The inspiration of the Jundokan (Blake Turnbull)

As I return to the the Jundokan Honbu Dojo in Okinawa for the fourth time now, I am once again reminded of the humbleness and kindness of those masters from whom we seek to learn the art of Goju Ryu. That said, however, this trip has been the first time I’ve realised that, perhaps it hasn't always been this way, and that the karate training of the past was indeed very different to that which are accustomed to now.

After inviting me out for lunch one afternoon, Gima-sensei, 9th dan and chief director at the Jundokan, told me a story of his early days training under Ei’ichi Miyazato Sensei. He said that very few of his senpai, or senior students, really understood the ‘soft’ side of Goju. Training was extremely tough, and out of the 100 students who joined around the same time as him, only two were left training in the end. Gima-sensei recited tales of the brutality his senpais would inflict upon him, both inside the dojo and out. He reminisced about receiving split lips from punches to the face and then being forced to drink carbonated drinks as his eyes welled up in pain. He recalled an incident in which both his forearms had been split open with blood pouring out after a particularly strenuous conditioning session, to which his senpai said “never mind your arms, what are you going to do about the blood on the floor?!”. He laughed about it as he told me, but made sure I understood that the reality of training in those days was a harsh and unsparing affair. 

This made me realise all the more how special the current generation of Jundokan masters really are. Undoubtedly, such brutal means of training continue to exist in other Goju Ryu dojos, and indeed in other styles of karate and martial arts spread throughout the world; but the Jundokan has become perhaps one of the most respectable and virtuous places to train, very unlike the scenes which Gima-sensei so openly discussed. To take one, very simple example from my most recent trip: after training in kakie one night with Shimamura-sensei, when my arms could barely move he decided it was time for some arm conditioning. He said that I was to say stop when I needed to, and although I did my best to keep it up for as long as possible, I was, of course, eventually forced to concede and say stop. But when I did, instead of continuing further, or trying to push me to breaking point (as was the case in the olden days), Shimamura-sensei rubbed my arms to make sure they were okay, and said “right, now you know your limits — your goal is to exceed that next time”.  This simple lesson was enough for me to understand his message and know what I need to do, and I realised that this is the way of modern-day Jundokan.

All of the masters who train within the Jundokan’s walls are true inspirations to us as budding practitioners of Goju Ryu karate, not only in their style and practice of the art, but in their demeanour and personal conduct too. If I myself am able to become even half as admirable as they are, I would consider my pursuit of Goju Ryu (despite having only scratched the surface) all the more worth while. Every trip back to the Jundokan re-sparks a fire within me not only to better my own karate, but to better myself and my way of thinking as well. This is the inspiration of the Jundokan, and this is what I believe we must strive to achieve.

Note: Blake recently returned from training in Okinawa where he was invited to assist with translation at the memorial seminar in November. He is currently completing PhD studies in Kyoto.

Kata & Bunkai Training Westport

David Low-sensei's Westport dojo hosted a kata and bunkai training weekend for senior Jundokan instructors and members. Those attending were taken through traditional kata and advanced bunkai (oyo) with Paul Allott-sensei from Richmond dojo.

Thank you David for hosting a great weekend training and for your genorous hospitality!

 Glen Morgan-sensei (Westport) and Stewart Gutsell-sensei (Timaru) - forground

Glen Morgan-sensei (Westport) and Stewart Gutsell-sensei (Timaru) - forground

Bryan Williams-sensei, Senior Instructor Taupaki Dojo

Bryan Williams-sensei was canvassed at the door by a Go Kan Ryu (GKR) sales person. Always wishing to be another 'Bruce Lee' Bryan took up training with his daughter in GKR style. He continued training with GKR for approximately 8 years, whereas his daughter lasted on 2 training sessions. Bryan's first sho-dan was achieved in GKR and did learn a lot about karate basics, not so much about karate which came later.

As new awareness crept in that there was far more to karate than competitions, a GKR member did some research and came across Dennis May-sensei. As many as seven people moved across to his dojo, Dennis was then an 8th dan and affiliated to the Okinawa Karate Organisation associated with the Jundokan.

The Organisation and the Jundokan went separate ways and Dennis, with his students followed the Organisation. There became a splinter group from Dennis back to the Jundokan and I have followed that group. The core people have been the foundation of Jundokan New Zealand (our organisation).

Karate exists in a theme of comradely, support and connection. The reason I like being involved in Jundokan New Zealand is that resembles the respect that exists in and amongst the people that comprise the Jundokan in Okinawa.

Involvement in karate is not so much the skills and ability that manifest from training but the internal strength and resilience that grows within. My experience to share is that I think i'm a better person because of my karate involvement.

Bryan Williams-sensei

Andrew Paxton-sensei, senior instructor Wakefield dojo

This is the second in the series of the ‘JNZ Instructor Profiles’ and highlights Andrew Paxton-sensei, originally from Scotland.

Andrew commenced his karate training in 1983 with the (Scottish) Borders Shotokan karate clubs, an affiliate of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) under George Milburn-sensei and his cousin Jim Paxton-sensei.

He trained with George until 1986 when he moved south, over the border and continued for a further 5 years in a Shotokan/Goju-ryu blend of karate. After moving again , Andrew rejoined with KUGB and was graded to sho-dan under Andy Sherry-sensei in 1999. He then moved to New Zealand in 2001 and dabbled with a couple of local dojos which he felt didn’t quite fit and therefore continued to train himself in his garage. In 2008 he started an independent dojo in Wakefield concentrating on the Goju-ryu aspects that he had learned previously in the UK.

Andrew enjoys the family feel of JNZ where there are no pretensions, delusions of grandeur or over inflated egos. “We genuinely do train as brothers and sisters in karate”.

Over the past 34 years Andrew remembers many experiences noting having trained with KUGB legends. His first grading under Bob Poyntin-sensei, "his attention to detail and mastery of his own body are second to none and have been my yardstick ever since. Billy Higgins-sensei was a scrapper, his self-defence combinations always seemed to include a head butt in there somewhere. Bob Rhodes-sensei is the epitome of what can be gained from hard training. Frank Brennan-sensei was amazing, I remember him demonstrating a front leg mawashi geri on me. I felt his foot land softly on the side of my head but he was so fast that I didn’t see him move. Andy Sherry-sensei, fast, sharp, tough and uncompromising. I’ve also had the pleasure of training with Enoeda-sensei and Kase-ensei, both great men".

"My own teaching style is very relaxed but demanding, it’s not the first time I have overheard someone saying, 'I like training with Andrew, he makes me do it right'. However, my aim is to get you to make yourself do it right”.

 

 Andrew Paxton-sensei

Andrew Paxton-sensei

Paul Henley-sensei, senior instructor Richmond dojo

Jundokan New Zealand will be running a series of ‘JNZ instructor profiles' who make up our organisation over the coming months. To start the profile series off, we would like to introduce Richmond dojo senior instructor Paul Henley-sensei.

Paul started his karate training 33 years ago at the age of 19 with SEKU (South of England Karate Union), a Shotokan ryu,  under instructors Dave Hazard-sensei and Mick Dewey-sensei. At that time Paul was training at least 5 days each week, as he stated “because I didn’t have a life”. Five years later he moved out to Auckland, New Zealand and continued his training with Percy Shepherd-sensei until the Shotokan dojo closed. He joined up with Japan Karate Association (JKA) under instructor Cooper Drent-sensei and was promoted to ni-dan in 1999.

Paul always had an interest in Goju Ryu and particularly enjoyed Goju’s 'hojo-undo' (supplementary training). It was then he commenced his training under instructor Denis May-sensei until his move to Nelson. He continues to train in Goju Ryu with Paul Allott in Richmond and enjoys the friendly and not so regimented training with like-minded JNZ instructors.

Paul has a wicked sense of humour so don’t be surprised by his Pommy wit!

 Paul henley-sensei

Paul henley-sensei

Successful Masters Seminar

The second Masters Seminar conducted in our country under the direction of Gima-sensei and Kino-sensei has been successful. Over a period of 3 days the Okinawa masters engaged and educated us while sharing their vast knowledge and experience. All participants had ample opportunity to share time and appreciate the masters expertise.

Jundokan New Zealand would like to acknowledge Taupaki Goju Ryu and in particular, Bryan-sensei, Julia, David and Jackie for their time and effort in bringing the seminar to us. May there be more such successful New Zealand events in the future as well as continued co-operation among us.

 New Zealand and Australia Shibucho (left to right) Bryan Williams, Tino Rossi, David Low, KinJo-sensei, Gima-sensei, Paul Allott and Hayden Wilmott.

New Zealand and Australia Shibucho (left to right) Bryan Williams, Tino Rossi, David Low, KinJo-sensei, Gima-sensei, Paul Allott and Hayden Wilmott.

What's in a Dojo (by Blake Turnbull)

Although the term ‘dojo’ is often translated as a ‘training hall’ used in the practice of martial arts, the term literally translates to a ‘place of the way’, in which one trains for personal enlightenment. But what is a dojo? And is there a difference between what we perceive to be a karate dojo, and what we think of as a karate club?

It is often said that karate training can be done without the need for physical movement. That is, contemplating a kata in your mind, imagining each movement and technique, and seeing yourself perform it. If we were to follow such a conceptual mentality, we could resign to the fact that we don’t need space to train. In 1934, Miyagi Chojun Sensei wrote a selection of eight Special Merits of Karate. Five of these merits are of interest to this situation: (1) a large space is not required; (2) karate can be practiced alone; (3) its practice does not require much time; (4) proper kata can be selected and practiced at one's own discretion, and; (5) one can practice with empty hands or the use of simple equipment can also be employed without much expense. In summary, karate can be trained alone in no space with no time, equipment or money.

So, returning to the original question in review of Miyagi-sensei’s Merits: what is a dojo? It seems that, if a club can consist of as few as just one person so long as that person is training, be it physically or mentally, then a dojo can be literally anywhere: a bedroom, a shed, a kitchen, a hall, or even a broom cupboard - it doesn't matter so long as some form of training is taking place. And wherever there is a dojo with one or more people training, there is a club. A club can thus be viewed as one or more individuals training in pursuit of a similar target; that target being to discover and understand a path of self-defence, discipline, and on a larger scale, a way of living to further enhance their life. Karate is, in fact, as much a pursuit of ‘the way’ as it is the learning of self-defence, and it is the pursuit of this ‘way’ that (literally translated) forms the fundamental criteria of what a dojo is.

I review this notion now, just one week out before I venture to Japan to complete a 3 year degree at Kyoto University, and leave behind the karate club that I’ve trained with for the past 20 years of my life. Despite knowing that I will one day return, walking away from what I consider to be my dojo was not an easy decision. But, in light of the above information, I’ve come to realise that, in actual fact, I’m not walking away from my dojo. My dojo is built within me, ready to train in where ever I go. I write this now as a means of encouragement both to myself, and to others in similar positions. One of my favourite quotes of all time is: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” (Henry Ford). I’ve always thought this applies well not only to life in general, but also to karate training. However, when watching Kung Fu Panda 3 recently, I heard a more suitable rendition, which I would like to share with you too: “If you only do what you can do, you'll never be better than what you are” (Master Shifu). Change is inevitable, both in life and most definitely in our pursuit of the way of karate. What’s important is to keep looking forward and to stay hungry for more. Karate will be with you where ever you so choose to be, and so long as you have the mindset and spirit ready to train yourself, both mentally and physically, know that your dojo will be there too.