A Ryusei Road Trip

On July 24, 2006, Matt Mannerow and I drove from our Ontario towns to Cincinnati, Ohio, to train with Roland Figgs-Renshi and exchange techniques and ideas about Ryusei karate. We arrived at 3:30 p.m. and settled into our motel room not far from the Figgs home. Figgs-Sensei met us at the hotel and then drove us to one of the dojo where he offers classes. Attendance was good, considering that it was 91° F and summer vacation time.

Canadian instructors Peter Zehr (left) and Matt Mannerow (right) pose with Roland Figgs-Sensei (centre), head of Ryusei Karate-Do U.S.A., after a workout together. Last year, Sakamoto-Sensei awarded Figgs-Sensei his 6th dan and Renshi title.

I led a group of senior belts through an interpretation of shime-no-kata, explaining the importance of breathing in a sinking fashion, and rooting during exhalation. It was interesting to watch students attempt to stay rooted while doing blocks and strikes from shime-no-kata.

Next we moved to the kata of Shihohai, focusing on keeping the weight down and having a good root. All too soon class was over and we were off to Mari-San’s residence to enjoy camaraderie and a meal. Matt may have indulged too much in of the sake provided by Rayapureddi-San, waking up with a headache the next morning.

The next day, Matt and I caught were picked up by Figgs-Sensei for breakfast and a trip to Kentucky, to his brother Roger Young’s
Torokan Karate Dojo. Even though Young-Shihan was unable to attend due to work, we enjoyed ourselves, exchanging ideas on kata and bunkai. We spent a lot of time on Henshuho, covering a variety of applications for each move. Figgs-Sensei showed us a very useful way to do number 3, which we hope to perfect soon.
Halfway through the four hours of training, Terrence Figgs, Figgs-Sensei’s son, arrived and we continued with our study of the bunkai.

At the end of the session Matt and I demonstrated our Henshuho kumite, doing moves 1-10. Since this was a free-flowing kumite version, the moves did not always work, and were sometimes countered, which may happen if you don’t think while doing. Figgs-Sensei appreciated our thoughts on the matter. We in turn valued his input.

After a quick meal, we headed to the Corryville Center for another series of classes. We enjoyed working with Figgs-Sensei children and adult classes, doing kobudo. I demonstrated Fusha-no-kon and demonstrated the end to a series of Ryusei kumi-bo Ryusei moves, similar to ones in Chito-Ryu.

As Canadians, we noticed some cultural differences with our American neighbors. It was an unusual experience, for example, to find that people can legally carry concealed firearms. There aren’t a lot of empty hand defence techniques for that…

During the trip, Matt and I made new friends and were impressed by everyone’s spirit and hospitality. Thank you. We hope to do regular trips to see our southern brothers and sisters. And we hope they will come up here to visit us and train together.

— Peter Zehr, 4th Dan, Grey-Bruce Ryusei Karate