This is the website of the Shinwabukan; a place where Okinawan Goju ryu Karate Do (沖 縄 剛 柔 流 空 手 道) is studied in earnest. All who practise here endeavour to meet the challenges Budo places in front of them, and in doing so may cultivate something of value in their lives and community.
The blog on this site is a place where I reflect on the art of living, philosophy, the study of budo karate-do, psychology and whatever else comes up. Bonsai and poetry will probably appear as well. These ponderings are mine alone, they do not represent the opinion, values or attitudes of anyone I am associated with.
The Shinwabukan is in Capel WA. You’ll find me, Justin Harrison, there each day but Sundays (and then, sometimes…). So I should introduce myself.
I first encountered a form of ‘Karate’ in 1987, entering a Zen Do Kai club as a fresh faced 17 year old keen to test himself. I trained there for 3 or 4 years. What we lacked in knowledge we made up for in exuberance, split lips and bruises. After the club closed around 1990, I dabbled in a few other arts but my life was quite mobile during that decade. I was living and working on various National Parks in Central Australia, South Australia and the Tanami Desert, sprinkled with seasonal adventures as a trekking guide in Kakadu, Central Australia and the Patagonian Andes. Eventually I settled down to a home and career as an academic and a psychologist, and my study of Goju ryu. I operated a karate ‘club’ some years as part of a local karate organisation.
The karate I was studying was Japanese in its orientation. This is fine of course, but my interest found itself captured more and more by Goju ryu karate’s origins, that is, Okinawan Goju ryu and Budo. Reading tales of training at places like the Jundokan in Naha fascinated me for the evident differences between what I was reading about and what I was being shown at the time.
I had learned there was a good deal more to the study of karate than sport, aerobic fitness, or even self-defence. I was also told Goju ryu was a ‘close in’ fighting style but the tournament kumite (‘sparring’) style we were practising certainly didn’t demonstrate it. Of course, talk of things like budo, giri, ‘the path’ and the study of the martial arts as personal growth were regnant on the internet, in clubs and rented halls everywhere I went. But if I’m honest, I still see little evidence of any of it. No sooner do most practitioners exit their rented scout hall than such sentiments vanish; sometimes before leaving in fact. I was looking for something that would enrich my life, and my way of being in the world. I wanted the karate I was doing to bear more of a resemblance to the talk, then there would be less need for the talk.
Interested in a more holistic approach to karate and self defence, I took the step of contacting the author of my favourite books about Okinawan karate do and Budo. A worthwhile conversation began. Around five years, more conversation and a some visits later, I was fortunate to be invited to become a student. I accepted the opportunity with a gratitude that has only grown in me since. To tell the truth I did not – and could not have -understood the commitment, time, wisdom and consideration I was about to receive. All I could do was pay attention and try to make the best of such an opportunity. It is for others to say how well that turned out, but I closed my club and started over.
The challenges in front of me were (and frequently still are) confronting, and at times difficult. Mostly because Budo is a mirror. You meet yourself and decide what you’ll do with what you find. But I am grateful I have persisted and continue the practise, which does not end with admitting students. I prefer practising to teaching, but what I have received, I have the responsibility and privilege to pass on.
To that end, I am in a position to open my dojo (it is not a club, they are different*) to students. Just as budo is an essential part of my life, my dojo is part of my home. It is not open to all comers. Becoming a student (deshi) is to enter into a relationship (Sensei/Deshi), so I will only be inviting a few who it seems I am able to assist in their journey. While a small yearly contribution to a fund for the upkeep of the dojo will be asked ($150), there are no fees for training. My sensei has paid for your training by providing his time and care to his students in just the manner I have described above.
That said, please be aware the training and practise will require much more of you than money. It will require your personal commitment, persistence and patience without the benefit of an audience. It may require you to change your habits and even the way you think about yourself and the world. Your sensei can help you with where to look, but not what to see – you must not rely on your teachers alone for your progress, but on yourself and your efforts.
If you are interested in studying Goju ryu and Budo – please go to the contact page and introduce yourself. I will reply with my telephone number, and if you use it, after a chat we might arrange to meet for a cup of tea. We’ll see how things progress from there; if it seems to me I can help you with what you’re looking for, I will. I look forward to meeting you. All the best and thank you for reading.
*By way of an introduction to the difference between a club and a dojo, I paraphrase the revered Okinawan founder of Matsubayashi-ryu Karate Do, Shoshin Nagamine ‘Ethics of the Dojo‘
- First, rectify your mind.
- Cultivate the power of perseverance by strengthening your body and overcoming the difficulties that arise during training.
- The dojo is the place where courage is cultivated and superior human natures are nurtured through the ecstasy of sweating in hard work. It is the sacred place where the human spirit is polished.
- While seniors and black belts are well aware of these facts, all contribute. Therefore beginners are requested to help in making the dojo a sacred place by keeping in the mind the above precepts and observing the following:
A. Always keep karate-gi (uniforms) clean, and yourself clean and presentable for training.
B. Assist by cleaning the dojo, and general maintenance of the equipment, gardens and genkan (entry way) when required.
C. Become well acquainted with etiquette and attitudes required for karate training as soon as possible.
D. Be sure to clean and place equipment back where it belongs after use.