I’m very pleased to announce the official release of “Tales from the Western Generation”! This book is a collection of over 30 interviews with some of the most senior karate practitioners in the United States. These are men and women who studied directly with the great masters of Okinawa, Japan, and early USA.
I’d like to show off what the book has to offer!
What is Tales from the Western Generation?
In 2008 I started Ikigai Way, and shortly after began pursuing interviews with martial artists that I found particularly interesting or impactful. After completing a handful of interviews I realized that there were some amazing individuals with unique stories that had a lot to share…but no avenue to share it! That’s when I decided to begin pursuing the stories of karate greats with more zeal and collect them all in one book.
“Tales” is the culmination of that effort, and breaks down like this:
Section 1 – History of how Eastern martial arts made their way to America. Prior to 1950 Judo was the most popular Eastern martial art in the United States. Despite thousands of Chinese immigrants during the gold rush era, Kung Fu remained a well maintained secret. In section 1 I explore how the importation of various Eastern martial arts affected the eventual growth of karate in the USA.
Section 2 – Interviews with the Western Generation. The crux of the book, this section features over 30 interviews with senior practitioners of various karate styles. The interview guests come from diverse backgrounds and studied with senior sensei in Japan, Okinawa, and the United States.
Section 3 – Conclusions. Using the wide context of the book, I draw certain conclusions about the past, present, and future of karate, applicable to individuals of all styles and skill levels.
|Hear Stories About Great Masters Such As:||___||Interview Guests Include:|
…and many more!
|Chuck Merriman – Goju Ryu
Ed McGrath – Isshin Ryu
Maynard Miner – Shotokan
Glenn Keeney – Goju Ryu
Victor Moore – Shuri Ryu
Cathy Cline – Shotokan
James Logue – Oyata Shin Shu Ho
Bill Hayes – Shobayashi Ryu
Nicomedes Flores – Okinawa Kenpo
William Dometrich – Chito Ryu
James Coffman – Matsumura Seito
Doug Perry – Shorin Ryu Shorinkan
…and many more!
Where to Get the Book:
You can get your copy of “Tales” at the following locations:
This is the first public look at a project I have been working on for a long time. I’m excited to share it with you, and I hope you’ll join me as this book draws closer to completion over the next few months. Read on to find out what the project is and what I have in store for readers who help me spread the word!
What is “Tales From the Western Generation”?
Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve collected a number of interviews over the years with impactful instructors of various martial arts. My goal has always been to highlight individuals who have distinguished themselves through skill, effort, contribution to the arts. I wanted to showcase men and women worthy of emulation and whom future generations may need to know more about as they pursue martial arts in their own time.
If you’re a martial arts enthusiast, you’ve probably thought to yourself how wonderful it would be to have more a complete record of the life and times of the masters who have gone before us. In the karate world, we would all summarily have benefited from a treatise by Matsumura Sokon, or Kyan Chotoku, or Gokenki the tea merchant. To have their thoughts and beliefs down on paper…what a difference that could make! I realized one day while digging around in old texts that history was going on all around me and it was fading away, unrecorded.
It can be difficult to see history as it’s being made, but we live in a time where Karate outside of Okinawa is a very new development. Some of the first individuals who traveled to Okinawa and Japan, studied with the great masters, and brought it back are still with us or just recently passed. There is a rare and finite window for us to record the thoughts and experiences of these great men and women who studied directly with masters like Soken Hohan, Shimabukuro Zenryo, and Shimabukuro Tatsuo. We can learn from their trials and difficulties as they attempted to meld Eastern and Western cultures in order to start schools and organizations of their own.
That is the goal of “Tales From the Western Generation”. To gain a small sense of what it was like and what was learned from the masters, so that we can quell myths, understand philosophies, and grow from the efforts of the past.
Over 30 Interviews with Karate Pioneers
Many people don’t realize just how young karate is outside of Okinawa. With taekwondo and karate schools in every corner strip mall in America it would be easy to assume that these arts have been growing in the West for 100 years or more. It’s astounding to think that in 1940 there wasn’t a single known karate program in the entire country. In the 1950s the word “karate” was barely known and the art could only be found on a handful of military bases and small schools. The earliest American pioneers of karate are barely removed from us, most passing away just before the turn of the century. However, the first true generation that spent significant time in the East, opening doors and getting to know the great eastern masters in earnest, are the ones who share their stories in this book.
“Tales From the Western Generation” grants us access into the stories of over 30 men and women who have dedicated their lives to the study and propagation of karate. They span most of the major styles (Goju Ryu, Isshin Ryu, Shotokan, Matsumura Seito, etc.) and span a wide variety of backgrounds. They overcame difficulties of war, racial prejudice, extreme poverty, and more, and as a result have acquired reputations worthy of preservation.
Intertwining Worlds – Illuminating Our Place in Karate’s Grand Story
We live in a compartmentalized world, especially when it comes to martial arts. Karate styles expend a lot of energy explaining why they are superior, more realistic, and more legitimate than other karate styles. Feuding karateka may be surprised to learn that karate practitioners of the past worked carefully and quietly together to enhance one another’s life protection capabilities. It made sense – the goal of karate was not to win trophies or beat other karateka in duels, but to protect villages and families from grave danger.
The earliest Westerner karateka in Okinawa saw this martial sharing first-hand, and were exposed to a variety of instructors themselves. Of course, as karate gained worldwide growth and prestige it also suffered from greed, jealousy, pride, and pettiness. Hence the eventual posturing and fracturing, leading us to where we are today.
The history and interview content featured in this book can help us understand what karate used to look like, what happened to it as it spread across the globe, and what pitfalls we need to be aware of as we cultivate karate’s growth.
Many of the interview guests provide insights into teachers from multiple styles, and even discuss how they crossed paths with other interview guests. The result is an intertwined experienced, demonstrating that the karate world was not so big, once-upon-a-time.
Ask the Experts, Win a Free Copy, and More!
There are a lot of interesting events planned as we get closer and closer to publication. I’ll be rewarding loyal readers with giveaways, free copies of the book, and access to unique information. To stay updated, sign up for the mailing list below. This is a private mailing group and will only send out occasional messages about “Tales From the Western Generation”.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned. I intend to tell you a lot more about this project and hopefully gain your support in helping spread the word. I think this book could be a serious tool for education, both in terms of understanding history and helping guide us into the future.
Whenever people ask me for martial art book recommendations I put “My Journey with the Grandmaster” in my top three. If they are a karate person specifically I yell at them for not owning it already, then order them to acquire it. Sometimes, sadly, the book is out of print and the only way to acquire a copy is through grossly overpriced used versions on Amazon. I know for a fact that Bill Hayes Sensei hates to see that happen, so he has decided to run a new printing of the book. This is a key opportunity for anyone who has been meaning to pick the book up but couldn’t get a copy thus far.
I’d like to tell you a little about what the book is and how to reserve a copy for yourself.
What is “My Journey with the Grandmaster”?
During the Vietnam Era Bill Hayes Sensei had the opportunity to spend multiple tours on Okinawa. While there he studied under one of the true great luminaries of karate, Shimabukuro Eizo Sensei. Shimabukuro Sensei was/is a Shorin Ryu practitioner of unique skill, carrying on the traditions of not only Kyan Chotoku but also Miyagi Chojun, Motobu Choki, Itosu Anko, and more. Through dedication and talent Bill Hayes Sensei was able to become one of Shimabukuro Sensei’s most senior students.
To capture some of his experiences for the benefit of his own students, Hayes Sensei decided to chronicle his thoughts and philosophies in “My Journey with the Grandmaster”. For a little more detail I’ll let Hayes Sensei explain it himself!
Limited Run – Reserve a Copy!
Hayes Sensei only produces a printing of the book every couple of years, so if you miss a chance to secure a copy you might be left waiting for awhile.
At this time Hayes Sensei isn’t accepting live payments as the book has not been printed yet. However, he is accepting reservations so as to get a better idea of how many to print. To make your reservation, print out the pdf featured in the link below and send it to Hayes Sensei’s physical address (included in the pdf). Conversely, use the online order form I have attached to this blog post. Your reservation information will go directly to Hayes Sensei.
Fill out the form below: