Ryusei Karate Grows in Canada

Over the last year, Ryusei Karate-Do Canada has seen some remarkable growth. Until January, our organization had only one dojo with a few members, Barrie Ryusei Karate. Then in January 2002, Peter Zehr and Matthew Mannerow, who used to belong to the Canadian Chito-Ryu association, joined Ryusei Karate-Do. Peter Zehr 4th dan, is the sensei of Matthew Mannerow, 2nd dan. Together they run two schools in Ontario: Grey-Bruce Wiarton and Grey-Bruce Desboro Ryusei Karate Dojo. They have about 25 students, and I have another 18 at my Barrie dojo.

The goals of Peter (who is a provincial police officer) and Matt are to learn the Ryusei concepts, to get a softer body in their techniques and to work on their development of tanden breathing and ki. They are not interested in tournament fighting but want to concentrate on bunkai, kata study and practise with partners—the practical applications of karate. Peter Zehr has had to use karate techniques to subdue criminals a couple of times in his line of work.

Then last summer I was approached by Jean Lauzon and his wife, Chantal Lepage, former Chito-Ryu members who run a dojo in Sherbrooke, Quebec. They remembered Sakamoto-Sensei from his visits in Canada and were interested in learning more about the organization. They traveled with their two children to my house in Barrie, last August, to train and talk. Our sessions together went very well and they asked to join Ryusei Karate-Do.

Jean Lauzon is a criminal psychologist who started in judo and then switched to karate in 1992. He used to be an assistant instructor under Jean-Noel Blanchette at the University of Sherbrooke. With about 30 members, he and Chantal run the Onna no Karatedo Dojo, which teaches just women, of all ages. Chantal has a strong interest in helping to stop violence against women, and also gives special self-defence clinics to women’s centers and Crime Prevention programs to college girls. Supervised by Jean, she is the primary instructor at the dojo—perhaps the only one of its kind in Canada. Jean also instructs men in semi-private lessons.

Jean Lauzon and Chantal Lepage with students after the first Ryusei grading at the 
Onna no Karatedo Dojo in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Over the next year, Jean wants to really study the Ryusei approach to kata and then to do his nidan examination. He also wants to study Japanese language more, to help with communications between our two countries. For her part, Chantal also wants to study Ryusei kata further and test for her shodan. She wants to get her dojo and Ryusei karate better known to more Quebec women, and help to reduce the incidence of violence against females.

Over the past year, we have seen some other positive developments in this country. Peter Zehr, Matt Mannerow and I worked together to get the first printing of a Canadian Ryusei certificate. Jean Lauzon then made French certificate made for his province. Jean Lauzon also led the way in a project to get the first Ryusei gi crests made in North America.

In 2003, I want to make sure the Ryusei Web site stays up to date. Sakamoto-Sensei and Jean Lauzon of Quebec are currently working on Japanese and French versions of the Web site. In the future, we should start working on a technical manual to help our students learn Ryusei karate.

Overall, we have a very positive feeling about how Ryusei karate is developing in our country. Our main concern is to work together to understand Sakamoto-Sensei’s approach to karate. We are doing this by working out together when we can, by studying videos of Sakamoto-Sensei and Okashita-Sensei, and by trading information through the Internet and by phone. For our growth and understanding, I think it is important that we get a chance to work out with Sakamoto-Sensei in person. We also think it is important to use the expertise of Okashita-Sensei and Sakai-Sensei as well. We would also like to be able to send instructors to Japan to study Ryusei karate.

We intend to work closely with Roland Figgs-Sensei and the Ryusei Karate-Do U.S.A. to understand Ryusei karate and make it grow. Over this next year, we plan to arrange a number of clinics, so that the Canadian instructors, and Figgs-Shihan of the U.S. can get together to work out and help one another. For my part, I would like to go down at least once to the U.S. to work out with Figgs-Shihan and his students.

—Peter Giffen