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Thread: What's the deal with "family styles"?

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    Default What's the deal with "family styles"?

    One thing that I have noticed in reading through various discussions on this forum is the reference to and seeming reverence for "family styles" of karate handed down to karate students.

    Often, I perceive the hierarchy of learning to go something like this:
    1) Direct student of a family style passed down only to family members or "special students" inducted into the family's inner circle.
    2) Direct student of a famous "old time karate" teacher (insert example of famous karate master here) who has international reputation.
    3) Direct student of an unknown but very important "old time karate" teacher (insert example of unknown teacher here)
    4) Other students of larger schools with some direct linkage to Okinawa.

    I am curious to hear other's thoughts regarding the notion of "family lineage" as a special kind of karate, very exclusionary, very rare, and often, by extension, "the real deal".

    My thoughts are as follows - I think that the whole "family style" mystique, hangs on to the notion of "uniqueness" and "value added" myth: because it is unique and because it is rare, it must, therefore, be really "real" karate.

    I am sure that some family styles are the "real deal" but surely some are just rare styles of really bad karate as well.

    Anyway, enough from me. I would enjoy reading people's thoughts on the matter.

    Best,
    Tim
    Tim Black
    Kokusai Shinjinbukan

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    I have several books that discuss the history of karate and so on and while no doubt they are mostly correct they do leave out stuff that is important. After so long, nearly 5 decades, since I was really involved in up close Okinawa karate my memory may be a bit off. Nagamine sensei and Miyazato sensei never talked much about the history of their business, simply because they were action type of guys and less talkative. The only lectures I remember were after practice when we would occasionally BS about things over a few beers.

    Consequently I really never knew much about where these sensei learned their karate, as much as they taught us how to do it and that was enough for me. Remember this; all these guys barely survived the war and most of their sensei were either killed in or as a result of the war, so they were left on their own. The war to a Okinawan was not a walk in the park and sensei only talked to me about it once, that I remember. He was like a stand-in father to me, but I remember my real father would not talk much about the Battle of the Bulge that he fought in. I certainly understood sensei's reluctance to speak of that time, or that all his sensei died early on.

    This may very well not add much to the discussion, but I feel it important to tell you of my personal experience with the sensei, or master of their art, school, style or whatever. They are now gone and not many of their students are still around either.

    BTW, I have a few videos of Onaga Sensei and really enjoyed his presentations. He appears to be a typical Okinawan with a sense of humor. Even after all these years I can still laugh with them over those simple, but important lessons of life.

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    Hi Jeff,

    This is the second time I've seen your name in as many days [nice to meet you] and I wonder if you would mind telling me/us a little about your background, as I couldn't find much on your profile. - Thanks

    Judging by what you've posted [here and the Mertz-accreditation issue] I am assuming you lived in Okinawa at one point. If so, how long were you there for, and was that on a military base or in the Okinawan community? Also, no disrespect intended, but are you conversant in Japanese or hogan [I ask this only because I knew both Nagamine and Miyasato quite well and know that, other than a few words, they couldn't speak English? Did you study at Nagamine's and or the Jundokan...for how long?
    Patrick McCarthy
    International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society
    http://www.koryu-uchinadi.com

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    Actually, Miyazato sensei could speak very good English, at least when I knew him. He would accompany us Air Force punks to Japan or wherever as our Judo "coach." Really, he just liked the free transportation we gave him to visit relatives up there. He finally bugged me to take up with him at his small dojo somewhere in Naha, can't remember exactly where after so many years. Goju did not set well with me at the time, so I thanked him and went my way.

    I began to study at Nagamine sensei's dojo in late 1960 and left Okinawa in July 1962. I was primarily a Judoka but my friend, a Nisei, and I were interested in his dojo and would work out with sensei a little more each month. We actually taught Taki or something we called his son, GI slang, but Nagamine sensei understood more English than he let on. I did not like the karate found in the USA and only ventured back to it years later.

    Will put my bio in the profile; not much for publishing such stuff. It is a hodgepodge of all I could save over the years.

    I have a new keyboard and with arthritis and all, typos galore.
    Last edited by DustyMars; 25th September 2008 at 12:00.

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    Well, it just goes to show that one can learn something new everyday!

    I first met Miyasato sensei in the summer of 1985 and visited his dojo [the Jundokan on 443 Asato in Naha] many times over the course of the ten years I lived in Japan and never heard him utter more than just a few words of simple English; usually instructional-based stuff to visiting students from overseas. As he was Japanese I only ever spoke Japanese to him.

    The same can be said of Nagamine sensei. I was much closer to this gentleman, as I was contracted to translate one of his books ["Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters"] and spent considerable time with him. Never a single word of English. On the other hand, his son, Takayoshi, speaks wonderful English and resided in the USA for many years.

    I knew that the both of them [Miyasato & Nagamine] had both been policemen and that Miyasato had also been a judo instructor for the police department, teaching at the old Butokuden [which used to be] next door to the Naha Police Station. There's not much known about him during those days - so I hope you'll do us the honour of telling a few stories from those days. Perhaps, we can make another thread just for this purpose - I hope so.

    By the way, how long were you in Okinawa/Japan for and where were you stationed?
    Patrick McCarthy
    International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society
    http://www.koryu-uchinadi.com

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    Well, I was struggling with learning Okinawan, or whatever they called, and Japanese. Having a Nisei buddy helped with that but he too had problems when they ran off with their language. We arrived at Naha sometime in November 1960 and I left at the end of July 1962; so maybe 20 months total. I also married our new Naha AB Judo sensei’s niece, so my language problem was quickly taken care of. No,we are no longer together, we departed separate ways long ago.

    I really don’t remember what Miyazarto called his dojo since he taught Goju at more than one. It was a small place, but from reading about him he must have come into some money and found a larger place. Of course, typhoons would mess them up a bit too. I remember that he spoke very fluent pigeon English, at least, and he taught both me and Mas to speak their lingo too, or at least I thought we could. It must have sounded quite weird to outsiders, like that stuff Hawaiians “communicate” in.

    I really don’t remember if Nagamine spoke a lot of English, but he understood me when I would ask another student to translate, or help me learn his dialog; sensei would come over and demonstrate or correct me with whatever I neede to know, as if he knew what I said. As I was only 20 and a few years older than Takayoshi, who was still in his teens then. Nagamine sensei treated me like another son so I had a closer relationship. But, that was 48 years ago! I guess we made sign language, grunted and spoke pigeon English enough so we understood each other well enough. But he did speak to me in pigeon English often enough.

    They both had something to do with the police department or RASP, as I think it was called. Miyazato was a great Judo competitor and ran the Police dojo Judo activities whenever I would go down there to work out or shiai. Many a good shiai we had there. If it was called “Butokuden” then my memory is too foggy now. I had a photo of the Police Dojo and Naha Police Station, but lost it. We lower pond-scum mudansha and shodan had to wash down the place real good though. Many stories about how he would laugh at us salving way cleaning tatami.

    I will tell you this, he was one of the greatest Judo sensei I ever had. Not much jabbering, but lots of randori. In early 1961 Mas and I went there for a batsugan, promotion shiai, and I got into the ikkyu line instead of nikyu. Mas did his thing and came out nidan and I was awarded ikkyu. Miyazato sensei explained to me, while laughing loudly, that I did good! It took me a few days to find out what happened! I didn’t learn to read their “chicken scratching” until later on.

    I wish that I had paid more attention to things then, but being only 20 or so, that would have been out of character.

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    Over the years since leaving the “Rock,” GI’s called it; I kick myself for not borrowing a camera and taking more photographs of my activities. As a lowly A2C the $40 pay checks didn’t go far and even a $35 camera would have been too much. Funny, we only paid a couple bucks for a Judogi and any fees or whatnot to a dojo was more like 50 cents. It is all relative to the times since we lowly GI’s were considered rich in comparison with the typical Okinawan!

    What really Tics me off is that after my mom died in 1971, someone threw out my old AF duffle bag and wooden foot locker that had stuff in it even from my childhood. In it was the entire first year of Hot Rod magazine, a few old photos and all my Judo newsletters, magazines etc, that I had accumulated. Also a few photos of Okinawa; no idea what of. How the remaining collection of stuff survived all the years of moving around the world and hurricanes is beyond me. Some of it did get destroyed in hurricane Andrew. Such is life.

    After I got back from Japan in mid-1961 I had made shodan so all my Judo and karate buddies gave me the works for while. Miyazato gave me a long, drawn-out workout and then we went up to the Kadena Airman’s club for lots of beer. I guess we were at the tiny Kadena Judo club, a Quonset hut (see images) and Miyazato would teach there occasionally. Many a wall slam went on too in that small dojo. I remember distinctly he would jabber with us in English, so if he stopped talking English later on it may have had something to so with all the problems between the military and locals. In those days we all got along very well. Maybe it was because we outnumbered them.

    Oh well, maybe after all the years my memories are distorted, but I still occasionally have dreams of the Rock. Must have been fun. The photos are of some Judo buddies. We would work out with each other up at Kadena AB and Naha AB at least once a week.

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    Interesting reading - thank you for posting it. I hope you'll continue adding more as you remember bits and pieces.

    Much appreciated.
    Patrick McCarthy
    International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society
    http://www.koryu-uchinadi.com

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    I'm afraid bits and pieces is about all that is left.

    My son, Judoka from 1968, is about to retire from the Navy; shown below.

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    Exclamation Warning - heretical comments enclosed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy.G.B. View Post
    I am curious to hear other's thoughts regarding the notion of "family lineage" as a special kind of karate, very exclusionary, very rare, and often, by extension, "the real deal".

    My thoughts are as follows - I think that the whole "family style" mystique, hangs on to the notion of "uniqueness" and "value added" myth: because it is unique and because it is rare, it must, therefore, be really "real" karate.

    I am sure that some family styles are the "real deal" but surely some are just rare styles of really bad karate as well.
    Hi Tim,

    I couldn't agree with you more. I do not regularly frequent E-Budo and so can't say that I've seen the posts that you base this thread on. Logically, something that is closely guarded and kept from the prying eyes of other practitioners must be special indeed. But I would suspect that, in many cases, family styles are no more or no less well-developed than those that are not so exclusive. In many cases, they may have deteriorated rather than developed. It would depend on the practitioners. With most mainstream styles, that is definitely the case.

    I visited my old kobudo instructor when back in Michigan this summer. He made the apt observation that many Westerners are consumed with getting at the "old" or "authentic" karate. There must be a "true" version of this or that kata. As a result, we focus on preservation of something that may not at all be well-understood, nor well-transferred from teacher to student. Family styles fit so nicely into this mold; recently-discovered, pristine, and unpolluted.

    Akin to religion, "karate-do" and it's old masters are often held above critique. I don't know that I ever departed from a traditionalist's mentality. I'm not much for sport karate and I wouldn't claim that I took the best parts of this or that style and made my own hybrid super-style. Yet, I don't understand why it is considered heresy within the martial arts community to think that you can take a style beyond the level of it's originator. Certainly if you are thinking it, you'd better not say it out loud!! Uncouth, lacking in humility, delusional - these would be the labels applied. Hmm, perhaps this is my departure. No one could possibly take karate beyond the almighty Chojun sensei or Higa Yuchoku sensei for instance.

    But why not? Assuming they taught students all that they had developed, or rather, used their students to develop things further, isn't it plausible that the students would be capable of continuing the research and development of their program? Was the teacher the only one who held the secrets, careful not to give all of it away? What would be the point in that? I'm so glad that science doesn't function that way. Research it, critique it, learn and share everything you can, and then develop it further.

    As a result of the mindset I'm being critical of, I think that in some cases, family styles, so obscure and misunderstood, are a great vehicle for information control. It's practitioners and advocates can ration out the material as they see fit. And people stay hungry for more, kept in check by the built-in protocol to be always reverent and patient. Without a rise in popularity and with so few people keeping tabs on the art, I'd imagine family styles actually run the risk of getting kick-started pretty late in the game and thus lagging behind other styles.

    Mind you, I'm being anecdotal in my treatment of this subject. It is not fair for me to apply this notion to all family styles. Anyone who has broken through the barriers to gain access to a rare family style and learn new fascinating material that they feel really can be applied - has my blessing. By all means, research it, critique it, learn and share everything you can, and then develop it further!

    Best Regards and thanks for posing this interesting question!

    J.
    Jonathon D. Hallberg

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    Unless you are a writer and historian my experience tells me a student of any of the different karate schools would be hard pressed to understand any linage or family of the Okinawan karate. I was a young guy when I lived there and practiced at a couple of dojos, so the difference was apparent only seen through the eyes of an inexperienced young guy. I also visited a few more karate dojo and saw differences in methods, but never once did a sensei tell me where he learned his trade. So, it was only decades after leaving the “Rock” that I learned some of their history; as written by not exacly unbiased eyes.

    Most of the sensei I knew then was either friends or associates with each other and from listening, they must have all studied under the same sensei at one time or the other. Since most of the so-called masters had died as a result of the war, that left the few students to carry on with the different “styles,” so to speak.

    I remember the first time at Nagamine’s dojo my friend and I sat and watched. At some point sensei went over to a door and helped a very old man, looked like 120 years old to me then, to walk over to another door that opened up into an inside binjo. With my mind getting 68 years old and being that was probably 48 years ago, I still can see that old man’s face and he reminds me of photos of some of the older sensei. But most of them had passed on before my time there.

    Anyway, after reading about all the history and difference in karate I can only conclude some of it is just wind and mostly misunderstanding on the part of some of the people who only heard of the old sensei’s ways. Mythology in other words. It is easy to do; my memory gets all messed up after trying to remember it all after so many years. It would be nice to talk with some of the lineage without their egos tainted the discussions.

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    It's great to see Tim and Jon back here after a while, and to read their always interesting and thought-provoking comments. Hope to see you both around here more often.
    Nullius in verba

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    Default Topical Reply

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanbaga View Post
    Hi Tim,

    I couldn't agree with you more. I do not regularly frequent E-Budo and so can't say that I've seen the posts that you base this thread on. Logically, something that is closely guarded and kept from the prying eyes of other practitioners must be special indeed. But I would suspect that, in many cases, family styles are no more or no less well-developed than those that are not so exclusive. In many cases, they may have deteriorated rather than developed. It would depend on the practitioners. With most mainstream styles, that is definitely the case.

    I visited my old kobudo instructor when back in Michigan this summer. He made the apt observation that many Westerners are consumed with getting at the "old" or "authentic" karate. There must be a "true" version of this or that kata. As a result, we focus on preservation of something that may not at all be well-understood, nor well-transferred from teacher to student. Family styles fit so nicely into this mold; recently-discovered, pristine, and unpolluted.

    Akin to religion, "karate-do" and it's old masters are often held above critique. I don't know that I ever departed from a traditionalist's mentality. I'm not much for sport karate and I wouldn't claim that I took the best parts of this or that style and made my own hybrid super-style. Yet, I don't understand why it is considered heresy within the martial arts community to think that you can take a style beyond the level of it's originator. Certainly if you are thinking it, you'd better not say it out loud!! Uncouth, lacking in humility, delusional - these would be the labels applied. Hmm, perhaps this is my departure. No one could possibly take karate beyond the almighty Chojun sensei or Higa Yuchoku sensei for instance.

    But why not? Assuming they taught students all that they had developed, or rather, used their students to develop things further, isn't it plausible that the students would be capable of continuing the research and development of their program? Was the teacher the only one who held the secrets, careful not to give all of it away? What would be the point in that? I'm so glad that science doesn't function that way. Research it, critique it, learn and share everything you can, and then develop it further.

    As a result of the mindset I'm being critical of, I think that in some cases, family styles, so obscure and misunderstood, are a great vehicle for information control. It's practitioners and advocates can ration out the material as they see fit. And people stay hungry for more, kept in check by the built-in protocol to be always reverent and patient. Without a rise in popularity and with so few people keeping tabs on the art, I'd imagine family styles actually run the risk of getting kick-started pretty late in the game and thus lagging behind other styles.

    Mind you, I'm being anecdotal in my treatment of this subject. It is not fair for me to apply this notion to all family styles. Anyone who has broken through the barriers to gain access to a rare family style and learn new fascinating material that they feel really can be applied - has my blessing. By all means, research it, critique it, learn and share everything you can, and then develop it further!

    Best Regards and thanks for posing this interesting question!

    J.
    Hey Jonathan:

    I hope things are good for you folks in Okinawa and the storms have abated. Thanks for your topical reply to my original post.

    In thinking about the notion of teacher's passing along their art, I thought about the absurdity of the following scenario: The head of a family style realizes early on that his offspring have neither the talent nor determination to become proficient in the family art. The head of the family keeps the family tradition going and only teaches to his offspring, lacking talent and/or determination nonetheless. This sounds like a recipe for a family style that will either be gone within 2 generations or deteriorate into something unrecognizable.

    I think a Buddhist saying goes something like this, "Any teacher is a failure, if he/she does not produce at least one student who surpasses the teacher." Where would we be today if modern physicists only learned a fraction of the "Old school physicists?" By the same token, where would we be today if modern physicists didn't learn basic physics really well and then tried to make up their own way of sending a person into space...scary I digress. Anyway, thanks for the conversation.

    Best,
    Tim
    Tim Black
    Kokusai Shinjinbukan

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    I'll inject my two cents on this thread. Family systems aren't exactly better, in many ways they are worse than mainstream karate. Many of the times family systems are crude and under-developed.

    Take for example the situation I am in. Prior to what I am doing there wasn't even a belt system in the style I practice. I was always told that was a modern invention. Same with certificates and all that jazz. The truth of the matter is that now we have so many people chasing paper, that if you don't have any you will get ridiculed and called out by "EXPERTS" many of who are practicing a style that they made up themselves, or claim to have re-created things from past systems.

    Honestly at the end of the day, none of this really matters. The act of practicing something is better than practicing nothing at all. The ability of the karateka really comes down to natural talent and how hard they train. The pattern of movements they do don't really matter if the karateka understands the application of the movement and body mechanics. This is why there are some many different styles, or even sub styles based on a major style. Everyone who practices karate changes it, and in reality what we practice now is probably unrecognizable to the masters of old.

    I wouldn't chase a system because of the kata they practice, or spend much time researching family systems if what you are doing fulfills all the needs you have in a system. You need to really look at yourself and figure out why it was that you began practicing karate in the first place, and if the system that you have chose meets all the needs that you had when you began.

    Rank and everything is subjective. You want to know who the best karate person there is in the entire world? It's the guy in the bar who sucker punches you and takes your wind away even after you have trained for 20 years. My point is, all of this is just to prepare you for a fight, if you train and do kata all day but still can't fight.. reality is that you still can't fight. System doesn't matter.

    So find something that fits all your needs and practice it till you get really good at it. Make your training as realistic as possible without causing self injury, and train your body to take impact. This is what makes a good fighter. Know yourself first, then others.

    Scot
    Scot Mertz
    www.ryuhoryu.com

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    Mr. Mertz, thank you for opening the door with your comments. I assume I am one of the experts you're alluding to. Based on this I will offer my 2 cents worth, too.

    I am sure you're a very nice person, and totally sincere about your interest in the fighting arts. In fact, as I told you in private correspodnece when you first wrote to me back in 2006, my hat comes off for any enlisted person who serves their country. My concern, however, is not with your military service but rather with the plausibility of your story, and the "rare" Toudi-jutsu you're flogging. Others, less experienced, may feel different, but I am afraid I don't buy into what you're selling.

    During the time you first wrote to me you said you were part of Ron Lindsey's organization in the USA and, according to you, not looking to sell anything , or for any promotions or anything like that but rather just wanting to establish yourself as a professional martial artist. Well, here you are now and at least one other professional is not buying into your story. You say that you know around 150 kata, but that most of them were simply different versions of the "same old song and dance" [your words]; e.g., 5 different versions of the Pinan's = 25 kata, etc.

    Here's what I see: A young and upwardly mobile American guy, with a new made-up style (Saishu Ryu Karate Jitsu [sic]) shows up on the cyber karate scene, with a questionable past [a "background" in Shotokan, with rather unusual Kodokan credentials, and a "NINTH DAN" from a certificate mill organization and several websites www.saishuryu.com/information.php, http://www.katamasters.com , http://www.totejitsu.com/ flogging "lost and authentic" kata --- which, at best look like modern Japanese-based competitive performances---and soliciting memberships] just wanting to help folks . To me your campaign has all the trimmings of the Ron Goninan/Chuck Chandler-Yabiku Takaya story all over again.

    In previous correspondence, you told me that you started Karate in 1983 [when you were 4 years old] in Lubbock, Texas, under Bill Clark. In spite of Mr. Clark being a student of Fumio Demura [Shito Ryu], you neglected to say for how long and or what you actually learned...as I know Demura sensei personally, I would guess you learned modern karate for kids!? At the same time, you told me your dad was teaching you Sambo.

    According to Scot, his dad was a spetznas in WW2 (born 3 July, 1927, St. Petersburg Russia) and picked up Sambo in the Russian military. Apparently he also coached wresting in Lubbock, retired in 1988 and relocated the family to northern Arkansas.

    You told me that in Arkansas you began training with Bruce Hill in Judo. You also told me that Bruce thought so much of your sambo skills he made you a Shodan in Kodokan Judo in under 6 months. Hmm, okay... I guess things have change since I studied Kodokan judo. I tried locating your record as the AAU Arkansas state judo champion for the few years in a row during the early 90's that you said you were but I found nothing...I guess I was looking in the wrong place! Would you mind correcting me on this point?

    Then around 1991 [you'd have been what, 12 years old then?] you "returned" to Karate to study Shotokan [with Jerry Offutt --- on Tuesdays and Thursdays] and Shorin Ryu [with Jerry Partain --- on Mondays and Fridays]. You told me that because of your "extensive" background in Shito Ryu [from when you were what, 4 years old?], you picked up Shotokan and Shorin Ryu "really easily," making Shodan --- in both arts --- within five years. That must have been just before graduating from High School in 1996 when you were what 16/17 years old? You then recolated to Russellville, Arkansas, where you continued on with Shorin Ryu under Masayuki Ward [for 2/3 years?], before enlisting in the navy in 1999 [at age 19/20?].

    After basic training you were sent to Okinawa for your first tour of duty and stationed at the American based NSGA Hanza. However, because the base got shut down, you were relocated to Yokosuka ---a naval base of the mainland of Japan --- for rest of your tour.

    Is there anyone here who can check the details on when the base was actually closed to determine how much time Scot spent in Okinawa? According to what I found on-line here http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=4052 the base was shut down, 1 June, 1998??!!

    In the original correspondence Scot sent to me he neglected to say how he met Mr. Irei, only that he went to Okinawa and trained with him "5-nights a week" learning all the secret family kata, while, at the same time, he was also busy going around the island training with whomever would accept him: Apparently, Fusei Kise was one such instructor. Perhaps if there are any American-based serviceman here on the list you might be able to elaborate on how much free time a new recruit, stationed at NSGA Hanza with no Japanese language skills to speak of, might have to venture off the base by themselves to locate a karate master [that no one else has ever heard of] and spend 5-nights a week learning historically-based kata [Tichi, Chang'an Tachi, Chinsu, etc.] that no one else has ever been able to locate, or learn, and still have the time to seek out many others.

    While stationed on on the mainland at the Amercian base, Yokosuka, you did a little more Shotokan with a Japanese American named Paul Fujihara. In 2003, at what 22/23 years old, you relocated to Fort Meade, Maryland, and began working out at NSA [NSA? What's that? The National Security Agency?] where you opened yet another dojo there the following year [2004, at age 24?].

    This is where the two Shodan-level Shotokan guys, a Mr. Kagawa and John McNicholas, appear and become your assistant instructors. What I didn't get here was you describing yourself as a sandan in Shotokan but neglecting to explain when, and where or how you even achieved Nidan, let alone who actually accredited you on both ranks? Did this have something to do with your traveling between Fort Meade and Hawaii and training in more Shorin Ryu with Gil Watanabe?

    In Apr 2004 you were sent to Iraq where you said you opened yet another dojo on the Talil Air Force base where you taught evening classes. However, due to an IED-related injury in July 2004, you were sent back to the USA to have knee replacement surgery and physio-therapy. Was this for being wounded in action and did you receive the purple heart medal?

    After healing you started up your first website aimed at promoting yourself and the experienced you'd gained over the years of training [with Bill Clark---Itosu-ha Shito Ryu, your dad---Sambo, Bruce Hill---Kodokan Judo, Jerry Offutt---Shotokan, style?, and Jerry Partain---Shorin Ryu, style?, as a child into teenagehood, along with a couple more years of Shorin Ryu, style?, with Masayuki Ward, before age 20 and enlisting in the navy in 1999. Then there's your visit to Fusei Kise's dojo in Okinawa and, of course, Mr. Irei's family style in Okinawa - still not sure of how long that was because of NSGA Hanza base getting shut down and you being shipped off to Yokosuka for rest of your tour. At any rate, you find a bit more Shotokan, style?, with Paul Fujihara and more Shorin Ryu [style?, with Gil Watanabe.] Did I miss anything?

    In April 2006 you got was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, where you began teaching this eclectic-based collection at a boys club on the base. You boast that you're not just teaching mindless sport karate, and that you run through every one of the 150 kata you know about every other day and spend a lot of time working on bunkai in your classes. To me Scot, your propaganda looks like it's aimed at attracting buyers wanting something not available anywhere else and yet there's nothing unique or rare about it.

    Looking over the list of folks you've trained with, and with all do respect to those people, I hardly call what you're offering "rare/unique" unless you think your own take on modern karate, based upon your youthful background in Shito/Shoto & Shorin Ryu is something that is unavailable elsewhere to the masses. Ifthis is correct then i am mistaken and I do apologize for the misunderstanding.

    When I look at what you're selling I see nothing of hardcore research, study and translations of the old texts, cross-training with various Okinawan styles at the source and or with leading authorities of such traditions anywhere, nor travels to China, Taiwan, and or SE Asia, etc, and no apparent contextual premise for how you've arrived at your so-called "bunkai" practices. This, combined with the less than forthcoming description of your credentials hardly makes you a candidate for winning my respect. Others might be impressed by what you're offering - I am not one of them. BTW, nothing personal, it's purely professional.

    Furthermore, your self-serving propaganda describes you learning your product under an unknown Okinawan source named Masayuki Irei. Of course, one is left to ponder, not just who he is, but what he knew about Toudi and how long you "studied" under him, and why Scot Mertz alone was chosen to learn the entire "secret kata repertoire" of the Irei family, when not another soul anywhere on the planet knew who this guy even was? To enhance the authenticity of your product you describe Mr. Irei as being the nephew Nakaima Kenchu [Nakaima Ryu] and says that his father also learned under Itosu and Aragaki Seisho. You also attempt to strengthen the authenticity of your product by stating, "what I am doing has not been modified for tournaments or anything, ...it is still pure Toudi Jutsu." Sure Scot ... what's not to believe about that?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have no doubt that Mr. Mertz has trained since childhood in the fighting arts and that he's picked up a lot here and there. He's sent me various mepegs of his kata performances and it's obvious that he's physically coordinated, and physically fit... as any good soldier should be. However, watching his performances I couldn't see anything that would suggest anything other modern/sport-based karate widely available on Youtube. While there are certainly many more issues worth devling into here, I'm not overly interested personally and have instructed my own group to ignor Mr. Mertz' propaganda. Perhaps, however, I am wrong in my perspective and am not getting the full story. If this is so and I am wrong perhaps Scot could help change my perspective by setting me straight.

    I'd like him to start by telling me when he arrived in Okinawa and when he left? Also, more about his position at NSGA Hanza. If NSGA Hanza closed down in 1998 why would a new recruit be sent there? Moreover, and ignoring the fact that Mr. Irei would simply teach a total stranger his family art [if, in fact he actually had one] in 5-minutes, how would he have the time to learn all the "rare" kata before being shipped off to the mainland/Yokosuka? Also, why would all of these rare kata resemble sport-based performances if Mr. Irei's karate wasn't sport-based...but "authentic" Toudi-jutsu.

    Finally, as I posted on the other thread, I recall the thread criticizing you over on Fighting Arts by Ed Morris, et al, which I followed with some interest. A few folks from that list queried me about how to verify your Kodokan credentials, and couldn't grasp how, together with a Shotokan background, you got promoted to USMA 9th dan after only having 'dabbled' [as your detractors put it] in a couple of other styles for six months. There was a general feeling that you were a con man selling pale interpretation performances of some 200 kata on DVD through the Saishu Ryu Karate Jitsu [fyi, that should actually be spelt "jutsu"] Association. There was harsh criticism about you making up a style without much experience, your 'credentials,' and allegations that you'd posted PR-based Spam under the pseudonym, Tomo Kagawa, leading subscribers to www.saishuryu.com/information.php [now defunct] and www.katamasters.com which became www.totejitsu.com/ --- seemingly a professional-based website soliciting membership.

    That's all for now.
    Patrick McCarthy
    International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society
    http://www.koryu-uchinadi.com

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