Redlands Karate USA trip and dojo visits 2006

Report on Goju, Shotokan & Shito-ryu Dojo visits in USA 
by Sensei Garry Edwards, 4th Dan

This article highlights my training in the 2nd half of my trip to the USA & Canada in October 2006. The first half of the trip involved training with the sensei who sat on my belt test panel for my 4th Dan.

After a very successful grading by all and a brief holiday in San Francisco and Las Vegas I headed up to Toronto, Canada to visit some friends. On Monday the 30th of October I rang Shihan Yabunaka (Goju Kai chief instructor of Seiwa Kai for North America) and asked for his permission to attend one of his training sessions that night (pictured below; full profile at:

Sensei (pictured above with myself and his senior students)  was very friendly and helpful on the phone and was more than happy for me to come and train with them. Monday was a good night as this was there advanced black belt class with some high kyu grades training as well. 

That night at training we went thru several of their kata’s in the first half of the class. Shihan took the time to explain why certain components and composite of a kata were performed in relation to how I did the same kata by demonstrating the bunkai. The kata’s are very similar and the bunkai used is mostly the same as well. In the second half of the class I paired up with Michael who is a 4th dan and we went thru the bunkai of a couple of kata’s. We started with Seiunchin with each us demonstrating our bunkai for each move. The second kata was Seipai. About 50% or more of the bunkai we did was the same. The rest of the bunkai varied a little but about 20% was quite different. This was based on our skill set through the exposure to different forms of martial arts and instructors e.g. judo, jujitsu, aikido and our understanding of joint locks, strangles, throws, take downs etc. . Michael and I had a lot of fun with it and I know we both learnt something from the training. 

After training Shihan and his higher-ranking students took my friend and me out for coffee and donuts and we all had an enjoyable conversation. Mostly about karate of course. Shihan explained to me that it was his job as an instructor to explain why a kata or bunkai was done a certain way but emphasized that this was only one way as there are many others. This was very good to here as there are still instructors out there that insist there way is the only way and that the rest are wrong. 

The standard was high and the spirit strong in Shihan Yabunaka class. I thank him for allowing me to train and to interact with him and his senior students and sharing his knowledge with me. It was a very good night.

sensei Otake karate california
On Friday the 3rd I was up at 5:00 in the morning to fly out of Toronto to L.A. where I arrived at about 4:00pm and then spent the next two hours getting back out to Camarillo. Once I got there I was then asked by Sensei Jason if I would like to teach half a class for Victor Sensei’s dojo. Of course I said yes and after jamming some food down my throat I had my gi on and was heading of to the dojo. I taught most of Chinto/Gankaku and the bunkai to the advanced moves of the kata. The kata varies a little from shito-ryu to shotokan but the bunkai is generally the same. The students enjoyed the class and I was grateful for the opportunity to teach for the second time in Sensei Victor’s dojo. 

The next day I was down at the dojo again with Ed to spend the next two & half hours training with Otake Sensei (pictured left placing a waza on myself). 

Saturday mornings is when he teaches an advanced black belt class. After meeting the senior black belts we got stuck into. It was a great class with all aspects of the martial arts being covered such as strangles, joint locks, take downs, throws, grappling, impacting, body movement, escapes and some light sparring. They started by teaching there first set of exercises then the second and so on. I was picking it all up and they just kept feeding me more but it did come to an end and my head was certainly spinning with all the information by the end of it. Sensei Otake and his students were very helpful and forth coming with explanations, demonstrations and there reasons for there drills and techniques. It was great to train with such friendly people at a very high standard with all the individuals each having 20 years experience or more. 

I would like to thank Otake Sensei and his students for there hospitality and allowing me to train and freely showing me a large portion of what they practice and there drills. Otake Sensei students are very strong and skilful at what they execute. 

After training I went back to Ed’s place where I showered and rested before getting on a shuttle and heading of to the airport to fly home. The last couple of days were jam-packed with traveling and training but what way to finish a trip. 

The training I did with Sells Sensei, Victor Sensei, Bartholomay Sensei, Shihan Yabunaka, Otake Sensei and Penny Sensei were definitely the highlight of my trip and is where I had the most fun. These instructors represent Shito-Ryu, Shotokan and Goju-Ryu styles from Japan with some advancing there skill set by training in other forms of martial arts and weapons. I found that at there level with there experience they mostly were saying the same things in regards to more hip movement, strong stances, good body movement, breathing, less tension, looseness and fluidity of movement, understanding bunkai for kata, strong basic’s and strong kumite. All instructors where very friendly and generous with there time in answering questions and sharing there knowledge of the martial arts as they understand it.

Go to Sensei Garry`s Redlands Karate Dojo Page...