Tuesday, July 25, 2023

 Courtesy of:  

Carlos Varon, Shihan Shotokan, 7th Dan

KOJF International Member of Shihan Board.

Kenjirou Kawanabe was my Sensei, my mentor, my friend and my second father. He lived from 1931-2022 and lived a very frugal and humble life but always true to his Budo. He was one of those Shotokan masters you never hear, read or seeked publicity but knew he was always there to share his knowledge and love for Budo.

I want to share with you his story and insight into Budo and while it might not help perfect your punch, kick or block it might just make you think in a way that can alter your approach to the martial arts.

This narrative was done over a period of time and visits and much has been left in his own words and will be shared over a series of postings.  Travel along with me and meet 'The Last of the Great Masters".

"Kawanabe Karate-do", is a Budo Martial Art developed over many years by Master Kenjiro Kawanabe of Atsugi Japan and has its roots founded in modern day Karate as developed by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Master Kawanabe was born in 1931 in Atsugi Japan and from 1950 to 1954 he studied English literature at Waseda University. During his university years he also joined the University Karate Club where he first met Master Funakoshi.

In 1953, Kawanabe succeeded the now Master Tsutomu Oshima, the founder of Shotokan Karate in the United States as captain of the Waseda University Karate Club. Funakoshi Sensei was present in the Waseda dojo at least once every month until Master Kawanabe's graduation in the spring of the 1954. Master Funakoshi was a major influence on Kawanabe while he was at the Waseda Dojo. 

Kawanabe recollects Funakoshi Sensei's gentle voice that used to encourage him to become the man who can be identified with Karate, as if said “If it is Kawanabe, then it is Karate, if it is Karate, then it is Kawanabe." In 1957, Master Kawanabe opened his first Karate Dojo in Atsugi Japan and celebrated the 50th anniversary in the year 2007 and 60th anniversary in 2017 in Atsugi.
Kawanabe Karate-do was also strongly influenced by the study and training in the art of Jujitsu, or as it is known in Japan today as Shin'eiTaido, developed by Master Hoken Inoue, nephew of Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido.

Master Kawanabe studied about three years, between the 29th-year and 32nd-year of the Showa period (1954-57), under Master Inoue. From Master Inoue, Kawanabe learned where strong power came from; a combination of physical training and theory. He believes that with a continuous steady endeavor of proper training, uniting theory and application, one can produce such a wonderful power. In roughly three years of training, one will normally learn to understand the technical forms, through memorized actions only. In order to utilize skills for a real situation one has to endure reasonable practice in bujutsu and to master the breathing technique to create power. Since then his philosophy and goal of Karate-do, has been the way of bujutsu, one that must be able to be applied to all, including aikido and kendo.

Another major influence to Master Kawanabe's style was Sensei Tadao Okuyama. Through the study of the ken (wooden sword), Master Kawanabe learned of the Hachiriki (8 powers or forces) and incorporated the techniques into open hand as well as with the ken.

Hachiriki is described as the forces that give the universe its life: movement, release, contraction, unification, calm, solidification, expansion, and division. The philosophy of training in Master Kawanabe's early days was a physical practice and only for the body to learn without questioning.

Sensei Okuyama worked as one of three instructors at the Army Nakano School, which was a training school for the secret service agency during the World War II. Sensei Okuyama, the youngest senior of the instructors, was thirteen years older than Master Kawanabe and with whom he had the deepest friendship. Okuyama Sensei announced his "Kotodama Tsurugi"(Sword of Spiritual Words), and Master Kawanabe was one of many who learned his philosophy.

Kawanabe Karate-do has its main emphasis on the development and harmonization of mind, body and spirit through training of the breath, Hachiriki techniques and relaxed, flexible footwork.


 Kawanabe Karate-do movements become natural when performed correctly and studied over time. The practice of the Hachiriki provides a natural source of vitality and energy, through the application of the principles of harmony and relaxation, and avoiding brute physical force. Kawanabe Karate-do is also one of a few schools where Karate was not considered a competition sport.

Karate is taught as a martial way or art, BUDO. The efforts are directed towards the development of a strong mental and physical discipline coupled with a spiritual harmony, all through the practice of Karate and Hachiriki techniques.

Master Kawanabe firmly believes that, even though Karate is an excellent self-defense method and a physical activity of great qualities, it is fundamentally a way towards mental and spiritual development. Kawanabe believes that the traditional budo that has roots deep in the heart of the Japanese people since ancient times must be transmitted to the younger generation in some form.

The objectives of the budo must include these conditions, and they can be summarized as follows:

1. To possess a factor of self-defense with the most use of physical development trained through specially designed practice of “Hachiriki“, creating an ideal power and movement harmonized with the breath.

2. To train oneself spiritually under the study of "Do", hopefully leading to self enlightenment. In short, this is the idea, the spirit and also the technique of Sensei Funakoshi’s traditional Karate-do.

Here ends the introduction to Master Kenjirou Kawanabe..... We will follow up with a two part interview  with further insight into the beginnings of Shotokan, Waseda and the future growth of Karate-Do.

Shihan Carlos Varon
Kawanabe Karate Do East Coast Representative
Queens, NY-USA

Friday, June 23, 2023

 Karate of Japan Federation International 

Highlight for the month of a wonderful dojo located in Chicago Ill.

Enso Karate Dojo

        Hello, I wanted to take a moment and highlight a dojo that has been a friend to my dojo and KOJF International in which we made a lifetime Member.  We have been connected since 2003 after meeting in Las Vegas NV while attending the Funakoshi World Cup Tournament. Their performance was noteworthy and outstanding.  More important was their character and behavior which was above and beyond that of followers of Budo.  Their Karate was on point and all the elements of becoming an outstanding dojo in place!

    For over 20 years now I have been visiting and training with the members of this dojo in Chicago and have always found them accommodating, welcoming, warm and inviting.  Theirs is a family dojo of great strength in their bond and supportive of all who train there whether you are a member or not.  They have and are givers of love and passion whether you are a Shotokan karateka or of another style.  What also stands out is their passion for learning and improving on a daily basis.  The two main sensei who are also the owners of Enso Dojo are Jay and Denise Nacu.  5th and 4th Dan respectively.  It is not about the rank but the art to them and when you are in their presence it is apparent.  It is simply, "how can they improve so they can help their students and members improve!"  That is the constant for the past 20 years I have observed.

     They are very active with the AAU organization under Joe Mirza and have fielded some top level competitors nationally, not to mention their son and daughter who are on the national team. Both Mateo and Maile Nacu are world class competitors in their own right!  They are destined to become nationally recognized within a short time. 

     I have consistently annually gone to this wonderful dojo, Enso to enjoy training both in kata and kumite with it's members and have never anything negative at any time to say or share as they are among the most positive karateka I have ever met in my 59 years of practicing karatedo.  They have set the example of true karateka and raised the bar extremely high. There are few dojo I can actually say have such standards and actions I have trained at.  Two others come to mind, New York under Shihan Jackie and Iowa under Mujaga Shihan can I say who have impressed me and shown me the spirit and work ethic of what makes great karateka.  The list is small and I am so very happy and proud that these dojo continue their relationship with KOJF International and myself.  This I speak from experience with their dojo as well as the instructors and students.  If KOJF was only comprised of these three dojo then that would be more than enough.   Fortunately we are larger than that and I am so proud that the members both domestically and foreign have proven to be of high character and standard.  Being able to visit various dojo and share in their training together has been one of the highlights of KOJF International.  Those whose dojo I have yet to visit are still nothing less in my mind than outstanding  as shown by the character of the sensei who have chosen to align with KOJF International.  Knowing and communicating with each one of you has been a treat and one of high integrity.  I hope to visit with many more of you and share simular stories of delight from my visit.  Those of you whom I have yet to personally meet are held in high regard by me and the hombu because you would not be a member or allowed in our fold if you did not live the Budo life.  Today, at this time I wanted to simply share this dojo as I plan to do so with all of you in time.  

     I thank each of you for your membership which makes KOJF International continue now to be recognize globally as one to be heard and respected and with our global presence it gives us connections all over the globe. Anto Dinesh, Shihan, Director of Foreign Affairs, just now is enroute to Maldives to give yet another clinic of Shotokan Karate and Naizam Shihan of India continues to grow our presence in India to nearly a thousand students over several dojo.  Kamihara, Shihan, Senior Technical Advisor in Japan continues to forge relationships and is well known by many karateka and organizations through our central Japan and continues to share his knowledge and advise to us through me with conversations and video feeds of technical knowledge and forging our friendship consistently.  People like Richard Marks, Shihan continues with the teaching and ethical standards becoming of a Samurai in Western Canada as our Senior Technical Advisor in Central Canada does, the legendary Ken Tallack, Hanshi.  In South America we have the continuous support and teachings of Flavio Carvalho, Shihan who leads the way in Brazil. Roger Payne, Hanshi, Judo, Iaido of Great Britain who has been a great friend and source to myself and KOJF in sharing advise above and beyond. Domestically men like Almonte Covington and his sister Monice Covington are strong leaders in the Louisville Kentucky karate community and work very hard to maintain the highest standards of karate therein, Bryan Speakman, Shihan, though a small dojo continues to spread his ideals and morals in the teaching of the art.  Kimio Nelson, Shihan a beacon in his community and such a keeper of the tradition has been a quiet and yet strong member and leader of the true Budo spirit of karatedo in Pennsylvania.  Dan Taylor, Hanshi and Charles Taylor, Shihan(not related) are men of Budo on the West Coast who I look to for advice and friendship and are men of Budo.  There remains many names yet to be shared but these come to mind so quickly.  Others will be shared as we continue to expand and build a stronger larger karate community through KOJF International.  Without you, there is just me and I am only one man.  Together we are KOJF International and you are what makes this work.  Without you, there is no KOJF International so thank you.  That said, if you are ever in Chicago, Ill, do give the Enso dojo a visit and you will be warmly welcomed.  These are people whom you will always remember as some of the best of the best!  Thank you, all of you for your continued efforts to build a strong karate community and friendship.  Domo Arigato Gazaimus!

Dwight Holley, Chairman

KOJF International World Headquarters

Thursday, June 8, 2023


The Historical Origins of Goju Ryu and Uechi-Ryu Karate Styles

The hunt for Lu-Lu Ko, Chinese teacher of GoJu Ryu’s founder Master Higaonna Kanryo.

Translated by Shaun Hogan from:








(2010-08-03 10:08:56)

Author:  休闲 XueXian

[Translator’s forward notes: The hunt for Goju Ryu Master Higaonna Kanryo’s Chinese teacher. Many texts show that the original Chinese master of GoJu Ryu’s founder Higaonna was named Ru-Ru Ko (ルールーコ)Since this is not a Chinese name, the founder’s name becomes difficult to trace. In 1987, the Fujian Wushu Association and the Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Do Association met to research the originator’s name. They concluded that Higaonna Kanryo’s master was named: Xie Zongxian  his birth name – Xie RuRu       “RuRu” was sort of a nickname. – RuRu Ko is an honorific title where “Ko” is the Fujian pronunciation of “Ge”, Big Brother.  In other words, “RuRu Ko” works out to “RuRu Big brother.”]

Translation of the Mr. XueXian’s Chinese Blog Post:

Karate-do uses both hands and feet, combining offense and defense, attacking the opponent with various techniques such as kicking, hitting, and striking, using fists, palms, fingers, elbows, knees, and legs to make various attacks. Karate-do is a martial art that embodies the intensity of fighting, and does not use any equipment to engage in self-defense while minimizing harm to the opponent. It has been popularized all over the world. Where does Japanese karate-do originate? This is a topic jointly studied by the All Japan Karate Federation and the Fujian Wushu Association.

1. Fujian was the birthplace of Japanese karate.

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According to historical records, in the Ming Dynasty, the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) were still a relatively poor and backward island country. The backwardness of Ryukyu (Okinawa) was due to the ineffective, closed sailing trade business that blocked exchanges between the Ryukyu Kingdom and neighboring countries, resulting in a negative economic situation. In the historically verifiable five years of Hongwu (1372), Zhu Yuanzhang sent personnel to Ryukyu.  And the King of Ryukyu, Zhongshan Haodu sent his brother Tai to pay tribute to the Chinese capital, thus starting friendly exchanges between RyuKyu and China. After sending 36 families from Fujian to Ryukyu, Okinawa’s economic outlook was greatly improved. The “Thirty-six Fujian families”  were people who were skilled at boat building, sailing, and trade.  They facilitated tribute payments to and from China, built commercial industries and agriculture, and set up payment and trade systems back and forth with Chinese ports. (ref: Minghuiyao Vol. 77). 

They were all residents of Shenzhou Hekou (the river mouth) in Fujian (now in the South Park area). The Ming Dynasty rulers made these people good at sailing. Transferred to Okinawa to serve the people of Ryukyu, on the one hand, to improve their sailing skills and trading forays, the 36 Families reversed RyuKyu’s economic backwardness.  On the other hand, the 36 Families  “changed the culture and customs behind the era, to make the culture and religions of both sources flourish together. (“Zhongshan Shipu” Vol. 3, 44, “Ryukyu Historical Materials Series” “). Since then, the 36 Families who moved from the Shenzhou HeKou have not only become the main role of Ryukyu’s foreign relations activities, they also brought advanced science and culture to Ryukyu, as well as Chinese traditional martial arts.

In the fifteenth year of Emperor Xianzong of the Ming Dynasty (1480), some Ryukyu people went to Fujian for a special assignment to learn martial arts. After five or six years, they returned to Ryukyu (now Okinawa) and combined Fujian Nanquan (Southern Fist) with the Ryukyu masters. The combination of ethnic fighting techniques formed a unique boxing technique called “hand” (transliteration of Te). This was the germination of karate due to the exchanges between China and Ryukyu and cultural exchanges and commercial trade. 

Fujian had a variety of fighting styles, especially those from the loyal survivors of the late Ming Dynasty who fled to Okinawa, and strengthened Hua “Te” fighting skills, laying the embryonic form of “ToDe” translated as “Tang Hand”, the meaning of Chinese fighting, to show that they would not forget their roots. 

Beginning in 1927, the Ryukyu Education Department organized the “Okinawa Karate Symposium” in Naha to study and develop the issue of “Te”. At the meeting, it was decided to change the “TouDe” (Chinese Hand) to “Karate” (Empty Hand). At that time, due to the environmental relations of the trading ports, the martial arts practice in Shuri, Naha, and Boshou was very popular, and talented people came out in large numbers to study and teach. Among the genres of Ryukyu karate, the most famous are “Shuri-Te” and “Naha-te.” They were created by Itsosu Anko and Higaonna Kanryo respectively. The technical characteristics of these two schools were different and each had its own strengths, but both belonged to the traditional Nanquan Southern Fist faction in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.

2. Karate and the style of Fujian Nanquan

Okinawa’s GoJu style karate belongs to the “Naha Te”, created by the Miyagi Chosun, the young disciple of Higaonna Kanryo. The training methods, movement structure, movement names, style characteristics and technical principles of “Naha Hand” and Fujian Yongchun White Crane Fist.  The katas and routines are roughly the same. Analyzing from the training method and movement structure: the rigid-flexible flow routine training requires the “three wars strategy” as the basis, and then gradually developed to the advanced routine. 

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In addition to standing up and running, Fujian Yongchun White Crane style” is to practice the “three wars strategy”. One of the expressions of the “three wars strategy” were the “three positives”.  The first positive emphasizes “head upright, body upright, and horse upright”.  The second positive is the “three changes”. Requiring “hand change, body change, step change”. These two statements are indispensable in the training of white crane boxing. 

“Three fundamentals” is the training basis of White Crane. As long as you master the “Three-Fundamentals” well, you can talk about the “Three Changes”. Only when you have a good grasp of the “Three Changes” can you change freely in the application and win with your hands. Analyzed from the name of the kata, the Japanese karate’s Superimpai (108″ hands) kata  is the same as the wording of Fujian White Crane’s 108 hands kata. 

A few years ago, when the Japanese karate delegation visited Fuzhou, they also brought “White Crane Kata Sheet”. They said: “My ancestors were trained according to this kata sheet and passed down from generation to generation.” “White Crane Boxing Book” was the manuscript passed down from Fujian, and it is the same as the book of boxing kept by Fujian’s elderly martial artists. . 

Analyzed from the style characteristics and technical principles: The rigid-flexible flow routine style requires a strong launch, a steady footwork, and the breathing and luck of the “Three Wars Strategy”. Trained into strong, rigid and flexible muscles and bones. The Fuzhou White Crane fist strike is a “stroke of muscles and bones in a string of energy”, the two are the same, and they are just like the GoJu Ryu “single (double) fingering gun fingering” attack method is jab, and the most vicious is eye jab. It is the same as the “Golden Gunner” technique of White Crane Boxing; the technique of “Wind Eye Boxing” punches and drills specifically to hit the opponent’s acupoints, the eyebrows and the throat are centered, and the single chicken boxing in Minghe Boxing ( He Fengyan) has the same technique; the palm technique of the “hand knife” specializes in cutting the opponent’s neck, back, and intercostal space.

  1. The creator of karate, GoJu Ryu was in Fujian

On May 23, 1987, the Japanese Okinawa GoJu Ryu Karate ancestor-seeking group came to Fuzhou City, Fujian Province to find roots and visit their ancestors, looking for the generous Chinese master of Higaonna Kanryo. Under the responsibility of Comrade Lin Weigong, the editorial board of local chronicles, they cooperated with the Fujian provincial military. 

During the investigation period, an extensive investigation was carried out on all the more famous masters in Fuzhou, and finally Xie Ruru, the first generation master of the Fujian “Minghe Clicking Crane Boxing”, was identified as the generous master of Higaonna Kanryo. Chief researcher Lin Weigong said in the summary: Higaonna’s teacher’s real name should be Ruru, surname Xie, clan character Zongxiang, born on July 31, 1852 (June 15, Qing Dynasty Xianfeng second year) in Daibian Village, Zhanxiang Township, Changle County.

 At the age of 13, Xie Zongxiang (RuRu) moved to Fuzhou with his father Xie Zunzhi because of a fire at his home at the age of 13, and he also studied with his father’s friend Pan Yu to practice boxing. At the age of 23, Xie RuRu was exquisite in martial arts and became famous. . Ruru inherited Pan Yuba’s crane fist, combined with her own characteristics to consider a set of rigid and soft techniques, and created a fist that emphasizes the “three wars”. With the sound of clucking like a crane, it was named “Minghe Fist”.  Xie RuRu became ” The master of Minghe Fist. 

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On September 16, 1989, relevant experts once again gave a further argument on whether Xie Ruru (ZongXiang) was indeed the Chinese martial arts master of Higaonna Kanryo, the originator of Japanese Okinawan GoJu Ryu., learned in Fuzhou.  

 And on June 9, 1990, in the southwest corner of the Fuzhou New Sports Center, a solemn black marble “revealing monument” stood A memorial to the great amount of Chinese master Xie Zongxiang (Xie RuRu). This is a clear proof of the influence of the traditional Chinese and Japanese martial arts circles.

(Translators’ note: the name LuLu Ko ルールーコ often attributed to Higaonna’s Chinese master is an honorific title: LuLu is his name. Ko means “big brother” an honorific title.)

4. The origin of Uechi Ryu Karate in Fuzhou


The style of another Japanese genre Uechi Ryu Karate-do is similar to the tiger-shaped boxing style passed by Master. Zhou Zihe of Fuzhou. Its hand shape, technique, step shape, footwork, lvocalization, and forceful methods all maintain tiger-shaped boxing characteristics. 

On March 29, 1981, an Okinawa martial arts delegation headed by Takahikari Yuki visited Fuzhou and asked for help in finding the origin of Uechi-Ryu Karate-do with origins from the Chinese master Mr. Zhou Zihe. 

The Fujian Provincial Wushu Association commissioned Mr. Wei Qiqi to organize an investigation. The results found that: Mr. Zhou Zihe was born in 1874 in Zhiri Village, Nanyu, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province. He was a master of martial arts since he was a child. , Good at iron sand palm, specializing in hard work. Later, he traveled to and from Fuzhou City and often set up a pavilion to teach apprentices at the Gulou Marshal Temple. In 1897, the Japanese student Uechi Kanbun came to Fuzhou to learn martial arts with Mr. Zhou Zihe, and returned to Japan 13 years later.

 In order to promote the popularization of Japanese martial arts, combined with the characteristics of Okinawa, Master Uechi  created the Uechi Ryu Karate-do style. 

In 1985, relevant experts from Fujian Province sent the book “Tiger Shape Boxing” passed down by Mr. Zhou Zihe to the Uechi-Ryu Karate-do Headquarters. They happily said: “In the past, the Uechi Ryu karate-do headquarters participated in all-Japan competitions under the banner of Zhou Zihe, but they didn’t see their true colors. They were dubious. Now the first page of the book is a portrait of our ancestors. It’s really amazing.” “Crouching Tiger Heroes” recorded by Fujian Audiovisual Publishing House in 1990 is the testimony of preaching a generation of tiger-shaped boxing master Zhou Zihe to teach Okinawan martial artists..


In recent years, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province has had frequent exchanges with Okinawa martial arts circles in Japan. So far, Fuzhou City has also built the “Naha Friendship History Exhibition Hall, Ryukyu Hall” and so on. In June 1995, in order to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the “Revealing Monument”, a Japanese Martial Arts delegation of more than 50 people came to hold a martial arts conference with the martial arts community in Fujian Province. The mutual exchanges between the two countries are of great benefit to martial arts becoming an Olympic event as soon as possible!

Friday, May 26, 2023

 KOJF International in Sri Lanka

SKAI Central Province Karate Championship 2023
Held on 13th May 2023 

Anto Dinesh, 7th Dan Shotokan Karatedo
KOJF Director of Public Affairs, Asia



KOJF International in Sri Lanka
SKAI Colours Awards 2022
Held on 9th May 2023 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Anto Dinesh, 7th Dan Shotokan Karatedo 
Director of Public Affairs, Asia

 Under the guidance of our Sri Lankan KOJF International Director of Public Relations Asia, Anto Dinesh, Kyoshi, 7th Dan Shotokan Karatedo.

KOJF Int'l Affiliated Association 

19th International Okinawa Goju-Ryu Ipoh City Karate Open Championship 2023

(14-17category 2 Gold Medals, 2 Silver Medals, 4 Bronze Medals)

Trained by Shihan.Murugesu 

 Here are two rare photos of Konishi Sensei from 1979 as one of the KOJF Seniors Shihans, Dan Taylor, Hanshi, 8th Dan trained with.  Historic.  Dan Taylor, Hanshi is one of my personal friends and also a fellow member of the Dai Nippon Butokukai(DNBK) whom I have spent some time with in Kyoto, Japan and the Butokuden.  He is a high dan holder in both Shito Ryu and Gojukai Karatedo of Japan.  We at the KOJF International Hombu are honored and humbled that he has chosen to be an active member of KOJF International and is our Senior most Shihan on the West Coast, USA!

Enjoy these two historic photos of the legendary Konishi Sensei, a former member and senior instructor of the Dai Nippon Butokukai.