International Kenbu Kai Organization

                                                                                        (IKKO International)

Get a New Wife

by Dave Lowry

I was sitting with a karate sensei in his dojo one afternoon, visiting with him, when he was approached by a fellow who had come to watch the class that day. The fellow said he was interested in taking up karate, but he wondered if training might present a problem for him. He was a marathon runner, he explained, and he spent several hours a week running and travelling to races. Would karate practice interfere with that?

Another time, an acquaintance commented to me that he wanted to begin studying the art of aikido. But as an underpaid schoolteacher, he wasn't sure he could afford the club dues of $30 a month that were levied by the dojo he wanted to join. It is pertinent to add in this case that this acquaintance was a smoker who easily spent more than $30 a month on his habit.

When I encounter these kinds of people, I am always reminded of a falconer I once heard about. Falconry, of course, is the art of raising and training birds of prey-hawks, falcons, and even eagles-to hunt. It is a very, very old art, one that requires a tremendous amount of study into the life and behaviors of these birds. It also demands an amazing patience to tame them and to accommodate their highly strung natures. Falconers typically spend several hours a day with their birds. This falconer met a man who said he wanted to take up falconry but he was afraid that his wife would not adapt well to having a fierce-looking raptor as a permanent addition to their backyard. What should he do? The falconer's reply: "Get a new wife."

It is, I suppose, indicative of our modern civilization that, if I may paraphrase Churchill, so many wish to have so much while expending so little. We have parents who want to raise perfect children while simultaneously pursuing careers that prevent them from even seeing their offspring for more than a few minutes a day. We have single people who want to establish meaningful, lifelong relationships and who think they can do that by placing a few ostensibly witty lines in a personal ad in a newspaper. And more to the point, we have would--be budoka who expect to reap the benefits of the martial Ways without any real sacrifice. They are, all of them, going to be disappointed.

The truth is, raising good children demands enormous commitment and sacrifices. Healthy, loving relationships cannot be founded on the basis of snappy advertisements. They take time and a willingness to compromise and grow. To make the budo a Way of life requires precisely the same. Those prospective entrants to the Way who think they can make any kind of headway along its path without sacrifices are fooling themselves.

The falconer's advice on getting a new wife sounds harsh. It was not, I think we can assume, entirely serious. But his point was that an involved and difficult discipline like falconry requires some pretty uncommon dedication. The fellow who asked him the question about taking it up might not actually have had to give up his wife if he wanted to be a falconer. But if he wished to involve himself in that kind of art, he would have to be prepared to make some significant changes in his life. This is because, contrary to popular and frequently voiced opinions, not all the avocations that are available to us are alike. It has been convenient for many martial arts teachers and other such promoters to present the budo as a sort of pastime, a hobby that can be approached exactly as we would bowling or bridge. One can, these types suggest, go down to the neighborhood dojo a couple of nights a week for a quick "workout" and then leave it behind when one walks out the door. In this regard, martial arts training is envisioned as being similar to joining the types of health clubs or fitness centers we see advertised everywhere. The budo, however, are not like weight lifting and aerobics classes. The goals pursued in the dojo are markedly different from those of the local health or fitness center.

The budo--very difficult to describe in their entirety since we have nothing analogous to them in the West--are a multifaceted discipline. They encompass a rigorous, extremely demanding physical effort, a concerted dedication to old and quite often foreign cultural values, and a willingness to submit to a method of teaching and transmission of knowledge that are wholly unlike the ways to which we are accustomed. Just learning to move across the floor on one's knees, a standard training exercise in aikido, for example, takes years to do correctly and without a lot of discomfort. Concepts of the budo at its higher levels require a serious expenditure of time and energy. No one with less than a decade of constant training and thinking could hope to understand even the basics of some of these concepts. Then, too, because the budo are not native to our country, those qualified to teach them at their upper levels are few and far between. Travel to different cities or to Japan is a must for most budoka at some stage of their training.

All of these factors must be considered by the budoka. None of them are the kind of considerations that are weighed in making an informed decision to take up softball or weight lifting, or any of the more conventional avocations in which those around us may choose to become involved. The budo are not an ordinary pastime. Those who follow them cannot be ordinary, either. So to that marathoner who worried that karate might interfere with his running, I would say, yes, it will. It is the nature of a budo, like karate or any of the rest of them. And if you cannot give the martial arts the time and attention they deserve, the time and attention necessary to make them a meaningful part of your life, then both the budo and you will be better off if you leave them alone. To the fellow who spent money on his smoking habit without complaint but who was hesitant to make an equal investment in aikido training, I cannot imagine, frankly, what to say. Someone with that sense of priorities is likely, I'm afraid, to find that the cost of the budo life is far too high for him to pay, no matter what its price

The article above describes the type of people we are trying to attract. Quality before Quantity and Training before Talking.

The person, the person, the person. Everything depends on the quality of the person."

Our founder,  saw that "given that everything is conducted by people, then there is no other way to achieving real peace than to make as many individuals as possible with strong senses of charity, courage, and justice," and so he created IKKO. The purpose in this was not to make strong people or people with great technique, but to work through the practice of IKKO and through people's work to acquire healthy bodies, indomitable courage, and well-rounded character in order to make individuals capable of leading happy lives. At the same time the purpose is to nourish in them the courage and enthusiasm that will allow them to act aggressively to achieve a peacefully and prosperously ideal society, and to raise people well endowed with good judgment and a sense of justice who will serve as true leaders.

 He made use of a broad spectrum of opportunities to explain to kenshi how human beings should live based on his personal experiences.


"Not Doing It is the Same as Not Thinking It (1)"

It's all right to get in a fight once in a while. If a boy doesn't have enough spirit to get into a little fisticuffs, he won't do very well. People may be trying to look good when they say; "I don't fight," but really, it just reveals their flaws.

When I was a boy, I was always getting into fights. Once, I got into a fight, and I had two opponents. As I was throwing one boy, I was suddenly whacked on the head by the other with his shoe and I blacked out. People thought I had lost; but I hadn't lost. I just happened to have blacked out. So when I got up, I said, "fine" and, taking up a piece of kindling, I went off to lay in wait for each one of them and beat them. Then each one of them cried out, "Help!" So, I was the one who won

Now, I'm not encouraging you all to go out and get into fights. There's no need for you to win over someone, but it's no good for you to lose. Even if you lose once, don't think that you have lost. At the last you have only yourself to depend on. You see, just because you lost once, it's no good if you just slink away from something.

One can talk about all kinds of theories. "People who get into fights are fools." "Violence is wrong." Theoretically, that's the way it is; but some people don't understand you when you tell them the theory. If some other kid bullies your little brothers or sisters to tears, tell the other kid, "Stop it!" and putting your brother or sister behind you, tell him, "If you want to hit someone, try hitting me." Try it sometime! When you think you are in the right, stand up for it even if you have to risk yourself physically. I think that's the kind of people we want to become.

 "Not Doing It is the Same as Not Thinking It (2)"

Even when you think something from the heart, not doing it is the same as not thinking it.

For example, when you all get up in the morning and see your father and mother, do you tell them, "good morning, father," and "good morning, mother"? I'm not talking about trying to get on their good sides. It's just something that everyone should do. The reality is that the number of people who can't do the things that they should is increasing; so recently the Western World values has fallen into a bad state.

Western World today is probably the worst in that way. When it comes to just dropping trash while walking along, Western World does it more than any other people. If you think something is a bad thing, don't do it! It's not a matter of being afraid of what people will say, but of acting so that people won't have any reason to criticize you. Being able to act that way is the quality most lacking in Western World today.

We have an abundance of things and clothes. We have plenty of food. However, when it comes to the most important thing, the spirit I spoke of before, we don't have enough of it. Even if you have a thought in your hear, if you can't put it into action it's the same as never having the thought. If you know what to do and you still don't, that is even worse. Are you with me? I think this is a thought that we all want to put into action


Information to Dojo’s wanting to join:-

Welcome to our family

Membership and affiliation information to International IKKO Karate-Do Kobudo Kai.

Please review the welcome letter provided by Shihan Imtiaz President and Chief Instructor International IKKO Organization Koen-Kai headmaster, Shihan Imtiaz Abdulla, with further information on membership and affiliation.

Shihan Imtiaz Abdulla is following and teaching the syllabus as taught directly to him by his teachers of the martial arts. To this end the organization does not accept affiliations for commercial reasons or to be "just affiliated". The numbers within the Kai are kept deliberately low in order to prevent this and to keep the legacy left by his teachers alive.

To be considered for membership a potential member must provide and comply with the following:

 1:            submit a letter of introduction (name/age/DOB/address etc)
2:            provide details of training experience & affiliations
3:            reason for petition of membership

Correct protocol would mandate this request be then presented and recommended to the Koen-Kai and Supreme Council with Shihan Imtiaz Abdulla’s blessing in or by his representative. Sometimes they may require further information, family history, profession, education etc. The organization is very traditional; the character of a member/student is of the utmost importance.

If after consideration the applicant were deemed to be a "suitable" person for membership, and after due consideration you would be formally accepted in to the international kai. Once accepted you would then need to change ALL of your Kata and techniques to the Seito IKKO versions and to follow the Seito IKKO curriculum. The transmission of the Seito Goju Ryu Kata as taught by Shihan Imtiaz is vitally important.

If the above is of interest to you then please provide the information required to the relevant representative who will then forward the recommendation to the Koen-Kai for their review.


1.             The IKKO dojo’s will abide by the constitution of the IKKO International.

2.             The IKKO International is a not-for-profit corporation.

3.             Tournaments require the input of the Tournament Coordinator.

4.             Training shall be as defined by Shihan Imtiaz Abdulla.

5.             Annual training with Imtiaz Abdulla and the International Technical advisors to the IKKO shall be required of all dan rank members unless excused by him, or unless alternate is specified.

6.             Active member lists will be submitted to headquarters by April 1 of each year.

A. Each member school will submit a list with all members and their ranks noted.

B. Members not affiliated with a particular school shall register as independent.

7.             Annual renewal fees will be sent to headquarters by April 1 of each year.

A. Dan rank members will submit a predetermined fee

B. Kyu rank members will submit a predetermined fee

8.             Initial membership fee will be predetermined for kyu ranks and for dan ranks.

A. New members joining as of January 1 of a given year will not be required to pay a renewal fee in that particular year.

9.             Certificates of rank shall be provided to members at the following schedule:

  1. Dan rank certificates -. (Fees for Grades are determined yearly for more detail write for price list to







B.            Kyu rank certificates – $10.00

10.           Promotions:

A. Promotion results shall be provided to Headquarters within one month of the event.

B. Examinations will be held as often as necessary to accomplish the goals of the IKKO.

C. Only those members authorized by the Chairman shall grant promotions.

1. Promotions up to the rank of sho-dan will be allowed by those ranked ni-dan or above.

2. Promotions above the rank of sho-dan require the approval of the Chairman.

D. Evaluations will follow the procedure and requirements established by Headquarters.

E. A written test shall be required at the rank of roku-kyu and above.

11.           The organization shall in no way be responsible for any debt; liability, neglect or default of any purposes what so ever.

12.           The records of income and expenses shall be reviewed annually by the Trustees and they shall insure that any necessary documents are filed.

13.           Any vacancy of officers may be filled by appointment by the Chairman at any time.





1. The name of this organization shall be the International IKKO Organization (IKKO International). The organization may be referred to as the I.K.K.O



1. To maintain the practice of traditional Karate-Do and Kobudo.

2. To propagate the practice of traditional Karate-Do and Kobudo.

3. 3. To coordinate and regulate the practice of traditional Karate-Do and Kobudo within the member schools of the organization.

4. To develop the character of its members through the practice of Karate-Do.

5. To transact such lawful activities as necessary for operation.

6. To provide certification of accomplishment.



1. This organization shall be independent and governed by its own constitution. Members shall abide by the statutes and regulations of the country of jurisdiction.

2. All dan rank members are directly responsible to ensure that the rules and regulations of this constitution are enforced and that the training is followed as prescribed by the Chairman.

3. All dan rank members are directly responsible for the assurance that this organization is never used for dishonest, immoral or illegal purposes.



1. The International office shall be known as Headquarters of the IKKO and claims jurisdiction for the organization.

2. Members of the IKKO shall abide by this constitution and the rules and regulations of the IKKO.

3. In all cases, the laws, regulations and/or statutes in effect in the various locations of the schools of the IKKO shall take precedence over this constitution in that location only.



1. The Headquarters shall be at such place as is designated by the Chairman.



1. The seals or official insignias of the IKKO shall be as designated by the Chairman.



1. The management of the organization shall be vested in the Chairman, with assistance from various officers, boards and committees called the KOEN KAI.


Officers and Duties

1. The officers of this organization shall be:

A. Chairman

B. National Representative

C. Legal Advisor

D. Treasurer

E. Executive Secretary

F. Trustees

G. Regional Representative

2. Duties of the Chairman

A. To-generally oversee the operation of the organization.

B. To establish the International office.

C. To coordinate and supervise the activities of the officers.

D. To establish procedures and regulations for the operation of the organization.

E. To delegate duties and make appointments within the organization.

F. To coordinate and supervise the activities of the IKKO. in member countries.

G. To define and explain Karate-Do and Kobudo training.

3. Duties of the National Representative

A. To exercise general supervision within the designated member country.

B. To insure compliance of members within the member country to the rules and regulations of the IKKO

C. To act as liaison officer between member schools of the designated member country and the Chairman.

D. To be appointed by the Chairman.

E. To report to the Chairman.

4. Duties of the Legal Advisor

A. To advise the Representative on legal matters pertaining to the IKKO

B. To be appointed by the Representative.

C. To report to the Representative.

5. Duties of the Treasurer

A. To maintain records of all financial transactions of the IKKO

B. To accept IKKO funds and makes expenditures for the organization.

C. To maintain the organization bank accounts.

D. To coordinate with the Executive Secretary.

E. To prepare an annual report for the Trustees.

F. To be appointed by the Representative.

G. To report to the Representative.

6. Duties of the Executive Secretary

A. To maintain records of membership in the IKKO

B. To keep records of promotional activities and update files.

C. To issue membership cards to members.

D. To maintain a file of all correspondence.

E. To issue memos and bulletins as necessary.

F. To appoint assistants as necessary.

G. To be appointed by the Representative.

H. To report to the Representative.

7. Duties of the Trustees

A. To insure that the organization complies with its intended purposes.

B. To review and audit books and records annually.

C. To be selected by the voting membership.

8. Duties of the Regional Representatives

A. To oversee the organizational activities in the assigned region.

B. To be appointed by the Representative.

C. To report to the Representative.

9. Additional Officers may be appointed by the Representative as necessary to serve the needs of the organization.


Membership and Membership Status

1. Members shall consist of the following:

A. Registered member

B. Registered program

C. Associate member

D. Associate program

E. Member Country

2. Membership in the organization shall be open to any individual of good character and reputation, with sound mind, who has an interest in martial arts. The IKKO shall provide equal opportunity, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age, or sex for participation in or for any activity of this organization.

3. Membership may be denied to anyone convicted of a felony or having a history of acts of violence or mental instability.

4. Application for membership shall be in the form prescribed by headquarters and acceptance of membership shall bind said member to abide by this constitution and rules of the IKKO.

5. Individual members who have been accepted by the IKKO be considered on probationary status for one year.

6. Schools and other organizations who have been accepted for membership by the IKKO.  Shall be considered on probationary status for one year.

7. Membership status:

A. Registered member: Any individual accepted as an IKKO member. Entitled to benefits and activities of the

IKKO. and required to abide by the IKKO constitution and rules.

B. Registered program: Any program accepted as an IKKO registered school. Entitled to benefits and activities of the IKKO and required to abide by the IKKO. constitution and rules. All members of a registered school must join the organization.

C. Associate member: An individual whose primary allegiance lies outside the IKKO but who can contribute to and benefit from the IKKO Receives no certification, shall not represent the IKKO nor receive sanction, shall not use the IKKO name or insignia and participates by invitation only.

D. Associate-program: Program comprised of associate members and subject to the same conditions.

E. Member Country: The registered members and registered programs in a given country shall constitute a member country of the IKKO.



1. Committees shall be appointed as necessary by the Representative.

2. Committees shall report to the Representative.

3. Review Board

A. The Review Board will serve as a Standing Committee.

B. The Review Board will be selected by the voting membership.

C. The Review Board will serve a two-year term.

D. Duties of the Review Board:

1. To consider grievances of a non-technical nature.

2. To act on decisions according to the provisions of this constitution with approval of the Representative.



1 2. An annual IKKO. organization meeting will be held with location and date as specified by the Representative.

3. Notice shall be given to voting members prior to annual meetings.

4. Voting members whose opinions are represented at an annual meeting shall constitute a quorum.

5. Annual meetings shall include all required legal considerations.

6. Procedures at annual meetings shall be at the discretion of the Representative.

7. No error or omission in giving notice of any annual meeting of the IKKO. shall invalidate such meeting or make void any proceedings taken there.



1. Voting members are those active IKKO members in compliance with this constitution and of dan rank.

2. At an annual meeting, a quorum shall consist of those voting members whose opinions are represented by any means.

3. In special meetings called by the Representative a quorum shall consist of those voting members whose opinions are represented by

any means.

4. In general voting situations, a quorum shall consist of a simple majority of voting members.


Disciplinary Measures

1. Any member or member school of this organization may be expelled, suspended or subject to probation for any of the following reasons:

A. Violation of any of the provisions of this constitution or rules or regulations of the IKKO.

B. Conduct, which brings discredit to the individual or the IKKO.

C. Misrepresenting or overcharging for any official certificate or other document issued by the IKKO.

D. Making false or misleading statements on an application for membership or when applying for membership.

E. Any false or unauthorized representation as to rank or position in the IKKO.

F. Any use of the organization name or property without the consent of the Representative.

G. Non-payment of dues or fees.

2. The authority to hear and pass on charges shall be delegated to the Review Board with approval of the Representative.

A. Rules and procedures for all such hearings shall be established by the Review Board and shall be in agreement with this constitution.


Dues and Fees

1. Dues will be paid annually to the IKKO according to the existing fee schedule, which may vary from time to time. Meetings shall be held as necessary to serve the purposes of the IKKO.

2. Membership in the organization shall be open to any individual of good character and reputation, with sound mind, who has an interest in martial arts. The IKKO shall provide equal opportunity, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age, or sex for participation in or for any activity of this organization.

3. Membership may be denied to anyone convicted of a felony or having a history of acts of violence or mental instability.

4. Application for membership shall be in the form prescribed by headquarters and acceptance of membership shall bind said member to abide by this constitution and rules of the IKKO.

5. Individual members who have been accepted by the IKKO. be considered on probationary status for one year.

6. Schools and other organizations that have been accepted for membership by the IKKO shall be considered on probationary status for one year.

7. Membership status:

A. Registered member: Any individual accepted as an IKKO member. Entitled to benefits and activities of the IKKO and required to abide by the IKKO constitution and rules.

B. Registered program: Any program accepted as an IKKO. registered school. Entitled to benefits and activities of the IKKO. and required to abide by the IKKO. constitution and rules. All members of a registered school must join the organization.

C. Associate member: An individual whose primary allegiance lies outside the IKKO. but who can contribute to and benefit from the IKKO. Receives no certification, shall not represent the IKKO nor receive sanction, shall not use the IKKO name or insignia and participates by invitation only.

D. Associate-program: Program comprised of associate members and subject to the same conditions.

E. Member Country: The registered members and registered programs in a given country shall constitute a member country of the IKKO.

2. Any member may be exempt from the payment of dues and/or fees at the discretion of the Representative.

3. Fees may be charged for various special events, specific organization purposes, initial membership, certificates, tournaments,

Promotional activities, supplies, travel expense, and other purposes with the approval of the Representative.

4. Dues and fees are not refundable.

5. Income and expenses will be reviewed by the Trustees annually.



1. Expenditures shall be made for the operation and interest of the organization exclusively.

2. No part of the net earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, trustees, officers

or other private persons, except that the organization shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for

services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth.

3. All expenditures shall require approval of the Representative, Treasurer and one other officer.

4. Records of expenditures and income will be reviewed annually by the Trustees.



1. Karate-Do and Kobudo training and practice within the organization shall be as defined by the Chairman.

2. All IKKO active instructors are required to arrange annual practice sessions with the Chairman or his designate.



1. Each member school shall hold promotional examinations as scheduled by the Chairman.

2. Member schools are authorized to promote up to the rank of sho-dan with approval of the Chairman.

3. Promotions above the rank of sho-dan require the express, written consent of the Chairman.

4. Promotional findings shall be reviewed by Headquarters prior to acceptance.



1. Tournaments sponsored by the IKKO. or any of its members or member schools using the organization name or in any way associated with the IKKO. will require the written approval of the Chairman.

2. A minimum of one half of any profit of any authorized tournament shall inure to the organization.

3. Headquarters shall be provided with an outline of proposed tournament proceedings prior to approval.

4. Tournament rules and procedures shall be according to the WKF. standards in effect at the time of the tournament. Alternate rules or procedures require the consent of the Representative or Tournament Coordinator.


Certificates and Membership Cards

1. Only official IKKO. certificates and membership cards will be allowed.

2. Cards and certificates will be issued by Headquarters.

3. All schools in the organization shall use the official cards and certificates and they shall be issued to active members only.



1. This constitution may be amended and approved by a simple majority of voting members whose opinion is expressed at an annual meeting.

2. A quorum for amending or approving this constitution will consist of those voting members whose opinion is expressed at an annual meeting.


General Policy

1. Tournaments require involvement of the Tournament Coordinator.

2. In the event that the Representative is unable to adequately perform his responsibilities, a temporary substitute may be appointed by the Chairman.

3. No substantial part of the activities of the organization shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the organization shall not participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.

4. Only white practice uniforms will be allowed.

5. The official insignia is to be worn on practice uniforms on the upper left and right chest area. No other marking or insignia shall be allowed except by express, written consent of the Representative.

6. The IKKO will in no way be responsible or held liable for any debt, other liability, neglect or default of any member.


Fiscal Year

1. The fiscal year for the organization shall be from January 1 to December 31 of each year.


Member Withdrawal

1. Any member, member program or member country may voluntarily withdraw from the organization by submitting written notification to the Representative.

assets according to the regulations for not-for-profit organizations exclusively.


International IKKO Karate Kobudo Organization (IKKO International)


Submission Date ____________________

Name of School_____________________________________________________________________________


Street Address___________________________________________________________________________


City & State/Province________________________________________________




Chief Instructor/Rank____________________________________________________________________


Assistant Instructor(s)/Ranks_________________________________________________________________


Number of Students___________________________________________________________________________


Amount of Dues_________________ Per____________________________


Names of BLACK and Brown Belt  (Please submit on separate form each Black Belt on separate Page and also Brown Belts






Class Time(s)____________________________________________________________________________


Class Days______________________________________________________________________________


Additional Information________________________________________________________________________



Signed At___________________ on this day_______________________________20___________

Signature of Head Instructor________________________________________________________

Name of DOJO____________________________________________________________________

Include all previous rank certificates

Once completed post or e-mail to:

IKKO International

PO Box 324, Bruma, 2026, South Africa



Membership - All members of each school must join the IKKO. The Membership Application is to be completed as soon as the student begins training. The application and the predetermined fee are to be sent to H.Q. within two months of the first session. The student will receive a membership card.

Annual Renewal Fee - Dues are to be sent to H.Q. by April first of each year. Dues are per determined for Dan rank members and predetermined for kyu rank members. A student who joins between January first and March 31 of a given year does not have to pay dues that year if the

Membership fee is paid when joining.

Promotions - Instructors shall be empowered to promote their students up to the rank of sho-dan. Promotion results are to be sent to H.Q. within one month of the promotion. Promotions for black belt holders require the approval of the Chairman. The Chairman will evaluate school leaders on a regular basis. Promotion fees, if any, are to be reasonable and remain with the individual school.

Promotion Requirements - Requirements are listed on enquiry.

Rank Certificates - Certificates of rank may be purchased from H.Q. The fee is per determined  for Dan certificates and predetermined for kyu certificates.

Active Member List - A listing of active members in each school is to be turned in to H.Q. by April first of each year along with the dues.

Written Test - The IKKO. written tests are to used. Written Test I is required at green belt and Written Test II is required at first-kyu. Test results are to be turned in to H.Q. along with promotion results.

Patches - Our embroidered insignia (patch) is to be purchased by each new member Patches can be purchased from Headquarters for predetermined fee.

Merchandise - Official IKKO. merchandise can be purchased from our merchandise catalogue.

Newsletter - Each school leader is to make the Newsletter available to all of the students in their school. Newsletters are sent to the black belt members only.

Seminars - Training seminars by Shihan Abdulla or our Technical Representatives can be arranged by contacting H.Q.




Date __________Rank_________________Dojo__________________________________________________

Full Name ____________________________________________________ Birth Date__________________ Sex__________

Address___________________________________________________ City______________________________________

State/Province______________________________________ Postal/Zip Code_________ Phone_______________________ ID/SS#_________________________________________ Health_______________________________________________

Where Employed__________________________________ Occupation___________________________________________

1) Do you have any conditions, which would restrict your ability to engage in vigorous physical activity? Yes ___ No___. If yes, describe said condition(s), in detail, on reverse side of this form and state if you are currently undergoing treatment for this condition(s).

2) Have you ever been diagnosed as having a disabling condition(s), which would restrict your ability to engage in vigorous physical activity? Yes ____ No ____. If yes, describe said condition(s), treating physician(s) and the dates of treatment, in detail, on reverse side of this form.

3) Is there any reason why you are limited in your ability to engage in vigorous physical activity? Yes___No___. If Yes, describe and explain in detail on reverse side of this form.

I do hereby swear that the above statements are true and complete. I understand that according to the discretion of the instructor or director my membership can be denied or affirmed.

In consideration of my acceptance into membership, I agree to release, hold harmless and indemnify the organization, including but not limited to, officers, participating members and instructors, all clubs, organizations, and firms of any and all liability for bodily injuries, disease, or ill health, or the aggravation of such, disease, all claims, demands, cost, losses, and expenses, which 1, my heirs and personal representatives may have arising out of, or caused in any way by, or having any connection with my participation in school activities, training, contests, and practice, and/or the use of any and/or all facilities and materials owned, leased, or in the care or use, custody, or control of any of the above listed, including traveling to and from martial arts activities.

If accepted I agree to abide by the organization rules, regulations and constitution and to contribute to the goals of the International IKKO Organization (IKKO International).

In making application for membership I do so with the full knowledge that the techniques of maximum self-defense, which, in part, comprise the art of Karate, should be learned for use in self-improvement, competitive sport, or self-defense only. I swear unconditionally that I will never willfully harm anyone, except in defense of another or myself. If the need arises to so act, I will do so only so long as the attacker poses a real threat and will attempt to inflict no more injury than necessary to accomplish this end.









(if under 21 years of age)







 For IKKO Headquarters Use Only__________________________________

Date Recorded______________________ Kyokai_________________ IKKO Card c IKKO Patch c.


Dojo Kun of IKKO

Hitotsu, Reisetsu O Toetobu Beshi
One, be always courteous and humble.

Hitotsu, Wa No Kokoro O Yashinau Beshi
One, cultivate a peaceful mind.

Hitotsu, Nintai Surukoto O Manabu Beshi
One, Learn to be patient.

Hitotsu, Shjojin Ne Tessu Beshi
One, strive hard to be a better person.

Hitotsu, Kokoro To Waza No Ichi Ni Tsutomu Beshi
One, try to develop your spirit and the techniques of Karate in the same level.

Hitotsu, Karate-do No Shinjo O Seikatsu Ni Ikasu Beshi
One, apply the principles of Karate in your daily life.


Rules of the Organization

Have no falsehood in mind.

Reluctance or deceit is not conducive to the inner harmony required by Judo practice.

Do not lose self-confidence.

Learn to act wholeheartedly, without hesitation. Show reverence toward the practice of Judo, by keeping your mind in it.

Keep your balance.

The centre of gravity follows the movement of the body. The centre of gravity is the most important element in maintaining stability. If it is lost, the body is naturally unbalanced. Thus, fix your mind so that your body is always in balance.

Utilize your strength efficiently.

Minimize the use of strength with the quickest movement of body. Acknowledge that what is called stillness and motion is nothing but an endlessly repeated process.

Don’t discontinue training.

Mastery of Judo cannot be accomplished in a short time. Since skills depend on mental and physical application, constant training is essential.

Keep yourself humble.

If you become self-cantered, you will build a wall around yourself and lose your freedom. If you can humble yourself in preparation for an event you will surely be better able to judge and understand it. In a match, you will be able to detect the weak point of your opponent and easily put him/her under control.


Go Do Shin
(Five-Way Spirit)


1. Shoshin wasureru nakare (Ishi)

Never forget the spirit of first beginning (Will/Determination)

2. Reigi okotaru nakare (Dotoku)

Never neglect courtesy and etiquette (Moral Virtue)

3. Doryuku okaturu nakare (Haten)

Never neglect effort (Growth/Development)

4. Joshin kakeru nakare

Never lose common sense (Common Sense)

5. Wa midasu nakare

Never disturb harmony (Peace)


Principles of IKKO Budo

Do not think dishonestly.

The Way is in training.

Become acquainted with every art.

Know the Ways of professions.

Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.

Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.

Perceive those things, which cannot be seen.

Pay attention even to trifles.

Do nothing, which is of no use.

Dojo Etiquette

Remove shoes upon entering the dojo. Shoes are NEVER worn on the training floor.

Keep the dojo clean. Clothing should be neatly placed along the wall of the dojo. Make sure that any trash is properly disposed.

No smoking in the dojo at any time.

Bow upon entering or leaving the dojo floor. this is to show respect for the facilities used in the practice of karate.

Never refer to an instructor by name while in the dojo. Always use the term “sensei.”

There should be no talking between students while class is in session. Questions may be asked at an appropriate time.

At NO time will horseplay be tolerated. Karate is a discipline of both mind and body, and as such demands full concentration and serious effort on the part of the student. Horseplay can only lead to loss of knowledge and possible injury to oneself or one’s partner.

Good hygiene should be followed. Uniforms are to be kept clean and in good repair. Finger- and toenails should be kept short to prevent injury while training and hands and feet should be clean.

Jewellery should not be worn while training. Watches, rings, earrings, necklaces, etc. often get in the way and can cause otherwise avoidable injuries.

As a safety precaution, chewing gum is not allowed in class.

The Special Merits of Karate

A large space is not required.

It can be practiced alone.

Its practice does not require much time.

Men and women, young or old, can practice karate; it depends entirely upon one’s constitution. Proper kata can be selected and practiced at one’s discretion.

One can practice with empty hands or the use of simple equipment can also be employed without much expense.

Training in karate improves one’s health. This fact is evident from the physical condition of aged enthusiasts.

Physical and mental unity develops an indomitable spirit.

Miyagi Chojun
Founder of GoJu-Ryu Karate-Do



Hojo undo is supplementary exercises where one uses various implements and aids to encourage and develop ambidextrous physical strength, stamina, muscle co-ordination, speed and posture. Hojo undo is not practiced merely for the development of physical strength, but rather it has many other benefits associated with its consistent practice and logical approach. There are various implements that should all be used to aid your all round development. The ones that I will concentrate on are the makiwara (striking board), chi-shi (weighted lever), kami (gripping jar), tan (barbell), sashi (weights) and tetsu geta (iron clogs). This is by no means all the implements that one can use, there are others as well. The benefits of this type of training are enormous; however they have to be practiced consistently and correctly. Always check, before and after practice that your implements are in good condition and clean. Also put everything that you use back in the correct place afterwards. This is an important habit to develop in your dojo with all equipment, e.g. focus pads, dojo floor etc. Use the implements in an area that will cause no harm to yourself and others around you. Work according to you limits and whilst you must push yourself, do not overdo your practice. Listen to your body and if you are in pain then stop or cut back on the number of reps. Do not use implements that are far too heavy for you, start off light and build up to a heavier resistance when you feel comfortable. Ensure that your posture is not compromised when using the implements. When lifting up equipment, e.g. chi-shi, bend your knees, drop your hips and then rise with the implement well gripped. Bad posture will affect your knees, back and hips. Always think of Sanchin (or Naihanchi) kata when using implements as the principles are almost the same, e.g. breath, posture, eye contact etc.

striking board




Incorrect makiwara training can cause great physiological damage to your hands and health in general. It is a common misconception that the aims of makiwara training are to produce large callused knuckles, which are impervious to impact. These physical ‘trophies’ are supposed to be indicators of strength and power. This is an incorrect perception! Whilst makiwara training can produce callused knuckles that could sustain tremendous impact and cause great damage, it is merely a by-product of the training itself and not the object. There is much more to this method of training than the mere physical condition of one’s hands. The makiwara is as old as karate itself, and is primarily an Okinawan training tool that was imported to mainland Japan by Okinawan masters who were responsible for introducing their art of ‘Okinawa Te’ (Okinawan hand). Gichin Funakoshi, the father of Shotokan Karate, in his biography, clearly states that "I think I am in no way exaggerating when I say that practice with the makiwara is the keystone in the creation of strong weapons." Choku Motobu, a famous Okinawan karate-ka who was renowned for his fighting ability, had this to say about the makiwara, "Makiwara is a vital piece of equipment for a karate student to exercise his skill." It is not un-common, on Okinawa, to find makiwara in peoples backyards, and to hear the pounding of a makiwara. To a karate-ka wishing to develop into a complete martial artist, makiwara training in vital and absolutely necessary.


sage-makiwara  (Hokama Kaicho)  (hanging makiwara)


The practice of ‘fresh air’ punching only, never gives one the true feeling of actually striking or punching and opponent. This type of training also encourages bad striking and punching habits, as there is no measure between your technique and end-result. Our heads are made up of bones and cartilage and are mostly hard and solid, similar to a standing makiwara (tachi makiwara) - see illustration. Therefore it is imperative that one’s hands are conditioned to resist the impact otherwise the first strike to your opponents’ head could damage the bones in your hands or wrist. The makiwara not only aids in strengthening the hands and arms, but it also helps strengthen one’s stance and coordinating one’s breathing. Punching ‘fresh air’ does not cover all these aspects.

The are two types of makiwara, the tachi-makiwara and the age-makiwara. The most common version of the makiwara is the standing makiwara (tachi makiwara). However, there are also two types of standing makiwara:

(a) A flat wooden post extending up from the ground with a pad (or straw wrap-around) on the top. This makiwara is struck from the front only.

(b) The other type of standing makiwara is constructed of a round pole which is set into the ground as well. Straw padding is wound around the pole, and it can be hit from all sides.

weighted lever

Chi-shi training is also extremely vital to Okinawan karate. It should be used side by side with the practice of Sanchin and Naifanchi kata. Correct use of the chi-shi will improve muscle tone, strength in the fingers, hands, arms and chest (amongst many other parts of the body), however these are only the external benefits. The ligaments and cartilage of the wrist, elbows and shoulder joints will also benefit from this form of training. Initially, I mentioned 'correct use of the chi-shi', as incorrect use will definitely cause great damage, which could become permanent. Jerky movements and using too heavy a chi-shi can contribute to this disaster. Good posture and correct techniques are important, and should never be sacrificed for an increased number of repetitions. The shoulders should be kept on a horizontal plane despite the weight being asserted to one side. I often practice with the chi-shi using shiko-dachi. This helps me keep the hips low thereby aiding my balance. The movements should be performed in a deliberate and slowish way.

What might not be apparent when watching a person using the chi-shi, is the strong grip required in the wrist and hands. Okinawan karate relies heavily on gripping, grabbing and tearing techniques, therefore the necessity for good strength in the arms, wrist, hands and fingers. At the completion of a movement the grip should be tightened, focused and sustained for a short while. This grip/release grip action will stimulate the muscles of the arms, wrist, hands and fingers. When moving the chi-shi to different angles, focus that grip at those angles as well as this will improve you grip even at unusual angles and directions.




Sashi, hand held weights used during blocking and striking practice. Traditionally sashi is made of stone. A pair of 6-10 pound dumb-bells serves the same purpose. This exercise is very good for developing arm and shoulder strength. 

gripping jar


As mentioned previously, Okinawa karate relies heavily on gripping, grabbing and tearing techniques, and another device that is wonderful in these aspects in the kami, or gripping jar. Using this implement while stepping in Sanchin, Zenkutsu, Shiko or Neko Ashi Dachi also assists the lower body and posture. The lip of the jar is gripped with all the fingers and the thumb is actually positioned underneath the lip (tip of thumb pointing backwards in your direction). A good exercise is to step in Sanchin dachi, root yourself then list the kami in front of you until it is horizontal to the ground, hold it out there then roll the wrist around turning the kami around, return the wrist to the original position then slowly bring it down to your side, then step forward and repeat with the other hand. As with the chi-shi all movements should be done with a deliberate movement (muchimi) and not with jerky movements. Jars are filled with sand or water.


Tetsu geta
iron clogs


These are iron clogs, used to strengthen kicking techniques. 

The Tetsu-geta or iron sandals, for leg strength and kicking. (Much better for foot strength than modern ankle weights. The foot actually must grip the sandal, and the weight is at the far extremity of the limb, adding to the difficulty of the device. Because of this, fast kicking, which would be dangerous to the joints if using ankle weights, is not possible, and therefore the use of the tetsu-geta is preferred to the modern devices.)

Makiage kigu
wrist roller


This is a wrist roller, a wooden handle with a weight hung in the centre on a rope. You twist the handle and wrap the rope onto it, raising and lowering the weight, and strengthening the wrists and grip.

Yari bako

This is just a box or bowl filled with sand, beans, gravel or similar material. Fingers are thrust into it to toughen the hands.

Have you ever wondered what exactly the meaning of the Goju-ryu kata is in English?  I mean the real meaning.  In the case of modern Goju-ryu kata it has been almost impossible. Why do you ask?  Well, because the correct kanji for most, if not all, of Okinawa karate’s kata have been lost to time. Most modern readings for kata using kanji are simply just that, modern interpretations using appropriate kanji which fit the phonetic reading of the kata in question. A crude but accurate analogy would be taking the proverbial square peg and beating it into a round hole. As a result, for each kata there are several different and often confusing ways to write it with a corresponding difference in meaning. What this amounts to is basically a huge mess when trying to understand the origin of the kata and it’s etymology. But don't despair!  Recent efforts by martial arts researchers and historians has shone some light on a subject that has been, until recently, an impossible task. Of note is the research by three gentlemen, Kinjo Akio, Tokashiki Iken and Otsuka Tadahiko.  The "correct" kanji used for the Goju-ryu kata presented on this page is based on the research of Kinjo Akio, a noted karte historian and teacher.  His analysis is based on the use of the Shaolin animal forms with respect to each Goju-ryu kata.





Saifa - Japanese

Saifa - Chinese


Of all the Goju-ryu kaishu kata to be passed down, only Saifa appears to have retained it’s original pronunciation in Fujian dialect. In 1934, Goju-ryu founder Miyagi Chojun wrote “Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi Enkaku Gaiyou” (an Outline of the History of Ryukyu Toudi, also known as Toudi-do Gaisetsu or Outline of the Way if Toudi)). In it we can find a section entitled “Kenpo Torai ni tsuite” (On the origin of Kenpo) in which Miyagi Chojun names several styles of boxing including: Tiger, Snake, Dog, Crane and Lion boxing (for a comprehensive English translation of this essay, see McCarthy, 1999). 

Among the Southern Shaolin system in Fuzhou exists a family of boxing systems aptly labeled as “Lion boxing” (Jap. Shishi Kenpo). These include, among others, Lion Form boxing, Golden Lion boxing and Lion boxing. Not surprisingly, several elements of Lion boxing can be specifically seen in Saifa such as the double hiraken strike and mawashi uke. The double hiraken strike, according to Kinjo, represents the pouncing and pulling action of the lion’s front paws pulling down it’s prey, while the mawashi uke, although often thought of as the mouth of tiger, can also be interpreted as the “The Lion Opens its Mouth” as well. Finally, the many stomping actions contained within Saifa are meant to represent the powerful steps of the lion (Kinjo, 1999).





Seipai - Japanese

Seipai - Chinese

Kurunfa - Japanese

Kururunfa - Chinese

As is expected by kata which emulate the movements of the dragon, both Kururunfa and Seipai emphasize light and fluid movements that do not over-emphasize physical strength. The most obvious movement of dragon origin in Seipai, according to Kinjo, is the opening sequence where the karateka steps back into a shiko dachi and extends the right arm outward and straight in front of him or her. This is meant to represent the protruding tongue of dragon.

Kururunfa is referred to as Gorunfa in Fujian dialect and perhaps more than Seipai, the movements of the dragon seem more obvious in Kururunfa. The opening sequence containing the sokuto-geri is thought to represent the dragon kicking-off the ground or surface of the water as it takes flight. Other examples of the dragon in Kururunfa include the dragon’s tail striking the water (lower palm-strike). The sequence of techniques containing an escape from a full-nelson are distinctively dragon and bear a remarkable similarity to the chi-gong exercises emphasizing the dragon found in the opening sequences of five-animal/five-element form in Hung-gar Quan’fa. 

Finally, towards the end of Kururunfa, there is a technique called “sukui-nage,” or “scooping throw”, in which the defender drops low reltive the the opponent and fells him by grabbing the Achilles tendon with one hand and pushing the inside of the knee with the other. This technique is reminiscent of the Southern Dragon boxing as illustrated in (Aoki, 1998), called “Yellow Dragon Lays Down”. Alternatively, Kinjo argues that this posture is reminiscent of the dragon slithering into a cave (Kinjo, 1999).




Personally I always thought of Shisochin as more of a 'Tiger' based form, but according to Kinjo Akio, Shisochin, or in Fujain dialect 'Shisauchin', is representative of the movements of a cricket and / or preying mantis. The opening kamae (posture) and nukite (finger thrust) in Shisochin are thought to show the mantis hooking its prey and devouring it. In contrast, the forward stance with the arms extended is indicative of the cricket spreading its wings. 



Okinawan / Japanese




Sanseru - Japanese

Sanseru - Chinese

Seisan - Japanese

Seisan - Chinese

Suparempei - Japanese

Soparempai - Chinese

Sanseru, Seisan and Suparinpei (known as Soparinpai in Fujian dialect) are considered Crane based kata. Although there is disagreement as to their exact origin, it is generally thought that the techniques contained within these kata are of the Crane family which consists of Ancestral Crane (Zong He Quan), Feeding Crane (Shi He Qan), Whooping Crane (Ming He Quan) and Flying Crane (Fei He Quan). Kinjo Akio argues that these kata belong to the Ancestral Crane (Zong He Quan) lineage originating in Yong Chun village and were passed on to Higashionna Kanryo by Zheng Li Gong (Jap. Jou Rei Kou) from Yong Chun city, Fujian. This is the same Yong Chun village where Fang Qi Niang, the founder of Nan Bai He Quan (Southern White Crane Fist), lived. In contrast to this it has been suggested that these kata were handed down to Higashionna by Aragaki Seisho, a noted Monk-fist and Crane boxing master who resided in Kumemura near present-day Naha or through the Kojo clan also of Kumemura (Iwai, 1992; McCarthy, 1995; McKenna, in press; Tokashiki, 1991).

Be that as it may, there are many techniques contained within these kata which are obviously crane in origin. One of these techniques, common to both Seisan and Suparinpai, is sukui-uke (scooping block), also known as “Guardian Closes the Gate.” According to Kinjo, sukui-uke takes its name from the scooping action of the hands which is meant to emulate the crane scooping a fish from the water. This technique is used to quickly intercept an attack at close quarters and to topple the attacker to the ground. Thus to generate the necessary power to throw the attacker, “shaking jin” (power) is needed. Shaking jin refers to sudden and explosive movement of the torso and waist in conjunction with a rooted lower body (Yang, 1996).



We practice 13 major Goju  katas.  Every kata of Goju is separate style, with its own techniques and tactics. You can easily invest all your lifetime in mastering just 2-3 katas. So, only dan grades practice all katas, everybody else focuses on just three (Saifa, Seyunchin, Shisoochin).  




Kanji of Goju-Ryu Kata and their meaning

Sanchin means "Three battles". The underlying principle is the battle between mind, soul and body. The actual understanding is unifying the Eye, Breath and Posture Through hard training and steady practising the three of them should be united. Originally Sensei Higashionna taught this kata with open hands (as it is still practised in Uechi Ryu). Higashionna later changed this to clenched fists. There are three types of Sanchin

Tensho means "Rotating palms". This breathing kata was developed by Miyagi sensei from the Rokkishu kata from Chinese white crane style. Rokkishu, "6 Hands", denotes the different hand positions in this kata. Tensho combines movement with softness.

The translations of these Kanji reads "to demolish, to destroy". Miyagi Sensei first introduced the Gekisa-Kata into Goju-Ryu for giving starters in this martial art a first insight. They were developed around 1944. This kata is called Shinsei in Shito-Ryu and Fukyu Kata Ni in Matsubayashi-Ryu.

Geki-sai-dai-ni and San
See Gekisai ichi. Begins to incorporate tai-sabaki and softer blocking patterns.

Saifa means "to smash, to tear, break into pieces". Saifa helps promote whipping power generated by movement of the hips switching between soft and hard movements of the arms. Saifa also helps develop tai-sabaki and balance. Taught as the first Heishu kata in many Goju-Ryu schools.

Sei-in-chin orSe-yun-chin
Many translations exist for the name of this kata, but "to pull in and fight, pull into battle with a system" seems the most appropriate. This demanding form contains no kicks, and the majority of the hand techniques are performed in shiko-dachi. Mentioned as one the 2 training kata of Goju-Ryu (along with Seisan) by Meitoku Yagi, Seiunchin is taught as the brown-belt kata in many modern Goju-Ryu organizations.


Fighting in four directions, employs open hand movement and was Miyagi Sensei’s favourite kata. Introduces the palm heel strike (Teisho).

Sanseru means "36". It is believed that this kata was taught in the Kume section of Okinawa and taught by Aragaki Seisho before Kanryo Higashionna made his trip to China. Several Fujian Quanfa styles practice a kata with this name, for instance, Kanbum Uechi brought back the Fujian Tiger Quanfa version back to Okinawa. Ryuei-Ryu also practices Sanseiru, their kata being very similar to the Goju-ryu version. Considering that Nakaima Kenko and Miyagi Chojun were good friends, I believe it more likely that one borrowed from the other than the likelihood that both descended from the same "Ryuruko".


Meaning 36

Kata with the name "13" are practiced by many Okinawan (both Shuri and Naha) styles, as well as Fujian Quanfa styles. Believed to be one of the oldest kata on Okinawa, this kata seems to stress fundamental stepping, punching, and kicking techniques. Called one of Goju-Ryu's two training kata by Meitoku Yagi, this kata begins like Sanchin, contains techniques aimed at dominating the opponent's centerline, and contains several low kicks. Strangely, many current Goju-Ryu organizations include this near the end of the curriculum.


Meaning 108 also called Peichurin


Stop the sudden crush or 17


What is kata?  (Translated it means "pattern" or "flow")

          Commonly known, kata has been defined as a person “fighting against imaginary opponents.” This claim, to some extent is true, but at the same it is also misleading. It might be better to depict kata as “a handbook of self-defense

techniques.” By viewing it this way, a better picture of kata will emerge. Kata is indeed an encyclopaedia of

techniques, helping to recall techniques that an ancient master thought necessary to perfect. In ancient times, kata

      was a way to preserve techniques that might have been used to protect one’s life. A master places in his kata ideas on          how one can fight effectively against a common street fighter or armed assailant.












Bunkai is term used for "secret meanings" of kata movements. During the last 100 years Okinawa karate endured tremendous change. One of the results is almost complete lost of advanced karate techniques. Literally, all kata movements are explained as strikes or blocks. Some of them are useful, but some are "meaningless". Well, these "meaningless" movements are in fact advanced technique (joint locks, grappling, seizing, throwing, strangulations, weapon use...). Very few people from the West ever had a chance to learn old Okinawa art (Tode jutsu), so if you are not one of these, its better for you to start learning basics of jujutsu or aikido. Extensive practice of Bunkai techniques is reserved for higher belts. However, here are presented advanced techniques that we teach.


KANSETSU WASA (joint locks)
You can use these techniques for controlling your opponent. Joint locks are executed when joint is forced to move unnaturally (hyperextension, hyper-rotation, hyper flexion or combination). Most frequent result of these techniques is hyper torsion and joint dislocation. We practice 10-15 most effective kansetsu techniques, which are shown in katas: on wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck and knee.

NAGE WASA (throws and take downs)
It is much easier to control your opponent when he is off balanced. Nage wasa teaches various ways to make people fall. Sometimes you can use throw to defeat attacker (fall on head). We are teaching around 10 effective techniques, which are used in katas: foot sweeps, grabbing leg, shoulder throws, head manipulation, and sacrifice techniques...

TUITE WASA (seizing nerves, attacking tendons, grappling)
These are very painful techniques, which utilize various grabs, presses and pinches. It is very important to strengthen fingers and to be familiar with human anatomy. Tuite is usually combined with joint locking and throwing techniques. Most effective are:

  1. Pinching - nose, ear, eyelid, lips, flank, inner thigh, nipple...
  2. Grabbing - hair, throat, testicals and many muscles...
  3. Pressing - eyes, behind ear, sternal notch...

SHIME WASA (deadly techniques)
Shime wasa are techniques applied on neck in order to kill someone. Death may occur as result of many techniques, but shime is most effective way. Because of possible misuse, I am not going to explain any details. We only teach this wasa to shodan level.
Shime wasa include (1) choking and (2) neck breaking techniques, which are usually used in "soft" manner for controlling of opponent.


My student, who runs a karate school in India, says that the one who controls the distance in an encounter is the one who controls the situation. One of the shihan of the IKKO, when asked about how, using karate, to deal with a other martial arts practitioner, replied simply, "Maai."

We've all heard similar statements and all have been admonished during training to be aware of the maai, often translated as combative engagement distance, but perhaps more accurately rendered "combative interval." When I first heard the word in Okinawa., I thought it referred to a simple spatial relationship-the distance at which I could, in a single movement, reach an opponent with my attack. Conversely, I also discovered, it was the distance at which an attacker could reach me!

What I didn't quite get at first was the extent to which this was not one, but two, sometimes vastly different, distances. When my then training partner,  casually remarked, over coffee and donuts after bojutsu (staff Way) training one morning, "Of course, you know that my maai in relation to you, will always be different from yours to me--even though the distance between us is constant," I nodded, and pretended to have the foggiest notion of what he was talking about. It became clearer soon after when I ran into my sempai Yamamoto, who is over six feet tall, in the company of his girlfriend, who is five foot nothing. If the two of them were to stand side-by-side facing me, at Yamamoto’s arms length away, I would be fully within Yamato’s maai, and just outside of his girlfriend's. They would both be in my maai. If Yamamoto took one step back, he might very well be out of my maai, yet I would still be within his. These differences are naturally based on the length of each individual's arms and legs. Two more elements, speed and timing (hyoshi) can also affect the effective combative interval. What it all adds up to, is judging the constantly changing maai, different for each individual and each type of attack, is incredibly complicated. And of course, our teachers tell us, we must learn to make this evaluation virtually subconsciously and instantaneously.

One major benefit arising from training simultaneously, at least for a time, in a number of different weapons systems, is a certain mental flexibility regarding maai, which I believe takes longer to develop to an equal level when studying only taijutsu. For example, in karate each encounter is utterly different, because each individual's body is unique, and we must make a series of minute adjustments to take utmost advantage of the maai and make it work. This is virtually impossible for the beginning student to grasp, and many systems have implemented a more basic, static style of training, so that students can get the hang of techniques before being confronted with the full complexities of maai. Training in a weapons system, however, introduces a weapon, which is generally of a uniform length. My bojutsu is the same length as other students, and while differences in reach and ability to cover distance still matter, they matter less and are easier to isolate. The compensations one must make are clearer to see when training with various partners because of the constant of the weapon.

Studying in several different weapons systems then, gives one the chance to work on different maai, as defined by the length of each weapon. More importantly, it teaches flexibility and awareness. Earlier this year, I began going to jo training immediately after practicing kobudo. At first, when I began to use the jo, I would find my hand sliding off the end-I wanted more jo-and I would drop one end of my weapon. I quickly decided this was a bad idea, and rather than relying on a physical memory, or lapsing into habit, I began to turn on a constant maai monitor-before doing any technique, I would mentally check the length of my weapon. When I started to learn tanken (short sword) after several years of iaido training, my thrusting attack was simply too shallow. My body knew quite well how to do a thrust-but only with a weapon the length of a bayonet.

These days I train in empty-handed techniques, and with tanto, tanken, tachi, jo, bo, sai, and tonfa, and I can switch between the various maai (which are really all the same, but that's another story for the future, when I figure it out) with a reasonable degree of accuracy and efficiency. As a result, I feel much more comfortable and confident in dealing with the ever changing maai of taijutsu.












Our teaching method is based on proverb "First you learn how to fight (attack), and then you learn karate." So, first you strengthen your body and learn how to punch, kick, lock, throw, etc. then you learn how to defend through traditional kata

Every kata is separate fighting style and because of that every kata goes with its own kihon (basic techniques) and bunkai kumite (fighting applications).

We teach one kata per weapon. Every weapon has its own basic techniques (kihon) and fighting applications (bunkai kumite). 

Shiko dachi drilling
ren tsuki
sanbon tsuki
shihon tsuki
mae geri
hiza geri
ren tsuki - mae geri
uke wasa - age, gedan, uchi, soto
elbow lock - koma nage
head lock - kubiwa
basic throw - byubodaoshi
kote kitae
hojo undo - makiwara, chishi, sashi, kami, tetsu get...




for beginners



Advanced practitioners










Additional kata

Ufurugushku no kon
Chibana no sai
Hokama nunchaku
Tokuyama tuifa
IKKO no kama


The Classical Japanese Martial Arts in the West:
Problems in Transmission

by Dave Lowry

It is, almost undeniably, a fundamental aspect of the American character to be more or less constantly in search of something better. We seem to have almost a genetically predisposed desire for something different, something out of the ordinary. We are, to put it less charitably, perhaps, easily bored.

In a more idealistic light, we must acknowledge that such a cultural restlessness sparked our Manifest Destiny, beginning with the arrival of the Puritans to Massachusetts Bay and, most recently, with men walking on the moon. Ours is an approach to life that has influenced the behavior of Americans in matters as great as the way in which we started and continue to build a nation, as comparatively minor as the kind of martial disciplines of Japan that have interested us over the years. The grass, putting it simply, has always been greener on the other side of the hill.

In the case of those martial arts in this country, if we trace their presence here back far enough, we can see that the problem has been that there just weren't all that many hills, green or otherwise, around. In the Fifties, judo was utterly exotic. Outside of some Japanese-American enclaves, it was little known and less practiced and taught. And even in such ethnic communities, karate was so rare that when it was publicly demonstrated in Hawaii in 1927, the event occasioned an article in a Honolulu newspaper.

Within a decade, that changed. In the Sixties, karate became commonplace. By the latter half of that decade most cities had several dojo or "studios" or YMCAs that were offering instruction in the art. In the Seventies, the green meadows available for grazing in the martial arts became even more numerous and varied. Kung-fu was added as were several other combative arts from various parts of Asia. Most of them were more attractive (because they were "newer" and more exotic, primarily) alternatives to karate and judo that had become, by then, pedestrian.

To meet the grazing appetites of the interested public, there was also no shortage of arts that were more or less concocted, e.g., "ninjutsu," created out of folklore or ambitious fictions. In the Eighties, this continued, and martial arts enthusiasts found themselves with a smorgasbord of sorts, of silat, muay thai, savate, and a host of other disciplines.

The Bujutsu Fad?

In light of all this searching for something new, not to mention the entrepreneurial instincts to feed the search, it should hardly be surprising that the decade of the Nineties would find attention being directed at still another fertile field of combative arts. It has been. The decade of the Nineties has seen a new pasture open up in the bujutsu, the classical martial skills of the feudal period in Japan, circa 1400-1867.

The bujutsu, also referred to as the koryu (literally it means the "old" or "ancient traditions") offer a lot of attractions to the enthusiast in search of pastures more lush. Among the obvious reasons why Westerners in the 20th century might be drawn to arts that were meant for Japanese of the warrior class centuries ago would be:

Venerability. Despite our 20th century appetite for all that is new or faddish, a sizable number of us have a respect for the merits of age. Anything as ancient as the koryu, the reasoning follows, must have some value.

Romanticism. Popular novels and movies have glamorized "samurai swordsmanship" to levels best described as "swashbuckling." The samurai himself, a warrior who dressed in fine silks and pursued poetry and the tea ceremony, who made a life of blood and beauty; these are images that are tremendously appealing to many people. Look at the popularity of groups that "recreate" medieval culture and stage mock battles and jousts and such. Add the supposed mysticism of "The East," and you can see where arts like the bujutsu would fascinate so. A lack of reliable information placing these arts in a realistic historical context has left a gap that romantics have been free to fill in with their own notions of chivalry, derring-do, and so on.

Elitism. The rarity of the koryu provides an attraction for many of those individuals who enjoy standing out from the crowd or at least who appreciate not following along with it. There may be three or four "karate black belts" on the average block in most cities in the US. But how many "master swordsmen" or "modern samurai" are there?

Efficacy. Since these arts have a battlefield provenance, there is the assumption that the koryu contain many "secrets" and particularly lethal techniques that make them more effective in modern civilian self-defense situations.

Integrity. Anyone even tangentially involved with the average budo organization devoted to aikido, judo, karate, or some other martial Way has been exposed to mendacity, avarice, and managerial incompetence on a truly grandiose level. The koryu are (incorrectly) perceived as being above the organizational squabbles, the preoccupation with ranks, and the endless quest for more power and money that appear to compromise and infect the philosophy and goals of the modern and popular budo forms.

These, generally, are the views Westerner enthusiasts who are well-read (and books are almost the only remotely reliable source from which they might gather information, since non-Japanese with advanced experience in the koryu are so rare) have of the classical bujutsu. Very briefly, the koryu bujutsu might be more objectively defined as those combative forms directly or indirectly of a battlefield nature, that were the exclusive domain of the professional man-at-arms in premodern Japan. They date, as noted above, from approximately the 15th to 17th centuries. They are distinguished from the 20th century budo forms (and bear in mind that the appellations of "bujutsu" and "budo" are extremely arbitrary, more for general distinctions than as an exact definition) in several ways.

The bujutsu are:

--intended for implementation by a professional (feudal era) military class rather than for a general population.

--far less influenced by Zen Buddhism than later forms of budo. The spiritual underpinnings of the koryu tend to be those of mikkyo, a form of esoteric Buddhism.

--invariably and without exception organized under the aegis of the ryu, a feudal institution of old Japan with pedagogical, political, and cultural aspects that are completely different from modern commercial enterprises.

--obviously completely bereft of a sporting element, contests, or the kyu/dan ranking systems that are central to budo forms.

Undeniably, the koryu are appealing to a Western audience. At the risk of drawing my analogy about greener pastures out too far, however, those audiences would do well to remember that the color of a meadow may not be a positive indication that the grass there is palatable, that it is nutritious, or that it is even healthy for those who want to consume it. Several Westerners have gone to Japan to investigate the koryu. Some have gained admission to these classical ryu. A few have pursued them at such an intense and protracted level they have attained a thorough understanding of these arts. A very few have been granted permission to teach either part or all of the curriculum of the ryu to which they belong. (As we shall see, this permission is absolutely crucial if the ryu is to remain viable; one never undertakes to teach a koryu without the explicit permission, often in writing, of a qualified teacher.)

Nearly all of these individuals followed the trail blazed in the mid-Sixties in Japan by the late Donn Draeger. Draeger, a former Marine officer, took a scholarly and a participatory interest in the martial Ways that were being practiced in postwar Japan. His activity eventually led him into the koryu. Not only did Draeger's expertise impress several Japanese koryu experts enough for them to allow other foreigners to enter their ryu, he enthusiastically supported the education of many young foreign adepts living and training in Japan during the Sixties and Seventies.

We must bear in mind here, not incidentally, that the numbers of Western koryu participants about which we're speaking here were at that time and still are minuscule compared to the thousands of foreigners studying the modern budo in Japan. A generous estimate of the non-Japanese who have had serious instruction in the koryu would be no more than a few dozen. Their interests and experiences tend to create a certain cliquishness. They know or know of one another in a way completely unfamiliar to the large and largely anonymous groups involved in the budo. This is important to consider since those koryu exponents claiming to be legitimate but who are unknown to this fraternity of practitioners are apt to be regarded by the latter with considerable suspicion.

Denial Ain't just a River in Egypt

In contrast to this group of foreign practitioners of koryu are those persons interested in these arts who have attempted to involve themselves in the bujutsu in different ways. There are many such people. There are, in fact, enough of them to create quite a market for the classical martial arts and as with any appetite, there have been those who are eager to satisfy, to present a product. As a result, there are many, many individuals in the West who have been led to believe they are learning the skills of this koryu or that. They are, more accurately, being misled into believing. Fraud and deception involving the classical bujutsu have become a sad and reprehensible aspect of the martial arts scene in this country. Not so despicable but equally regrettable has been the amount of confusion and misinformation that has characterized Western perceptions of these martial traditions.

The problems encountered by the would-be bugeisha, the practitioner of the bujutsu, are varied. At one end of the scale are those students learning a legitimate system of feudal-era combat but who are doing so under a "teacher" who does not have the permission of a teacher before him that grants him license to transmit the system. (Also found at this range of the spectrum is at least one case where a teacher has actually been given official permission to teach more for political or sentimental reasons than for technical proficiency and who is simply incompetent as an instructor.) At the other extreme are charlatans who have actually created their own systems, passing them off with faked lineages and other false provenances. All these problems share a common source. All may be traced back to some fundamental misunderstandings about the nature of the bujutsu and the koryu that have sustained and nurtured them.

The Koryu

The ryu itself is something of a mystery to the modern world. It is a wholly feudalistic institution. Its history is fascinating. As with any organized combat, the kind of hardship in battle faced by the samurai in old Japan required a virtually inviolable cohesion between individual warriors in order to create an effective, functioning unit. In no small part, the martial ryu served to establish this connection. Loyalty, identification with the group, a willingness to place the goals of that group above one's own goals (specifically the goal of self-preservation); these qualities were as crucial to the maintenance and survival of a combative ryu as was the transmission of technical skill. Consequently, the ryu can be understood in terms of being a "family" as much as it was as a school or a distinctive tradition.

It was and is quite different from a modern commercial budo dojo, in at least three important ways:

One: in the koryu there are no "champions." The karate school may feature one or two stars who shine at the competitions (and who often use others in their school as little more than sparring partners). But the koryu is, on the proving grounds of the battlefield, only as strong as the weakest link in its membership. There is a sense of responsibility among members, then, for everyone's development.

In this sense, the koryu are not nearly so egocentric as are the modern budo. If today's budo dojo really wanted to do things "the samurai way" as they often imagine or advertise, they could begin in this fashion: at the next tournament, every competitor representing the school should give up his trophies unless the majority of his dojo-mates have won their matches as well. After all, on the battlefield, where the real samurai way was in effect, individual accomplishment is relatively meaningless unless the whole group succeeds.

Secondly, the ryu depends upon a pedagogical method very different from the way judo, aikido, and karate are taught today. The modern budo exponent follows a standardized form in his training. He is forced to make numerous concessions to learning in a large class. With forty or fifty students, it may be months before the student of karate or aikido, for instance, can expect any individual attention from the teacher. (One wellknown aikido instructor in this country has clearly explained in interviews that not all the people practicing at his dojo are his students. Only after they have persevered in their training sufficiently to have advanced to a particular degree of skill does he consider them actually his.)

The koryu exponent follows a set form as well in his training, learning kata or techniques in a loosely prescribed order. But his teacher, by the very nature of the ryu, confines his teaching to within a small group. From the beginning of his learning, the koryu student receives very individualized tuition. An epigram of the koryu explains it this way: "Ten different students; ten different arts." The teacher adapts to the student.

Sometimes, in those koryu that have curriculum involving more than a single weapon, one student may begin learning one weapon while another beginning at the same time will be taught to use another one. This virtually private instruction means that the koryu sensei can take into account differences in the physique, temperament, and background of his students and can teach them accordingly. All will, if they continue their practice, end up learning the same things. They won't learn them, however, at the same time or in the same way. This individualized teaching is nearly impossible in a budo dojo with dozens and dozens of members who must, logistically, be taught all the same.

Most importantly, however, the individual koryu exists as a distinct social group. It is, as noted above, much like a family. This implies a limited availability to outsiders, much as your own family has a limited flexibility, if it is to remain a distinct family unit, for accepting outsiders.

Consider this: aside from being born or adopted into it, one enters your family only through marriage. Think about how protracted this latter process is. How long does it take before your spouse or brother- or sister-in-law is fully integrated into your family? How long before they learn all the family nicknames, family stories; learn which cabinets hold the dishes at your house, or how to best handle Uncle Harry when he gets drunk and starts telling off-color tales about his wartime visits to brothels in Manila? It is a long process, one that cannot be hurried. There are no shortcuts to being absorbed by a family, becoming a part of a small group like that. And most of us have had the experiences, in our own families, of those who try to enter but just can't. Because of their personality or because of the nature of the family itself, some outsiders never do entirely "fit in." You can't have a "seminar" to teach these people what they need to know, how they need to behave to be accepted. You cannot force someone to fit into your family if they do not.

This analogy is entirely apt in describing the typical koryu. Their structure makes them unsuitable for access to large numbers of outsiders. There was a movie some years ago, perhaps you have seen it on cable or video, titled "The Challenge." It starred Toshiro Mifune and the actor Scott Glen, and it contained scenes of group training at what was supposed to be a koryu school. Pairs of practice partners in the movie neatly lined up and simultaneously went through choreographed movements. This may be the way those who have never visited one might believe a koryu group is run.

But to those who have visited or trained in a real koryu, these scenes rang particularly false. Mass instruction has never been a feature of these arts and cannot be. It takes years to instruct and impart all the technique and lore and history of a koryu to a single student. It is a considerable investment in time, rather like a master-apprentice relationship more than it resembles the teacher at the head of the class model that we have for education in modern times. It is as well an extremely close relationship and the personality of the sensei will, without a doubt, profoundly affect the character of his students. This is a relationship that can only develop properly by a near-daily interaction between teacher and student, in training and in other activities.

Once a person has this basic knowledge of the "family" nature of a legitimate koryu and can see how its individualized instruction further limits participation, can see how long and how close the process is to inculcate a person into the ryu, the methods typifying the fake koryu will seem quite inappropriate, to say the least. Can you understand the derision that meets announcements of "seminars" open to all who pay their fees, that propose to teach a classical martial art?

Commercialism of the Koryu?

The whole subject of commercialism in the koryu is another one that is difficult to grasp for us in the 20th Century, with our mercantile-based societies. When it comes up, those who claim to be teaching a classical system in return for the remuneration found in a commercial-type school invariably point to a single episode in the history of the martial arts to justify their actions. They cite the case of Ueshiba Morihei, aikido's founder, who paid a specific sum for specific techniques taught him by his sometimes-mentor, Takeda Sokaku, a teacher of the Daito-ryu. This is a non sequitur because: a) Ueshiba was not even born until after the end of Japan's feudal period; he was a modern martial artist, not a classical one; b) the Daito-ryu does not meet the standards of a koryu in the strictest parlance, and c) Takeda Sokaku can hardly be considered a typical teacher in the koryu tradition.

Historically, payment for instruction in a koryu was largely moot. The ryu would have been financially maintained by a clan or a daimyo (warlord/clan leader) to which its headmaster belonged. The headmaster may have had other, administrative duties to perform in addition to his responsibilities for teaching the martial arts. Other bujutsu masters were retained under the auspices of a Buddhist temple that served as the spiritual home of that particular ryu. Today, almost no one in Japan makes a living teaching a legitimate koryu. It is an avocation. Training fees or dojo dues are minimal. They are usually used for the upkeep of the training facilities. Anyone claiming to be teaching a classical bujutsu who is charging exorbitant fees ought to be subject to the most careful scrutiny. Of the roughly one-half dozen authorities I know of who are instructing some sort of koryu system in the US, none is charging for their teaching or making a profit on the arrangement.

Koryu and Its Place in Japanese Society

Another aspect of the historical koryu that causes misunderstanding concerns their place in Japanese society. More than one ersatz "classical martial arts ryu" being sold in this country attempts to explain its lineage as a sub rosa system that escaped the attention, deliberately or inadvertently, of researchers who have extensively catalogued Japanese martial ryu, both extant and extinct. Not long ago, I was sent a hugely entertaining collection of letters between a bujutsu researcher in Japan and a senior student of a supposed koryu practiced exclusively here in the United States. The researcher was inquiring about the history of the ryu. The senior student had all kinds of the most outrageous explanations for this ryu's having had failed to catch the attention of every serious martial arts researcher in the world. The ryu's lineage had been left out of this or that book by accident, he first said. The headmasters of the ryu were forced into living anonymously after the Second World War as the result of anti-martial arts policies during the Occupation, was a later claim. It went on and on and the researcher calmly and logically refuted each of these tales.

True, he said, the books did leave out some ryu accidentally. But it is unlikely that every dictionary of Japanese koryu would leave out the same ryu by making the same error. And why weren't other koryu masters forced to live underground and conceal their ryu? The exchange finally ended when the senior student was driven to suggest that all history is subjective and that none of the histories of the various koryu are at all dependable for scholarship. Such a position is quite close, intellectually, to those who insist the Holocaust never happened and one hardly knows whether to continue to try to reason with them or merely pity them in their sad delusions.

The "secret ryu" is a convenient story in explaining away any lack of outside historical documentation or a provenance that can be independently verified. But the truth is, it's a story that, in terms of the koryu, doesn't have much credibility. Remember this one fact: the martial ryu in feudal Japan was a political unit. The ryu existed to further the interests of a clan or a daimyo. An "underground ryu" would have been as viable and as effective as an underground political party in a democracy. Can you imagine trying to persuade voters to support your platform but concealing from them at the same time the fact that your party exists? No. Sooner or later, for the party to be effective, its presence must be made known. A ryu was not much different during the feudal era (although of course, today it may be: very, very few Japanese are even aware of the koryu). Certainly all bujutsu ryu had their secrets. But secret ryu? Not in Japan.

If not exactly secret, other impostors claim, their ryu are simply so obscure they have been overlooked by numerous and expert martial arts researchers and historians. This is an interesting claim--not because it's true; almost invariably it is not--but because it reveals how one culture (ours, in this case) can unknowingly transpose its own history and social customs on another (in this instance, that of Japan).

Misunderstood Contexts

America is a large country. A very large one. It has always been a country that allowed, in comparison with the rest of the world, an equally enormous freedom in the personal lives of its citizens. Daniel Boone didn't have to consult with any authority or government agency when he left Pennsylvania to go to the far frontier of Kentucky. He took off the same way you might take off to go on a holiday this weekend. Neither you nor he had to get permission for travel or tell authorities where you are going and when you are expected to return.

Boone didn't have to fill out any documents or carry any official papers with him. Record keeping of such movements are, to the frustration of many a genealogist, scarce. If I told you my ancestors began a pottery tradition 230 years ago in northern Georgia and I am doing the same kind of pottery today in my home in Oregon, you would have little evidence to dispute my story should you choose to do so. How would you do it? You might ask if there was any mention of my ancestor's occupation as potters back in colonial Georgia in old census records. But I could say, nope; they lived way back in the woods of Appalachia where census-takers never made it.

They never were required to "register" their trade, nor did they have to have any documentation of their eventual migration to Oregon.

In short, my story is perfectly believable in the context of American history and culture. A Japanese claiming a similar kind of artistic past, however, could not falsely do so any longer than it would take an interested party to check voluminous and extensive records that are easily and publicly available in Japan.

Japan is a small country. It has almost always been sedentary in terms of population. And because of the control of the daimyo over virtually the entire country, there were records kept on nearly every person in the domains of those leaders. It would likely be possible, if I were a Japanese with ancestral roots in the art of pottery, to establish the nature of my predecessors' ceramics inventory in any given year, to discover exactly where their kilns were located, and certainly to learn if they had relocated to another part of the country; these would in most cases be easy facts to uncover. There would be notations of these in provincial and local records.

This is much the same situation as can be found among martial arts practitioners in Japan. The information available to martial arts researchers and scholars is staggering. If there is any problem in reconstructing the histories of the various koryu it is often that there is too much information. It requires some patience to sift through it all. With a little digging, it is possible to discover not just the basic facts about the thousands of koryu that have existed, but their lineages, complete or nearly so, as well as all sorts of quotidian details about the lives and activities of past masters. It is possible that a koryu could have slipped through such a tight and far-flung net of information. But if a potential student of such a tradition is considering joining it as it is taught in this country, he must be willing to bet on two remarkably unlikely occurrences. He must believe that such a ryu has passed through undetected that tight web of historical scrutiny and research. He must also believe that an American was able to enter and to master such an obscure system and now professes legitimately to teach a ryu that the Japanese have never heard of.

I don't want to overstate the situation here. It is possible for an art to have thrived in obscurity, growing in such deep shadows that all the other practitioners of related arts remain unaware of its existence. And records in Japan have been subject to a world war that destroyed all kinds of documents. But let us summarize the whole subject of secret or rare koryu allegedly being taught in this country. The tales surrounding these systems are undeniably appealing. They evoke romantic and exciting scenes of a mountain fastness populated by wizened masters of mayhem passing deep and deadly secrets along to loyal acolytes. Look, though, at the historical facts. A daimyo ruled his lands through taxation of his subjects. He worried constantly about insurrections or clandestine political foment. Does it seem plausible he would be unaware of a clan of those hidden masters living on his property, his land, without paying taxes? Would he allow them to be secretly practicing and promoting a fighting art that could, in all likelihood be used against his own samurai if he permitted it to continue?

Daimyo usually ascended to power and they almost always remained there, by controlling things. The roads, the waterways, the people under their rule. And it's not as though there was a vast frontier there to where their authority did not extend. Punishments were strict and harsh for even the mildest threats to their rule. I don't know about you, but I'd have some serious questions about any stories of a "secret" martial ryu that could have survived under those conditions.

Transmission of the Koryu

The way in which a koryu is maintained and passed on is still another source of misunderstanding for the Western enthusiast of the classical Japanese martial disciplines. The bujutsu of Japan share an internal structure almost identical to those of ryu devoted to the art of flower arranging (ikebana), the tea ceremony (chado), and other arts of the feudal period. The structure is called the iemoto system.

Have you ever thought about who actually "owns" a martial art? There are copyright laws that enjoin you from using the tide Japan Karate Association, true. But you cannot be punished through our legal system by teaching all the kata and other methods of the JKA, even if you learned them by watching some videos and never had the blessing of the JKA at all. The same is true for various schools of aikido or any of the Japanese budo.

A classical martial ryu, though, was actually owned, in a sense. It was the property, literally, of its originator or of his descendants. The founder, or iemoto, designated his successor, who became the next headmaster or "owner" of the system. The line of succession was usually a familial one, father to eldest son. On occasion adoption might have been necessary to carry on the lineage. Other ryu were passed down to a trusted disciple outside the family. The salient point for our purposes of understanding this iemoto system is that the responsibility, the privilege of teaching or transmitting a koryu was and still is rather tightly controlled. It is entirely different from a modern budo like karate-do, where anyone at any time is free to begin teaching.

Different koryu that still exist today take different approaches to the whole matter of who is allowed to teach them. In most, a certification of mastery is not necessarily a license in itself to teach. To actually oversee instruction, one must usually seek the specific permission (or be granted it) from the incumbent headmaster. In others, the designation of mastery is an official declaration that the holder is de facto allowed to provide instruction in the ryu. In some cases, those who have mastered the ryu will be granted a limited permission to teach certain aspects of the curriculum, with the understanding that the students of the teacher will eventually take more advanced instruction under the headmaster or some other designated senior. (This is precisely the case with an exponent of one koryu that is currently being taught in the US. The "teacher" was leaving Japan to pursue a business opportunity. He lacked advanced instruction in the ryu, although he wanted to continue his training. The headmaster of the ryu gave him an informal permission to teach some rudiments of the art to a limited number of students. But it is important to recognize that such instruction cannot be considered the equivalent of membership in that ryu nor should those receiving this teaching hold any misconceptions about their status within the system.)

The aspiring koryu practitioner should make every effort to learn how the teaching hierarchy in a particular koryu is maintained before he begins an association with it. This is vital if the teaching being is presented is being done so outside of Japan. If he is satisfied that he comprehends the criteria for teaching and he believes his prospective teacher meets it, he should feel confident in pursuing the art under such tutelage.

A good example here is found in the Katori Shinto-ryu. The oldest of the martial koryu still practiced in Japan, the Shinto-ryu's present iemoto is Iizasa Yasusada, a 20th generation descendant of the ryu's founder, Iisaza Choisai lenao. Poor health prevents the current headmaster from conducting teaching in the ryu. That responsibility has fallen to the ryu's designated chief instructor, Otake Risuke, who teaches at his dojo in Narita. Most readers will know this. There are, however, at least three other people currently teaching the curriculum of the Shinto-ryu. These three teachers have varying degrees of expertise in the art. Certainly all of them can prove that they studied the Shinto-ryu. None of these three, though, can or do claim that they have the sanction of the headmaster to do what they are doing.

For some aspiring practitioners, the experience of these three may be sufficient. They all have students here in the US. Other would-be practitioners, however, may decline to practice any form of the Shinto-ryu unless they can be accepted by that ryu's primary lineage. But all of them should be cognizant of the facts and make their decisions accordingly.

It is a cognizance of facts that is most crucial for the prospective student of any koryu. He needs the facts to take the opportunity (and it is an extremely rare one) to begin a study of a koryu that may be available in the West. More likely, he needs facts to steer him clear from fraudulent ryu or from those teachers who may sincerely believe they are imparting an authentic classical system of combat strategy when they are not. Most importantly, knowing the facts surrounding the bujutsu is the best way to see these wonderful old arts not as others would romantically like them to be but as they actually are.

One reason that fraudulent koryu and ersatz "masters" have proliferated in the West is a rather (at the risk of sounding sexist) gentlemanly refusal to speak or write critically of others in public on the part of legitimate koryu members and authorities. There has also been an attitude of "anyone foolish enough to become involved in a phony koryu deserves what he gets." Doubtless some reluctance to speak out stems from a stubborn, almost religious fervor with which adherents to these pretend koryu support and defend them.

My own experience in dealing with these individuals has been illustrative. As it was with the correspondence I mentioned above, between a researcher in Japan and a senior student of a fake "master" in the United States, in the face of overwhelmingly objective evidence that is presented to them to show that the system they are studying has no historical reality, their response, pathetically, is often "My teacher says it's so." At this point, the researcher must conclude he is dealing with a person caught up with a belief system. Facts are not so important to these people as are images, both of themselves and their teachers, that affirm a particular view of things.

Fortunately, not all individuals training in a fake koryu are so dogmatic. Some, through their own efforts or by approaching authorities with their questions, come to discover they are being misled and cheated. One courageous and refreshingly honest confession appeared not long ago in a martial arts publication. The writer admitted that he had fallen in with a dishonest instructor of a bogus koryu and that he had contributed to this problem by creating kata and others aspects of training on his own.

Unlike others who cling to their phony ryu, this fellow, according to his writing, came to see that he would never attain the goals that brought him to a search for the bujutsu in the first place if he continued. In my opinion, this person has taken an enormous step forward in his approach to the classical martial arts and toward his own self-mastery.

The intent of this article is not to ridicule or to unfairly cast aspersions. If the reader has an opportunity to pursue a true and authentic koryu in this country and he is so motivated, then he should be all means do so. (As you must now realize, this is an extremely unlikely proposition for most. I noted earlier that I can think of only a half dozen real koryu experts in the US. They all keep a low profile. Some have no students at all currently; others have no more than three or four. None--and this is a crucial point--none of them are in the least bit evasive about their training history or qualifications if they are asked. Each can give you the addresses of their teachers and the dojo where they trained in Japan and can provide documentation and genealogies that can easily be verified in that country.)

The classical martial disciplines of Japan are a rich source of physical, spiritual, and social value. They are a treasure every bit as precious as any work of art. If the prospective practitioner should not be hasty to jump into a ryu of questionable legitimacy, neither should he adopt an attitude of cynicism that leads him to overlook a chance to join a koryu. (I am reminded of perhaps the senior-most koryu authority outside Japan, a scholar, author, and true master who oversees a small group of trainees in his art in Hawaii. It has occurred more than once that a spectator at outdoor training sessions will inquire about joining, only to lose interest when it is explained that the master is of Caucasian rather than Japanese ancestry.)

To return, if I may, in summation, to the analogy of the greener pastures." The bujutsu are a lush meadow for all those willing and able to enter them. Those who cannot make this entrance can show a real appreciation and respect for these arts by refusing to compromise them, by refusing to accept a cheap imitation. If they are a landscape that can only be viewed from a distance, those who truly admire the bujutsu in the West will show the nature of their character by doing just that




In conclusion we would very much like you to join our humble and quality organization, but making a decision is not always easy, especially when one is joining a new body with new faces. The approach we try to encourage is that what ever one has learnt is not right or wrong but rather knowledge towards the journey of empowerment. Budo is the same as any other vocation the more you learn with quality and depth the more enjoyable budo becomes.


Budo education is life education and it is important tha one someone chooses a mate or partner they have to think seriously about a life long commitment. Therefore, we encourage potential members to think serious before joining. The old saying try before you buy is the apt in this regard. Join us for a training session during one of our numerous courses and then decide if IKKO is for you.


We look forward to you becoming a member of our family.





Shihan Imtiaz Abdulla

Chief Instructor




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