Volume 12, Issue 2 -- Fall 2003

Myron M. Lubitsch

Vice President:

Dan Hayes

Brian Berenbach

Graphic Design:
Vincent Capers

  1. From the Desk of the President
  2. The Physics and Mathematics of Karate
  3. An Experpt from an Essay
  4. Sunshine News & Congratulations
  5. From London Shorinjiryu
  6. Love it or Leave It
  7. An Announcement
  8. The Seminar
  9. Belts and Titles
  10. Correction in the "Rules of the Contest"
  11. The Kyokai Patch
  12. Commemorative Video 

Assistant Editor
Mark McKennon

Web Master
Peter Hiltz

1. From the Desk of the President

I send you greetings of goodwill, good health, and good practice. During this time of summer fun I have observed a greater interest the development of better health practices and a concomitant increase in membership.

So far this year, I had the pleasure of attending four tournaments, the Spring Regional, the First Annual Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha Invitational, the Seventh Annual Shorinjiryu Shindo Budo Kwai Koshiki Tournament, and the Summer Regional.  Each one of these events proved to that Karatedo is growing as each hosted the largest number of participants in current history.

The Seventh Annual Shindo Budo Kwai Koshiki Tournament hosted some 350 contestants.  It was extremely well run and once again demonstrated the policy of goodwill among the participating schools.  Kyoshi Michel Laurin must be complimented on his great staff that is led by Shihan Giles Labelle.  The banquet that evening was really a blast and a good time was definitely had by all.  Congratulations on-a job well done

The Summer Regional usually small in size due to its summer timing turned out to be the largest in-house ever with some 170 participants.  Shihan Dan Hayes, Renshi Vincent Capers, Jr. and Renshi Troy Lester must be complimented on a job well done.  Renshi Carlos Figueroa, Renshi Brian Berenbach, Tashi Big Al Gonzalez, Sensei Oscar Salvatierra, Shodan Yesenia Santiago worked all day as center referees and proved the value of the referees’ clinics.  Shodan Doreen Rosario-Rosas’ work with the scorekeepers/table officials in addition to the creation of beautiful certificates deserves special thanks.  A large number of instructors, students and parents went out for dinner to celebrate my 58th birthday that was earlier in the week.  Thank you one and all.

Our Refereeing and Scorekeeping Clinics proved their worth as participants in these clinics worked in all four events this year and directly assisted in the success of each.

You will be pleased to note that we have confirmed attendance from the following countries Australia, India, Canada and, of course, the United States.  With the support of all our member schools, this should be the largest Shinzen Shiai we ever hosted.

If you have not yet seen the changes to our renowned web site please take the time to do so.  Renshi Pete Hiltz has done an excellent job in keeping it up to date.

Go out and enjoy this beautiful summer weather, continue your practice of Shorinjiryu Karate, and be well.

2. The Physics and Mathematics of Karate

by Renshi Brian Berenbach

Several years ago, I was sitting in my doctor’s office waiting for my appointment. Between reading magazines, I glanced up on the wall, and there was a 1st kyu diploma in Shorinjiryu signed by Russell Harter. This got me to thinking, what makes the study of Karate so appealing to educated people and to people who are interested in an education?

I have noticed over the years, that Karate has been a magnet for educated people. Not only that, but long-time karate-ka are far more likely to go to college than the general population (Note that I only have anecdotal evidence to back this up!)

After long consideration, I have come to the conclusion, unlikely, as it may seem, that Karate is dessert for the ordered mind, a buffet of mathematical and physics concepts and puzzles.

I will first illustrate with a very, very simple example, the front punch (Oi Tsuki). How does it work? What are the nuances and issues? Let’s explore them together.

First, the front stance (zenkutsu dachi). The front shin and the torso are perpendicular to the floor (90 angle), the back leg is braced into the ground at about a 45-degree angle, and side to side there is an approximately 1.5 shoulder width. Approximately 70% of the body weight is on the front foot and 30% is on the rear foot. (Whew!).

So far, we have covered angles and percentages.  Now, for the physics. How many of you readers know what makes a knife cut? I know, a sharp edge. But, that is more an illustration of the principle than the principle itself. Basically, a knife cuts because a large amount of energy is being applied over a small area.  Any surface has a resistance to penetration that can be measured in terms of tensile strength.  As the energy applied increases for a given unit of surface area, the resistance of the surface is eventually overcome.

So how does that apply to the front punch? We already know that the striking area is small (the two large knuckles), but what about the force being applied? That is where “focus” comes from. Imagine disconnecting your hand from the rest of your body and throwing it at somebody. If you should connect, would it hurt the other person? Probably not much. Now throw your whole body at the person. A lot more force. Let’s get exact. If a person weighs 150 lbs, and if their punch accelerates to about 90 miles per hour, then they are striking with an energy of 150*(90*5700)/3600 ft-lbs/second or 21 thousand ft-lbs/sec of energy. The two large knuckles form a rectangle of about 1.5 x 0.5 inches = .75 inches=. 0625 feet square. Dividing the area into the energy gives us a grand total of 28,500 lbs/(ft-sec). Pretty impressive? Well, focus is how a karate-ka manages the trick of punching with the body and not the hand. By coupling and locking the appropriate muscles at point of impact we are punching with our whole body and not just with the hand. So this is why we a) punch vertically and b) hold our breaths and focus.

But we are not done. There is the issue of elastic vs. an inelastic collision. Remember that back foot pressing into the ground? By becoming immobile at point of impact, and by punching through the opponent, the “punchee” bounces instead of the puncher.

So the math and physics of a front punch are not so simple. What about some of our other techniques? Throws and locks, for example utilize the principle of the fulcrum.

How about Sankakutobi or triangle step? Why? We can see from the front punch that velocity matters. Also bracing and focus. So if we evade an opponent, how do we immediately launch an attack, and accelerate our bodies to a high velocity (leading of course with an accelerating fist) as rapidly as possible. The answer is Sankakutobi.

What do circular techniques give us? When I rotate a wheel at a fixed rotational velocity, the larger the wheel, the faster it is going at the edge. So if I execute a turning form, rotating about my rear foot and strike with a shuto, then my hand will be going faster than if I just punched. And since E=mv2 I can generate a lot of power as long as I focus so that the technique is delivered with the mass of my entire body, over a small area (knife edge of the palm heel).

Put karate techniques together into a kata and what do you have? Why, a geometric pattern. Linear moves trace lines, Sankakutobi traces triangles, and round techniques trace arcs and circles.

Put everything together and the study of Karate includes… language (Japanese), philosophy, ethics, history (Asian studies), law, mathematics, communication, psychology and anatomy. Indeed! A feast for the mind.

3. An Excerpt of an Essay

I wish to share with you the following excerpt from an essay written by Dave Lowery.  The excerpt comes from an essay by Dave Lowery written in his book called "Traditions" published in 2002.

By John A. Mirrione, Chief Instructor
Shorinjiryu Kenkokai Karatedo

SEMPAI & KOHAI (seniors & juniors)

 The concept of sempai-kohai springs from the well of feudal Japanese culture.  It was a culture that was based upon class distinction and delineated lines between one’s inferiors and superiors.  Even in modern Japan, it is not hard to find evidence of these distinctions in schools, in the world of business, even in friendships.  Juniors are careful to respect their seniors and to depend upon them.  They seek the help of seniors in gaining promotions at work and, in arranging introductions to the opposite sex, in countless ways.  In return, the sempai takes his position seriously, not as someone who has the power to lord it over the kohai under him, but as a guiding influence whose role may last a lifetime.

The sempai-kohai relationship plays an important role in budo training.  In the old days, a master usually had only a few students and so he could afford to spend a lot of time with each of them.  In today’s budo dojo, here may be dozens of students.  The teacher can only instruct on a close basis those who have reached the higher level of experience.  The rest of the dojo must depend upon their seniors to act as guidance counselors and as coaches, initiating them into the sometimes confusing ways of the budo.  The sempai’s responsibility may include actual instruction from time to time.  More typically, his role is to take care of the junior by answering his questions, coaxing him on when he is doubtful or discouraged.  The kohai, in return, makes every effort to return the kindness of his senior, treating the sempai like a respected older brother or sister.  Both are constantly mindful of the obligation each has to each other.

The sempai-kohai relationship in the dojo allows a junior to begin the long process of maturation in the budo.  It encourages the senior to develop attitudes of helpfulness and leadership that are necessary for master.  So in a naturally cooperative and productive way, the lives of both sempai and kohai are bettered.

This is not to say, however, that these relationships are always smooth.  For the junior it may seem that his every move is criticized.  Even outside the dojo he finds his behavior under the watchful eye of the senior.  I have seen promising young budoka abandon their training because they refuse to accept this situation, confusing it with a sort of “hazing,” that characterizes adolescent social cliques in American colleges.  From the sempai’s perspective there can be resentment, a feeling that his kohai is an unappreciative child.

This impatience with the sempai-kohai system is nothing new, but then again, neither is the system itself.  The relationship between seniors and juniors has been a cornerstone in the building of a budoka  In spite of its apparent drawbacks, it really works well.  If you are a beginner in the budo, remember that.  Listen carefully to the comments your sempai make.  Their experience has been hard won.  If you are more advanced practitioner, keep in mind that training is only a part of your purpose in the dojo.  There are kohai in need of your guidance.  It is up to you to set the example.”

4. Sunshine News & Congratulations

Congratulations to all those who received promotions:

Junior Black Belts

Dylan Hawthorne                  Kenshin
Brett Watson


Barbara Bedard          Shindo Budo Kwai
Jonathan Boivert
Marie Claude Bussiere
Marie Michaelle Jalbert Claveau
Ian Duga
Facundo Genin
Franco Genin
Ray McKenna                          Kenshin
Miguel Rodriguez                    Ake No Myojo Budo
Jay Will


Barry Bishop  Australian Shorinjiryu
Maxime Berube Shindo Budo Kwai
Katherine Coster
Huguette Thibault
Gerry McKenna         Kenshin


Francine Busierre Shindo Budo Kwai
Alain Courville
Denis Ethier


Paul Busierre                           Shindo Budo Kwai


Ghyslain Dore       Shindo Budo Kwai

5. From London Shorinjiryu

Best of Health and Happiness to everyone! The London Shorinjiryu Members are doing great and are extremely enthusiastic for this upcoming season's schedule. Enthusiastic also, as I (the dojo) have become a member of the Optimists International. That's right, and the chapter is the Carling Heights Optimist Club. Here's an interesting trivia question, who can name where the organization "The Optimist International" first formed? That's right, in the Big Apple, New York City, over a hundred years ago, and still going strong! As with Shorinjiryu, the Optimists are all about helping, development, and the promotion of events for the kids. So the next time you meet an Optimist, say hello, let them know who and what you are, and always be an Optimistic Karate-ka.

Emanuel (Manny) Hawthorne
Shorinjiryu Kenshin Karatedo

6. Love it or Leave It

Do you ever wonder why you are in karate?  Do you ever wonder why you stay in karate?  Is it really worth everything that you go through in your training?  I tend to ask myself these questions on the few occasions that I get injured.  I have no intentions to ever stop training but sometimes I really do question the validity of my claim to sanity.

When my mind starts dealing with these questions, I start to think about all the good things that karate has done for me.  However, many of these benefits are not unique to just training in karate or a martial art.  Many of these things can be accomplished by other means that are a lot easier on the individual.  I am in pretty good shape due to all the exercises, kata, and sparring.  This is a great thing, but if I had a health club membership I would be in good shape as a result of that as well.  Plus, I would be in good shape without getting used as an uke, battered, bruised and, beat up.  It seems like the health club membership would be the less painful way to stay healthy.

Another benefit from my training is that I would be able to defend myself if needed.  That is if someone with a gun is not robbing me.  If a firearm is in the equation, I will gladly handover whatever is desired.  If it were simply a matter of self-defense being armed would be the easiest way to accomplish this.  Simply having a gun in most situations would ensure that you do not need to even use it.  No one in his or her right mind is going to bother someone that has a gun.  It seems like becoming a member of the NRA would be a less painful way to defend oneself.

Karate training has done a lot for me mentally as well.  It has given me the discipline to lock myself in a room for hours to study, and do schoolwork, despite all the distractions that are present.  Karate has also changed the way I respond to most situations I encounter in my daily life.  I no longer view any little occurrence as a life threatening crises.  Training in the martial arts has helped me realize that usually today’s crises is tomorrow’s forgotten problem, and this is very helpful when dealing with people in the workplace.  However, this mental change could have also been gained through other less painful methods, such as yoga, mediation or hypnosis.

There are many other benefits that I have received from my training in karate, but none of these are the reason that I am in karate.  Also, none of those benefits are unique to training in karate or a martial art, so that cannot be why I stay in karate.  Every time I ask myself why I am in karate, I always come up with the same answer.  That is simply because I have grown to love karate and the martial arts in general.  I will be the first to admit that it is a bit of a masochistic love, but it is still love.  There is no other reason that would make sense to stay involved in karate.  The things our bodies and minds endure through the training process would make anyone that doesn’t have a love for it quit.  Why else would I allow myself to get beat up every week and say thank you in Japanese when it is all over?  If it were not love, then we would not make the time commitment that is required to practice karate.

If you do not have or develop this love for karate and the martial arts, then I think you should just quit your martial arts training.  It just does not make sense to continue training for any other reason.  Spend the time you would in the dojo doing something else that you love doing.  Hopefully if you are reading this you can relate to my feelings regarding karate.  You understand the love that I am writing about because you have it as well. If you do not share this love then perhaps you will develop it over time.

7. An Announcement

The Seventeenth Annual International Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokaiwill be held on October 12, 2003 at John Adams High School in Queens, New York.  If you do not have your application as of yet, you can easily download it from our renowned web site:

Shorinjiryu.org then go to events, scroll down to October 12 and follow the directions..

We strongly recommend that you pre-register for this event as this will assist in making the organization of divisions easier among other benefits.  Once again, special black belt trophies have been hand made for this event.  In the black belt ranks, we are planning for Shodan/Nidan, Sandan/over, Female, over 35, and junior black belt divisions.  In the under black belt ranks, we are scheduling for some twenty separate divisions.  Trophies will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place winners in all divisions.  Medals will be awarded to the 5th and 6th place winners in the youth divisions.  Everyone will receive a frameable certificate of participation.  We hope to see you there and if you can, come and party with us at our annual awards/dinner/dance to be held at the Radisson Hotel at JFK Airport.

8. The Seminar

by Stacey P. Hines

I know you’ve experienced someone telling you a story and ending it with, “…it was great, I guess you had to be there”.  On 7/27/03, Shihan Danny Hayes of Shorinjiryu Kenkokai hosted a seminar that will be forever appreciated.  Since my start with Shorinjiryu 9 years ago, I don’t remember such a gathering that did not include some form of competition.  To do nothing but absorb information from Shihan Hayes and his instructor, Hanshi Watanabe was an honor I have yet to figure out how to describe.  Shihan Hayes started with some basic foot work, that when done properly, will give your opponent a lot to think about, but not a lot of time to think about it.  Hanshi Watanabe gave us three Self-Defense techniques, that when examined, verify their own effectiveness.  A brief Bo Kumite (and getting smacked in the finger) gave me a new respect for that six-foot piece of wood.  The highlight was basic movements and techniques with Hanshi.  You heard the original pronunciation of the names and saw the original execution of the techniques.  This can only unify all of the Shorinjiryu families.  We ended the day with poolside libations and conversation (even Shihan Hayes became a kid in the water again). It was really a family gathering and I’m looking forward to the next one.  It was really great…I guess you had to be there.

9. Belts and Titles

As a special request we have reprinted an explanation of the

The Titles, Ranks and Belts Colors of the Kyokai

Shihan, kengo, kenshi, hashi, grand supreme vizier pooh-bah what are the meanings and do they have relevance to the Kyokai? The answer to that question is both yes and no. Every organization tends to adopts a methodology of ranking which satisfies it's particular needs while keeping the following in mind: any ranking system should reflect a common standard so that those groups outside the organization understands the nomenclature.

The following system of ranking and titles has been put into effect and is used by the Kyokai.

Mudansha - under black belts

10 kyu white 5 kyu green
9 kyu white / stripe 4 kyu green advanced
8 kyu yellow 3 kyu purple
7 kyu orange 2 kyu brown
6 kyu blue 1 kyu brown advanced

A few of the schools that have large children population have adopted a slightly different belt system by utilizing a belt with a black or white stripe down the center (we recommend a black stripe). Additionally, the color arrangements may vary, the order of the kyu remains the same.

Yudansha black belts

As with the mudansha, there are ten levels called dans. When one looks at the concept of rank and title or honorific, we are required to quickly understand that rank and title are two separate entities. Of extreme importance is the understanding that titles are not automatically awarded with rank. All yudansha wear the black belt. Ceremonial belts are just that, ceremonial and are worn only during special occasions. Shodan through godan are based upon technical skill, while rokudan and over are honorary titles based upon age, accomplishments, dedication, writing, longevity, contribution and teaching with the suggested age of a rokudan being 40 years of age.

Kohai (shodan-ho) junior black belt  (under 16 years of age)
Shodan 1st degree black belt Rokudan 6th degree black belt
Nidan 2nd degree black belt Shichidan (Nanadan) 7th degree black belt
Sandan 3rd degree black belt Hachidan 8th degree black belt
Yondan 4th degree black belt Kyudan (Ku) 9th degree black belt
Godan 5th degree black belt Judan 10th degree black belt

Belt Colors Ceremonial

Kohai (shodan-ho) black/brown panels
Shodan black Rokudan red/white panels
Nidan black Shichidan (nanadan) red/white panels*
Sandan Tri-color (black, white, red) Hachidan red/white panels*
Yondan Tri-color Kudan red
Godan Red/black panels Judan red
*The red panels are larger than the white as the rank progress

Stitching on the solid black belt.

Shodan Yondan gold
Godan Judan red/black

Titles & Requirements

Title Meaning Rank Suggested Age* Suggested Years
of Practice*
Sensei - one who came before
- the instructor
sandan 25 10
Tashi the helper yondan 30 15
Renshi the polisher godan
Kyoshi the teacher Shichidan (nanda)
Hanshi the master teacher kyudan
55 min
60 min
35 min
45 min
Shihan is a very special title used for the chief instructors of yondan or higher with twenty years of experience and covers a broad range of higher ranks and ages.
Sensei The title of Sensei is an honorable one and can be used at all advanced levels.

*The growth and the strength of the Kyokai have been in its ability to bring together many of the schools of Shorinjiryu. In order to maintain the credibility and worldwide respect already achieved we have decided to formally make known these prerequisites and standards. We understand that there are certain individuals whose proficiency, acumen, knowledge and concomitant with highly proficient pedagogical skills may be the exception to these standards. In each case, a careful examination of the circumstances will be made.

*Please understand that the Kyokai respects the individual ranks and titles of its members. We also understand that there are exceptions to the aforementioned guidelines. Those gifted individuals should not and will not be overlooked. The Kyokai, also, understands that individual instructors may have one rank and title within their own school and another within the Kyokai

+A full definition of each of these terms will be reprinted from the Kenryukan Manual in a future edition.

10. Correction in the “Rules of the Contest”

Page 30 item 24.8 should now read:

section 24.8.a.             The fifth place winner shall be that contestant who lost to the first place winner in an earlier match.

24.8.b. The sixth place winner shall be that contestant who lost to the second place winner in an earlier match.

11. Commemorative Video

We are pleased to announce that the superb commemorative video created by Renshi Vincent Capers Jr., The Chronicle of Shorinjiryu is still available. This video details the past 3 plus decades of Shorinjiryu in North America and is a must for serious students of Shorinjiryu. Please contact us with your order.

12. The Kyokai Patch

Are you wearing the patch with pride? Are you wearing it at all? The Kyokai represents a statement of family and solidarity. If you need one please contact us for your order.

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The submission of articles, newsworthy events and letters is encouraged. Address all correspondence to:

The Shimbun Editor
Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokai
P.O. Box 210160, Woodhaven, NY 11421
Or E-mail to MMLShihan@aol.com

Unless otherwise stated, all articles in this document reflect the author's opinion. Inclusion in the Shinzen Shimbun does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the Shinzen Kyokai or any of its affiliates.

The Shinzen Shimbun is a publication of the Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokai