ryu USA Karate-do Kai and its affiliate members. See Shito-Ryu Times, Editor Fax # and email at the end of this Home page. The Editor and/or Shihan Kai reserves the right to refuse any article found to be inappropriate in their opinion for this newsletter.

Shito-Ryu Times

June 27, 2007

The 6th Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Championships, Taikai 2007, will be held in Lake Pacid, New York on 27-30 July 2007. The Taikai is the most important event in our organization and I urge all members to support it. The Lake Placid Taikai Organizing Committee have developed a website with all of the information there for download. The site is http://www.seitoshitoryukarate.org

I met many of you at the 2005 Shito-Ryu International Championships in Osaka in July 2005. I look forward to meeting you all again, and meeting those I did not see, at this upcoming Taikai. For any questions or queries regarding Taikai 2007, please contact the organizers directly.

See you in Lake Placid.

TSUKASA MABUNI, Soke of Shito-Ryu

Shito-Ryu Times

June 8, 2005

While in Osaka Japan for the 5th International Seito Shito-Ryu Taikai it is was announced by the Shito-Ryu Nippon Karate-Do Supreme Council that the new Soke would be Mabuni Kenzo’s eldes daughter Miwako. She will be known as Mabuni Tsukasa, Soke and be the third Soke of Seito Shito Ryu Karate-Do. We would like to congratulate Mabuni Tsukasa, Soke and know that she will bring great strength and wisdom during this transitional period.

The Shito-Ryu Times, is the official organizational newsletter of Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai and is intended to enhance, encourage and continue the development and growth of Shito-Ryu Karate Do through the exchange of information, ideas, training methods, and technique. Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai Shihan Kai extends and welcomes articles to this newsletter by any member of Shito-Ryu USA Karate-do Kai and its affiliate members. See Shito-Ryu Times, Editor Fax # and email at the end of this Home page. The Editor and/or Shihan Kai reserves the right to refuse any article found to be inappropriate in their opinion for this newsletter.


Volume 6 Issue 1 July-October 2001
Barbara A. Arrighi, Editor

Inside This Issue:



There are no words to express our deep gratitude to Mabuni Soke and the Japanese Shihan Kai for all of their hospitality while we were in Japan.

Taikai 2001 held in Sakai City Japan Sunday May 20th the Taikai was a resounding successful, fun, and educational. On Saturday May 19th during the seminar session we reviewed Unshu kata taught by Masui and Tsukide Senseis and the bunkai applications. It was wonderful training again with so many Seito Shito-Ryu karateka from all over the world and we appreciate all the efforts by the Japanese Shihan Kai to make our stay comfortable and exciting.

At the Taikai 2001 there were excellent kata and kumite competition, master demonstrations, and heartfelt camaraderie.

On Monday after the Taikai, many of us took tours of Nara and other historic sites. During the next week, some of us toured and visited with friends around Japan, while others stayed behind to train and visit with members of the Japanese Shihan Kai.

Meetings were held to discuss where the next Taikai would be held. We are happy to announce that Taikai 2003 will be held in Eugene, Oregon and will be hosted by Del Saito, Sensei.

Japan May 2001
(L to R back row) McGuinner Sensei (MA), Carol McGuinness, Arrighi Sensei (MA), and Yoshida Sensei (Japan)
(L to R front row) Annie Arrighi-Allisan and Marla Allisan

Congratulations to the Oregon Dojo.
Home of Taikai 2003

Details to follow over the next months. Remember to keep on practicing; Taikai 2003 is just around the corner!


Congratulations to Mr. John Sells who was named Hanshi by Mabuni Soke and the Japanese Shihan Kai while we were in Japan. It was great news for the American Shihan Kai that Sells Sensei was given the well-deserved title of Hanshi. The American and Japanese Shihan Kai celebrated his elevation by sharing dinner and drinks at a local restaurant in Sakai City Japan the site of Taikai 2001.

For those who are unfamiliar with what the title Hanshi means, it means Teacher of Shihans. He will be understood he will teach members of the Shihan Kai, who will, in turn teach their students.

Organizational Titles:

1. Soke – Grandmaster (Head of house/style)
2. Hanshi – Teacher of Shihans
3. Shihan – Teacher of Teachers
4. Sensei – Teacher


Gasshuku 2001 was held at the Albany College of Pharmacy Dojo of Moon Shihan. We would like to extend our gratitude to Moon Shihan and his students for making the Gasshuku such a success and for making everyone feel very welcomed.

As in past years, the training was excellent. Sells Sensei, the guest instructor, really helped us to stretch our abilities. He taught very advanced kobudo katas and we greatly enjoyed learning these katas.

The sessions began at 9:30 am on Saturday Oct. 6 with basic techniques. We then moved to a Bo kata named, “Matsumura no Kon” which by all accounts was a very difficult and advanced Bo kata. He then taught Sai kata.

After lunch some worked on the Bo kata while others did Sai and Tonfa Katas.

This was all followed by rank testing before Sells, Moon, McGuinness, Dean, Bartholomay, Fracchia, and Arrighi Senseis.

On Sunday October 7th, Sells Sensei taught Kata principals. Sells Sensei emphasized the importance of proper zanshin and taught how to apply kata attitude, kime, zanshin, breathing and the inner soul of kata performance. He reminded us that ultimately all kata is meant for street self-defense. We must do kata as if our very lives depended on it because that was the why it was developed to begin with.

We then reviewed Matsumura no Kon Bo kata. To give you an idea of just how difficult this kata was by the end of the final session only two out of the entire group had the kata down from memory. Congratulations to both!

To all of our delight, Sells Sensei then taught an empty hand Kata named Hakutsuru. Hakutsuru is a White Crane kata taught by Go Kenki, a Chinese attaché. It was a very challenging and advanced kata and very different from Seito Shito-Ryu katas. It was an exciting and delightful kata to learn. This White Crane kata utilized both Crane stance and many open hand techniques. After several hours, there were a few of us that were able to do the kata from memory.

Thank you Sells Sensei for the gift of Hakutsuru kata. Now comes the hard part; really learning the kata and its bunkai. For those who are interested in purchasing a copy of the White Crane katas including Hakutsuru kata performed by Sells Sensei and the bunkai, go to:

Kata Corner

Seito Shito Ryu Videos

If you have not purchased your copy of the Seito Shito-Ryu Kata videos performed by McGuinness Sensei and produced by the Martial Source you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn the Seito Katas as they were meant to be performed. McGuinness Sensei performs the katas half speed facing the camera and then you are given a side view of the same kata as he both performs and narrates each kata move.

Tape #1 Katas by Itosu
Tape #2 Katas by Hogoshionna
Tape #3 Katas by Mabuni Kenwa.

For details, please contact Bartholomay Sensei through the http://www.martialsource.com

Taikai 2001 Video

by Barbara A. Arrighi

While at the Gasshuku we had the opportunity to view the Taikai 2001 video produced by the Japanese Shihan Kai. IT IS FANTASTIC!!!!

I highly recommend that you order a copy for your collection. It captures the Taikai competition, Mabuni Kenwa Ryuso Sai celebration (memorial service) and the Shihan demonstrations. If you are interested in getting a copy of this tape contact your Sensei who will order it from Japan.

Cost for Taikai 2001 tape:
$30.00 plus $15.00 S&H = $45.00. Payment:
INTERNATIONAL USA Post Service money order or cashiers check.

Taikai 2001 Osaka, Japan

This is a wonderful and exciting time for Seito Shito-Ryu and a great opportunity to train and visit Japan. 3rd International Seito Shito-Ryu Taikai 2001 May 18-21.

Seito-Shito-Ryu Karate Do

5th International Tai Kai, Osaka Japan:

July 8, 2005 in Osaka Japan Shito-Ryu Nippon Karate Do Kai will host the 5th Seito Shito-Ryu International Taikai. The tentative Taikai weekend schedule is below:

1. July 8, 2005 Hotel Checkin 13:00-2130 hours.

. July 9, 2005 5th International Seito Shito-Ryu Karate Do Taikai

(Competition will begin) Individual and team kata and kumite competition Ohama-Gym 9:00-17:00 hours

3. July 10, 2005 Seminar, Promotional tests, Demonstartions and Final compitition

9:00-1645 hours Ohama Gym, Sakai City

4. July 11, 2005 Bus trip to Kyoto and evening farewell party Righa Royal Hotel

6th International Tai Kai, Lake Placid New York:

Taikai 2007
Lake Placid, New York
27-30 July 2007

The 6th Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Championships, Taikai 2007, will be held in Lake Pacid, New York on 27-30 July 2007.

The Taikai is the most important event in our organization and I urge all members to support it.

The Lake Placid Taikai Organizing Committee have developed a website with all of the information there for download. The site is http://www.seitoshitoryukarate.org

I met many of you at the 2005 Shito-Ryu International Championships in Osaka in July 2005. I look forward to meeting you all again, and meeting those I did not see, at this upcoming Taikai.

For any questions or queries regarding Taikai 2007, please contact the organizers directly.

See you in Lake Placid.

TSUKASA MABUNI, Soke of Shito-Ryu

7th International Tai Kai, Osaka Japan:

Coming July 2009

The Music Lesson

By Barbara Arrighi

As I have trained all these many years, I have learned lots of valuable lessons. However none so valuable as the music lesson I took in 1991. In 1991 after not competing in a long time I decided to jump into the local regional tournament for the fun of it. Not that it is ever really fun but I felt the need to try out a Gosoku-Ryu kata I had been practicing for some time. I felt this kata was strong and could possibly be successful in the women’s black belt kata division at a regional tournament. I practiced the kata, I polished the kata and then I practiced it some more. On the day of the tournament, at the last minute, I decided I would also enter musical kata, weapons kata, and kumite divisions. Musical kata was popular at the time and I thought (wrongly of course as it would turn out later) that I could enter with a traditional kata (Seienchin) and use Kubota Soke’s Kubokido meditation tape in the back ground as I performed the kata. I did not have any illusions that I might win, but I didn’t expect what was about to happen.

The musical kata division was not very large so I thought; perhaps I might at least place in the division. The good news is, I placed third out of three competitors. The bad news is placing third out of three tells you that maybe if there were four I would have placed fourth and so on.

The musical kata division was called, I was up first that was OK because then I could get it over quicker, I had three other divisions to worry about women’s black belt kata, women’s black belt kumite and weapons kata. I had already made arrangements with one of my fellow karateka to put the tape in and start it for me when I was to begin my kata. I had selected Seienchin kata because it had to be performed slowly, deliberately, and with kime. I felt the tape and the kata matched very well together. And, I still believe they did go well together. But that wasn’t really the problem I was about to confront.

Actually, I performed the kata about as well as I ever did and I was happy about that. However, my competition was more than I had expected. My competition consisted of two African American boys, age 12-14 years. They performed kata never before seen in any traditional karate tournament. I suspect the kata they performed that day will never be seen again anywhere. Their background music, in contrast to my ominous bell intonations and meditative chanting, consisted of rap music played so loudly that the floor rocked with the beat. They performed flips, rolls, splits, and flying kicks. They swiveled on the floor on their backs and did everything but spin into a blur. I can’t even begin to tell you what kind of a kata they performed. It was impressive and energetic. The crowd roared with enthusiasm. It was like no other kata I had ever seen before or since. They were young, athletic, and out of sight. We were definitely not on the same planet. For that matter, we weren’t even in the same universe. To this day among my karate peers (many of whom were present for the fiasco) I have never lived it down. I must add here, I ended my musical kata competition career that day!

On a happier note, I did compete in the other three divisions. Happily, I can report that I won first place women’s black belt kata performing kata Gosoku (one of Kubota, Soke’s Gosoku-Ryu katas), and second place women’s black belt kumite. However, it gets even better: I won “Tournament Grand Champion Kata” performing Gosoku kata. I may have miscalculated my competition in musical kata but in traditional kata I was right on!

Oh and by the way, my advice is never to enter a competition without knowing:

1. What kind of compitition you are getting into.

2. Who your competition is and what are their abilities.

In this case, a failed to realize both and learned a hard and embarrassing lesson. All in all though, they were really good competitors and they deserved to win!

Kata Corner

Sochin Kata

By Barbara Arrighi

Sochin Kata, means Men or (Monks) of Peace. Sochin Kata was first introduced in Naha, Okinawa by Arakaki Seisho. Mabuni Kenwa learned Sochin kata directly from Arikaki Sensei. Mabuni Kenwa was responsible for bringing Sochin kata to Japan from Okinawa. The kata utilizes Nekoashi dachi, Shiko dachi, Zenkutsu dachi and Heiko dachi. According to Sells Sensei, in his book “Unante” “Sochin is considered an advanced form though not particularly complex and was one of Mabuni Kenwa’s two favorite forms.” The kata is performed in the beginning slowly and with tension and then changes to explosive techniques with snap and speed. To properly perform this kata seek out a member of the Seito Shito-Ryu Shihan Kai for the correct embusen, zanchin, kimae, and breathing.

Sochin Kata

0 Musubidachi both fist in front Kamaete.

1 Step forward R Nekoashidachi double yoko uke, slowly chamber L fist then perform L chudan tsukidome.

2 Step forward L Nekoashidachi double yoko uke, slowly chamber R fist then perform R chudan tsukidome.

3 Step forward R nekoashidachi double yoko uke, slowly chamber L fist then perform L Chudan tsukidome.

4 R foot steps across in front as you turn 180 deg. into L Nekoashidachi L Yoko Uke, right fist chambered then perform R chudan tsukidome.

5 Step forward R Nekoashidachi Slowly chamber L fist then perform L Chudan tsukidome.

6 Step L Nekoashidachi slowly chamber R fist then perform R Chudan tsukidome.

7 Step forward L Shikodachi facing 90 deg. to the right simultaneously performing double chudan yoko barai.

8 Pivot 45 deg. to the right into R Zenkutsu dachi simultaneously performing double gedan barai.

9 Pivot left 90 deg. into L Nekoashidachi simultaneously performing R. age uke and L yoko uke, then R Gedan Kensui.

10 Pivot to the right 180 deg. into R..Nekoashidachi simultaneously performing R kakete uke, L fist chambered at side.

11 Step forward L Nekoashidachi L kakete uke, R fist open at chest facing down (Itosu style kakete uke).

12 Step forward R Nekoashidachi R kakete uke (Itosu style).

13 Pivot to the left 135 deg. into L Heiko dachi simultaneously both fist chamber to the side.

14 Step forward L Zenkutsu dachi with thrusting R. Jodan and L Chudan tsuki.

15 Step up in Namiheiko dachi simultaneously perform L Uchiotoshi, as R fist is head high palm facing the ear, slide forward still in Namiheiko dachi with L Yoko Uke, followed by R Gedan Kensui.

16 Pivot to the right 45 deg. into R Heiko dachi R kakete uke L fist chambered, then followed by L chudan tsuki.

17 Pivot to the left 90 deg. into L Heiko dachi L kakete uke with R fist chambered, followed by R chudan tsuki.

18 Step back 45 deg. to the right with the right leg into L Heiko dachi simultaneously performing L Ukenagashi.

19 Step back left leg into R Heiko dachi simultaneously performing R Ukenagashi.

20 Step back right leg into L Heiko dachi simultaneously performing L Ukenagashi.

21 While in L Heiko dachi both hands cross in front open hands palms facing the floor double gedan barai.

22 Still maintaining Heiko dachi simultaneously both hands in Shuto slowly rise to each side of the head palms facing forward and the right knee at the same time rises slowly to chudan level.

23 Simultaneously perform R Sokko geri and Shuto Chudan Kosa Uke with Kiai!

24 Step back into L Zenkutsu dachi, L Chudan Yoko Barai to the front, R Chudan tsuki.

25 Step back Musubi dachi, both hands palm to palm chamber to the left side, right hand comes across ura uke to the right side to chamber and both hands push out in front left chudan, right gedan shotei oishi. Naotte.

Kururunha Kata

By Barbara Arrighi

The Kata below (Kururunha) is a Higashionna Ke Kata and was taught at Taikai 1999 in Lynnwood, WA. on July 23 and 25, 1999 by Mabuni Soke during his two seminars.

While many of the Shihans in attendance were familiar with the kata, (having learned it during his prior trips to the USA,) it was still a great opportunity to examine the kata in detail. This was an opportunity to perfect the stances, blocks, strikes, zanchin, kimae, embusen and breathing in addition to reviewing the bunkai. Remember when performing Higashionna Ke Kata the front foot should be turned in when in Heiko dachi. To properly perform this kata seek out a member of the Seito Shito-Ryu Shihan Kai for the correct embusen, zanchin, kimae, and breathing.) I want to take this opportunity to thank Mabuni Soke for sharing his knowledge with us and for giving us Seito Shito-Ryu Kururunha kata.


0. Musubi dachi kumaete.

1. Step 90 deg. Left into nekoashi dachi, left chudan shuto uke, left sokuto geri.

2. Drop left foot down facing 90 deg. into right nekoashi dachi, right shuto chudan uke, right sokuto geri.

3. Step forward 90 deg. into right heiko dachi, block with right ura uke and left shuto gedan uke.

4. Pivot on the balls of your feet (josokute) to the left, simultaneously right shuto gedan barai and left hand shuto at chest palm facing up, immediately return back into right ura uke, and left shuto gedan barai.

5. Step forward into left heiko dachi, left ura uke, right shuto gedan barai.

6. Pivot on the balls of your feet (josokute) to the right, simultaneously left shuto gedan barai, and right shuto at chest palm facing up, immediately return back into left ura uke, right shuto gedan barai.

7. Step forward into right heiko dachi, right ura uke, left shuto gedan barai.

8. Pivot on the balls of your feet (josokute) to the left, simultaneously right shuto gedan barai and left hand shuto at chest palm facing up, immediately return back into right ura uke and left shuto gedan barai.

9. Step back and away to the right 45 deg. into left nekoashi dachi, left ura uke, right hand at chest palm facing forward.

10. Skip forward with left uraken tsuki, immediately followed by right chudan geri, right shuto hiji jodan ate right shiko dachi Kiai!

11. Step back and away facing shomen, left nekoashi dachi, left and right hands in front at chest palm to palm left hand on top elbows facing out.

12. Step back and away to the left 45 deg. into right nekoashi dachi, right ura uke, left palm at chest facing forward.

13. Skip forward with right uraken tsuki, immediately followed by left chudan geri, left shuto hiji jodan ate in left shiko dachi Kiai!

14. Step back and away into right nekoashi dachi facing shomen both hands in front at chest palm to palm right hand on top elbows facing out.

15. While still in right nekoashi dachi, perform ura uke shotei Oshii (mawashi uke), pushing out with both hands left hand chudan level, right hand gedan and breath out.

16. Pivot to the left 90 deg. into left heiko dachi, left ura uke, right hand palm facing up on top of left elbow, immediately kakete uke left hand.

17. Step right foot across in front, pivot on the balls of the feet (josokute) turn 180 deg. into left heiko dachi, simultaneously performing left hiji chudan ate and right hiji ushiro ate.

18. Step forward right leg, right heiko dachi, right ura uke, left hand facing up on top of right elbow, immediately kakete uke right hand.

19. Step across left foot in front, pivot on the balls of the feet (josokute) turn 180 deg. into right heiko dachi simultaneously performing right hiji chudan ate and left hiji ushiro ate.

20. Step forward left leg 90 deg. facing to the right into namiheiko dachi, both arms straight out to the sides in shuto palms to the floor, immediately both palms are pulled inward to the shoulders fingers pointing to the ceiling, them immediately drive both hands back to back in shuto above the head, drop down into shiko dachi driving both closed fists into your chest, immediately and simultaneously strike both open hands behind you striking groin and drive your head back into a head butt, chin to the sky.

21. Step forward right Zenkutsu dachi, Shuto jodan kosa uke.

22. Step up with the left leg and turn 180 deg. standing straight up into heisoku dachi, both hands still over head in a closed fists.

23. Bend over with both closed fists to the floor, step 45 deg. right leg into right Zenkutsu dachi, simultaneously performing left gedan sukuia uke, then right gedan sukui uke, both hands chamber to the left and then perform palm to palm morote gedan tsuki.

24. Step 90 deg. to the left with left leg into left Zenkutsu dachi, simultaneously performing right gedan sukui uke, then left gedan sukui uke, both hands chamber to the right side palm to palm morote gedan tsuki.

25. Step up 45 deg. and turn 180 deg. facing shomen into left nekoashi dachi, both hands chamber palm to palm to the right side, left hand ura uke to waist and right hand to shoulder, push out open hands right chudan, left gedan breathing.

26. Step back left leg Musubi dachi both hands flat in front, then drop down in front. Naotte

Kensho Kata

By Barbara Arrighi

(The kata below was taught by Mabuni Kenzo during his October 1998 visit to the USA. Developed by his father Mabuni Kenwa in 1947 this was the first time it had been taught in the USA. It is considered a Higashionna Ke kata, and therefore, when utilizing Heikodachi the front foot is turned in slightly. The kata is performed in the beginning slowly and with tension and then changes to techniques with snap and speed. To properly perform this kata seek out a member of the Seito Shito-Ryu Shihan Kai for the correct embusen, zanchin, kimae, and breathing.)


0. Musubidachi Kamaete.

1. Pivot on balls of feet to Sotohachiji dachi drawing both hands to sides in Shuto.

2. Step forward (Higashionna Ke) R Heiko dachi, double Shuto Yoko Uke, L Chudan Nukite Tsuki, step forward L Heiko dachi, R Chudan Nukite Tsuki, step forward R Heiko dachi, L Nukite Tsuki.

3. Pivot L 45 deg Heiko dachi L Kakete Uke, R and L Chudan Tuski, step forward R Shiko dachi R Hiji Chudan Ate, pivot on ball of feet into R Zenkutsu dachi R Gedan Barai, L Chudan Tsuki.

4. Step back R foot pivot 45 deg R Heiko dachi, R Kakete Uke, L and R Chudan Tsuki, step forward L Shiko dachi L Hiji Chudan Ate, pivot on ball of feet L Zenkutsu dachi L Gedan Barai, R Chudan Tsuki.

5. Step back and down the middle L Zenkutsu dachi, L Gedan Barai, R Chudan Tsuki, KIAI.

6. Pivot and turn 180 deg R Zenkutsu dachi R Gedan barai, L Chudan tsuki.

7. Step forward L Zenkutsu dachi L Gedan Barai, R. Chudan Tsuki.

8. Step forward R Nekoashi dachi R Hiji Sasae Uke, R Age Uke, R Chudan Geri, L Chudan Tsuki.

9. Pivot and turn 180 deg L Nekoashi dachi, L Yoko Uke, R and L Chudan Tsuki.

10. Double shuto Gedan Barai to both sides.

11. L foot steps back Musubi dachi, both hands flat in front, then down in front.

12. Musubi Dachi Kamaete

A Shodan Test

In Traditional Karate, a student that trains diligently will progress through the various levels of proficiency (Kyu ranks) as he or she approaches the all important Shodan Test. A motivated student will typically train rigorously for approximately five years before being adequately prepared to take the Shodan Test. Not many will make it. On average only one in every one hundred students that pass through the dojo doors ever makes it far enough to take the Shodan Test. When a student does make it, there is cause for great celebration as the legacy of Karate has
yet another chance of survival into the next generation. The Shodan Test is a comprehensive examination of a student’s basic knowledge of Traditional Karate. This examination should include both a written and practical test to determine both the adequacy of the student’s
self-defense capability as well as the development of the correct Karate Mindset. At my dojo in Massachusetts, the candidate for Shodan is required to complete and pass a comprehensive written examination prior to taking the practical exam. This written test includes the preparation of a minimum of two essays on various topics involving the deeper meaning of a student’s
training and development.

A recent Shodan Test was held for Meredith Yauckoes at my dojo in Billerica. Prior to her practical exam, Meredith completed the written examination. Her response on the written examination was exemplary. In particular, I would like to share with you her response to the question: What is the purpose of Traditional Karate?

I am proud to say that Meredith passed her practical exam as well and was promoted to Shodan on June 15, 2000. Congratulations Meredith!


To Master The Self

by Meredith Yauchoes

What is the purpose of Traditional Karate? The purpose remains tied to the historical, anthropological, and philosophical framework of Okinawan society, but has universal meaning which transcends time and nation. Karate combines methods of defense with moral obligation. Most importantly, it aims to provide its practitioners with the tools for understanding the self and negotiating any situation.
The roots of traditional Karate developed in Okinawa during the sixteenth century during a time when a new centralized government, in an attempt to end civil war, prohibited the use of weapons. Patrick McCarthy’s historical work Koryu Uchinadi: Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts explains that Okinawan aristocrats devised their own eclectic fighting methods influenced largely by Chinese gongfu in order to defend themselves during this time of uncertainty (McCarthy, 93). Over time, law enforcement officials systematized and codified these self-defense methods, and passed along this knowledge from father to son or to only a select few students. Karate, a system of “empty hand” defense, grew out of political and social need and was perpetuated through family and clan connections.
Traditional Karate requires the practice of formal kata and today is passed from Sensei to student through kata. As described by Miyamoto Musashi in his Book of Five Rings, the teacher is the needle and the disciple is the thread. One must practice ceaselessly (Musashi, 14). Although Musashi was a member of Japan’s samurai class, his philosophy mirrors the student/ teacher connection necessitated in Okinawan Karate. Kata have been patterned after real life battles in which blood was shed and lives were lost. In Traditional Karate, purpose lies in delving into these kata, learning their stances, techniques, and complex meanings, and keeping them alive from generation to generation. Dave Lowry translates the pictograph of “Kata” to mean “the architecture of meaning” in his book Sword and Brush, the Spirit of the Martial Arts (Lowry, 27). Lowry compares the practice and study of kata to the illumination of the recesses of a room – study reveals the textures and subtleties of Karate, and of the inner self. Traditional Okinawan Karate practitioners, as with the best Chinese and Japanese military strategists and martial artists, were, and are, bound by moral obligations. The purpose of Karate lies in defense. Bubishi, detailing Monk Fist and White Crane gongfu, is touted as a “manual of military prevention” in Patrick McCarthy’s translation. Karate giants Funakoshi Gichin, Higashionna Kanryo, Miyagi Chojun, and Mabuni Kenwa were all influenced by this anonymous Chinese work (McCarthy, 23). Likewise, the ultimate victory, according to the Chinese classic Art of War, is one in which no force is used (Kaufman, 27). The most valued traits of the samurai warrior included not just veracity, courage, and loyalty, but also sincerity of heart, and benevolence of soul. The first principle listed in Musashi’s epilogue to The Book of Water states: Do not harbor sinister designs (Musashi, 16). Likewise, Funakoshi’s Karate-Do, My Way of Life admonishes us to be mindful of courtesy, etiquette, and to avoid fighting if at all possible (Funakoshi, 112). karate teaches how to maim or kill. Yet, the empty hand of Karate must never cause harm.
The ultimate goal of the Traditional Karate practitioner is to take the self-reliance, discipline, and moral responsibility fostered by training, and apply this to everything that we do. The ‘way’ of Karate-Do is open to anyone willing to do so. Funakoshi’s writing reminds us that the challenge is to: “remain not master over others, but over ourselves” (Funakoshi, 115). True power comes not from domination, but from self-knowledge.
‘Empty hands’ should nurture within us clear minds, strong wills, and hearts empty of the need to injure or destroy. thus, kata should not only illuminate techniques and foster spontaneous responses, but should also encourage inner reflection. We should not only be prepared to bow to karate teachers and classmates, but also to everyone that crosses our paths – everyone has something to teach us. We fight with ferocity in the dojo but take care not to injure our competitors. We must defend ourselves when threatened but no more than we must in order to escape safely. Traditional Karate’s purpose brings us to a deeper understanding of self, and teaches us to respond with spontaneity and responsibility to any and every situation.
Certainly, Karate teaches self-defense and self-reliance and is perpetuated through the transmission of technique and form from Sensei to student. Likewise, Traditional Karate serves to create a safe society of morally responsible, and responsive people. Most importantly, Karate teaches the invaluable mastery of self. Karate’s purpose remains as essential today as it ever has been. As long as road-rage is accepted as normal, domestic violence deemed commonplace, and school shootings viewed as a regular news bite, society needs all of the presence of mind, strength of spirit, and abundance of compassion that it can find.

Shito-Ryu Times 

Please send articles to Ms. Barbara Arrighi, Editor Shito Ryu Times

Fax. # (413) 584-1624

E-mail seitoshitoryu@gmail.com

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