Its so nice to have the website up again. We’ve been locked out until an upgrade of the system had been finalised and although its just been weeks it does feel like months. Some many exciting things going on and no way to let everyone know. Firstly we are excited to have a new Branch in Adelaide starting soon and another branch at Beaudesert in Brisbane.. we welcome Sensei Mike Berry back to the AKA, and Sensei Gary Copolla to the AKA. We are also rebadging next year to demonstrate our appreciation to my mentor, Mitani Kazuya Sensei, from the Seito Karate Seitokukai Association in Chiba, Japan. I have still to put up results from several tournaments this year and will get onto that ASAP. I’ll finish this blog with some background on Mitani Sensei-
Mitani Kazuya: A Karate Teacher
“There are many Karate Instructors in the world but there are precious few Karate Teachers” By Bob McMahon
Mitani Kazuya desired to study Biology at University but had an aversion to killing living things and moved to Humanities where he majored in Japanese Linguistics. He went on to teach Languages as a high school teacher. He was required to undertake research as a trainee teacher so he studied the theory of Budo. Because of his great interest in Zoology, he educated himself with the assistance of fellow teachers (Biology) at the high school. He became an expert in his own right and worked part-time as a writer of a Zoology Journal. He introduced new medicine to combat heart parasites in dogs in Japan and also warned of a new strain of tapeworm.
Mitani Sensei first studied Shoto-Kai and his teacher was Motonobu Hironishi and he attained Sandan, the highest rank possible in Shoto-Kai in those days. He was an officer of a Branch Karate Federation and a High School Federation at the time and often met Hiroshi Kinjo, who was a technical committee member of the Federation. In discussions with Kinjo, Mitani explained he had become disillusioned with Karate. Kinjo said that it was because Mitani did not know true karate and offered to teach him. Mitani says he refused because he had thought that karate was a lie.
Kinjo would sometimes invite Mitani to his home and it wasn’t until three years had passed before he went. They engaged in kumite together and Mitani found he was either thrown down or restrained in a joint-lock. Mitani challenged Kinjo three times but the result was the same, Mitani could not land a punch and Kinjo did not knock him down. Mitani was very much surprised and became Kinjo’s student on the spot. Mitani says he is embarrassed to say that it still took him until he was 60 years of age to understand karate. Because Kinjo Sensei was so powerful, Mitani had mistaken power for technology.
After 30 years of study under Kinjo Sensei, Mitani is concerned that the true karate will be lost forever in the foreseeable future. He is speaking out about the original karate to educate those studying the art today. He says that Sokon Matsumura was the true pioneer of karate. Matsumura was an expert in Jigen-Ryu swordmanship and used the concepts and principles from this art to influence the Te of Okinawa in the Shuri district. This influence was so deep that the term ‘Shuri Te’ (Shurite) was considered to be the Te of Matsumura.
“Matsumura contributed the makiwara training, the correct timing and distance (maniau),
footwork and the use of continuous punches. This is speculation on the part of Mitani and not the established theory.”
Matsumura’s students, such as Kentsu Yabu, Chotokyu Kyan and Chomo Hanashiro were also experts in Shurite. Ankou Itosu was also an expert, but he was not the successor of Matsumura. It was not until he turned 60 years of age that he finally understood Shurite. Itosu created a PE program, which became known as karate, for school students at the request of the Okinawan Board of Education.
Kinjo Hiroshi studied karate at school in Okinawa under Anbun Tokada and later under Chomo Hanashiro. Therefore Mitani’s karate lineage provides a direct link to the original martial arts program that was named karate. Kata is the basis of kumite and toride (grappling) explains Mitani, it is simply common sense. But this again is not the established theory. There are many karate teachers who do not accept this in Japan. It is in the established theory that such a thing cannot be found.
Karate is roughly divided into two parts. One is the part of kata. One is the part of the contents. The theory, the technical system, and learning are not in the karate. They are in the excellent teacher’s head. The teacher must be excellent when people learn the karate. Now, the teacher who is not excellent teaches the karate in the world in Japan. And, to learn continuously is required for the excellent teacher. For a short period of time, only the outside is taught. (only kata)
Original Karate contains the following elements-
1. No style name is attached. (Seikukan, e.g. is the name of a School not a style)
2. Physical exercises for use in the school system.
3. Word-of-mouth (kuden), to explain the meaning of the moves (applications).
4. Leads back to Shurite self-defense. (slight changes to kata = brutal responses)
5. Does not have reverse punch (gyaku-zuki). Shurite doesn’t either. (needs explanation)
6. Does not have head punches (jodan-zuki). Shurite does have jodan-zuki.
When asked about the purpose of karate, Mitani responded in this fashion. “The physical aim of karate is to seize and down an enemy. Strike the enemy first (kumite), then seize and finally restrain (osae) or throw (nage) him to the ground. There are occasions when grappling (toride) can be used first.”