USA Karate Trip April 07 Avitan and Sells Sensei


USA Karate Trip report April 07 by Jason Armstrong

April saw myself do a return karate tour of California in what was a very busy and exciting 10 days of interacting with a number of Dojo(s) and sensei from Southern California, Nevada and Israel. We were bowing in at a number of events with multiple 8th and 7th Dans in the room so the trip was a real treat.


Above Photo: Sensei Young 7th Dan, Shihan Avitan 8th Dan & myself at what has become over the years the traditional karate breakfast meeting venu for Camarillo (the Inetrnational House of Pancakes).

The first few days (from April 25th) involved catching up with people from the Amgen dojo (my old Shito-ryu club from the 1990s now run by Sensei Larry Daugherty and Sensei Nick Lukich.) as well as spending time with Sensei Young and the Camarillo Shotokan Dojo. 

8th dan Shihan Avitan arrived on the 27th of April from Israel and is the president of the Israeli Karate Federation and is a Shotokan practitioner. Shihan Avitan is known for his lightening speed hands and rock solid bunkai. He is also heavily involved with the WKF. Shihan ran 3 seminars during the course of my trip focusing primarily on Kata, Bunkai and self defnse.

Other dojo nights included a Friday evening catching up with my old Brown and black belts from the 90s (most still training and some now indicating they are coming back). We met at Yamato – a fantastic Japanese teppan-yaki spot we used to frequent. The list of friends included Arisha Williams, Kevin Cannon, Sonia Faye, Dana Buchman, Nick Lukich and John Whoriskey. Another key social Japanese restaurant gathering was with my peer sensei Larry who had been running the Amgen dojo during my absences in Japan and Australia to discuss cross style associations within our network.

The tournament (April 29th) was a huge success and was one of the smoothest running tournaments I have been to – many thanks to all the support “deshi “of Sensei Young, and especially to Sensei Young for all the effort he has put into this event - which has been running almost every year for the last 23 years. A video on the tournament:

The weekend also saw a Dan grdaing with a panel of Sensei. It is always good to participate in these cross-dojo, cross-style events.

The Santa Barbara Seito Shito-ryu was another dojo visited and the below picture shows a group teh night Unshu (unsu) was worked on. The version learned (and bunkai) was not the more common Shito-ryu WKF version (popularized  by Hayashi-Ha) but rather the orginal version passed down by Mabuni family.

Below photo showing a class involving two 8th Dans (Hanhi Sells & Shihan Avitan) and 7th dan Bartholomay Kyoshi. A treat for the attending studenst lucky enough to be invited.

seito shito-ryu

Pictures below: A couple of bunkai photos of Hanshi Sells wokring with myself to dewmonstrate Unshu bunkai (the first includes a back kick to just below the knee region, the other shows an arm bar application).

Senpai Shawn Danaher (3rd Dan and this year’s winner of the tournament’s kata and kumite divisions) was kind enough to do more filiming of the Shotokan karate kata patterns for so visitors can enjoy another style kata patterns when revision is needed. On that note within a few weeks the website will not only have an extensive library of Shito-ryu forms but also Shotokan and Goju (of course the many hours of bunkai on the website are always pretty much style universal). 

I also enojyed the extra time I had spent with Sensei Penny Ringwood, Sensei David Balir (who returned to join us for a breakfats and morning meeting as well as teh tournament) and Sensei Vern Vaden (pictured above). Sensei Vern Vaden was one of the USA`s most prized tournament fighters in the 1970s - we had one very late night staying up chating about karate and life (picture below).

vern vaden sensei shotokan

My second last day involved myself and Senpai John Whoriskey traveling to Rising Sun Productions in North Hollywood - to discuss the marketing of our latest Kata DVD. While there we watched Rising Sun`s unique archive footage of Bruce Lee doing free fighting passed to them by the Lee family - the only film of its type (not yet released).

A final night with 4 of my black belts out for a few drinks in Ventura was sensational way to wrap up the trip (Jorge Carrillo, Shodan - I had not seen in years). The long flight home allowed for some needed rest and recovery.

I thank Sensei Young, Senpai Nick, Senpai Dana & Senpai John for providing lodging and transport while I was there - I am very grateful for all your care.


Jason Armstrong, Ph.D. 
The Traditional Japanese Karate Network


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