Hey everyone! This is a quick personal update regarding my goings-on in Colorado. Long time readers may recall that I moved from PA to CO last year. Since then I have continued my karate and kobudo training, taught in a few seminars, and began training in Muso Shinden Ryu to augment my previous experience in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. I’m happy to say an opportunity has arisen for me to begin teaching again via my own program!
The facility where I train in iaido is called Castle Rock Aikido. The Castle Rock Aikido facility is a spacious building with high quality mats and a great martial ambiance. The owner, Sean Hannon, expressed an interest in building out more than just Aikido and iaido in the facility and offered me a chance to start a karate/kobudo program as well. I was excited to work with a well run, ethical school so I jumped at his offer.
About Castle Rock Karate and Kobudo
The CRKK school revolves around Okinawa Kenpo of the Nakamura Shigeru -> Odo Seikichi -> Bruce Heilman lineage. I’ll be teaching classical methods that stem directly from Okinawa and utilize concepts from both modern karate and classical Pre-WWII karate. The specific programs offered within CRKK will be broken up as such:
* Full Karate and Kobudo Program – This will provide access to the complete Okinawa Kenpo system, including empty hand kata, weapons kata, self defense, joint locking, striking, sparring, philosophy, history, and more.
* Kobudo Expansion Program – This will be for individuals looking to expand their weapons experience. Individuals may be new to martial arts or may have experience in existing styles. Weapons studied will focus on classical Okinawan implements such as the bo, sai, tonfa, nunchaku, eiku, kama, nunti, tekkos, and more.
* Self Defense – This program is for individuals who may not have the time or physical ability to handle a full martial art but would like to increase their self defense capabilities. Topics covered will include threat assessment, de-escalation, modern law, self defense techniques, and more.
Examples of Okinawa Kenpo Kobudo
For individuals who may have never seen Okinawa Kenpo Kobudo before I decided to film two kata. This was also a good chance to show a little bit of the new dojo.
Sakugawa no Kon Ichi
Odo no Kama Ni
Finding Out More About the Program
If you’d like to find out more about the program, I have created a specific web page for it: Castle Rock Karate and Kobudo.
I have also created a facebook page if you want to follow along with seminars, classes, goings-on: CRKK Facebook Group.
Thanks to everyone for supporting me and helping me in the growth stages of this program. I appreciate you being a reader here and hope you can visit the program itself at some point.
This is the sixth article in Reader Week II. Author Jeffrey Riggs describes the experience of organizing and participating in a gathering of Okinawa Kenpo practitioners.
On June 7th, 8th, and 9th, Iwatana Karate of Rockledge Florida hosted the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Friendship Conference with an open invitation to all Karate practitioners with ties to Nakamura Shigeru, the founder of Okinawa Kenpo Karate, and ties to his lineage.
The Friday Meet and Greet started off with people showing up early, eagerly anticipating an evening of social activity and it was well underway in the hall prior to the buffet even being ready and the doors open. The hall was a beehive of activity and once the doors opened everyone was so engaged that nobody even noticed.
In predominant attendance were members of two lineages of Okinawa Kenpo, the Odo, Seikichi and the Nakayama, Hideka lineages were represented. As is usually the case, the higher ranked dan and sensei and the other students of the art gravitated towards their contemporaries and it was soon discovered that the opinion of all present was that everyone was connected in a familial manner with the word “cousin” generously uttered. It became apparent among the ranking sensei that they were looking forward to seeing and evaluating how the “art” of the two lineages compared. All of the emphasis was on the benefit of diversity and there was no mention or discussion of the negativity of right and wrong. Old friends and acquaintances reminisced and new ones created while the exchange of war stories of younger days were exchanged, no doubt exaggerated or embellished for effect.
One such story, related by Pat McGale Sensei was about when he was instructed by Odo Sensei at around the age of 12, to teach a young Marine Wansu Kata. He related that while he well knew the moves, he still had yet to learn the nuances. But, he knew enough to get this young Marine started on learning the kata. Once this Marine learned the movements, the young McGale then told him that when he got Wonsu down, he would teach him Twosu. Upon hearing this, Odo Sensei apparently went into “Father” mode and “Corrected” young Mr. McGale, quite emphatically.
Saturday training started exactly at 8:00 AM as promised. The banquet room was turned into a dojo with two large rooms separated by a moving wall.
An opening was located on the north side to facilitate movement back and forth. The West room had a tasteful “Spirit Seat” on an alter table with the picture of Nakamura Sensei, and the logo of Iwatana-do. These were separated by a “Tori Gate Frame of the kanji for Okinawa Kenpo Karate. This room also served as the “Mat Room” as mats were laid out for training as well as making seiza more
comfortable. The east room was left mat-less and was used for kata and kumite.
The Okinawa Kenpo Friendship Conference was by almost any definition a huge success. New friends were made, invitations for visits exchanged and mutual endorsements were freely given with a spoken desire to continue down the path of acceptance and sharing knowledge and perspectives. Older friends and acquaintances reconnected and reminisced. New friends were introduced and history as well as war stories were exchanged. Knowledge was shared, both graciously given and received.
Odo Seikichi of Okinawa Kenpo was known as one of the finest karateka of his generation; his abilities in kobudo became especially well known over time. His teachers were a collection of many great karate minds, including Nakamura Shigeru, Matayoshi Shinko, Matayoshi Shinpo, Kakazu Mitsuo, etc. He was also a contemporary and friend to many important practitioners, including Toma Shian, Oyata Seiyu, Kise Fusei, and more.
In 1989 Odo Sensei was recognized on Okinawa for his lifelong contribution to the martial arts. A promotion ceremony was arranged, led by Odo Sensei’s colleague Kise Fusei. It was at this ceremony that Odo Sensei was officially recognized as 10th Dan and received a new red belt.
Not all organizations on the island recognized this promotion, which was their right, but in general Odo Sensei was noted as 10th Dan after that point.
Odo Sensei’s senior students in America were quite delighted to hear about this promotion, and expressed their congratulations accordingly. That same year (1989) Odo Sensei visited the United States and was presented with a congratulatory plaque from a number of his senior students. Not feeling satisfied with this effort, the seniors decided to organize something more official for the following year’s gathering.
In 1990, during Odo Sensei’s next trip to the United States, multiple officers of the OKKKF (Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation) and other Okinawa Kenpo seniors constructed and signed a certificate of recognition which was presented to Odo Sensei by Bruce Heilman in Reading, PA.
The following video showcases that ceremony (originally filmed by Mike Kriegisch Sensei, now of Kriegisch Martial Arts):
The certificate presented to Odo Sensei is copied below for posterity and accuracy:
* Richard Gonzalez, Kyoshi. Executive Director/U.S. Representative
* C. Bruce Heilman, Kyoshi. Director International Relations
* Dean Stephens, Kyoshi. West Coast Representative
* Joseph Bunch, Kyoshi
* Victor Coffin, Kyoshi
* John Snyder, Renshi. East Coast Representative
* Paul Ortino, Renshi. Hawaii Representative
The USKA also honored Odo Sensei with the following certificate, signed by James Hawkes, Robert Jordan, and Bruce Heilman:
As Heilman Sensei stated in the video these certificates were not actual promotions conducted by the students, but recognition of the rank given to Odo Sensei and a reconfirmation of Odo as style head. It should also be noted that this ceremony did not involve all Okinawa Kenpo seniors, some of whom were not part of these organizations and had the opportunity to honor Odo Sensei in their own way.
If you’d like to learn more about how 10th Dan works and the history of how it came about, continue reading here.