When and how did you come to the practice of martial arts?
I started studying shorin-ryu karate at the Coffeyville, Kansas Boys Club in 1958 under the direction of Sensei Joe Spriggs. My family was very poor and when my uncle Bill Price took me with him to the YMCA I noticed people working out in one of the rooms. It was Judo. I wanted to do that but couldn’t afford the annual and monthly fees. A family friend said there was something similar at the Boys Club. When I asked how much it cost, I was told $8 per month to join the club and no additional fees for karate. At 5 years old, I persuaded my friend’s father who owned McDonald’s Feed Store across the street from my grandmother’s house to give me a job sewing the burlap bags closed for $.50 per day. I’ve never stopped doing Shorin-ryu since starting in about February or so of 1958.
How did you meet Grandmaster Musashi Miyagi?
A friend and I were working out in gym on the base at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station and as we were talking about my style of shorin-ryu, he mentioned that he heard of this guy on the Island that was an Okinawan karate guy, but it was heard he was pretty tough to train with. I found out it was Miyagi Sensei and his first name was Musashi. That was a bit strange, since Musashi is not an Okinawan name. His father was Okinawan and is mother was Japanese. He was an 8th Dan I believe and he and I became friends and he started training me harder than I’ve ever trained before.
Can you tell us how it was training with him?
Miyagi’s methods were tough but with a smile in his voice. He would punish anyone would not turn over their hand in a Seikan Punch by striking the back of the hand with a back fist. It was very painful and as I was told more than once, he was too tough to train with. Once he made me stand in a horse stance for 7 hours in the sand, under a tree while looking at the ocean over in Wahiawa. I couldn’t walk correctly for days after that.
(Aquí tengo un problema: como no conozco de que va el seikan punch no estoy seguro que significa turn over, en general es: cambiar, girar, pasar. Uso pasar porque me suena mejor pero esta te la dejo a ti que sabes de karate, ese no es mi campo, si puedes me explicas luego por el chat que significa y así no me pasa esto más en el futuro.)
What is the most important characteristic of learning within the Shorin-Ryu?
Speed and redirection as well as body shifting are key elements taught in Shorin-Ryu and most of this is taught through Kata.
What defines Okinawan Karate?
Almost all Okinawan Karate was formulated by the people of Okinawa from those who either visited the Island or brought back by those who went to other places and trained. Shorin-Ryu was based upon “Shaolin Style Wu-shu” or Kung-Fu as most call it. The stances are higher, faster to be initiated and little movement is wasted.
When a person reaches the level that Hanshi reached, what do changes within this person?
The change takes place long before one reaches the level of Hanshi. Almost all teachers take on much responsibility and it is twofold. On one hand, there is a feeling of value and pride in being allowed to carry this information to the next generation. On the other hand, the burden is immense. You dare not tarnish or impugn the trust that was given, and you always have to behave in a proper manner. I have never been intoxicated; I never speak in a foul or disrespectful way in front of my students, and I have to keep teaching even if the economy is not kind to me and it costs money out of pocket to keep the school moving forward. The knowledge must be passed on and when or if you accept the responsibility, you accept the burdens of leadership. I have never asked for respect, it must be earned, and I learn as much about myself by teaching as I do by practicing karate.
What is your favorite Kata, and Why?
I don’t have a favorite Kata, since I can pull technique from each and I can combine movements from each to form technique. I have done each of the Katas in my system thousands of times and every time I do, I get excited about what I am doing!
What do you think of martial arts today? Tradition vs. Modern Times? Who wins?
There are no modern times without tradition, without Ying there is no Yang, there’s no light without dark and there is no modern without tradition. Times do change and although the tradition doesn’t change, the uses of the traditional methods do change and adapt. It’s all good!
What can we learn at your Dojo?
Our dojo focuses on strong Kata, speed, body shifting, and redirection as well as personal responsibility and development.
What is Karate for your life?
Karate is my way of life and has allowed me to have the fortitude to finish what I start in life!
Thank you very much for your time Grand Master Tosh. This question is free for you to talk about what deemed.
I have found that those who train in a traditional form of martial art have a kindness and spirit that is different than those who do not. To be able to balance strength and power with a love for life is to have strength in character. Honor above all else!