Soryukan Times Issue#76
Time flies and 10 years have passed since I moved to Saga and started teaching Soryu Karate in 2009. We have an idiom that says that three years on a cold stone will make the stone warm. I decided to work hard and do my best at least 3 years no matter how hard it was. In September of 2015 I established a permanent Dojo, Saga Shibu (Saga Branch) “SoShiKan” in Saga Prefecture.
Since then, I haven’t even thought about it. Time passed and SoShiKan was prompted to SoRyuKan with the inheritance of the Soryu Karate-Do 3rd generation Souke. So here we are. Today, I will talk about Honbu Dojo.
Every Dojo has their own Honbu Dojo to various degrees in size and scale. In a Honbu Dojo, its chief Gramdmaster teaches his/her school, and many skilled senior students train there.
I enrolled the Honbu Dojo (named SoRyuKan) in 1967, named SoRyuKan which was located in Sasebo-shi Nagasaki prefecture where grew up. At that time, I didn’t know the name of the school and didn’t even recognize the teacher was the Souke. I just thought it was a Karate Dojo.
At that time, SoRyuKan had over 10 enrollments every month, and many black belt holders from Shibu Dojos all over the country came to SoRyuKan to take the biannual promotional tests. There were more than 100 black belt holders there. Compared with the currento Dojo, it would be an unbelievable scene, but I thought “Karate Dojo are always like this” because this was a usual event for me. While watching the senior students in training at the Honbu Dojo, I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s a gorgeous punch! How remarkable they are! How could you make such a great kick? It naturally occurred to me that I want to be strong like them one day, and I should focus on my training.
It was only after students from the Shibu Dojos came to the Honbu Dojo for their promotional tests that I realized how very lucky I was to train at the Honbu Dojo. The students would say things like, “We really envy you because you are a student at the Honbu Dojo. You can get coaching directly from Souke, and you can train with high ranked students who are not in our Shibu.” At the time, however, it was true that the students at Shibu Dojos threw themselves into training, saying uniformly, “We do not lose to the students at the Honbu Dojo!” While in SoRyuKan, they had their unwritten rule, saying “As the Honbu Dojo, we never lose the Shibu Dojos,” so they trained hard. Indeed, there was friendly competition and training with backbone and pride. There was the meaning of existence of the Honbu Dojo which was a goal for its Shibu Dojos.
A Honbu Dojo is a keystone and a symbol of its school. Without the keystone, the school would be separated and cannot be come together in one. The symbol is an icon of the Honbu Dojo.
In 2017, Caesar Johnson, Walt Carrol, and Judy Smith came to the Honbu Dojo to experience training with the Honbu students. Training at the Honbu Dojo in Nabeshima is also a dream and pride for students in the U.S. who are learning Soryu.
In this way, while the Honbu Dojo is a place to carry on Soryu Karate-Do, it is also the place to take charge of the destiny of “never lose” in any fights. Losing a fight (competition) at a Honbu Dojo means the defeat of the school and could lead directly to the extinction of the school. Therefore, highly ranked students at a Honbu Dojo would naturally take great responsibility for the existence of the school. It goes without saying that they train hard every day, and they are required to have great technique and a tough mind. They should never succumb to any enemies, no matter how tough, and must be prepared so well they should never lose a fight. The toughness and strength of a Honbu Dojo comes from here.
I call the current Soryu state, “an endangered school” :) I don’t say that to discredit the school. I call it that because of the small number of students. It is a precious school and we cannot let it die out. It is said you need at least 100 adult students in order for a school to continue and succeed. Soryu currently cannot reach this number. Having said that, I belive miracle will happen one day, and we must keep up the struggle for the Soryu Karate-Do Honbu Dojo.
A story about OSS
We say “OSS” for greeting and reply at the current Soryu Dojos. But Soryu in the past did not use OSS. You might ask “What did you just say?” but I am the first person who started using “OSS” in Soryu Karate. In Soryu Karate, we used to accept high school age students or older for enrollment. They were required to say “Shitsurei shimasu (Excuse me)” before and after you enter the Dojo. There are a few reasons why we changed greetings and replies to “OSS.” The most prominent reason is that children under high school age were also accepted to enroll Soryu Karate due to the change of Soryu’s stipulation.
If we kept accepting high school students or older, it would have been ok to keep using “Shitsurei shimasu.” However, I noticed some small children cannot say “Shitsurei shimasu” “Wakarimashita (I understand)” or “Arigatou gozaimashita (Thank you so much)” well, and class didn’t run smoothly. There were also many students who held their breath when they moved and, at first, I didn’t know what to do about it. Using “OSS” occurred to me since I used to say it at a Karate club at school. “OSS” is easy to say even for small children, and it’s good for them to breath out naturally by saying it. “OSS” was not used in Soryu, so I asked Souke Michio Koyasu for permission and explained the situation. Since then, “OSS” has been echoed throughout my Shibu Dojo, “SoShinKan,” starting in 2000 in Kasuga-shi, Fukuoka prefecture, and it is still used in the current Dojo, “SoRyuKan” after the name was changed.
Soryukan Times Issue#79
The period from March 2018 - We had a Kyu examination
We have Soryu Karate Shibu dojos in the U.S., and the Soryu instructors have finally started conducting the Soryu Karate Kyu examination.
Caesar Johnson (Kingston, NY), Soryu instructor, visited the Honbu Dojo in order to observe a Soryu Karate Kyu examination. It was an unusual schedule, but the Kyu examination was held on Sunday, April 1st, 2018, on schedule with his visit. It was his fourth visit to the Honbu Dojo, so he is a familiar face among my students. As the saying goes, “Seeing is better than hearing,” and there is nothing like observing with your own eyes and actually experiencing. I hope his observation this time helps with the Kyu examinations in the U.S.
As an additional surprise, his promotional 3rd Dan test, which had initially planned to be held in his Dojo in NY, was also conducted during the examination on the day, according to his strong request. And I report he successfully passed a 3rd Dan. The following students passed on their Kyu examination.
Chihiro Sonoda, Takahiro Sonoda, and Koji Takao
Shoya Yamashita, Soichiro Ishimura, Kotetsu Matsunaga, and Koji Kinoshita
Kaho Kobayashi, Yuya Araki, Kotetsu Matsunaga, and Takuya Matsunaga
Joji Okamoto, Kaho Kobayashi, and Takuya Matsunaga
The black belt holders and high ranking students teach the junior class from 10am on Sundays. I teach on weekdays, but I have to admit I can’t teach enough sometimes. In order to provide more instruction, there is a Sunday class. As we teach each child carefully, it’s not unusual for the children’s techniques to be remarkably improved. The Sunday class used to have the most participations of all classes, but the number has dropped some.
It may be difficult to join the Sunday class due to other events and classes, but why don’t you attend “the chance of your Karate improvement,” Sunday class sometimes?
The re-election of the board of directors
A new academic and fiscal year started, the board of directors for Soryu Karate-Do association was re-elected.
Chairman: Michio Koyasu
Members of the board of directors: Haruo Tsukamoto, Eiji Hatahara, Takanori Takayanagi, Isamu Ota, and Yuki Soejima
The managing director: Hiroko Nakamura
Inspector: Isamu Ota
With this new system, we will steer the development and promotion of “Soryu Karate-Do.” Thank you for your continued support.