A New Year, a New Organization.

Our organization, the Ryusei Karate-Do Federation, is now simply called Ryusei Karate-Do. (So the style and the association have the same name.) This means, for example, the Ryusei Karate-Do Federation Canada has become Ryusei Karate-Do Canada.

Why the change?

Last fall, Sakamoto-Sensei had a split with some of the Ryusei sensei in Japan. From Sakamoto-Sensei’s point of view, the split came about because he felt that a lot of the sensei were not striving to understand and practise the original Okinawan (tode) and Chinese kempo technique that are the basis Ryusei karate.

The split means that there are now two Ryusei organizations: Ryusei Karate-Do (ours) and the Ryusei Karate-Do Federation (theirs).

While I can’t presume to say what will happen with the old Ryusei Karate-Do Federation, they seem to be very tournament-oriented and not so interested in Sakamoto-Sensei’s investigations into the roots of traditional karate.

Last November, Sakamoto-Sensei wrote a document outlining the organization and purposes of the new Ryusei Karate-Do. In his opening he writes:

I am following in the footsteps of O-Sensei (Tsuyoshi Chitose) and his philosophy, and am striving to master the techniques of todi. Recently, however, I have encountered some high-ranking instructors, who do not agree with our karate philosophy. . . . To avoid such conflicts down the road, I will now clarify my position on what our affiliation and organization should be, and what should be changed.

Ryusei Karate-Do is martial arts organization whose members strive to master the techniques and philosophy of traditional budo arts. My philosophy and beliefs about Ryusei Karate-Do will never be changed by threats or harassments. If you are shihan or sensei who value organizational structure and roles more than the history and mastery of such traditional techniques, I ask you to leave from Ryusei Karate-Do. In the past, I experienced the stupidity of an organization corrupting a master’s style during my years in Chito-Ryu. I do not wish to repeat the same mistake again.

After stating the purpose of the new Ryusei organization and sounding his warning, Sakamoto-Sensei outlines the set-up of the new organization.

The highest division is the Todi Keishoshitsu (Todi Preservation Division), whose objective “is to pass on our techniques and philosophy to future generations.” Under this is the Gijitsukyoku (International Technical Committee), followed by the Gijitsubu (each country’s technical committee).

As the founder of Ryusei Karate-Do and our most skilled practitioner, Sakamoto-Sensei is head of both the Todi Preservation Division and the International Technical Committee. He is also, temporarily, the organization’s secretary. Finally as a special consultant (Komon), he has appointed Tsuyoshi Hiroshige-Sensei, one of Japan’s most famous Kyokushinkai leaders (head of the Tokyo-based Jomon division) and his closest friend.

A chart of the new organization looks like this:

In the new organization, the Todi Keishoshitsu is responsible for issuing dan certificates and is currently preparing new ones. In the Canada and U.S. we will continue to issue our own kyu (colored belt) certificates, though once we run out of our current supply, we will have to revise the wording of any new kyu certificates.

A new fee structure will also be implemented over the next couple of years, but more on this on another date.

While the changes to our organization are mildly upsetting (it’s tough to see a small organization grow smaller), they are for the best. Rather than having a lot of warring personalities pulling in different directions we now have an international group that is determined to work together for a common purpose.

And that is good news.

—Peter Giffen