How and or why did I choose Ryusei Karate over all the other styles? Let me first say that when I started Karate in 1981 I did not know anything about different styles all I knew was Karate taught you how to punch, kick and block. The style I started with was called Chito-Ryu; however it was the “Tsuoroka-Sensei” version. I enjoyed Karate and it allowed me to do things that I otherwise thought was impossible. My Sensei in Owen Sound hurt himself and for a short period of time I studied Wado-Ryu, but found it did not stimulate me as Chito-Ryu did.
As I progressed through my training, my Owen Sound Sensei hurt himself again and this time I was asked if I would like to take over the teaching duties of the Karate Club. I eventually was led to Toronto by a magazine article that Peter Giffen had written about Chito-Ryu, and O-Sensei’s visit to Canada (not sure of year). I went to Toronto(a 3 hour drive one way) and proceeded to speak to Higashi-Sensei about taking classes, I was a 1st Kyu and was teaching a club in Owen Sound, while trying to learn from books. Higashi-Sensei allowed me to train under him and I was placed under probation for one year until I learned the real Chito-Ryu and then I would be able to test for Shodan.
What I discovered was there was more to Karate then I realized. Of course there were the usual punches, kicks, blocks, strikes, kata and kihon to teach the basic’s of the style, which was the same as the other styles. However; unlike many other styles in the area where I lived, Chito-ryu also had bunkai, ukemi, joint locks and throws. I was glad I had found Chito-Ryu.
Shortly after joining Higashi-Sensei I became friends with Peter Giffen a very talented Karateka, he agreed many times to come to my home 3 hours north of Toronto to train me. As my technique grew I started to research more of the Bunkai and how they related to our Kata and of course real life combat. I started to change the stances to hengetsu-dachi from soto, or uchi hachi dachi. I especially found this change important when I became a Police Officer. However when I went to Toronto I was encouraged to stay true to the basics. Higashi Sensei is a very accomplished Sensei and I have a very high respect for him, but I felt something was missing, but I was not sure what.
I continued to train with Peter Giffen and he encouraged me to explore my ideas, which I did. I was fortunate enough to have a student Matt Mannerow that became as interested in these things as I was. I was able to practice a lot using him as a research tool. He eventually became the one student who knows what I am trying to do and where we want to be.
At the turn of the century, I was surprised to hear that Peter Giffen had chosen a different path and was going to join Sakamoto-Sensei. Many reasons reflected this decision and it was not easy for him. So when he invited Sakamoto-Sensei to come to Canada and demonstrate Ryusei, I was interested in what would occur. I could not attend, but Matt went and when he came back he was so excited about what he had seen he got me thinking about changing to Ryusei.
What happened was when I saw what Sakamoto-Sensei was doing. I was amazed that in a different country I was researching similar things albeit at a substantially different skill level. Things such as Bunkai from hengetsu dachi. Bunkai Kumite and how to react without thought. The ideas that at each black belt level one should be increasing in power was appealing. I liked the reality of Ryusei, and the fact that what you learned could save your life, again very important in my profession.
We switched to Ryusei and after about a year our students commented on how our technique had improved so much, they said we were faster, stronger, and seemed to be able to foresee their every move. I knew I had made a good choice, and then when Sakamoto Sensei came in 2003 that confirmed it for me. Very simply put I like that Ryusei challenges me to rise to new heights, and I intend to do so as long as I am able.
In 2007 I travelled with Peter Giffen to Japan where we both challenged our next rank and were successful. While there we had the chance to measure as it were our technique, and it did not come up lacking.
It is now 2013 and my plans continue to expand, I hope to be able to keep practicing for many years to come.