History of Our Style
The core of our style is Shorin Ryu Matsumura Kenpo Karate-do and Kobudo as taught by Sensei Yuichi Kuda, JuDan (Hanshi). We also have influences from Matsumura Seito (Orthodox) as taught by Sensei Hohan Soken, Judan (Hanshi) and Sensei Fusei Kise, Judan (Hanshi). Also from Sensei Kise we have influences from Shorinji Ryu as founded by Chotoku Kyan.
Sensei Kuda and Sensei Kise were both high ranking black belts under Sensei Hohan Soken and both also studied under Sensei Shigeru Nakamura of Okinawan Kenpo. Here is a very short history on the karate masters who shaped our style of Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate-do.
Tode Sakugawa (b.1733 - d.1815) is one of the earliest known teachers of what is known as Okinawan Karate. He had learned the traditional martial art of Okinawa at that time which is called Ti. This is a grappling system which also includes some strikes to vital areas.
He also studied Chinese Kenpo from a Chinese government official named Kusanku. Sakugawa combined Okinawan Ti with Chinese Kenpo to teach the style that later would become known as Shuri Te. Sakugawa had several students, but his most famous student was Soken Matsumura.
Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura (b.1797 - d.1889) began learning the basics of ti while in his youth and studied karate from Tode Sakugawa. He also studied Chinese Kempo with the Chinese warriors Iwah and (possibly with) Ason. Matsumura was recruited into service for the Okinawan Royal Family and eventually became the chief bodyguard and martial arts instructor to the King of Okinawa.
During his time in service to the royal family, Matsumura traveled several times to China and Japan. It is known that he studied from several Chinese teachers while in China. On Okinawa, Matsumura learned from the Chinese masters Kusanku, Chinto and Wai Shin Zan (Wansu). He also traveled to Satsuma, Japan where he studied Jigen Ryu Kenjutsu (sword fighting). Matsumura had many students such as Ryosei Kuwae, Anko Itosu, Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro and Chotoku Kyan. Matsumura's son had died young, so he passed on his system to his grandson, Nabe Matsumura.
Nabe Matsumura (circa 1850's - 1930's) was the successor to Sokon Matsumura's karate system. Unfortunately not much is known about Nabe Matsumura. Even his exact dates of birth and death are unknown. It is known that he did not study from any other karate masters of the time and that his syst is pure from the teachings of his grandfather. Even though he was of shizoku (royal) ancestry, he had I work as a village guard to make a living.
Some say that Hohan Soken was Nabe Matsumura's only student, But I have read that he probably instructed some of his Grandfather's students that were junior to him. This was probably prior to him instructing Soken in the family system.
Hohan Sokon (b.May 1889 - d.Dec 1982) started learning karate from his uncle, Nabe Matsumura, in 1902 when he was thirteen years old. He had to practice in secret every night in the family courtyard. In 1912 when Soken was twenty three years old he began learning the Hakutsuru (crane) style from his uncle. Nabe Matsumura taught Soken Kobujutsu (use of weapons) which he had learned from Sokon Matsumura.
Soken also learned the use of the Bo from an old man named Iishi Komesu. He is the one who taught Soken the Kata Chikin (Tsuken) Ho. in 1924 Soken left Okinawa and moved to Argentina in South America. He worked in the dry cleaning business and taught his karate to a few students. In 1952, Soken returned to Okinawa. At first he did not teach karate, but eventually instructed a few select students. Fusei Kise, Vuichi Knda, and Roy Thomason, are just a few of the students that Sensei Soken instructed. Sensei Soken called his style Matsumnra Seito Shorin Ryu Karate-do.
Yuichi Kuda (b.Oct 1928 - d.Apr 1999) was born in Chinen village, Okinawa. His family was of the samurai class and he is related to one of the early Okinawan Kings. He first received instruction in karate from his father, who also taught him their family style of bojutsu. At the age often, he began studying the art of the sword (Kenjutsu). In 1945 (at the end of World Warn) when Kuda was seventeen he was forced to serve in the Japanese Navy.
He was one of only two Okinawans aboard his ship and both were treated badly by the Japanese. The other Okinawan (named Yamashiro) gave Kuda further instruction in karate. After the war Kuda was forced to work on the docks by the American military. He continued his karate training under a Sensei Ishikawa (possibly of Shito Ryu). Kuda then became a student of Okinawan Kenpo founder Shigeru Nakamura (b.1892-d.1969). He has also stndied with Shugoro Nakazato (Kobayashi Ryu), Shoshin Nagamine (Matsubayashi Ryu), Seitoku lliga (Okinawan Ti & Yamani Ryu Bojustu). and Seikichi Uehara (Motobu Ryu Ti).
In 1970. Kuda was accepted by Hohan Soken as a student. He continued learning Matsumura Seito until Soken's death. He became one of Soken's top students. A few years after Soken's death, Kuda changed the name of his style to Matsumura Kenpo. The style is mostly Matsumura Seito with influences from Shigeru Nakamura's Okinawan Kenpo. The style also has techniques that are influenced by Okinawan Ti as taught to Kuda by Uehara and Higa. This influence is mostly seen in the Bunkai and tuite of the kata.
Fusei Kise (b. May 1935) began his karate training in 1947 at the age of twelve, under his uncle Master Macabe. in 1955, he began receiving lessons in karate from Nobutake Shingake. In 1957, Kise became a student of Zenryo Shimabukuro (Shorinji Ryu) and shortly after began teaching this style of karate. In 1960, he was accepted as a student by both Hohan Soken (Matsumura Seito) and Shigeru Nakamnra (Okinawan Kenpo).
Kise studied with both of these masters until their deaths. Also in the 1960's Kise began teaching at Kadena Air Force Base. One of his students was Roy Thomason, who would later bring our style from Okinawa to Ohio. At this time it is believed that Kise was teaching the Shorinji Ryu system. Kise would also take Thomason to Soken for instruction in Matsumura Seito. After Soken's death, Kise began calling his style Kenshin Kan Karatedo and Kobudo.
Master Thomason started training in the Martial Arts...
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Master Johnson started training in the Martial Arts with boxing in the U.S. Navy in 1956. Mr. Johnson has stated that he started boxing in an attempt to find a source of identification. After much success in the boxing ring Mr. Johnson felt that he had found some more self-confidence, but still not an identity. After being discharged from the Navy he continued boxing only on and off again bases. Still trying to find some identity Mr. Johnson decided to take up karate.
Karate did something for him that he had never expected. It opened his eyes to the truth about being a human being and having compassion for others. Mr. Johnson truly found a source of identification from karate. He has spent his entire life since then studying, practicing, developing, and teaching the art that he came to love. Mr. Johnson initially started in the Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu System under Roy Thomason (a personal student of Fusei Kisei and Hohan Soken for seven years).
Since then Master Johnson has trained under very prominent names. He has studied Chinese Kenpo under Jim and Al Tracy, Japanese Gensi-Ryu under Robert Fryer, and Okinawan Goju-Ryu under Glenn Kenney. Mr. Johnson was able to study Kajukenbo with Al and Ben Dacascos, and full contact and tournament principles with Joe Lewis. Most recently Mr. Johnson has worked with Ronald Lindsey in the White Crane System and Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu under Master Phillip Koeppel.
Mr. Thomason awarded Mr. Johnson his shodan in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu. Shortly after being award his shodan, Mr. Johnson opened his first official dojo in Kettering, OH. Al Tracy, Jim Tracy, Joe Lewis, and Ray Kleinberg sat on the board and promoted Mr. Johnson to the rank of Nidan in 1972. He attained the rank of Sandan in the spring of 1974 in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu under Master Koeppel and the United States Karate Association. Later that year, Master Johnson received his Sandan in the Tracy Organization.
In 1975 he received his Sandan in the Okinawan Karate Federation under Hohan Soken, Fusei Kise, and Glenn Premru. After obtaining the rank of Sandan, Master Johnson was asked to chose an animal that he felt reflected him, his choice was a koala bear. Sensei Johnson has used this animal on a patch to award to students the he feels reflect the true meaning or understand the of karate-do. Since his decision to use the koala patch, Mr. Johnson has only awarded five of his students with this prestigious award.
In 1977 Master Johnson reviewed all the kata of Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu with Master Glenn Premru (Head of the Okinawan Karate Federation (at that time)) and was promoted to Yondan that year in the Okinawan Karate Federation under Hohan Soken, Fusei Kise, and Glenn Premru. That same year Mr. Johnson was promoted to Yondan in the United States Karate Association under Master Koeppel.
After numerous more years of teaching and studying Mr. Johnson was promoted to Godan by Master Koeppel and Master Lindsey. At the promotion they also award Mr. Johnson the title of "Renshi". Mr. Johnson's promotion to Godan was in 1984. Mr. Johnson continued to train and he continued to teach students at his Dojo. Master Koeppel and Master Lindsey continued to stay in contact with Mr. Johnson and promoted him to the rank of 6th degree and "Master" in the art of Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu. Master Johnson was promoted to 7th dan in March of 1997 by Mr. John Townsley and the title of "Koshi Sensei" in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu.
Master Johnson currently teaches at the local YWCA in Muncie, IN. On February 18th, 2006, Master Johnson was promoted to the rank of 8th Dan and the title of "Hanshi" This promotion was performed at the 1st Indiana P.K.C tournament to the complete surprise of Master Johnson. Master Glenn Keeney, Master Phillip Koeppel, Master Eddie Bethea, and Master Ronald Lindsey were on the promotion board for Master Johnson's promotion. Hanshi Johnson was inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame in December, 1997. Mr. Johnson is currently the style head of "Shorin Ryu Hayashi" for the United States Karate-do Kai. Mr. Johnson spent numerous years as the state direct of Indiana for the Professional Karate Commission.
Mr. Johnson has trained numerous state and national karate champions that competed with the P.K.C. Master Johnson has trained numerous students in boxing and kickboxing throughout his career. He continues to teach what he sees as the four aspects of karate: traditional karate, tournament karate, full contact karate, and practical karate. Mr. Johnson teaches the differences and the interactions of these four aspects to his students. Hanshi Johnson continues to teach the system of Shorin-Ryu in its purest form, while still allowing it to grow and adapt to current times. Mr. Johnson maintains the traditional kata of the Shorin-Ryu system as close to the originals as he can.
Dale Holzbauer started my martial arts training under John Townsley. John later went on to work for Official Karate magazine. Sensei Townsley ran a school called, “Black Belt College” in Cincinnati. I had seen a fight in a railroad yard a year or two earlier when I worked for the old B&O railroad. One of the combatants knew Karate, he had a Green Belt as I later learned,and I wanted to study Karate from the moment I saw this guy in action.
I was 21 years old; the year was 1968. I never achieved any rank under Townsley…my money ran out before I could take the Yellow belt test. I was in college and engaged to be married. I resumed my studies about one year later under my brother who had advanced rapidly under Glen Keeney in Anderson , Indiana. Denny took me to Green Belt in about a year or so and then on to Brown Belt about six months later.
In 1971 I moved to Xenia, Ohio and within one year I was enrolled under Sensei “Sonny” Johnson in the Dayton, Ohio, area. Sensei Johnson worked for the Tracy’s organization at that time. Sonny and I became friends and he allowed me to teach for him on Monday mornings in exchange for free lessons. I stayed with Sonny for just under three years and achieved the rank of Black Belt. It may sound corny, but I have a deep respect for Sonny and am glad for what he taught me.
Here’s the ‘corny’ part: I regard the evening I passed my Sho-dan test (September, 1973), as one of the real milestones in my life. Sonny’s depth of knowledge, his patience and his willingness to work with students from where they were combined with his extraordinary skills really set me up to be a student of Karate/martial arts for all of my life.
I opened up my own school in the fall of 1973. I taught continuously for just under 25 years until 1998. I am proud of all of my students, especially those who achieved the rank of Black Belt. I have used Karate over 600 times to communicate the Christian message. I have spoken to schools, churches, jails, civic organizations and various hospital and nursing home groups. I have achieved the rank of 4th degree and continue to work out at least three times per week. I presently teach an aerobic kickboxing class and put on 3-4 exhibitions per year.
I recently underwent open heart surgery to correct a congenitally deformed aortic valve. My martial arts’ training is directly responsible for my bouncing back very quickly from this ordeal.
I have also maintained an interest in Olympic and Power lifting through the years. I have won well over 100 trophies and medals in Olympic lifting, Power lifting and Karate. My lifting resulted in my being selected as an alternate on the 1980 Olympic team and I presently hold four National records in Power lifting. I have lifted in the 114,123,132,148 and 154 pound classes. My best lifts as a 54 year old were: 284 bench press, 418 squat and 429 dead lift. As an Olympic lifter, I was able to clean and jerk twice my own bodyweight.
I never was very good at sparring in Karate being only 63” tall. I was good at kata and fairly good with the Okinawan weapons, especially the bo. Regarding fighting, the rules in tournament sparring favored the taller men. Usually there were only two weight classes: those under 170 pounds and those over 170 pounds. Leg kicks and boxing blows (coupled with the use of the knees and elbows) leveled the playing field for me. When I sparred where the rules were not based on “classical” Karate, aka tournament style Karate, I felt much more comfortable and was able to hold my own pretty well.
I love the martial arts and will keep on kickin’ and punchin’ until I assume room temperature….
Doug Yates - Master Instructor: Master Yates began studying karate November 1, 1973 under the instruction of Sensei Dale Holzbauer in Xenia Ohio. From there he continued his training until Master Yates opened The Shorin Kenpo Karate School 1976. Master Yates currently holds the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt. Master Yates has personally trained under Master Yuichi Kuda (Deceased) and Master Roy Thomason. Master Yates currently trains under the watchful eye of Master Sonny Johnson of Muncie Indiana. Master Yates has received training from Master Don Madden, Master Ron Lindsey, Master Ken Penland and Master Phillip Keopple. He credits all these outstanding teachers for his development. During his Kickboxing days Master Glen Keeney, Master Herb Johnson and Master Bill "Superfoot" Wallace were instrumental in his success as a The Ohio State Champion and World Rated Competitor with the Professional Karate Associatioon (PKA).
Master Yates has been active in all aspects of martial arts, from traditional training to tournament competition and even amateur and professional kick boxing where he holds various titles in tournament action.
Master Yates has traveled around Ohio and the United States promoting Martial Arts and training many students in the arts of Shorin Kenpo Karate, Okinawa Shorin Ryu Matsumura Kenpo Karate and Okinawa Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu Karate. Master Yates has been instrumental in the success of many of his students in the area of local and regional tournament competition and currently is the President of the Miami Valley Tournament Association.
Master Yates has also received the following recognition:
• Inducted into The United States Martial Arts Association "Hall of Fame"
• Inducted into The Ohio Black Belt "Hall of Fame"
• Received 5 commendations from the Ohio House of Representatives
• Received a letter of recognition from the United States Congress
• Received a letter of recognition from the Governor of the State of Ohio
• Received 4 Proclamations from the Mayor of the City of Xenia, Ohio
• 1996 Inducted into The World Karate Union "Hall of Fame".
• 1994 Selected to represent the United States at the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg Russia winning a Gold Medal.