Soshikan Times Issue#8
Modern Karate is divided into two main groups.
1. Traditional Karate - inherited from Okinawa Karate and the Ryukyu martial arts. Ryukyu is an old name for Okinawa island.
2. Full Contact Karate - Karate as used in fighting sports.
Traditional Karate is a collective term for the schools of Karate brought with Ryukyu practitioners as they moved from Okinawa to the main island in Japan, where they opened Dojos to teach Okinawa Karate.
If a style of Karate has "Ryu (流, school)" at the end of its name, it is most likely a school of traditional Karate. In traditional Karate, they use two training methods when sparring: "Sundome (寸止め)" where you stop your punch, kick, or strike just before impact, or "Nanshiki (軟式)" where you wear protective gear.
Soryu Karate-Do is a traditional Okinawa Karate, meaning that Souke Micho Koyasu acquired a grand master's certificate from the Toyama school of traditional Karate in Okinawa.
Ryukyu martial arts were developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom (today's Okinawa islands), and introduced in Japan in the early part of the Taisho era (1912-1926). It was not called Karate at this time. The Karate practitioners started creating schools of Karate in order to distinguish themselves from each other. Most Karate schools were named after places where the martial art is popular, such as Shurite (首里手), Nahate (那覇手), or Hakute (泊手). For example, Shurite (首里手) is the Ryukyu Karate in Shuri, Okinawa. Te (手) refers to the indigenous martial arts of the Ryukyu Islands. After Ryukyu martial arts practitioners moved from Okinawa to the main island in Japan to teach their techniques, Ryukyu martial arts began to be called "Karate." At first, the characters for Karate were 唐手. The characters were changed from “唐手” to “空手” because a Chinese martial art, Tang Soo, also used 唐手. “空” means empty in Japanese. One theory holds that Kara (空) was chosen because of a Buddhist expression, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form" (色即是空，空即是色).
Kanken Toyama is the grand master of the Toyama school of Karate, and Souke Michio Koyasu learned Karate from him. Kanken Toyama was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1888, and started learning Karate and Kempo at a young age. He studied Karate from Ankou Itosu in 1908, and studied under Kanryo Higaonna after that. He moved to Tokyo in 1930 and opened his own Dojo, “ShuDoKan, 修道館.”
After the war, when martial arts were prohibited by US policy, Karate was on the way out. Ankou Itosu ran here and there trying to save Karate. His contribution to reviving Shurite (首里手, Karate in Shuri, Okinawa) earned him the honor of being called a founding father of Karate's restoration. Kanken Toyama learned Karate from Ankou Itosu, and was beloved by Itosu.
Most Karate practitioners, who moved to the main island in Japan where they opened their Dojos, learned Ryukyu Karate from Ankou Itosu sensei or Kanryo Higaonna sensei in varying degree.
From the point of the fact that most traditional Kata we use today are the same as Ankou Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna invented, we could say today’s Okinawa Karate is heavily influenced by these two Karate masters. The school of Toyama Karate produced many famous Karate originators, including Souke Michio Koyasu.
The All Japan Karate-Do Association was established in 1958 by Kanken Toyama (the grand master of the Toyama school) as the chairman and Souke Koyasu Michio (the father of Soryu Karate) as the vice chairman. Souke Koyasu Michio contributed to establish and develop the Karate-Do association.
Toyama Sensei’s Saga - Part 1
Early in the 20th century when Karate still had a short history, some martial artists who did not like the popularity of Karate asked a swordsman to assault Toyama-sensei.
When Toyama walked on a street, he noticed that the swordsman was lurking. Toyama prepared for the attack against the swordsman. The swordsman drew his sword and attempted to kill Toyama by striking his head, but Toyama parried the sword and punched the swordsman’s side, so Toyama got out of the trouble.
At a later date, it was turned out that the swordsman's arm was broken and lost the use of his arm.
Toyama Sensei’s Saga - Part 2
Early in the postwar period, when Toyama-sensei was on the way back home, he was assaulted by about five U.S. servicemen by being punched and kicked. A small guy like him wouldn’t kick or punch you. As he did not complain about the pain or suffering, the U.S. service men panicked and ran away. And then, Toyama just stood up and walked home like everything was normal.
Toyama Sensei’s Saga - Part 3
Toyama-sensei had a strong enough grip to crush bamboo. One day while training, he took a pole and held the end of it with his right hand, and asked Souke Michio Koyasu to hold the other end and twist.
Souke was confident in his grip strength and tried to twist it but couldn’t make it move. Toyama-sensei told him that one person wouldn’t be strong enough to twist it. So, Souke and the 5 students worked together to try and twist the pole, but they couldn’t twist it either.
When Souke heard a story about Grand Master Oyama in Kyokushin Karate, who was famous and called “Oyama, the Killer of Bulls” because he could cut a bull’s horn with his knife hand, Souke said to Takamichi things like, “if Toyama-sensei was still alive, he would laugh at this Oyama-sensei episode because Toyama-sensei would have broke the bull’s horn off with his grip.”
Souke Michio Koyasu wearing glasses on the left, and Grand Master Kanken Toyama is on the second right.
Souke was still young in this picture, and Koyasu Takamichi studied Soryu Karate from him a few years after this point. The Karate we are learning today is the traditional Okinawa Karate which was inherited from the ancestors who were called the masters of Ryukyu martial arts. It was passed on to Grand Master Ankou Itosu, Grand Master Toyama, and was eventually passed on to Souke Michio Koyasu. This took place over about 700 years.
Souke Michio Koyasu was one of the more outspoken of Toyama-sensei’s students. This picture was taken on a day when Souke quarrelled about Karate with Toyama-sensei. Souke’s colleagues suggested that he should apologize to Toyama-sensei and bring sake. Toyama-sensei loved sake, so he was very delighted about Souke’s gift. Toyama-sensei had an evening drink with the sake. This picture was taken that night.
Pictures like this (Toyama-sensei is relaxing) are rare. This picture was donated to the headquarters of the Toyama school in Tokyo. A son of Kanken Toyama, Hiroshi Toyama, appreciated this picture, saying his pictures like this are very treasured.
Karate developed in a period when Satsumahan, a feudal domain from the main island of Japan, enforced a ban on weapons in the Ryukyu Kingdom. Only trustworthy men dedicated to protecting the royalty and aristocracy of the Ryukyu Kingdom were allowed to study the techniques, mastering Karate behind the closed doors of its palaces. These bodyguards’ rigorous training overcame the ban on weapons and their own smaller size, and we inherit their dedication to appearing humble, showing our power only when the people we protect are in danger.
Now, I will talk about the father of Soryu Karate-Do, Souke Michio Koyasu. It is unfortunate that Souke passed away in 2007 (aged 82), and we cannot meet him.
In this issue, I will talk about the history of Soryu Karate-Do and Souke’s character.
Souke Michio Koyasu (real name:Kiro Nagayama) was born in Aomori, Japan in 1925, the first-born son of Kiichi Nagayama who was an army Lt. Col in Japan. He moved from Aomori to Tokyo due to his father’s business. At the age of 13, he entered the headquarters of the Toyama Dojo, “修道館 (SoDoKan).” He acquired a 5th Dan and grand master’s certificate of the Toyama school in 1950, and received a Koyasu name, “Michio Koyasu” from Grand Master Toyama. After moving to Matsuura, Nagasaki prefecture, Koyasu started teaching Karate, Judo, and Chinese Kempo. In the same year, he started Soryu Karate-Do by creating his own style of Karate - Soryu Karate. All Japan Karate-Do association was established in 1958 by Kanken Toyama (the grand master of the Toyama school) as the chairman. Souke Koyasu Michio (the father of Soryu Karate) was the vice chairman. Souke Koyasu Michio established the Japan Soryu Karate-Do association in 1960, and opened the headquarters of Soryu Dojo, "SoRyuKan, 総流館" in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. He acquired a 8th Dan of Karate in 1965, and started teaching Tai Chi after acquired a grand master’s certificate from the authority of Ryuki Tai Chi, “Yang Ming-Shi.”
Soshikan Times Issue#9
Started martial arts at the age of 13, Souke Michio Koyasu acquired the following Dan before he moved to Kyushu at the age of 25.
Bai Shin Ryu Ju-Jutsu 5th dan
Ko Do Kan Judo 3th Dan
Kendo 3th Dan
Toyama school of Okinawa Karate 5th Dan
Chinese Kempo grand master’s certificate
Other than that, he also acquired a grand master’s certificate of RyuKi Tai Chi, the 7th achiever in Japan for the 10,000 radio transmissions in the ham radio operator, and a professional teaching certificate in ballroom dancing.
Seen in this light, Souke’s Dan levels certificates, and his extraordinary skills as a martial artist is manifestly apparent.
Soryu Karate-Do, derived from a wide range of techniques that exceed all other Karate schools and martial arts, was created by Souke Michio Koyasu, who achieved a mastery in various martial arts. In other words, no ordinary person could have completed this project.
I (Takamichi Koyasu) am very thankful from the bottom of my heart to be able to meet Souke and to be able to learn Soryu.
Souke’s picture in his 30s to 40s
Chito Ryu Souke, Tsuyoshi Chitose (on the left), and Koyasu Michio Souke (on the right)
Souke’s flying kick.
Souke in the Dojo. (Takamichi is on the corner of the right behind in the picture)
There are some things that are not really epic in Souke’s story, but I will introduce some things I learned that surprised me.
Souke’s life - episode 1
Before Souke married his wife, when he happened to be drunk and walking by a park, he said to her, “Would you believe I can flip over the car?” Then, he put his hands on a mini automobile, and flipped the car upside down. When he was leaving with the car still upside down, she warned him saying, “if you leave this car without putting it back, you will be in trouble with the police.” So, Souke flipped over the car again while yelling “Whoaaa!” －SoShiKan Times
Souke’s life - episode 2
When Souke and I (Takamichi) were walking in an arcade in the middle of the night, we saw two drunk US servicemen banging on the closed shutter of a shop. (because there is an U.S. military base in Sasebo.)
We gave a warning to the US servicemen because the noise would bothers neighbors, but they would not stop it. So Souke showed them his fist and said, “Punch my fist.” One of the serviceman was laughing at this small guy with his small fist, and punched it head-on with his big fist. Needless to say, the serviceman’s hand was broken and he screamed loudly.
Souke’s life - episode 3
Souke recommends that we use natural stones for tameshiwari, the art of breaking objects.
Not only because they are free, but also breaking stones mean a completion of the tameshiwari training for Karate practitioners.
We do Tameshiwari using natural stones as part of our summer training in the sea or river. Souke used to say after Tameshiwari with those stones, “The splinters from those stones are stuck in my skin.” Then, he removed the splinters from the side of his knife hand with a needle.
Souke’s life - episode 4
There are throwing, choking, and grappling techniques in Soryu Karate, and the black belt holders strive to acquire these techniques. Souke, who had a 5th Dan in Jiu-Jitsu and a 3rd Dan in Judo, was so powerful with his techniques, and I (Takamichi) have vivid memories of being thrown down 2 to 3 meters (7 to 10 feets) to the floor by him.
Souke’s life episode 5
Souke died at the age of 82. He saw a doctor before he died. It was his first time he saw one in his life. The result of his medical checks showed that one of his lung had been nonfunctional for years. His primary doctor said, “If he was an ordinary man, he could not even walk. I can’t believe, but I only think of him as a superman!”
Soshikan Times Issue#11
Modern Karate World
The Ryukyu martial arts, “Te” which was unveiled its secret at “武徳館 (Bu Toku Kan)” in Kyoto in 1921, has been passed down as “空手 (Karate)” since then. However, modern Karate has flowed into two main streams.
One is the traditional Karate that has been inherited from Okinawa Karate and the Ryukyu martial arts, and the other is full contact Karate that was established by grandmaster Oyama, Kyokushin Karate.
Full contact Karate has spread globally at an explosive pace with grandmaster Oyama’s charismatic character, the advertising effects of manga and films, and the support from many young people, and it almost overwhelmed the traditional Karate.
What is difference between Traditional Karate and Full Contact?
- Difference of the opponent when you prepare for a fight
In traditional Karate, due to its historical origin, is designed from combat against opponents wearing body armor and fighting tactics designed to kill their enemies with a sword. Meanwhile, full contact is designed for fighting with a competitor with the bare hands; it is a fighting oriented. Full contact was developed into K-1 later.
- Differences in sparring (Kumite)
In traditional Karate, they use “寸止め (Sundome)” where you stop your punch, kick, or strike just before impact. This is called “Sundome Kumite,” and it has the characteristics of the feeling of the tension of a knockout stroke when you aggressively attack with speed from a distance. However, its drawback is that judging wins and losses can be difficult because the effect of an attack might be hard to see.
In Full Contact Karate, it is called “Full Contact Kumite” as you attack to your opponent directly. The characteristic of Full Contact is that you will easily get the effect of an attack because you attack the opponent directly. However, since striking the face is not allowed due to it being a vital point, it would be difficult to score wins and loses with one shot, and it would likely be a close match. As a result, it relies on a test of your strength rather than being good or bad of your techniques.
- Differences in training
Since an opponent who you imagine in a fight is different between traditional Karate and Full Contact, it is fair to say that their training methods are also different.
Traditional Karate, which used to be the Ryukyu martial arts, is designed for small people to fight against bigger and armed opponents, thus their training focuses on “speed,” “timing,” and “limb training,” in order to fight from a distance. Training in traditional Karate was designed for fighting against armed soldiers in the Middle East conflict area, and it is said that the training enables you to master the speed from a distance.
On the other hand, in Full Contact, you would attack your opponent’s body directly, whereas a bigger body would be harder to defeat. Therefore, their training focuses more on developing muscle strength and stamina. Since striking the face is not allowed and would likely result in a close match, “conditioning” is also a part of essential training which improves blocking of incoming attacks.
- Differences in teachers and the methods for fostering teachers
Traditional Karate has many training assignments including Kata, Yakusoku Kumite, and Tameshiwari, therefore, it requires a strict certification program to become a teacher. Not only are good and bad techniques, but spiritualness is also emphasized to acquire the certificate.
A good side is to be able to grow teachers who acquire firm techniques and spirit, but a bad side is that since it takes a long time to cultivate them, it could be difficult to sustain a school if they do not have many students.
Full Contact offers less training materials because it focuses on Kumite (sparring), and some Full Contact schools consider if you rank high in a competition, it would be seen as a completion of Full Contact training. Therefore, many of those high-ranked people open their own schools.
There were people with strong physique who did not acquire a teacher’s certificate, but they opened their Dojo just with one year training because they had a higher ranked win at a Full Contact competition. Souke used to say those people are like driving a car without a license.
A result of those inexperienced practitioners who opened Dojo resulted in having many Full Contact Dojo, thus Full Contact schools outnumber traditional Karate.
- Differences in competition
Competitions in traditional Karate are generally held within the same school or among Karate schools under the same rules. With this style of competition, if a school does not have many students or they teach different styles of Kumite from other schools would be difficult to sustain their Dojo without holding a competition.
In Full Contact Karate, many big name schools such as “極真 (Kyoku Shin),” “新極真 (Sin Kyoku Shin),” and “正道会館 (Seidokaikan)” hold large scale competitions, while most small schools work together to open joint competitions in many areas. Due to a lack of historical background in Full Contact Karate, the result of a competition seems to depend on the reputation of a Dojo.
Both Karate (traditional and full contact) bring children and young people to train. It is nonsense to say that one type of Karate is better than the other. There is nothing in the world that is truly perfect, and each one has advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to do your best once you decide to do so. While continuing to train, you will be able to see what you are looking for, and you will eventually see the Karate which fits your thoughts.
Soshikan Times Issue#12
The Untold Story Behind the Name of “Koyasu”
Souke gives names to the Soryu martial art practitioners who have a rank of grand master or above.
Michio Souke’s real name is Kiro Nagayama. You may wonder why his Soryu name is Michio Koyasu. There is a story about a relationship between his teacher, Kanken Toyama and Souke.
After acquiring a grand master of the Toyama school in 1950, Souke moved from Tokyo to Matsuura-shi, Nagasaki prefecture in Japan with the aim of popularizing Karate and his job as an electronics technician in a coal mine. When he was young, he was one of the more outspoken of Toyama-sensei’s students. Before he moved to Tokyo, Toyama-sensei said, “Sometimes you are violent in your eagerness. You should not make a mistake in the future while in Kyushu due to your violent behavior,” and he gave a martial art name to Michio Souke. The meaning of his name is:
小 (Ko): Be small
安 (Yasu): Be untroubled
道 (Michi): Pursue on Karate Do
雄 (O): Be a man
Since Souke’s episode where he quarrelled about Karate with Toyama-senssei, and he apologized to Toyama-sensei with sake, and the meaning of “小 (Ko)” and “安 (Yasu)” as his martial art name, it is assumed that he must have been a really outspoken with a hot-blooded person.
The “小安 (Koyasu)” name was born on the back of this story. It has passed on to other Soryu practitioners who have a rank of grand master or above as a sign of Soryu’s instructor since 1972.
After Kiro Nagayama moved to Matsuura, Nagasaki prefecture and started teaching Soryu Karate-Do with the given name “Michio Koyasu”, he became calm and genial as if his old outspoken personality wasn’t true.
After Souke died, his wife said, “My husband wrote his Koyasu name 20 times on a notebook every day so as to keep the meaning of the name in his heart and not to make a mistake.” When I (Takamichi) saw the notebook filled with Koyasu’s name, I could not help but felt the loyalty between a master and his pupil like the relationship between Toyama-sensei and Souke.
On a different note, Souke had a brother named Mouhouzou who also acquired a grand master’s certificate of the Toyama school and moved to Matsuura with Souke. There was no such cases like this with siblings before both of the brothers acquired a grand master’s certificate in the history of the Toyama school.
Mouhouzou made a considerable contribution to the establishment and popularity of Soryu Karate-Do as well as the management of its tournaments as Souke’s right hand. In the contrast to Souke, Mouhouzou was quiet and calm when he was young. In the same way as Souke, when Souke and Mouhouzou moved away from the school, Toyama-sensei gave him “猛法造 (Mouhouzou)” as his martial art name, meaning that he should engage in Karate actively. “猛” means fierce.
Unlike Souke, Mouhouzou’s character changed to behaving boorishly, which bothered Souke. And Souke made Mouhouzou leave Sasebo, and move to Yoka-cho, Saga prefecture to keep teaching Karate.
Is it only me who feels that martial artists’ names are mysterious?
There were 10 grand masters who were given the martial artist name, “Koyasu” as of 2016. However, due to an old age, died or other various reasons, many were not be able to teach Soryu. Currently, only me (Takamichi) is a teacher of Soryu who is carrying on the name of “Koyasu.” However, I heared people from New York and Texas doing Soryu Karate, and there were 15 branches in Japan. I still believe that there are people who inherited Soryu in Japan.
Soshikan Times Issue#13
Let’s think about why we learn Soryu Karate.
Soryu Karate, which was invented by Souke in Matsuura-Shi in 1950, has been passed down for more than 60 years. This time, we will review what the principle of Soryu is.
Since you have gotten to know Soryu Karate and are learning every day while spending valuable time and money, why not think about what the purpose of learning Soryu is.
In Okinawa, the place of origin of Soryu Karate, only trustworthy men dedicated to protecting the royalty and aristocracy of the Ryukyu Kingdom were allowed to study the Ryukyu martial arts. Even though you had a great skill, if you were a bad person, you were not allowed to learn Soryu.
Because Karate has a technique to kill your opponents using martial arts which has developed during the course of combat, if you teach the techniques of Karate to a bad person, it would be dangerous as well as being harmful to the world. As the old saying goes, it would be like “handling a sword to an insane people.”
It is not until a person who has the right heart acquire techniques techniques of Karate that you realize it is useful to the world.
However, you would be unlikely to encounter a dangerous situation where you would almost be killed these days. In a society without a combat, you may wonder how you should use Karate, which is used for fighting, and when is a suitable time for you to allow Karate.
This is going to be a little difficult to answer, however, as long as you learn Soryu Karate, you should be able to understand the teaching of Karate-Do.
The teaching of Soryu
In Soryu, the knowledge to learn Soryu is defined as “Teaching from 5 yen.” Souke taught us, “Like the rice stalk is shown on the surface of a 5 yen, the stronger you are, the higher your position becomes, the richer you are, the greater your authority is while still being humble.” “Be humble,” rather than “Be strong,” is a kernel of knowledge from Soryu.
To apply Soryu to your everyday life
Now, let’s think about what useful applications will accompany humility according to the Soryu’s teachings.
In a country governed by the rule of law, if you hurt someone using Karate, you would be indicated with causing bodily injury, and if you injure someone, you would be sent to jail.
You may be wondering what the purpose of training in Karate is when you can’t even use the techniques in daily life.
The answer lies in the black belt of Soryu Karate-do way.
“This person has good behavior. He always gives me a proper greeting.”
“Her responses are always clear and pleasant.”
“He is willing to do things other people won't.”
“She is different. I wonder if she is doing something else?”
“Oh, she is doing Karate.”
“She looks gentle. A person who learns Karate must be different.”
Souke used to say, “If someone would say things to you, you are a black belt holder in Soryu and upstander in a society. You would not pick a fight. “
In short, if you are humble in daily life, you would not make enemies and strive to avoid conflict.
However, if you encounter unavoidable and difficult situation that could be fatal for yourself and others, you must be boldly cope using the spirit, techniques, and power to combat it. You are allowed to use Karate only to protect yourself from such a fatal situation. I hope you understand it.
The purpose of learning Soryu is to cultivate yourself, not to create a conflict, and to establish your ability to cope fearlessly in a difficult situation.
Regarding the notion of mind and techniques in Soryu, Souke taught:
If you are a beginner at Soryu, your mind and fists may be disharmonious, which is the state of “Human and fists”. As you learn for years, you will reach a point of “Human, no fists,” then you will eventually reach “Fighter with no fists,” in the midst of a chaotic world.
Soshikan Times Issue#14
I (Koyasu Takamichi) have been introducing the teachers, Kanken Toyama and Souke Michio Koyasu. They were the right people to call a “Master” with a person of character and surpassing skills.
In this issue, I will introduce myself in Soryu Karate where I am still inexperienced both in character and techniques, but I could keep doing Karate with the support of the people around me. I would like to share my stories even though they may disappoint you in the end :)
Takashi Nakamura (Koyasu Takamichi's real name) was born in Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture as the first-born son of the Nakamura family. His father ran a wholesale business of whale processed products (closed now). I had polio at the age of two. I managed to escape death, but there was no silver bullet after the war, my legs were left paralyzed. According to a result by my doctor’s diagnose, he said “You would need crutches if you are lucky, but would need a wheelchair your entire life if you are unlucky.” However, whether it is fortunate or unfortunate, my legs miraculously recovered and I could walk by myself.
As an after effect of my polio, I had to see several doctors every day until I graduated from my kindergarten. When I entered my elementary school, I was the smallest child in the class and was weak at exercise, while I was a short temper and I often fought with other students during my entire elementary life.
To my chagrin, I had never won the fights with other students - about 1,800 loses in 1800 fights. My elementary life was like a repetition of “went to school,” “fought with other students,” “lost the fights,” “cried,” “ate school lunch,” and “went home.” My mother used to say things like, “Because you will never win a fight, don’t fight with anyone today.”
On the bright side, the person who was in the same class in my entire elementary life, who chastised me, and who was the class officer ended up marrying me.
I was a habitual fighter and early leaver from school. If it happens now, he must be a problem child. Perhaps, considering my physical concerns, my teachers may have let me have my own way.
On the day for the entrance ceremony of my junior high school, I fought with a guy who was known as a school gang leader at his elementary school, and lost the fight. I went back to the classroom crying, and my teacher scolded me as well.
This was my last fight throughout junior high and high schools. I lost the fight in a crushing way when I got a punch on the face, and I thought “I can’t win in this way.”
I felt painfully my powerless (I know it’s too late!)
While my position in the high school was the same as the smallest child, I was quietly dreaming of a day that I would become a hero, thinking about “how can I be strong?”
When I was in the third grade, I knocked on the gate of “SoRyuKan (総流館)” with encouragement from my friend, keeping a bad idea under my hat, “I will be strong to win a fight.”
Karate at that time was a bad image. In a movie, for example, the hero was always doing Judo while the villain was always doing Karate.
Needless to say, my mother was strongly opposed to my decision to do Karate, saying things like, “It’s too absurd for someone like you, who can’t run or exercise like normal people, to do Karate.” But I thought this would be the last chance to become strong, so I kept up the argument with my mother. She finally said, “Don’t tell anyone you are learning Karate. And you can quit anytime!” She accepted my dream with this condition, and it marked the beginning of my Soryu Karate life with a full of ups and downs.
At the time when I was the grade 11 in high school, I was ashamed to say I had zero physical ability, at 150cm (4ft 11in) in height, 0 abs exercise, 1 push ups, 0 chin-up, and 0 sec in one leg stand. Happily, with the help of my nature of being disorganized, I was like, “Things will work out one day,” and I was getting really into the Soryu Karate training without a deep thought.
After I managed to acquire a black belt, my lack of guts was still alive. Even though I entered a Karate club in my university, it was too much for me to spend my time doing training even during the summer and winter vacations, going to the school, wearing a school uniform with a high-collared shirt, so I quit it only after one year. I created a Karate club with my fellow students, and enjoyed a freewheeling puberty, doing Karate and travelling.
During my university life, I had a friend in Tokyo, and had a chance to see various Karate styles and schools including “剛柔流 (GoJuRyu),” “和道流 (WaDoRyu),” “松林流 (ShoRinRyu),” and “松濤館流 (ShoToKan Ryu).”
With my continuing great deal of curiosity, I had matches in a fight with various martial artists from 極真空手 (Kyokushin Karate), other schools, and boxing. I also had further matches with kick boxers and martial artists from 少林寺拳法 (Shorinji Kempo) later on. A high point of these matches might be ones with Kendo (Japanese art of fencing). (If it is a real sword, I would have been killed ten times. )
Although Soryu prohibited their students from fighting with people from other schools, I was thinking like, “Each school has their own styles, but they may not be so different from each other.” I know I was stupid.
After graduation from university, I didn’t have a strong commitment to continuously doing Karate in my life. I often went there and trained between my work.
Before too long, I learned alcohol and women, and spent time with these. As a result, I was a 4th Dan at the age of 26, but my 5th Dan took me a further 25 years, at the age of 51.
During the 25 years, I was disgraced several times; I thought I should have quit Karate many times. However, in the meantime, I receive an offer “Please teach Karate.” I had never ceased the relationship with Soryu Karate.
In 1981 (when I was my 32 years old), Souke asked me, “Would you try teaching Soryu Karate? I will give you a 5th Dan.” But I knew myself better than someone did; I was not a proper teacher in Karate, so I declined the offer.
At the age of 34 (1983), I moved to Miyazaki Prefecture and helped teaching a full contact Karate for my friend named Yoshiji Soeno who was running “士道間 (ShiDoKan)” and a director of Kyokushin Karate Soeno. His first son was the high school champion in ShiDoKan. When I was in Miyagi, I was interested in Shorinji Kempo and entered the Dojo.
When I was 51 (in 2000), I acquired a 5th Dan in Soryu Karate, and established, ”総士館 (SoShiKan)” as the Kasuga branch of the All Japan Soryu Karate-Do association in Kasuga-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture. In Fukuoka, my acquaintances who were doing boxing or kickboxing came to my Dojo, SoShiKan, and we trained in Soryu Karate. Meanwhile, I started to learn Aikido (an art of weaponless self-defense) in Saga Prefecture.
Many teachers told me things like, “I never heard of a school teacher who is doing other Karate styles, other martial arts, fighting sports, and other sports.”
From my experience, I think if you think like “What I’m learning is the best thing,” then it makes you blind, as the old saying goes, “a big fish in a small pond,” and you ended up not being able to understand what your own merit and flaws are. By knowing other schools and other styles of martial arts, you will be able to see your Karate in an objective way, and to understand easily the specialties of a school that you are learning.
Soryu Karate has given me a great deal of physical and mental influences. Now, I can spend good time with someone who have the same purpose, “Learning Soryu Karate.” I want to say thank for meeting Souke, my senior and junior fellows and my students.
A career summary of Takamichi Koyasu
January 22nd, 1949: Born in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. Real name: Takashi Nakamura
In 1951 (2-year-old): Had polio. My legs were left paralyzed.
In 1967 (18-year-old): Entered the main Soryu Karate-Do Dojo, “総流館 (SoRyuKan). Acquired a first Dan in Soryu Karate.
In 1968: Entered a Karate club of Nihon University.
Acquired an Assistant teacher of Soryu Karate-Do
In 1969: Created a Karate club, and took up a post of the first captain.
Got the champion in Kumite in the Nagasaki Prefecture Karate-Do Competition.
Got the third place in Tameshiwari (the art of breaking objects).
In 1970 (21-year-old): Placed in the top 8 in Kumite in the All Japan Karate-Do Competition.
In 1971: Moved to the United States as a Karate instructor, and taught Karate at Hawaii university and California university.
Acquired a 3th Dan in Soryu Karate.
In 2000: Acquired the 5th Dan in Soryu Karate
Opened “総士館 (SoShiKan),” Kasuga branch of the Soryu Karate-Do.
In 2003: Acquired a grand master certificate, and given “小安孝道 (Takamichi Koyasu)” as a martial art name.
In 2004: Took up a post of the supreme adviser of the New All Karate-Do association.
In 2006: Moved to Saga-Sho, Saga Prefecture
In 2007: Acquired a 7th Dan in Soryu Karate
In 2008 (59-year-old): Acquired a grand master supervision.
In 2011 (62-year-old): Acquired a 9th Dan in Soryu Karate