My journey into Karatedō began in the summer of 1982 at the 極真会館 空手 Kyokushinkai Kan Karate Honbu Dōjō (Headquarters' School) 極真会館 空手 本部道場 in Manhattan on 6th Avenue, which opened in that year/summer. The aforesaid style means “Ultimate Truth” and “Society” in a “building” and is a compilation of Gōjū-ryū 剛柔流, Shōtōkan 松濤館流, and Kenpō 拳法, which was created by 総裁 倍達 大山 Sosai Masutatsu Oyama, who also engaged in intense Shugyō 修行 (Deep Mind and Body Training) or spiritual discipline as well when developing this said style. At the Honbu Dōjō, I trained directly under Mas Oyama’s protégé, then Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama, but now known as 開帳 茂 大山 Soshu Shigeru Oyama, an 8th dan and highest-ranked master then and World Chief Instructor of Kyokushinkai Kan Karate directly under Sosai Mas Oyama. This was my introduction to Karatedō, in which I am very fortunate about and of course humbly grateful for as well.
From 1982 to 1983, I trained six days a week in one and a half hour classes, twice a day, six days a week, which were all taught by Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama, the Chief Instructor of the Honbu Dōjō, and Branch Chief of I.K.O. North America. Fortunately, I was his first student in his new dōjō and became one of his first three brown belts or second Kyūs, and his first junior brown belt or first Kyū in his dōjō. Further, I also had the honor of doing three Kata demonstrations within a group (students from the headquarters dōjō) in the years between 1982 and 1983 at three Knockdown Tournaments. Then in 1985-86, the style was changed to World Oyama Karate Organization or W.O.K.O. when (then) Saiko Shihan created his own aforesaid style and thus, became known as Soshu with the rank of 10th Dan.
Then in beginning of 1990, I rejoined the Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō and decided to start over again in rank (status), meaning at white belt or 10th Kyū; I trained 3 times a week, in one hour classes, for four years (until the end of 1994), again under Soshu Shigeru Oyama (formerly Saiko Shihan).
And in 1999, five years later, I returned once again to the Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō, for a four-year stint, a truly devoted one, as an Uchideshi 内弟子 or live-in disciple under Chief Instructor Soshu Oyama, until 2002. I was allowed to wear my original rank of brown belt black stripe or first Kyū and subsequently tested for my Sho Dan (Shodansha) in 2000, and my Ni Dan (second degree) in 2001, and then my San Dan (third degree) in 2010. During this tenure is when I became a practitioner of the art and is why I dedicated myself to teaching, training, and competing/fighting. This is imperative for one and is how one becomes a true teacher and also how one carries on one’s Sensei’s legacy or the tenets of one’s style for the next generation; i.e., no beginning and no end; it is the Ensō (Zen circle).
During that time, I also competed in four Annual Invitational Knockdown Tournaments, winning two and placing in the top 4 in the other two. I humbly and honorably represented Soshu Oyama and his Organization at these tournaments. I also was bestowed the honor of being deemed the Senior Instructor under Soshu as his Uchideshi at his dōjō (Honbu/Headquarters).
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I taught adult, children, weapons, kata, and fight or sparring classes during these four years. I also had a small dōjō, which I shared with a senior of mine in the Bronx, for one year. Additionally, I taught private lessons as well as helped establish and assisted in two after-school programs within the city, such as P.S. 41 and Manhattan Country School. Additionally, demonstrations I partook in as well. For three consecutive years, I took part in the Annual Japanese Society Festival located in the East Village. As well as assisting in all of the Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō promotion tests, summer camps, semi-knockdown competitions, and special clinics that were taught and directly run by Soshu Oyama during those four years as his Uchideshi.
In 2002, after completing my apprenticeship, I focused my energy into academia; i.e., I became a matriculated student and received my an A.A. with Honors in Writing and Literature from the CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2006, minoring in Psychology, and subsequently, received my B.A. in Creative Writing from CUNY's Hunter College in 2010, also majoring in Psychology (for those four years). Moreover, I attained my Board of Education/Department of Education Teacher’s Assistant Certification in 2007, which allowed me to become a Mentor of collegiate students on scholastic probation. In addition, I was recognized three times within BMCC for making the Dean’s List and once as well as by the National Dean’s List for the scholastic year of 2004-2005. Furthermore, I published the same piece/article twice; one was in full text and the other was in short form, for two different publications: one was Hip-Not Magazine, a BMCC student publication and the other was for BMCC’s English Writing & Literature on-line student publication or school’s website. I subsequently worked in Academia for 6 years; 2 within the B.O.E./D.O.E. in Middle and High Schools, and then College as a T.A., Mentor, and Tutor; and also 4 years as an A.B.A. (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapist, working with children and adults diagnosed with A.S.D./P.D.D.. Currently, I publish 3 Blogs (see here) as well as 1 On-Line Publication: 空手家 空手道 Karatekas of Karatedō.
Recently, in 2009, after a seven-year dōjō lay-off, in which I dabbled in boxing for six months under Moses Sanchez, a former Gold Gold Champion and trainer of several Gold Glove Champions at the Church Street Boxing Gym in lower Manhattan, I volunteered my services and time as an instructor and administrator, seven days a week, to a 後輩 Kōhai (junior) of mine who opened his own school a couple of years after he completed his Uchideshi apprenticeship. In addition, I came out of Kumite (fighting) retirement, because of my desire and aspiration to compete in an Invitational Knockdown Tournament once again that was in San Francisco. Further, from 2008-2010, I also assisted in Black Belt (Sho Dan, Ni Dan, San Dan) promotion tests, which were held in Cliffside, New Jersey, as well as Kyū (non-black belt) promotion tests at the aforesaid Kohai’s dōjō.
Consequentially, in the latter part of 2010, after almost a decade of engrossing myself in academia and literature, such as philosophy, psychology, physics (quantum), and Buddhism, not to mention, conditioning myself, i.e., spiritually and physiologically via 坐禅 Zazen and 只管打坐 Shikantaza (just sitting), chanting or 念仏 Nembutsu, training and refining 基本 Kihōn (basics) and 技 Waza (techniques), a new style came to fruition itself that incorporates all the physiological and psychological tenets of all three disciplines that I have learned (i.e., the two different Japanese and Okinawan based karate styles that were under the same master or teacher, which also included aspects of self-defense and the aforesaid Western Boxing aspect that is coalesced). Consequently and henceforth, Genjōkōan Karate 現成公案 空手 was manifested; it is balanced or interconnected by Buddhism 仏教 and its Zen 禅 and Zazen 坐禅 attributes (qualitative characteristics); i.e., to find the Middle Way or Two Truths, which is balance that is only cultivated through one’s Zazen (meditation) and the “Dropping off Mind and Body” (Shinjin Datsuraku 身心脱落), or forgetting the ego and delusional thoughts or neuronal secretions of one’s brain. Accordingly, committing oneself to training in the art of Genjōkōan Karate, one will achieve this balance via sweating, discipline, dedication, and action (reality) in one’s practice; hence, one transcends oneself in one’s dharma (experience) and becomes Buddha and acts in Zen; this translates and transforms one in all aspects of one’s life, not just in or at the dōjō; rather, a dōjō allows one to see, but not find oneself, because one does not use one’s eyes to see oneself. In other words, one finds oneself not by looking outwardly with the eyes (abstract), but rather inwardly by one’s Zazen 坐禅 (practice), which allows one to “see” oneself or one’s True Nature/Original Face (reality). This is because one needn’t be cognizant (i.e., abstractly or intellectually aware) of “finding” anything (much less oneself), because there is nothing to “find” externally (abstract). Hence, via one’s Zazen (meditative practice), one need only to reflect or look inwardly or internally by “Dropping Off Mind and Body” (Shinjin Datsuraku 身心脱落) as opposed to externally, so that one can become Buddha or a Bodhisattva 菩薩 (a Buddhist who vows to help all sentient beings) by truly seeing one’s Original Face via one’s Shikantaza (just sitting), which one learns or finds that has always been there since the beginningless of time. Know that enlightenment and practice are one in the same and that actualization of reality is Genjōkōan.
Presently, as of the Fall of 2013, after four years of discourse with I.K.U.'s Founder, I have subsequently and honorably joined 国際 極真会 連合 International Kyokushinkai Union or I.K.U. under Kaichō Farzinzad who created the aforesaid venerated style. This is due to him being an 内弟子 Uchideshi of Sosai's in Japan for many years and also since he is the second Karateka, in which I have been fortunate enough to train under, and in which has/had trained directly under Sosai; i.e., he, as well as the aforementioned Soshu, have direct lineage to Sosai, and for which, I am truly intrigued with and was humbled to be asked to join his Organization (IKU). Henceforth, after converting my rank in December of 2013, I also was appointed as the Branch Chief of New York City (IKU NYC), which is ostensibly a great and humbling honor, to which I am grateful for and in which, I will do my best to further Sosai's vision of Kyokushinkai Karatedō in America.
Competitions / Certifications
2013 - Appointed/Designated New York City Branch Chief (IKU International Kyokushinkai Union) under IKU's Kaichō David Farzinzad, promoted to Yon Dan, 四段 by Kaichō David Farzinzad
2010 - Founded Genjōkōan Karate Organization, NYC Dōjō, Yon Dan 四段
2010 - World Oyama “Invitational Fighter's Cup” Knockdown Tournament in San Francisco, 3rd Place out of 16 fighters
2010 - World Oyama Organization, Cliffside, New Jersey Dōjō, San Dan 三段 by 千宗守 茂 大山 Soshu Shigeru Oyama
2001 - World Oyama “Invitational Canadian Championships” Knockdown Tournament in Canada, 1st Place Champion out of 4 fighters
2001 - World Oyama “World Open Karate Championships” in New York CIty, 1st Place Champion out of 4 fighters
2001 - World Oyama Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō, Ni Dan ニ段 by 千宗守 茂 大山 Soshu Shigeru Oyama
2000 - World Oyama “World Open Karate Championships” Knockdown Tournament in New York CIty, 5th Place out of 14 fighters
2000 - World Oyama Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō, Sho Dan 初段 by 千宗守 茂 大山 Soshu Shigeru Oyama
1999 - World Oyama “World Open Karate Championships” Knockdown Tournament in New York CIty, 5th Place out of 15 fighters
1999-2002 - World Oyama Karate Organization (WOKO) Uchideshi & Senior Instructor of NYC Honbu Dōjō (4 years apprenticeship)
1983 - 12th Annual Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Tournament, 4th Place, Kata
1983 - Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Championships, 4th Place, Kumite
1983 - Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Championships, 1st Place, Kata Champion
1983 - Mas Oyama Kyokushin Karate Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō, 1st Kyū (Brown Belt Black Stripe) by 千宗守 茂 大山 Soshu Shigeru Oyama
1982 - U.S. Oyama Kyokushin North American Open Karate Championships, 2nd Place, Kata
1982 - Ryū Renshi-Dan Karate Invitational Championships, 3rd Place, Kata
Now, my focus is committing myself to IKU as one of the Board Members and thusly, promoting the Traditional values of Kyokushinkai Kan Karatedō as well as inevitably implementing/revitalizing an Uchideshi Program (live-in apprentice) in the near future within my dōjō, in which desiring Karatekas from all over the world will come and learn the Ways or Dō as a Karateka of Kyokuhsinkai Kan Karatedō. In the interim, I will continue to visit other I.K.U. dōjōs and teach Clinics that stress Traditional Values, such as 基本 Kihon (basics), 型 Kata (formal series of movements), 組手 技 Kumite Waza (fighting techniques), Kumite (free-fighting), and Buki (weapons).
Kaichō Farzinzad and I, Honbu Dōjō , December 21st, 2013
本部 道場 Honbu Dōjō
国際 極真会 連合 リべラ 道場
International Kyokushinkai Union Rivera Dōjō