Canada’s plans for 2004.

In 2004, we in Canada plan to practise what we learned in 2003. Last October, we were visited by Sakamoto-Sensei, accompanied by his students Sakai-Shihan and Mr. Nishizaka, for a series of clinics in Ontario. The week of training gave us enough to work on for a long time to come.

Sakamoto-Sensei with Sakai-Sensei, Nishizaka-san and North American instructors

The clinics were attended by Ryusei and Chito-Ryu karateka from Ontario, Quebec, the United States, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

October 10, 2003 clinic

Everyone was impressed by Sakamoto-Sensei’s skill and knowledge and by how hard he worked, demonstrating every technique and kata.


Sakai-Shihan and Mr. Nishizaka also contributed a lot to the clinics.


While we learned many things, a few of the main things that struck us as important were: 1. The need to investigate the internal (ki) aspects of karate and to improve our breathing; 2. to make our techniques more smooth, with soft power as well as hard; 3. to make our kata more personal, demonstrating our understanding and personality; 4. to investigate the history and meaning of the kata; 5. to practise Henshuho more, making it more effective and expanding our awareness of how it might be applied.

Sakamoto-Sensei clinic at Grey-Bruce Ryusei Karate
Sakamoto-Sensei clinic at Barrie Ryusei Karate

To help us remember what we learned at the clinics, we shot a lot of videotape footage. Jean Lauzon of Quebec is currently editing more than 16 hours of footage, shot by different people, into a single video reference.

To practise what we learned, the Ryusei instructors plan to work together and help one another. In Ontario, we used to have five yudansha teaching three dojo: Peter Giffen, Peter Zehr, Matt Mannerow, David Martin, Derek Zehr and Adele Delong. Early in the new year, we were joined by a new instructor, Kevin Fobert, and his Belleville, Ont., dojo. As a group we plan to run regular instructor clinics, where we practise and improve our kihon, kata and bunkai.

Sakamoto-Sensei with Ontario sensei and Figgs-Sensei from the United States

In Sherbrooke, Quebec, there are three instructors teaching three dojo: Jean Lauzon, Chantal Lepage and Marc Fortin. Marc Fortin just joined Ryusei Canada, leaving the Chito-Ryu organization. In his Makoto Dojo, there is a number of students who should be ready to test for shodan soon. Chantal Lepage teaches Onna no Karate Dojo exclusively to women. Chantal just received her shodan after being tested by Sakamoto-Sensei.

Sakamoto-Sensei with Chantal Lepage

Although Jean Lauzon and Chantal Lepage work in close association, Jean has just created his own dojo, Shizen to no yuko dojo. Jean, Chantal and Marc plan to continue to train together on a regular basis, to improve their technique and give one another support.

Quebec Ryusei instructors: Marc Fortin, Chantal Lepage
and Jean Lauzon

To improve our country’s technique, we also plan to arrange more visits from Japan—not just by Sakamoto-Sensei but by the senior students he appoints as well, such as Okashita-Shihan and Sakai-Shihan. Of course, we are still a small organization and we need to discuss among ourselves how often we can afford these visits. Yearly would be ideal. But if not, at least every two years would be what we aim for.

So, we expect to have a good year of training in 2004. We wish all our fellow Ryusei karateka in Japan and the United States a Happy New Year. And we also want to congratulate Sakamoto-Sensei for his promotion to 8th dan and Kyoshi. The rank is well deserved and we are proud to have him as our leader.

—Peter Giffen
Barrie Ryusei Karate-Do