WHY SHIDOKAN?Traditional Okinawan Shorinryu Karate-do
(empty hand) originated in Okinawa, which consists of many Ryu-kyu islands, about 400 miles south of mainland Japan. In
the 1600s the
Japanese samurai ruled supreme and weapons were
forbidden to the Okinawans. In secret they refined what we
call karate-do, or the way of the empty hand, until their unarmed
as deadly as the swords taken from them. In the more settled
times that followed, the art became valued for its health, strength and
Okinawan karate is
a cultural treasure and oral tradition that has spread throughout the
world and is practiced by millions.
teach karate as weaponless self-defense, and it is emphasized as a martial art rather
than a sport. It's not about winning tournaments but prevailing
over an assailant of any size or strength. Safety is paramount! Students are not intimidated, but encouraged to reach for and attain their highest potential. Achieve
expertise while having fun. Improve life skills including a deeper respect... for yourself and others.
Learning from and helping each other, and using skills
effectively and with good judgment is the true art of karate.
Who Should Take Karate?
good health, self-control, calmness and genuine confidence,
while reducing stress and any tendencies toward inappropriate
Providing skills and attitude necessary for confidence in and
reliance on themselves, not only in the face of danger, but also in other
facets of their lives.
Assisting them in building
strong, erect bodies, learning patience and respect for others, and
gaining enduring confidence in themselves.
Maintaining and in most cases improving balance, coordination, agility, flexibility and overall vitality.
REVIEWS... read comments from students & parentsYOUTH KARATE, Ages 4-13... read about our youth program.ADULT KARATE, Ages 14+
Blocks, kicks, strikes, safe falls and throws (flips/take downs)
-- with power, efficiency and control.
solo moves combine techniques of defense and offense in sequence, so
instant and correct reaction is natural if required to defend
yourself. Complexity increases with rank.Hold Breaks:
Easy-to-learn practical techniques to break free from an assailant, to use momentum,
leverage and vital striking points to prevail in seemingly
indefensible situations, regardless of size or strength. Partner Drills:
of defense and offense skills with increasing difficulty while cooperating
with each other so both partners benefit and improve.Board Breaks:
than entirely a specific goal in itself, it also becomes a peripheral benefit -- a
symptom of the strength and focus obtained as a result of karate
training. Kick/Punch Focus Pads:
Kicks and various strikes to perfect accuracy and balance.Kumite:
(and "free") sparring enhances timing, reflexes, balance and coordination, as well as safe falls and
throws…with strong emphasis on self-control. Difficulty increases with skill level. Intermediate to advanced
application of kata with three or four attackers, including safe falls
and throws. Increases spatial awareness, agility and control.
Advanced ranks.Makiwara (striking board)...pictured right:
To condition and
strengthen while precisely focusing the power of
your entire body to a single point. Advanced ranks.
How to Tie Belt ("Obi")
(1) Place the middle of the belt in front of the body. (2) Wrap belt around the back, overlap, and (3) bring back to the front. (4) Make an X with the ends. (5) The top end goes under both segments of the belt from (6) bottom to the top. (7) Tie knot.
IMPORTANT: Gi pants must not touch the floor. If so, they need to be hemmed for safety reasons — our first concern! Floor length can result in a fall. Rolled-up (they never stay) distracts the student and can be very dangerous. Correct length is just below the ankle, or above it but below the knee.
The Bow ("Rei")
bow in karate is often misunderstood.
It holds no spiritual or religious connotation, nor is it a sign of a
master-slave relationship between instructor and student.
Instead, the bow is a cultural practice done to show humility,
appreciation and a willingness to learn. It is also a display
of mutual respect between teachers and students, and
fellow students. It most closely correlates with the Western
tradition's handshake. The bow is from a kneeling (Seiza) or standing position.
bow when entering the dojo (training area), clearing their minds
of distractions, committing to fully focus on and attempt to absorb the
material about to be taught. Bowing toward instructor is to
show respect and gratitude for the time and energy devoted to sharing
his/her experience, skills and knowledge. Bowing is to be done
between students before and after kumite, bunkai and partner drills.
The ending bows express thanks for furthering each other's
skills, and the learning about themselves and their partners.
Bowing upon exiting the dojo signifies that training has
finished -- for the moment or for the day -- until time to return.
- Always bow ("rei") when bowed to, and...
- Upon entering & exiting training area;
- Before joining or leaving class;
- When summoned by Sensei or sempai;
- Upon meeting & leaving Sensei or sempai;
- Before & after kata;
- Before & after class.
Seiza - Formal sitting (kneeling) position
Left knee down first then right knee,
with right great toe crossed over left great toe; knees apart; sit
on feet; hands on thighs. Left hand down first, then
right. Bow ("rei"). Right hand up first, then left.
To rise: Right knee up first, then left into standing
position. See also The Bow.
Understanding the spirit of karate:
attacks are initiated by a karate practitioner. Instead there is
love of peace, pursuit of harmony and respect for humanity.
Karate begins and ends with courtesy:
Courtesy and respect toward your superiors, equals and beginners is necessary for personal growth.
Practice must be done in utmost sincerity:
Kata, kumite and bunkai practice must be done with sincere belief that you are facing an actual enemy.
Follow the instructions of your sensei and sempai to the best of your ability:
not hold a critical attitude toward your instructors or your progress will suffer. If you do not
understand, ask your instructor to explain.
Do not attempt to advance too rapidly:
solid foundation must be built carefully and cannot be rushed.
Only through perseverance and patience will you reach your goals.
Beware of becoming self-satisfied, boastful or arrogant:
Dedicated practice will bring desired results. To be humble of your
skill begets more practice, and thus more skill.
Dojo Manners & Rules
Karate-do will help students ("karate-ka") achieve: Humility, integrity, and respect for themselves and others,
as well as a spirit of cooperation with fellow karate-ka, assistant instructors and other
higher-ranked students ("sempai"), and the teacher ("Sensei").
- Address as Sensei: Sharon Basinger, Head Instructor, and Seikichi Iha, Grand
Master…always. In Basinger Sensei’s absence, black belts while instructing at Karate STL. Black belts
while instructing at other dojos. Ask Basinger
Sensei if in doubt.
- Address as Sempai
or Mr./Ms: Sensei's assistants and karate-ka higher ranked than you but below black belt –
Sempai, or Mr./Ms., then last name, or first name if they prefer – e.g.
“Sempai Chris” or “Mr./Ms. Chris.” Ask Sensei if unsure.
are very welcome, but ALL ages are kindly requested to remain on
quietly and unobtrusively -- no cell phone talking, or
communicating with students while they are in class
please. If absolutely
necessary to enter training area, please remove shoes. This is
out of respect for
students, instructors and dojo.
- When late, no problem but it's impolite to simply walk into class. Instead, quietly warm up by yourself, apart from class. Then do not join the class yet …stand and wait, just inside the dojo, until instructor signals you to enter.
class, do not leave training area early, or leave for a break, water,
to talk to observers, etc., without clearing it with instructor.
- Wait to be notified by Basinger Sensei, as to if or when you will test for promotion, rather than inquiring.
- Respect all instructors/sempai and follow their directions without question,
comment, hesitation or facial expression while in dojo. For
clarification, ask Basinger Sensei privately, apart from others,
- When interacting with other karate-ka, especially those
lower in rank, ALWAYS consider their age, skill level, size, strength and
any limitations. Then adjust your speed and power accordingly. Help
SELF-DEFENSE... read about about our self-defense programs.Women & Teen, Youth, or Private (Men, Women, Youth)
Karate STL Director & Chief Instructor
State of Missouri Shibu Dojo Director for
Beikoku Shidokan Karate-do Association
(left) began training in Shidokan in 1989, and has been
the director/chief instructor at Karate STL since its inception in 1995. She
attained the internationally recognized and documented title of Shihan (certified
instructor), and rank of 6th Dan (black belt degree), awarded by
world-renowned Grand Master Seikichi Iha, Hanshi 10th Dan (right), and the
Okinawa Shorinryu Karate-do Association. Karate STL and Basinger
Sensei are under direct supervision & guidance of Iha Sensei, who
is the Director of Beikoku (North America) Shidokan Karate-do
Association. Basinger is that
Association's Shibu (branch) Dojo Director for the state of Missouri. She also actively oversees
two Fuku Shibu* (sub-branch) dojos. Basinger previously studied judo, and other styles of karate but she and her late husband, Gordon Basinger, concluded that Shidokan
not only promised but also provided the authentic training and
philosophy they had been seeking all along.
Read more about Basinger Sensei (her continuous training; background; favorite quotes; Gordon Basinger Sensei)
Syed (above left), Sensei* 4th Dan. Stephanie Faulkingham (above right), Sensei* 3rd Dan. Tony Bui (below left), 3rd Dan. George
Fortier (not pictured), 2nd Dan. Kevin Queen (below right),1st Dan. Not pictured: Glenda and
Bryan Petrofsky, and Kristina Carpenter,
Junior Black Belts (not pictured) are Laura Jenkins, Tawni
Miranda, Krystal Carpenter and Candice Turner.
As a supplement to
their training, these dedicated students also travel when possible with
Basinger Sensei to Lansing, Michigan, for even further instruction from
Iha Sensei. Kevin Queen and Tawni Miranda accompanied Basinger Sensei on her most recent Okinawa trip. They all began as white belts and have since
achieved their internationally certified ranks due to diligent training
at Karate STL.
* Fuku Shibu (sub-branch) Dojos... are under the guidance and supervision of their Shibu (branch) Dojo Director -- in this case, Basinger Sensei -- who is directly under the Hombu (headquarters) Dojo Director, Grand Master Seikichi Iha, Hanshi 10th Dan. Basinger Sensei is proud of her students and was very pleased to approve and recommend dojo certifications, for the above referenced Fuku Shibu Directors.
Links & Affiliated Dojos
Master CHOSHIN CHIBANA, Hanshi 10th Dan (1885-1969), born June 5, in Shuri City, Okinawa, began training in 1900 at the
age of 15 with Grand Master YASUTSUNE "Anko" ITOSU.
Itosu Sensei is considered the
Father of Okinawan Karate and is the first person responsible for
publicly teaching the art. Chibana Sensei was the originator
of Okinawan Shorinryu, loosely translated as "small forest style" or
style." He also formed the Okinawa Shorinryu Karate-do
Association in 1950 and was its first president. Among Chibana's
many awards was the Kunyonto (4th) Order of the Sacred Treasure
presented by the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, for his devotion to the
study and practice of Okinawan karate-do. He taught almost until
the time he died of cancer at the advanced age of 83. His
successor was Katsuya Miyahira.
Chibana Sensei's thoughts and advice on karate.
Miyahira Sensei's thoughts on karate and life.
Master KATSUYA MIYAHIRA
Hanshi 10th Dan,
was born on August 8, 1918 in Nishihara City,
Okinawa, and died on November 29, 2010 in Naha, Okinawa, at age
92. Miyahira Sensei started his training with Grand Master Choshin Chibana
age 15. In 1937, he worked as a school teacher in Manchuria
and taught self-defense. He opened a dojo in Kanehisa, Nishihara,
in 1948 naming it "Shidokan." After Chibana Sensei's death in 1969,
Miyahira became the President of the Okinawa Shorinryu Karate-do
Association. He was presented with the 1989 Martial Arts
Distinguished Service Award (the highest honor of its kind in the world
of Japanese martial arts) by the president of the Japan Martial Arts
Council. Among Miyahira's major contributions has been the
introduction of obligatory analytical exercises (bunkai) for each of
the kata, and the deepening of the philosophical study of
karate-do. His most senior student is
Grand Master SEIKICHI IHA, Hanshi 10th Dan: Karate STL and Sharon Basinger are directly under the supervision and teaching of
this world-class master. He is
States Branch Chief for the Okinawa Shorinryu Karate-do Association,
and the Director of the Beikoku Shidokan Karate-do
Association. A "teacher of teachers," Iha Sensei is the highest ranking
Okinawan master residing in the United States. In 2001
Iha was awarded the rank of 10th Dan from Grand Master Katsuya Miyahira. There was an enthusiastic standing ovation of world-wide friends, family and
his students at the Beikoku Shidokan 25th
Anniversary Celebration in Lansing, Michigan.
was born in Nishihara City, Okinawa, on July 9, 1932. His
initial karate training was with his uncle but in 1950 he became a
student of SHINPAN GUSUKUMA, a student of the famous
Anko Itosu. After Gusukuma's death in
1954, Iha began training with Miyahira Sensei.
He has taught in Guam, the
Philippines and Okinawa (in 1964 he also trained U.S. Marines at
Futenma, Okinawa). 1967 to 1975 he taught in Los Angeles,
California. In 1975 he opened his Lansing, Michigan,
dojo which is now headquarters for over 30 schools in the U.S., Canada and other countries as distant as Sweden and Israel. Iha
is frequently visited, consulted and revered by karate
practitioners from around the globe.
What Iha Sensei hopes for his students.
Iha Sensei biography, and an interview on karate.
Beikoku Shidokan Karate-do Association, Seikichi Iha, Director.
About; membership application; association directory; events; and more.
Okinawan, Shorinryu, and Beikoku Shidokan karate history.
Biographies of great masters: Matsumura, Itosu, Chibana, Gusukuma, Motubu and Miyahira.
Karate STL Chronology
From 1995 to the present.