Board breaking and Yoga – but not at the same time :-)

BOARD BREAKING ALL CHILDREN’S CLASSES THIS THURSDAY AUGUST 10th!

Gentle Yoga with Sensei Tara

  • Tues. & Thurs.   1:30-2:30 p.m.  Starts Sept. 12th
  • Saturdays           7:30-8:30 a.m. Starts Sept. 16th
  • 8 class pass  $ 70
  • 4 class pass  $ 40
  • Drop In         $ 12
  • Private session     $ 60 an hour
  • Semi-private 2-3 people   $ 90 an hour
  • For more info. check flyer at the dojo or

Text or call Tara Philipps 716.913.5741 or e-mail tjphilipps@yahoo.com

Pre-registration recommended

Isshin-ryu no kamisama

Western New York Karate Center
Shihan Bill

Isshin-ryu no kamisama

Master Uezu tells one version of the origin of the Isshin-ryu symbol and Sensei Advincula has another.  You don’t have to pick one or the other.  I use these stories to analyze any particular version of the Isshin-ryu symbol I see and guess at whether the artist was following Master Uezu’s version or Sensei Advincula’s. Regardless, I think the image should be called, Isshin-ryu no kamisama, the guardian spirit of Isshin-ryu.

Mizu-gami – The Dream
According to Master Uezu Angi, after working out, Master Shimabuku fell asleep on a water tank in his courtyard and he began to dream.  In this dream, a man entered the courtyard and challenged Master Shimabuku to a fight.  Shimabuku refused and held out an open left hand (meaning peace) and shook his closed right hand in a fist over his head (meaning the ability to destroy). The man then encircled Shimabuku in flames before he disappeared.  Shimabuku took a bucket of water from the tank he was standing on and poured out the water and extinguished the flames.

Mizu-gami – The Design
The next day, during a business trip to Naha (capital of Okinawa), Shimabuku was confronted with the image of Mizu-gami, the Shinto Water Goddess, hanging as a print in building and realized that the image was a parallel to his dream and incorporated Mizu-gami into the symbol for Isshin-ryu that we know to this day. Mizu-gami in the center.  Three stars above representing Master Shimabuku’s three teachers.  A red oval border representing the vertical punch and the flames that surrounded Master Shimabuku in the dream.  An ocean symbolizing purity. And a dragon representing good fortune.

Megami – The Dream
According to Sensei A.J. Advincula, the US Marine that designed the original Isshin-ryu patch, Master Shimbuku’s dream was of a spirit, a megami, who spoke to him and said, “you have new ideas on how to improve your techniques. Go ahead and teach them publicly.”

Megami – The Design
Later, Master Shimabuku passed a shop in Shuri and saw a picture similar to the megami from his dream, Ryuzu Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, who is sometimes depicted as a woman riding on a dragon.  Master Shimabuku began studying Okinawan mysticism with his uncle, Ganeku Shinko, when he was 13 and continued to train with him in Okinawa mysticism until he was 20.  Ganeku hoped that Master Shimabuku would become a sanjinso, a fortune teller, like him, who uses the I Ching and other Chinese occult lore to predict personal futures (Ganeku also introduced Master Shimabuku to To-de and thus Master Shimabuku discovered his life’s calling).  Thus, Shimabuku recognized Ryuzu Kannon and knew it was she who had visited him to inspire him to start his own dojo. Master Shimabuku borrowed the image and took it to an artist, Nakamine Shosu, to create the image of the Isshin-ryu no kamisama (Protecting deity of Isshin-ryu), a woman as the upper body and lower body as that of a dragon; the system being both soft and gentle like a woman and hard and fierce like a dragon. The border is to be the Isshin-ryu vertical fist in gold.  There are three to five stars representing ALL of Master Shimabuku’s teachers. The dragon represents Master Shimabuku whose karate name means, Dragon Man.  The ocean is typhoon which stands for ever present danger and the megami, as the protecting deity, is calm in the heart of the storm.

It is not only what you do

Western New York Karate Center
Shihan Bill
April 15, 2016

It is Not Only What You Do

It is what you hope to do

Last week we explored the five classes of assailants and how these classes suggest different strategies for one’s martial response whether it is to attain disarmament, immobilization,  unconsciousness, disfigurement, or death.  But, whether one is dealing with a drunken uncle or a hitman, using minimal force or lethal techniques, what will determine the actual outcome of one’s strategy is how one trained.

In Randall Hassell’s classic book, “Conversations with the master: Masatoshi Nakayama,” Master Nakayama relates many important historical events and concepts that make that book a must-read to any serious karateka.  But, for consideration today, is the tale Master Nakayama shared of Sensei Anton Geesink, the first Judoka not from Japan, who was the Olympic Champion in 1964.  Geesink Sensei astounded the Japanese by beating them at a martial art that they consider theirs and certainly not to be outdone at it by a gaijin let alone a hakujin.  When interviewed and asked how he did it, Geesink Sensei reportedly replied, “I trained in the basics.”  Meaning, instead of training in the sport of Judo, as a competitor, he trained to be a judoka, as Master Kano, the founder of Judo, had instructed.  Geesink Sensei did not train for the Olympics to win the gold medal; Geesink Sensei trained to be proficient in “the gentle way” per Master Kano.  This is an important part of how we must train.  We must not get caught up in the points and rules of the sport of karate nor should we focus too closely on the potential demands of actual self-defense scenarios.  To fully connect to the way of our art, we must focus equally on kihon (Isshin-ryu upper and lower body techniques) and kata as much as we do on kumite.

But, balancing one’s physical training is only part of how we must train. How we train also includes a mental or spiritual aspect.  The attitude that we carry is just as important as the actual techniques we employ.  Master Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, perceived the importance of our attitude in how we train when he devised Aikido as a synthesis of martial studies with philosophy and religious beliefs. He created the word Aikido to mean “the way of unifying life energy” or “the way of harmonious spirit.” Master Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.  Aikido makes clear that it is not only the techniques that are important for doing no more harm than is necessary to an attacker, but it is also the belief that one is responsible for the wellbeing of one’s attacker, as much as one’s own life, that is equally important.  As one Aikido sensei told me, “if we hold the proper attitude, the receiver of our techniques should wake up the next day feeling as if they had experienced a vigorous massage.”  That is to say, that if we do not intend harm and indeed execute our techniques with a positive and nurturing spirit, the outcome of our techniques, despite their actual physical nature, will not be irrevocably harmful.

The responsibility to our society as martial artist should be clear.  While developed during the Middle Ages of our civilization, one now practices martial arts in a modern world.  Where careless disregard for life may have been acceptable or at least tolerable when martial arts were first developed, it is completely unacceptable now. But, our responsibility to ourselves remains the same regardless of the era.  There is still the possibility that one’s life will be threatened by another and still the possibility that one might have to act in a manner that takes another person’s life. But how one responds to that threat will not only have ramifications for the wellbeing of one’s body but also one’s spiritual wellbeing. If one ever has the unfortunate experience of killing another human being, and one did so without concern or care for that person’s life, one must consider that the damage to one’s own soul will likely be worse than if the assailant had killed you.