Friday, August 29, 2014


At our last Yoshukai Karate Tournament of Panama City FL, I was asked to judge the Grand Champion Black Belt kata competition. The winners of 5 divisions - open hand or kobudo were competing against each other for the Big Trophy...

Among them was a talented young man who performed a remarkable open hand kata. I do not remember whether he won the price or not. All I know is that he should not have, and that I had know this from the first 2 seconds of his kata. 

How can I decide such thing so early in the kata ? Very simple, when this competitor bowed before beginning his otherwise brilliant kata, his toes went up from the mat. 

This is enough, if your toes go up, your weight is on your heels, a 5 years old child can push you backwards, and you will either fall down or have to step back. 

From the moment you begin your kata, you should be totally focussed, and not let any opening for a potential opponent. When your toes go up, you are totally vulnerable. This demonstrates your lack of awareness and fighting spirit. No Zanshin. Poor Budo. 

For your information and pleasure, look a this picture of Choki Motobu, performing a block found in our Yoshukai and Chito Ryu Nijusichi no kata.

Notice the Kibadachi stance, and how the joints of his toes are white. He is very strongly gripping the floor with his toes. Choki Motobu's idea of a good training session was to go down to Naha's entertainment district and pick fights. He was a born fighter and his karate was based on actual fighting. If anyone knew the importance of proper stance and posture, he was this one...

It does not matter how good you are with your arms. If your balance is poor, you won't have any power and you are only generating wind. Weak stances do weak Karate. Grab the ground.

Oh, and while I am at it, I believe this also applies to Zazen. Stay Grounded.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Henri Plée Hanshi

The Father of European Karate Henri Plée Hanshi left us on August 19, 2014.

Henri Plée Hanshi was one of the rare Westerners to hold the rank of 10th dan karate masters. 

Born in Arras, France on 24 May 1923, he started his martial career with French Savate, Ju Jutsu, and Fencing. His studies were interrupted by World War II in 1940.

After the war, he learned Judo in Paris under Mikonosuke Kawaishi. He was the 96th French black belt and is now ranked 5th dan at Judo.

In 1946, he returned to French Savate, also known as French kickboxing, and trained and sparred with some of the best French fighters such as Rigal, Pierre Plasait, Cayron, and Pierre Baruzy. Despite quality of this training he was still feeling the need to go stronger and deeper, and was looking for something else.

In 1953, he discovered aikido, karate and kobudo with Minoru Mochizuki. This was the start of his karate career.

Minoru Mochizuki Hanshi

In 1955 he founded his dojo where he taught the four pillars of Japanese Martial Arts : Karate, Judo, Aikido, and Kendo. Henri Plée Hanshi instructed many black belts who, at a later stage, became the foundation of the European karate institutions, and are today some of the highest ranking karate masters in Europe. 

From 200 karate practitioners in 1961, Henry Plée's efforts have led today to more than 200,000 practitioners in France. The French government considers him as one of the greatest international experts in Martial Arts, and knighted him with the French Ordre national du Mérite in 2008.




  • 5th dan, Judo.



  • 1st dan, Kendo, by Minoru Mochizuki.


  • 1st dan, Bo-Jutsu, by Minoru Mochizuki.
Henri Plée Hanshi 1923 - 2014.   

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Handcrafted Kobudo Weapons

Just a word to inform you of a new source for quality kobudo Weapons. 

Mr Sean O'Toole - who is teaching Kaicho Toyama's class while he is recovering from his illness - is now offering remarkably well done BO and NUNCHAKU.

Mr O'Toole's weapons are available in different kinds of woods : Oak, Mahogany, Cypress, Hickory.

These weapons are extremely well done. They are very beautiful and have a very nice feeling.  his BO have different sections : Round, Octagonal, Hexagonal, Octagonal to Square... 

The NUNCHAKU are corded with parachute cord and he can also make them to your specifications.

In a near future, he is going to make TONFA and BOKEN.

Mr O'Toole can be reached at