My journey into
Martial Arts or Karate began in the summer of 1982 at the 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. At the
dōjō, I trained directly under Mas Oyama’s protege, 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 Karate/Martial Arts, which I am very fortunate about and of course humbly grateful for as well.
For one year, from 1982 to 1983, I trained six days a week in one and a half hour classes, usually twice a day, six days in a row, which were all taught by Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama. I was his first student in his new dōjō and became one of his first three brown belts or second kyū
s, and his first junior brown belt or second kyu in his dōjō (Kyokushinkai Kan Headquarters). 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 1986, 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.
During that time in Oyama Karate, which is my Sensei’s/Master’s last name and defined as: “big” (O) & “mountain” (yama),” I competed in five kata and free-fighting tournaments. I placed in all five in kata and placed in one of three kumite competitions (see below). I enjoyed training under (then) Saiko Shihan (Soshu), and although we trained bare-knuckle and bare-shin, it was in this traditional formatted Japanese style of karate that I immersed myself into and thus, found my “Original Face” (countenance) or True Nature.
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 tenth kyū
; I trained 3 times a week, in one hour classes, for four years (until 1994), again under Soshu Shigeru Oyama (formerly Saiko Shihan). However, I did not compete at that juncture. Simply, I trained for the pure joy of it, to see Soshu and take his class, which was always the best. This also reinforced a lot of the techniques that he taught and instilled when I first started as a twelve-year-old.
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 uchi-deshi 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 test for my Sho Dan (first degree: Shodansha) in 2000, and my Ni Dan (second degree) in 2001, and then my Son 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 proudly 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 uchi-deshi at his dōjō (Honbu/Headquarters). 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 peer 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.
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 year as his 内弟子 uchideshi
In 2002, after completing my apprenticeship, I focused my energy into academia; i.e., I became a matriculated student and received my first English degree, an A.A. with Honors in Writing & Literature from the CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College
in 2006, minoring in Psychology, and subsequently, received my second English degree, a 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 and Tutor 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 Assistant Teacher, 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.
Recently, in 2009, after a seven year 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 kōhai (junior) of mine who opened his own school a couple of years after he completed his uchi-deshi 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 in San Francisco. Plus, during this time, I assisted in black belt (sho dan, ni dan, son dan) promotion tests, which were held in Cliffside, New Jersey, from 2008 to 2010, as well as kyū
(non-black belt) promotion tests at my kohai’s dōjō.
And in the latter part of 2010, after more than 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 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, our Honbu Dōjō is located near Penn Station and has been there since 2010. I also have taught/each various Meetup.com Groups, e.g., NYC Kickboxing Group, NYC Kihōn Karate Group, and NYC Kickboxing. Additionally, Genjōkōan Karate Organization© has established many in-school programs (Photos
) at Private and Charter Schools, such as The Dwight School in Manhattan, Montessori Children's Day Care Center in Brooklyn, an Electives Program at Achievement First Brooklyn High School , as well a Harlem Village Academies Leadership Middle School in East Harlem.
Competitions / Certifications
2012 - Designated IKA (International Kyokushinkai Association) Branch Chief of NY/USA
under IKA’s Kaichō Carllos Costa of Maceió, Brasil, promoted to Go Dan, 五段 (Shihan)
2010 - Founded Genjōkōan Karate Organization, NYC Dōjō, Yon Dan 四段
2010 - World Oyama “Invitational Fighter's Cup” in San Francisco, 3rd Place out of 16 fighters
2010 - World Oyama Organization, Cliffside, New Jersey Dōjō, Son Dan 三段
2001 - World Oyama “Invitational Canadian Championships” 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
2000 - World Oyama “World Open Karate Championships” in New York CIty, 5th Place out of 14 fighters
2000 - World Oyama Honbu/Headquarters NYC Dōjō, Sho Dan 初段
1999 - World Oyama “World Open Karate Championships” in New York CIty, 5th Place out of 15 fighters
1983 - 12th Annual Mas Oyama 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)
1982 - U.S. Oyama Kyokushin North American Open Karate Championships, 2nd Place, Kata
1982 - Ryū
Renshi-Dan Karate Invitational Championships, 3rd Place, Kata
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