Goju Ryu Kenkyukai October 2014
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New Year, New Training

With any luck, no typos this time (ha!). 

You will have seen a slight change in format in the last newsletter. I've added some share links down the bottom, some site links, and now a seminar schedule. I think they will be constant in all the newsletters from now on. Please share on FB and with your friends, encourage people to subscribe, and tell me what you need this thing to have in it!  We have about 200 subscribers right now, about double what it started with, which is encouraging. I don't know if all this social stuff works - I started this because some people said they didn't know what was going on, because they didn't look at the site. So I started the push mailing list. Make it worth my while, eh? (Channeling my inner Canadian there). 

I intended there to be a lot more in this issue: a couple of seminar reports, photos, different Sensei profiles, but I realised that we're well into January and something was better than nothing. Spending the entire usual NZ holiday break training at kobudo probably chewed up more of my time than I expected. 

Upcoming seminars are Australia, Italy, New Jersey. Go to all of them. 

In this issue:

  • A Facebook post from Paul Enfield and an Ashi Waza DVD review by Noah Legel. 
  • Sensei profiles
    • Aivaras Engelaitis, Eastern/Northern Europe.  Shibucho and Board Member
This posting from Facebook by Paul Enfield Sensei is worth sharing, and not all of you are on FB or the discussion group this appeared in. I have also stolen Noah's review of the Ashi Waza DVD from his blog.

After a conversation with Noah Legel, a smart, thoughtful and talented up and coming martial artist himself, he brought to my attention a topic regarding Goju-ryu's Taira Masaji Sensei that I think is worth explaining to avoid any misunderstanding regarding his bunkai methods. This is what I told Noah:

"There are a couple things that are often misunderstood regarding Taira Sensei's approach to kata and his "continuous" bunkai (that he has become renowned for). Firstly, the renzoku Bunkai drills he developed were a way of succinctly recording the (incomplete) bunkai of each kata - it's a bit like placing one of those small post-it notes as a page marker; once you have marked the page you can go to that place anytime and read in detail, or just skip over it and go to the next one, but the point is you always know where it is to come back to. In fact Taira Sensei spends very little time teaching the renzoku drills as he realizes it doesn't help people very much who aren't aware of the finishing moves (complete) for each bunkai. IMO Taira Sensei's genius is in the development of "joints", as he calls them, that connect the bunkai to the situation at hand. These "joints" or "fundamental " drills (can be) universal to all Okinawan karate (and other martial arts too for that matter) as the redirection of an opponent's energy/dictating an opponent's response etc, are key to making anything work. Therefore what appears to be "flow" is actually the result of applying the "joints" effectively - and by the way the reason people keep saying "it looks like wing chun". Furthermore it's interesting to note that these "joints" are essentially the basic common blocks of karate put into action and context.

Likewise the ashi waza are essentially no more than tachi-kata put into action. Once one realizes this it really doesn't matter the "style" of martial art - the kata movement/position is a full body technique from head to toe; the feet complement the hands and vice versa."


From Noah Legel's Thanks for letting me add it in Noah.

Taira Masaji Sensei is a Kudan (9th Degree Black Belt) in Okinawan Goju-Ryu, formerly of the Jundokan, and a student of the late Miyazato Eiichi Sensei. He is a fast, fluid, powerful karateka, and he is renowned for his kata bunkai (analysis). If you've never seen his material, you can see one of his renzoku bunkai drills here. Those flowing drills, which move from one kata movement to the next through the entire kata, are probably what he is best known for, but they are simply a quick way of recording the techniques in the kata, and how they can be bridged together. Any technique in those drills can be taken and used separately, if one knows how to finish it effectively, and they are built off a series of bridges, or joining techniques, that can be universally applied. While I do not study Goju-Ryu, I can still see great value in Taira Sensei's work, and he is certainly a master of his art!
One of Taira Sensei's senior students is Paul Enfield Sensei, who I believe was also the uchi-deshi (live-in student) of Higaonna Morio Sensei for some time, and even acted as uke (receiver) and narrator for Higaonna Sensei's instructional videos. Whenever Taira Sensei travels around English-speaking countries to teach, Enfield Sensei acts as his liaison, assistant, and interpreter. His wife, Michelle Enfield Sensei, often records video during these trips. They then compile the clips they collect over the course of these tours into DVD's, which they sell on their dojo website. I had been interested in several of these DVD's for quite some time--especially after seeing the material that Enfield Sensei has already freely shared, online. After I mentioned this, in passing, during a conversation about secrecy, and he was kind enough to offer me a free DVD to review! The one I chose was the DVD of "video notes" on Taira Sensei's ashi-waza (leg techniques), which you can see a preview of, above.
DVD footage of Taira Sensei explaining ashi-kakie
The DVD is about 35 minutes in length, and divided into sections that cover different techniques and entry methods. Since the footage is a collection of recordings from seminars, rather than something shot in a professional studio, you will see some unplanned camera movements, the lighting isn't always the best, and the sound isn't very good. In my opinion, this does not diminish the quality of the material being presented in any way! Enfield Sensei has included zoomed-in, slow-motion, black-and-white or sepia-tone replays of the techniques being performed, which provides a great look at the details, and removes distractions. He has also taken the time to display key points in text at the bottom of the screen for clarification, so the audio explanations aren't really necessary.
DVD footage of ashi-waza from the kata, Seiyunchin

The material, itself, is great! We have many of the same ashi-waza in Shorin-Ryu, but we don't utilize them as much as Taira Sensei, and some of his methods are more advanced than ours. For me, this DVD really helps build on the material I have already learned. For someone who has never learned any techniques of this type, they may seem strange and impractical. It definitely takes time to get a feel for them, but they are a subtle, yet powerful addition to kata application that is worth the time. In the DVD, the techniques are often connected to the movements in Goju-Ryu kata, which is probably helpful for people who study those kata. Since I only know modified versions of Sanchin, Seiyunchin, and Tensho, it doesn't benefit me as much. Even so, I can see connections to some of my Shorin-Ryu kata in the same movements. These techniques are a fantastic building block to further your study. The bottom line is; this DVD can improve your karate, and if you want to improve your karate, then this DVD is certainly worth the price!

Sensei Aivaras Engelaitis  (b.1973) started martial arts training  in Lithuania in 1988. At that time Lithuania was still a part of the Soviet Union and Karate practice was forbidden in all the USSR. Therefore martial artist groups were pretending as practitioners of "oriental healthcare systems " to avoid the persecution by the soviet law. Aivaras has joined a group of wushu - tai chi practitioners, but some time later met  and joined illegally operating group of shotokan based karate followers. Training was very enthusiastic, intensive and of course against the law. This fact attracted many young people and illegal karate groups flourished - sometimes  collecting up to 80-100 students in one group. There were no authentic martial arts teachers at that time in Lithuania - mostly self learned people, some of them having had some experience during the compulsory service in the soviet army.

After karate was legalized in 1991, Aivaras started practicing kyokushin karate, but  few years later, dissapointed with limited sports karate approach, changed to Okinawan Goju ryu system. He studied under Sensei Bob Honiball from 1993 till 2006, becoming 4 Dan on his first visit to Jundokan Dojo in Naha, Okinawa. Aivaras has met Sensei Taira during the same visit and became his student and follower since then.

Sensei Aivaras has started teaching karate since 1991 and opened his Dojo  in Klaipeda city in 1993. He teaches students of all ages - kids, teenagers and adults. Aivaras is also studying and teaching Yang style Taijiquan. He is a qualified instructor of Taijiquan School of the Central Equilibrium (principal Teacher - Wee Kee Jin).

Current grade 6 Dan, Renshi, a member of the Board of directors in Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai, responsible for the  Eastern Europian region.

Iowa 20 Year Celebration Gasshuku

The Okinawan GoJu-Ryu Karate DoJo is proud to be celebrating our 20 year anniversary in 2015. To help us celebrate, my instructor Taira Masaji Sensei, chairman of the goju-ryu kenkyukai, 9th Dan and direct student of the famous" Miyazato Sensei" founder of the Jundokan DoJo, will be teaching a seminar at the DoJo on Friday May 22, 2015, Saturday May 23,2015 and Sunday May 24, 2015...This is Memorial weekend of 2015....We are hoping many of our Kenkyukai friends and our other friends from other organizations will be able to make the journey to Iowa to enjoy the weekend with us. "There will be a private training on Thursday May 21, 2015 for shibu heads of the Kenkyukai from 2:00p.m.-5:00p.m.....Fridays training will be from 5:00p.m. to 8:00p.m., Saturday from 9:30a.m..-12:00p.m. and 2:00p.m to 5:00p.m. and on Sunday From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m......Gradings after 12:00 p.m. There will be a group dinner on saturday the students own cost..

Cost for the event will be $300.00 but if paid by 12/1/2014 the cost is $225.00, if paid by 2/1/2015 the cost is $260.00 after 2/1/15 the cost will be $300...please no exceptions...

any questions please feel free to call the DoJo 641-424-6264 or my cell 641-430-5213

Thank You all
Brian Loterbauer
  • Gold Coast, Australia 14-15 March 2015 Damien Martin
  • Melbourne, Australia 21-22 March 2015 Pete Keogh
  • Udine, Italy 11-12 April 2015 Andrea Buttazzoni
  • New Jersey, 24/25 April 2014 Mark Kapel
  • Paris, France 8-10 May 2015  Nirina Rakatozafiminahy and Pascal Duroux
  • Iowa 24 May 2015 Brian Loterbauer
  • Carlsbad, California 31 July - 2 August Paul Enfield
  • Dunedin New Zealand Oct 30 - 1 Nov. Brendan Murray 

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