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"An Interview with Grand Master Frank Van Lenten"

    

(This interview was done both electronically and by several phone conversations.  )

Interviewer note;

 

"Grand Master Frank Van Lenten is one of those legendary martial arts figures, who although well known, very few seem to know much about.  I first contacted Mr. Van Lenten several months ago and felt an immediate connection.  I conducted this interview via phone conversations, and electronically.  Mr. Van Lenten was very enthusiastic about the interview and seemed to really enjoy reminiscing about his time on Okinawa and his decades of training in the martial arts. As always, I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I had doing it."

 

H.P.  Henry

 

 

(Frank Van Lenten)

 

Interview Questions

 

Q1.  Can you give us a little personal background on yourself, when you started training in the martial arts, and about your career in the USMC? 

 

A1. "I was born in Paterson, NJ, 12/04/35.  I was athletic and played football and wrestled.  I began boxing at the South Paterson Athletic Club at age sixteen. 

 

I began weight training at age fourteen.  I entered the USMC in January, 1954, and retired in January, 1974, as a GY/SGT.  In October of 1954 I was transferred to Hawaii where I began studying Kenpo and Judo.  I returned to the states in 1957. 

 

In 1959 was stationed in Japan with 3rd FSR, Detachment, South Camp, Fuji, where I studied Goju-Ryu with Master Takayuki Tamura in Gotemba.  I was stationed there for several months, then transferred to Okinawa.  I trained on the base (Camp Hansen) with a fellow Marine named Tom Mahoney who was a student of Master Toguchi at the Shoreikan.  In October of 1959, we learned about a tournament that was being held at a theatre in Futenma on a Sunday.  It turned out that this was a Demo/Tournament that was being sponsored by the Okinawa Kenpo and Shorinji-Ryu Association under Grand Master Shugaro Nakamura.  We showed up and in the confusion were allowed to participate.  I think that the Sensei who was coordinating this event was confused as to what Dojo that we were from, and signed us up for a $3.  00 registration fee (we were confused also, we thought that it was an open tournament).  We had never sparred or worn chest protectors similar to those used in Kendo before.  It wasn’t until after I had won the black belt division that they realized that I wasn’t a member of their Association.  When Master Toguchi found out that Mahoney competed in this tournament, he kicked him out of his Dojo.  It turned out that he was upset not only because Mahoney had entered the event, but also because he had competed with a chest protector.  I started training in Isshin-Ryu at the Agena Dojo shortly after this.  My Marine Corps career enabled me to spend three tours on Okinawa, a tour in Hawaii, and a brief tour in Japan.  I was transferred to Danang, Vietnam in 1969, and was transferred to Okinawa after only several months.  My MOS was 2171 (Ordnance) and  8511 (Drill Instructor) I spent 1965-1969 as a DI and then as a Hand-to-Hand/ Bayonet Fighting Instructor (this was changed to Close Combat while I was still there). "

 

 

 

Q2.  You and Mr. Bill Blond created the Bo/Bo and Bo/Sai kumite that is used in most Isshinryu dojo’s today.  Can you give us a little background on how that came to be and what was Soke Tatsuo Shimabuku’s reaction?

 

A2. "In early 1960, Bill and I were practicing Bo and Sai Bunkai in preparation for a series of demos on the bases, at the Agena Dojo.  We started doing some Kumite employing natural foot movements and Tai-Sabaki.  Soke was sitting on his mat watching us.  He not only encouraged us to develop the Kumite, but helped us with some of the techniques.  They became a part of our demonstrations and we taught them to other Marines at the Agena Dojo. "

 

(Bill Blond and Frank Van Lenten practicing Bo / Sai  Kumite

at Master Shimabuku Tatsuo's Agena Dojo)

 

 

 

Q3.  Besides training in Isshin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, you also trained in Shorin-Ryu with Eizo Shimabuku while stationed in Okinawa, can you tell us what the training was like at his dojo and also if this was the dojo in Kin?  Did you know or train with Bill Hayes, Joe Lewis, or Sam Pearson?

 

A3. "I first met Eizo Shimabuku at his Moromi dojo.  I never actually enrolled at his dojo.  Over the years I visited him and took some private training from him.  The Kin dojo training was primarily done on the roof.  His training consisted of mainly kata.  In 1970 I had discussed the possibility of my association (Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai) becoming a part of his association but my people in the states voted against this. 

 

I met Joe Lewis at several tournaments in California in the mid-sixties.  Sam Pearson and I had clubs on the base at Camp LeJeune in the early Sixties.  He challenged my team and we defeated them.  My newly promoted Shodan, Richard Wood, defeated his newly promoted Shodan, Peter Mussachio.  The last match was between  Pearson and myself and this consisted of me chasing him all over the place.  Peter Mussachio and James Horne quit Pearsons club and became my students. "

 

 

 

Q4.  As a career United States Marine, how was your martial arts training impacted by having to move so often? Also, did you have more than one tour in Okinawa?

 

A4. "I was fortunate to have spent three tours in Okinawa.  Also, I started classes on the base at Camp LeJeune, NC, Barstow, CA, MCRD San Diego, CA , and NTC San Diego, CA.  John Roseberry and I were Close Combat Instructors at MCRD, San Diego, where we held evening Karate classes on the base as well as NTC (Naval training Center) 1965-1968.  I visited and trained in Okinawa as a civilian in 1984 and 1988.  A lot of the Marines that I trained over the years are still with me.  Many of them trained in Okinawa in various styles.  Moving wasn’t that bad because I had a lot of Marine friends and students around the Corps.  I also had quite a few USN students from the over three years that I taught at NTC. "

 

 

 

Q5.  How did your experience training at the Agena dojo under Tatsuo Shimabuku differ from the other dojo's you attended in Okinawa?  Also,  who were some of your fellow students and closest friends while training in Okinawa?

 

A5. "I was stationed at Camp Hansen (3rd Tank Bn, H/S Co.  ) in 1959/1960.  I began training at the Agena Dojo in January, 1960.  My fellow students were Steve Armstrong, Don Bohan, Bill Blond, Jake Eckenrode, Harold Mitchum (Senior student of Soke) and others.  Bill Blond was my best friend.  Later I met John Bartusevics and we ran into each other from time to time.  Thanks to your great website, we recently renewed our friendship.  Anyone that ever trained under Soke will tell you that he made you feel like family.  I loved the spiritual feeling when practicing kata at night with the lights off (there was no roof on the dojo).  I didn’t like the dojo when he had a roof built over it.  Even though I was no longer in Isshin-Ryu, I visited him many times over the years and maintained my respect for him. 

 

There were less formal or structured classes at the Agena dojo.  There was a lot of free time or self-practice time.  We taught each other and practiced with partners a lot.  I want to stress that Soke was there and that he would work with individuals on Waza, Kata,  and Kumite at all times.  The dojo was always open and he was there most of the time, day and night, and often worked one on one with his students. 

 

The last time that I visited Soke was in 1970.  I took him to dinner on Kadena Air Base.  I remember him telling me that two of his favorite students were Advincula and Bartusevics.  He felt that John Bartusevics did a lot for Karate, not only for him and Isshin-Ryu but for his friend Kanei Uechi of Uechi-Ryu as well.  I was really pleased to see the article on your site pertaining to Master Bartusevics.  He is a great Marine as well as a great Karate-Ka and person. "

 

(Frank Van Lenten and Don Bohan

at Master Shimabuku Tatsuo's Agena Dojo)

 

 

 

Q6.  Can you tell us about your relationship with Don Bohan?

 

A6. "Don Bohan and I often trained together and we went to dinner and had a few drinks together several times.  We received our black belts from Grand Master Shimabuku on the same day.  Soke always had me perform Sanchin kata at the many demonstrations that we did on the bases and in town.  He always had Don perform Sanchin Shime (testing) on me.  He was really good at Sanchin Shime and always impressed the audiences with his innovative methods.  He (Bohan) was the first person to use boards and sticks for Shime.  Your website has a photo of him testing me in Sanchin with a 2x4 in 1960.  We would often go to the second dojo that we called the fighting dojo and practice Jiyu-Kumite. 

 

This dojo was behind the front dojo and Sokes’ daughter and her husband, Angi Uezu, were living there in 1960. "

 

 

(Don Bohan testing Frank Van Lenten's Sanchin kata)

 

 

Q7.  Mr. Jake Eckenrode is often mentioned amongst your fellow Isshinryu pioneers, what do you remember of him?

 

A7. "Good strong Sanchin, trained hard.  Good person.  I Enjoyed practicing Kumite and Kote-Kitae with him.  He taught me Wansu and we stayed late and practiced it together fifty times that night. "

 

 

 

Q8.  Your Hojo Undo (supplemental training) included weightlifting, in fact power lifting.  Were others training like this in the early days of Karate and how was this method received by other Sensei's here in the U.  S.  ?

 

A8. "If we trace the roots of Okinawan Karate back to China, we discover that some forms of strength training were a part of most styles.  Okinawan Masters who trained in China brought back various methods to strengthen the body.  The development of Gang-Tie-Pifu (Iron Skin) was attained from Sanchin and its’ variations, Kote-Kitae, and Hojoundo (Nigiri-Game, Chiishi, Ishi-Sashi, and other equipment).  They even had crude barbells.  I think that I was among the first American Karate-Ka to train with and encourage others to train with weights. 

As in a lot of sports, people used to think that weight training made you stiff.  Not so! Most athletes now perform strength training as an important part of their routine.  My students were and are required to perform traditional Hojoundo as a part of their promotional requirements.  I developed a strength and condition test around 1972 that became a formal requirement. "

 

 

 

Q9.  Do you have a favorite empty hand kata?  If so, which one and why do you favor this kata?

 

A9. "My favorite kata is Seipai.  Seipai has unique techniques and timing with rich Bunkai.  My favorite Isshin-Ryu kata is Seisan.  Seisan is composed of direct and natural movements and I always teach my students to spar as though they were practicing Seisan.  I teach two Seisan katas, the Goju-Ryu Seisan and the Isshin-Ryu Seisan.  The Isshin-Ryu Seisan I modified by employing the Goju blocks, and using both Tate-Zuki and Choku-Zuki. "

 

 

 

Q10.  With experience and Yudansha grade in several systems of Karate, what prompted you to make Goju Ryu your major system of study?  Also, what attributes did you take from your study of Isshinryu?

 

A10. "When I first began teaching I tried combining Goju-Ryu and Isshin-Ryu.  This led to having a lot of kata.  Both styles had a lot to offer.  When I founded the Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai, I taught all of the Goju and Isshin Kata.  I changed all of the blocks to the circular Goju blocking system.  Probably the influence of Master Shinjo had a lot to do with my leaning towards Goju.  This was because we were close in age and had become great friends over the years. 

 

From Sensei Shimabuku I learned to be creative and to constantly strive to increase my knowledge.  I feel that Tate-Zuki is the best body punch.  I trained my students to use Tate-Zuki in place of the Tate-Nukite used in the Goju Kata Shisochin, as an alternate training method.  Isshin-Ryu students should try to understand the way that Soke thought.  He would constantly analyze and study techniques.  That is why he made many changes over the years.  I remember that he switched from Tate-Zuki to Choku-Zuki and then back to Tate-Zuki. "

 

 

 

Q11.  You also learned the Kata's Seiuchin and Sanchin from Tatsuo Shimabuku.  Did they differ from the way you were taught by your Goju Sensei's, and if so what was the main difference?

 

A11. "The first week that I started training at the Agena dojo, Jake Eckenrode and I were comparing Sanchin during informal training.  Soke had me perform Sanchin for him and then he had Jake teach me the Isshin-Ryu Sanchin.  He always had me perform Sanchin at our Demonstrations.  The main differences are that the Goju-Ryu Sanchin is longer (two turns), the Chudan-Uke is different and the punch in Goju is Choku-Zuki (twisting) as opposed to Tate-Zuki (vertical).  Also, the breathing and use of the abdominal muscles is different.  The longer Goju Sanchin is more demanding physically. 

 

The pattern in Sei-enchin is different and the hand movements are different. 

The Goju Sei-enchin hand techniques are more circular and the Isshin is more linear.  When performed correctly, Sei-enchin can produce results similar to Sanchin.  Sei-enchin Shime can be practiced similar to Sanchin Shime.  I like to have my students practice Kakie while using some of the Bunkai from Sei-enchin.  I have always stressed the importance of mastering Sei-enchin.  The Shobukan translation for Sei-enchin is: to contain ( grab and pull) in battle. "

 

 

 

Q12.  It's been said that Sanchin kata is the hard of Goju and Tensho kata is the soft, do you agree with that statement and if so, can you elaborate?

 

A12. "Yes, they are different.  However, most people do Tensho incorrectly as there is a tendency to perform Tensho too hard.  Sanchin is hard and linear with intensive breathing while Tensho is circular, softer, and is performed with less intense breathing.  The Goju-Ryu theory is to begin each training session with Sanchin, and close it with Tensho.  Some of the Okinawan Dojo’s practice a combined Kata called Sanchin-Tensho that is not a formal part of the curriculum. "

 

 

 

Q13.  Your known for having a high level of proficiency in many areas of the martial arts, but your prowess with weapons is legendary, when did you get your start in Kobudo, and who were your early teachers and inspirations?

 

A13. "Isshin-Ryu was rich in Kobudo for several reasons.  Grand Master Shimabuku realized that the Marines training under him may go into combat and he introduced weapons training early in order for them to be able to improvise weapons based upon a Kobudo foundation. 

 

Several of my Marine Corps friends were surprised to see Mudansha training with Bo, Sai, and Tuifa at the Agena dojo.  My initial weapons training began in Hawaii in Kenpo where I learned the Kun (Bo) , Shuang-Tao Kun (the Long Bo) and Yari (Spear). 

 

My Kobudo began on Okinawa with Soke and his Kobudo Sensei, Shinken Taira.  I didn’t realize then what a great experience and opportunity that was.  Luckily, I was there during that extended period in 1960 that Taira spent teaching at the Agena dojo.  I learned Bo, Sai, Nunchaku, and Tuifa Katas directly from Sensei Taira.  The sad part of this experience is that we didn’t really know and understand that we were learning from Okinawa’s greatest Kobudo Master. 

 

The rest of my training came from Kobudo taught at dojo’s that I trained at, and cross-training with other Marines.  I developed several of my own Katas and  Kumites over the years.  I developed a Bo-Bo Kumite that can be demonstrated with one person performing Bo of Tokumine Kata while two others simultaneously perform the Kumite that matches the kata, and a Bo-Tuifa Kumite. 

One very valuable source of learning that is often over-looked is that I had and still have a lot of Marine Corps students and friends that had trained in other styles and we often trained and  exchanged techniques and Kata. "

 

 

 

Q14.  You founded the Ryukyuan Kobudo Association, when did it start and what was its main purpose?  Also, what weapons are taught?

 

A14. "I founded this association in 1983 at the request of some friends from other styles that wanted to further their Kobudo training.  The Honbu was at my dojo in Florida.  When I moved to CT in 1989 I moved the Honbu to my Student Tadao Imoto’s dojo in Westbrook, Ct.  .  When he retired and moved to TN several years ago my designated successor, Richard Burger became the Director, and his Dojo in Oswego, NY is the Honbu.  All Traditional Okinawan Kobudo weapons are taught. "

 

 

 

Q15.  I understand that you also teach katas for the Yari and the Naginata, can you give us some background on these katas and of these weapons?

 

A15. "My early experience with the Yari came from my Kenpo Sensei, Anthony Sanchez, (he was Chinese and Portuguese) in Hawaii.  I later researched and obtained several books in Hong Kong to help develop the present kata that we teach.  One of my former students, John Porta, researched and developed a basic Naginata Kata.  Later, I taped a performance of the Naginata at the Tea House of the August Moon in Okinawa.  In 1988, I visited a Dojo in Tokyo that taught Kendo and the Naginata.  With a combined effort of our board of Directors, I developed our present Kata. "

 

 

 

Q16.  You trained several times with the late great Taira Shinken, what was he like and can you describe to us what the training sessions entailed?

 

A16. "Grand Master Taira was a Kobudo genius.  He was a patient teacher who strived for perfection.  He would correct every Waza, paying attention to the smallest of details.  He would drill us, repeating the same techniques over and over again.  He would teach katas in small sections and have you practice until he was satisfied before adding more movements.  I really liked the fact that he would show the Bunkai to any new techniques that he taught. "

 

 

 

Q17.  Can you tell us about your student Mr. Richard Burger?

 

A17. "Richard Burger owns Burgers’ Okinawan Karate School in Oswego, NY.  He is my designated successor even though several of my students outrank him.  He has been training with me since 1974.  Prior to that he trained with one of Peter Musacchios’ students in Oswego at the college.  When I retired from the USMC in 1974 he began training with me.  I regularly visit his dojo and do seminars for him and he visits me in CT.  .  He is ranked 8th Dan Kyoshi, and is the Director of the Ryukyuan  Kobudo International.  Sensei Berger and several of his Yudansha students visited Okinawa with me in 1984.  Sensei burger performed a Kama kata for the Okinawan Masters at one of our demonstrations. "

 

 

 

Q18.  When was Goshin-Do Karate created?

 

A18. "The Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai was created in mid- sixties with a purpose of offering membership to all Okinawan Styles.  I disbanded this Association in 1983. "

 

 

 

Q19.  Your instructors read like a who's who of Okinawan Martial Arts, can you give us some highlights as to how each one differed from the others and what you as an instructor learned from each of them?

 

A19. "Higa – I was fortunate to meet Sensei Higa through a friend of mine named Oyadomari, who took me to his Dojo in Naha in 1963.  Sensei didn’t teach any classes at this time, however, he would sit and supervise the training.  I didn’t train there for very long or often due to distance and transportation problems.  He taught the Goju-Ryu Kata’s a little different than Yagi, Miyazato, and Yogi.  He was very kind and had a sense of humor.  In some ways he reminded me of Kanei Uechi of Uechi-Ryu.  Sensei Higa, myself and several Instructors went to dinner one night and he had everyone laughing all night (there was a lot of missed humor due to some incomplete translation). 

 

T.  Shimabuku – Innovative to say the least.  Humble and kind, he was loved by anyone that ever had the opportunity to train with him.  I learned from him that many of the Okinawan Masters had more than one teacher and that you should never stop trying to learn and improve yourself. 

 

(Frank Van Lenten practicing Chinto kata

in Master Shimabuku Tatsuo's Agena Dojo)

 

Azama – I only trained with Kasai Azama for a few months prior to my returning back to the states in 1964.  His lineage was linked to Kanryo Higashionna through Shiroma.  He had a small private dojo in Futenma where he taught Naha-Te to a few friends and family.  Several of my students had rented a small house off base where we would train sometimes on the roof and have a few drinks afterwards.  One of his students had seen us training and they came by to watch us.  Azama worked on the base and spoke good English.  We became friends and he allowed me to train with him after observing my Kata.  He owned another house with a little bigger roof that he rented to my students, Bill Wyatt and Al Hammond, where we would occasionally train and party a little on the weekends.  He taught the katas different than the Goju Dojo’s that I had seen before  and since then.  He was very strict and impatient.  When I returned to Okinawa in 1969 he was no longer teaching. 

 

Toguchi – Sensei Toguchi was extremely creative in developing new Kata, Kata Kumites, and Yakusoku Kumites.  His dojo was named Shoreikan.  My first experience with Shoreikan was with one of his Yudansha students, a fellow Marine named John Roseberry.  Roseberry had a Goju club  at New River in 1962-63 and we met and became friends and trained together, teaching each other.  In 1965-1968 we were both Hand-To-Hand (later called Close Combat) Combat Instructors at MCRD, San Diego, CA, and taught Karate classes at both MCRD and NTC in the evenings.  When I returned to Okinawa in 1963 I began training at the Shoreikan.  Sensei Toguchi wasn’t there much as he was going back and forth to Japan where he had a dojo.  Masanobu Shinjo, his senior disciple was teaching all of the classes.  Toguchi was extremely structure oriented and discipline and formality was stressed at his dojo.  The Kata at his dojo were close to his Sensei, Seiko Higa.  He also trained with Miyagi. 

 

Shinjo – Sensei Masanobu Shinjo was a powerful man and a great Karate teacher as well as a great man.  When I returned to Okinawa in 1969, I discovered that he had broken away from Toguchi and opened his own dojo (Shobukan).  I trained with him during my tour and when I returned to the states I referred all of my Marine students to his dojo.  We kept in touch through my students and by mail.  In early 1983 he appointed my dojo as the Beikoku Shobukan Honbu (US Headquarters) and myself as the USA Director.  When I returned to Okinawa in 1984, He was under Sensei Meitoku Yagi, Chojun Miyagi’s senior student, and the katas were slightly different.  I resigned from the Shobukan in 1986 due to politics here in the USA.  I maintained my contact with him and visited him in 1988, and we remained friends until his death. "

 

 

 

Q20.  As the founder of both the Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do Goshinkai, and the Ryukyuan Kobudo International, can you give us the criteria for membership, what you can expect as a member, and also what is expected of its members?

 

A20. "The Ryukyuan Kobudo International is open to all Okinawan stylists.  Members can receive training, certification, and ranking.  Applicants for membership are required to submit a resume and an outline of their curriculum. 

 

The Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Goshinkai membership is restricted to my students and their students. "

 

                         

 

                     

 

 

Q21.  You’ve authored three manuals, “ Strength to Conquer, Strength Training for Contact Sports, and Okinawan Karate for Self Defense.  Are these manuals still available, and can you tell us about the contents of each one?

 

A21. "Strength to Conquer is out of print.  Okinawan Karate for Self-Defense is also out of print.  However, at our last meeting my students and I discussed re-printing both manuals. 

 

Strength to Conquer consists of modern weight-training and nutrition combined with traditional Hojoundo techniques for building strength for Martial Arts and contact sports. 

 

The Self-Defense manual consists of practical and effective techniques combined from Goju-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, and Ju-Jutsu. "

 

 

 

Q22.  You were at one time writing a book called “The Spirit of Okinawan Karate”, did you ever finish it?  What was the main theme of the book?

 

My book "The Spirit of Okinawan Karate” is presently being revised.  The book's theme is History, Philosophy, and Traditions. 

 

 

 

 

Q23.  I understand you also trained in Ju-Jitsu, what style did you train in and what is your opinion of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu?

 

A23. "While still in the Marine Corps in 1961 I visited Fred Stahl’s North Jersey Ju-Jitsu Club in Paterson, NJ, while on leave (my Mother lived in Lincoln Park, NJ).  I trained at his dojo over the next few years, and often visited his dojo on weekends and during my leaves.  In late 1962, he held a show at the Gladiators Arena in Totowa, NJ, for thousands of spectators in what was probably the first Mixed-Martial Arts fighting in the US.  I brought a team of Marines up from Camp LeJeune to compete against his students.  I did self-defense, a Tuifa-Bo Kumite, and a Tameshiwari demonstration.  One of my students, Wes Evans, fought a boxer who quit after thirty seconds of receiving a few roundhouse kicks to his legs.  In the main event I defeated Stahl with a submission arm-bar.  After the event quite a few Karate students from different dojo’s and some of his Ju-Jitsu students asked if they could train with me. 

 

This actually became the start of what years ahead would become the Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai.  Al Gossett, Tom DeFelice, Jerry Thomson, Richard Pegram, and John Porta among others, opened dojo’s under me in NJ at this time. 

 

Brazilian Ju-Jitsu seems to be effective based upon their track record. "

 

 

 

Q24.  What were the some of the benefits and insights you gained from your training in Kenpo and Judo?  Also, what was the main difference you noticed while training in Hawaii as opposed to training in the continental United States and Okinawa ?

 

A24. "The Kenpo Dojo that I trained at was heavy into “tricks” (self-defense) and sparring.  I trained in Judo at the Armed Forces YMCA in Honolulu and discontinued my Judo training when I left.  The training there was mostly Randori, with an emphasis on only a few throws and ground techniques. 

 

My observation as a whole is that training is not affected as much by style or location as it is by individuals.  Sometimes Karate Sensei’s tend to stress techniques that they favor and lose track of the essence of their style. 

Some Judo Instructors that I know trained for competition and only taught throws that were effective in Randori.  One of my friends was surprised to attend a Seminar where I taught the Katame-No-Kata.  His remark to me was “you are a Karate Sensei and you are teaching this Judo Kata as a part of your ground fighting training, I teach Judo and I was only taught parts of it”. 

 

Some Karate people are discovering traditional Hojoundo as if it were something new.  I have taught it for many years.  Some of my own students with Dojo’s have neglected this training.  Some Okinawan dojo’s didn’t have much Hojoundo equipment or training.  Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu tend to emphasize “hard body” training and Hojoundo.  This is an aspect of Karate that I always enjoyed. 

 

Unfortunately, many US Dojo’s don’t train as hard or maintain the standards of their Okinawan Honbu’s. 

 

The training on Okinawa had one major advantage.  You were training at the birth-place of Karate and the awareness of the history and succession of Great Masters gave you a feeling of awe every time that you went to a Dojo.  This cultivation of Seishin (Spirit) is an important part of Okinawan Karate. 

 

Regardless of where you train, if you apply yourself with whole-hearted devotion and train hard, you will succeed. "

 

 

 

Q25.  Although you didn’t train in Isshinryu Karate with Don Nagle or Gary Alexander, you developed and maintained a friendship with both of these men, how did that come to be?

 

A25. "Master Nagle and I knew of each other by reputation.  He attended the mixed martial arts event in NJ in 1962 and introduced himself to me.  Over the years, we officiated at tournaments together.  Master Alexander and I attended, supported, and officiated, at each others tournaments when I was still in the Marine Corps, and when I retired and operated my dojo in Syracuse, NY.  Gary was a pilot and owned his own plane.  I remember that the first time he flew to Syracuse for one of my tournaments was in 1976.  We used the full-contact equipment that he had developed in one of the black belt divisions. "

 

 

 

Q26.  Can you explain to our readers the difference between Bunkai and Himitsu?

 

A26. "Bunkai is the explanation or apparent application of a technique.   Himitsu is the hidden meaning of a technique or application that was developed and passed on by the originator. "

 

(Frank Van Lenten)

 

 

Q27.  Two of your better known students Masters Greg Tearney and Peter Musacchio have gone on to make names for themselves and are well known in many martial arts circles, can you tell us a little about these two gentlemen, and have they always been students of yours?

 

A27. "Peter Musacchio began training with me in 1962, at Camp LeJeune.  He opened a dojo in NY in 1963.  Greg Tearney was one of Musacchio’s first students. 

 

They were both members of my Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai.  I often went to Syracuse to hold seminars.  Both of them came to NJ  for seminars and testing, that I held frequently at Jerry Thomson and Jack Porta’s Dojo’s.  When I retired from the USMC in 1974 I moved to Syracuse and became partners with Musacchio. 

 

He became ill and I bought the Dojo from him.  In 1981 I sold the Dojo back to him and moved to Florida.  Tearney and Musacchio had  a falling out in 1973 over Tearney opening a Dojo close to his, and were not on good terms.  Later, Tearney left the GKK to become a “Purple Dragon”.  Musacchio made the trip to Okinawa with me in 1984.  He remained in the Shobukan when I resigned.  He trained with John Roseberry for several years after Master Shinjo died, and then returned to train under me. 

 

Tearney traveled the path of seeking knowledge and training with Instructors in various styles.  About ten years ago Tearney came back to his roots and is my student as of this writing.  On June 15,16,17, 2007,  I held a Seminar in Syracuse that they both attended. "

 

 

 

Q28.  You've made several trips to Okinawa over the past four decades, but I'm told that your visit in 1984 was a special one, can you tell us about it?

 

A28. "In 1984 I took 30 Instructors and Yudansha to visit Okinawa.  We trained at the Shobukan Honbu with Master Shinjo, and visited Masters Meitoku Yagi and Kanei Uechi.  We performed demonstrations and appeared on a TV program.  We visited the Governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Okinawa City (Koza), who both honored me for my contributions towards the propagation of Okinawan Karate in America. "

 

 

 

Q29.  Is there any parting message that you'd like too say to our readers?

 

S29. "I would like to congratulate Sensei Wayland and Sensei Henry for developing this wonderful site.  From speaking to both of you I have a feeling that you are both true Karate-Ka.  Your attitudes and open mindedness would have been appreciated by Soke Shimabuku.  I’m positive that Master Bohan is smiling in Karate Heaven over the contributions that you have made in his memory.  I would like to add that even though I am a Goju-Ryu Sensei, I have roots in Isshin-Ryu and I trained directly with Soke Shimabuku.  My methods and my philosophy have always been influenced by his teachings.  I have maintained contact with some of my Isshin-Ryu friends over the years, and you have reminded me that we are all an Okinawan Karate Brotherhood, regardless of styles. "

 

(Frank Van Lenten)

 

 

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