Soshikan Times Issue#41
I have often been asked why Souke used the name, Soryu. Considering other school names, one can easily guess the meaning of their names. However, if you hear “Soryu,” you may not be able to come up with the meaning behind the name. I also had the same thought, and even thought, “You could’ve chosen a better name” until Souke told me the origin of the name.
In fact, Soryu has two meanings.
1- “One’s movements should all flow like water: always straightforward, never jagged, never struggling.”
This philosophy gives you the foundation of the techniques and the proper mental attitude.
Every martial art detests clumsy blows that only smash the weak. Pointing this out should not be considered esoteric. All moves should flow smoothly, like a large river, and they should also be full of intrinsic power.
2- “Soryu” means it transcends all martial art schools, and it has a wide range of techniques that unite all schools and all martial arts’ techniques.
Soryu scientifically evaluates, researches, and integrates techniques from not only other Karate schools, but all martial arts. Furthermore, techniques are advanced on a daily basis without being restrained by tradition. The purpose of Soryu techniques is to acquire new techniques derived from old techniques already mastered. Therefore, no new technique would be invented without first mastering the predecessors’ techniques.
To understand the 1, Souke refers to Water’s Five Proverbs - Quintessential Soryu.
The first proverb
Water moves other things by moving to suit itself.
The second proverb
Water never rests until it finds its level.
The third proverb
Water gains in strength when it encounters obstacles.
The fourth proverb
Water cleans the unclean and accepts both clean and unclean together.
The fifth proverb
Water acts the same in any form, whether filling the oceans, settling as fog, or advancing as a glacier.
Now, you will be able to understand what Soryu you want to learn.
Soryu is only the one with a single Kanji, “総流,” in Karate schools that is acknowledged by the martial arts encyclopedia.
Soshikan Times Issue#43
Although there are many Karate schools that teach Karate from a young age, Soryu Karate basically teaches children who are in elementary school or above. Children aged under 5 years old cannot concentrate on something longer than 30 minutes. In my school, a class has an hour, so it’s too long for kids to keep training with older students. If parents or their children have any strong preferences, I would accept them unconditionally.
I happened to train elementary school children. How did SORYU make the decision to train children at such an early age? The answer lies with a look back on karate training with pupils in Shin-ei kindergarten.
One day a friend of mine, Misako Nishiyama (who happened to teach at Shin-ei Kindergatern) told me, “I would like to hear about karate.” She invited me to visit the school and share my story of karate with the children. Then she said, “Well, we should try it.” We started Karate training at the Shin-ei Kindergarten in 2009.
It was my first challenge in 30 years of teaching Karate to teach about 30 kindergarten pupils aged 5 for 30 minutes each class.
Since then, I’ve taught pupils for 6 years, and a graduation season has come in March this year too. The arrival of spring means preschool toddlers graduate from their kindergarten.
This year, 26 preschool toddlers completed a one-year Karate training and left bravely. This means about 160 kindergarten pupils have been given the opportunity to learn karate.
I assume many of them would forget the techniques they learned Karate, but I enjoy training with them while dreaming that some day in the future, they would wonder in casual life, “I remember I was doing Karate when I was in kindergarten.”
Soshikan Times Issue#44
About the training in Soryu:
I would hope you strive to achieve the assignments for your next Kyu and train hard everyday. In fact, this kind of training style can only be seen in Soryu Karate.
Generally, students who are the same level train together, then they will take a promotional test when they are ready. Therefore, students who have different Kyu may train the same training and Katas.
On the other hand, assignments for Soryu’s Kyu are different in each level of Kyu, so if a student’s Kyu is even one level different from the other student, he/she would never do the same training with other ranked students. Because Soryu’s assignments are firmly designed to suit each level.
In Soryu’s training, even though mixed levels of students train in the same class, each student independently trains for his/her assignment for the sake of acquiring their next levels of skills. This means you need to cope with your own goal from your own motive in order to improve your skills.
You are not told what you should do in Soryu Karate, so depending on your effort, you will have a chance to take a promotional test every three months. Let’s seek your next promotion!
The origin of “SoShiKan”
A child asked me, “What is SoShiKan?”
The name of Karate taught is “SoRyu,” and the Dojo name is Soryu Karate-Do SoShiKan in Saga Prefecture.
For many years, I’ve been wandering around many places and teaching Karate wherever I went. I never thought of settling down anywhere I lived nor setting up a Dojo.
A turning point occurred when I lived in Kasuga-Shi, Fukuoka Prefecture. A young man at the same company where I worked, asked me, “Please teach me Karate.” Then I started teaching Karate in a borrowed warehouse of the company. This scenario is as usual. One different thing was that co-workers, kickboxing and boxing players, as well as neighbour children started gathering at the warehouse to train with me. I didn’t recruit those people, but they were coming naturally. －SoShiKan Times
In the year 2000, I was already over 50 years old. I thought it must be time to draw a clear line in my life, so I resolved to talk with Souke about opening a branch dojo.
Souke said with smile, “You finally feel up to it. It’s been 25 years since I decided to be an instructor,” and he gave me a permission to open a branch Dojo.
It’s been a hard time since then.
I was thinking about what I should name for the Dojo name, but I couldn’t come up with a better idea.
Finally, I came up with an idea of “総士館 (SoShiKan),” meaning “a school for Bushi to learn Soryu.” I asked my students what they thought. A student who is good at fortune-telling said with impressive self-confidence, “This name is brilliant. The kanji stroke count is excellent luck! This will become a great Dojo which would beat any other Dojos.” And I decided to keep this name.
SoShiKan was initially registered as Kasuga branch, and changed to Saga branch when I moved to Saga Prefecture.