Karate Thoughts Blog

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How I Got Here

When I was a child in Misawa Air Force Base Japan, I started Judo because I did not want to play little league baseball. I was on a swim team and the pool was next to the gym. I had seen Judo at the gym. I saw Kendo too, but that was only for adults.

So I started martial arts training as a way not to play baseball.

When I came to Hawaii, I initially continued Judo training. I was in intermediate school.

When I was in high school, I was a Boy Scout. One of my friends, Chris, told me about a Karate class and I went with him. It was a Kenpo Karate class and that is how I started Karate training. the Sensei also taught Tai Chi and Gung Fu, so I learned that too.

Later in high school, my then fiance's older brother told me about another Karate class. I went with him to meet Sensei Tommy Morita at the Nuuanu YMCA, who recommended that we go train with his student, Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro, who taught class closer to where we lived. So I was introduced to Shorin-Ryu by my (now) brother-in-law.

My brother-in-law was attending law school on the mainland. He was studying and teaching Shorin-Ryu and one summer when he returned to Hawaii, decided to start practicing Aikido here. Shimabukuro Sensei had encouraged my brother-in-law and me to study other martial arts. So I started learning Aikido too, with Sensei Sadao Yoshioka.

While I was attending the University of Hawaii, I saw a Kendo class. So I started learning Kendo under Sensei Chuichi Fureyama, who also taught Iaido, so I started to learn Iaido too.

Eventually I started to teach Shorin-Ryu. I eventually became a student of Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato who lives in Yonabaru, Okinawa. He also teaches Yamani-Ryu bojutsu, and I also learn that from Shinzato Sensei.

I have left out some twists and turns (many twists and turns), but I have gotten here because: (1) I did not like baseball, (2) a Boy Scout friend's recommendation; (3) my brother-in-law's recommendations; and (4) lots of luck.

Had things worked out differently, I might have become a professional baseball player! Not!

Here is my point. I really enjoy Karate training. But had I lived closer to downtown Honolulu, I might have trained under Morita Sensei rather than Shimabukuro Sensei. Actually, I once called Sifu Andrew Lum to ask about learning Tai Chi, but his classes were too far away for me (at that time I only rode a bike).

My life could have been very different if I lived somewhere else. For me, martial arts training was series of chances and recommendations. With just a little change, I could have studied Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, or another style of Karate. It just so happened that I started Shorin-Ryu training at a formative time in my life, and have done so ever since.

If I had studied Shotokan, I would probably still be doing so. It is hard to change paths once you have trained for 10, 20 or 30 years. It is possible, but difficult.

I went to an awards ceremony some time back. It was for lifetime achievement in the martial arts. One gentleman was given an award for Judo. In his acceptance speech, he mentioned that he actually started Kendo first, before World War II, but that Kendo training was prohibited during the war and for some time afterward. Judo training resumed shortly after the war, so he started Judo. But if not for the war, he would have continued Kendo. This is what he said when he received a lifetime achievement award for Judo.

We all get where we are by strange paths. What matters is that we are serious about martial arts, and, as teachers, want to pass it on to the next generation of students. Style and organizations don't matter very much. What matters is that we train and teach sincerely. What matters is that we are martial artists and apply what we learn in the dojo to our daily lives.

Whether Shorin-Ryu or Uechi-Ryu or Shotokan or Kenpo, Judo, Aikido, Kendo, Iaido, or MMA, we are all martial artists. I respect serious students of any style or art. Had things been a little different, I could we writing about Judo, or Aikido, or even baseball. Probably not baseball (because I have always bad eyesight and could never focus on the ball).

How did you get where you are?


Charles C. Goodin