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Students of Chotoku Kyan

I have met two students of Chotoku Kyan and actually both of them have been to my home: Shoshin Nagamine and Shozen Sunabe.  I have no doubt at all that these men studied with Kyan Sensei.  In the case of Sunabe Sensei, I am confident that he trained daily at Kyan Sensei's house for twelve (12) years, and then during the summers when he attended college on mainland Japan.

Come to think of it, I met one other man who trained with Kyan Sensei.  His name escapes me at the moment, but he is the Sensei of Kunio Uehara (he caught habu and spoke Hogen).  I was introduced to him by Uehara Sensei in 2002 during a visit to Okinawa.

But I do not have any proof of other students who trained with Kyan Sensei, except for what I have read or been told by other people.  I have no first hand evidence.  In short, I do not personally know who else might have trained with Kyan Sensei at this house or at other locations, such as the Agricultural School or the Kadena Police Station.

I do know know who else might have trained with Kyan Sensei and I do not know who did not train with Kyan Sensei.  I was born in 1957, about 12 years after Kyan Sensei died.  I simply am too young to have been there.

Some people get into heated arguments about who did or did not train with Chotoku Kyan and other Karate "masters" (I put the word in quotes because I doubt that Karate experts would describe themselves as such).  I want no part of such arguments.  It is not for me to say.

If anyone ever says that I said that a certain person did not train with Kyan Sensei, they are wrong.  Well, I can say with certainty that I did not train with him.

The style of Karate that I practice traces to Chotoku Kyan (among others).  Arguing about this lineage would be a waste of time.  If my Karate traces to Kyan Sensei, the question is how this is reflected?  Does the art I practice and teach reflect -- at least in part -- what Kyan Sensei taught?  That is the important thing.  If it does, then good.  If it does not, then practicing a style that traces to Kyan Sensei is irrelevant.  A lineage does not guaranty anything.

I respect all styles of Karate and am very grateful to Karate instructors and students who carry on the traditions of the art.


Charles C. Goodin

Meet your Canvas

My daughter, my eldest son, and I watch a show on Spike TV called Ink Master.  A group of tattoo artists work on a tattoo each week and one of the artists is sent home by the judges (a lot like cooking contests).  A winner is named at the end of the series.  I am not writing about tattoos.  What  caught my attention was something that was said to the contestants each week.  When the contestants were introduced to the people who had volunteered to receive tattoos, they were told "meet your canvases."

"Meet your canvases."  Doesn't that sound like our students in Karate?  Tattoos are pretty permanent, and so is what we teach our students.  Actually, bad tattoos can be removed with great difficultly or covered by a better tattoo -- there is actually another show on Spike TV for that called Tattoo Nightmares.

As permanent as tattoos may be, what we teach our students -- for good or bad -- is more permanent.  The techniques, strategies, attitudes, courtesies, and feelings we teach our students about Karate will last a lifetime.  And unfortunately, our mistakes, like bad tattoos, are very difficult to remove.

Our students are our canvases.  What a great responsibility we have to create masterpieces.


Charles C. Goodin

The Best Karate Book I Have Read in Years

I hope that the title of this post got your attention.  I should say that the book I am going to describe is one of the best Karate books I have ever read.

(image from Lulu.com)

A few weeks ago I received a package from Mario McKenna.  It was a donation to the Hawaii Karate Museum of his recent translation of  Morinobu Itoman's "The Study of China Hand Techniques" which was published in 1934.  This book captures the techniques, ideas, strategy and feeling of "old style" Karate.  By "old style" Karate, I mean the Karate of the turn of the 20th century (when Karate was introduced to the public in Okinawa).  We do not know much at all about Morinobu Itoman, but he writes about the Karate that I have heard about from the Karate pioneers here in Hawaii.  I encourage you to acquire this book and read.  I have read it twice so far and I am certain that I will be quoting from it in my future articles.

Mario McKenna is quite a Karate and Kobudo instructor and student, and a very generous translator.  He can read the old books in Japanese.  I and most Karate students cannot.  I actually saw a copy of Itoman's "The Study of China Hand Techniques" at a bookstore in Okinawa in 2002, but the owner would not sell it to me.  Now, you and I can read it in English!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mario when he recently visited Hawaii.  What a nice person!  Now I have met Mario and Mark Tankosich.  I hope that one day I can meet Patrick McCarthy, Graham Noble, and Joseph Swift.  How fortunate we are for their research, articles, and books!

You can follow Mario's Kowakan blog at:

Mario also has a bookstore for the books he has translated and written.  Please see:

All of these books are very reasonably priced.  He has also translated Karate-Do Taikan by Genwa Nakasone (available in paperback and hardcover), The Study of Seipai: The Secrets of Self-defense Karate Kenpo, by Kenwa Mabuni, and Karate Kenpo: The Art of Self-defense, by Kenwa Mabuni.  In addition, he has written a book entitled Ryukyu Kobudo The Students of Shinken Taira.


Charles C. Goodin

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Aloha and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I am sorry that I have not written for some time.  I became ill in November and was sick for almost a month with respiratory problems that were triggered by vog from the Big Island.  Then I became very busy with end of year work at my office.  Last of all, I was behind in Part 3 of my article about Shozen Sunabe, which I finished on Friday night.  So now I am healthy and caught up (for now).

My family photograph (above) was taken in July during my second son Charles' wedding.  My first two sons are married, and I have a three year old granddaughter from my first son, Christopher. I am teaching her about the solar system.

I wish you and your family and dojo a very Merry Christmas (belated), and a very Happy New Year.

Who knows what Karate discoveries will be made in 2013!


Charles C. Goodin