Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This is just too cool. Urban and Lee at MSG.

This is a classic clip from S. Henry Cho's 1967 event at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
The quality is awful but how many times have you seen Bruce Lee doing a demo at Madison Square Garden? And if that's not cool enough...
Who is that skeet shooting boards in the beginning of the clip???

Monday, November 16, 2009

Urban Speaks! About the side kick.


Before the internet, in a time when the general public had to actually buy books and magazines in order to research and to keep up on things, Sensei Urban was known not only to appear in articles, but to also answer letters that were sent in either querying or critiquing what he had said in print.

This was, and once again is, a fantastic opportunity for those who did not get to train with him in person, to experience his demeanor in dialog, and to gain better insight as to his thoughts.

The following is an article about Sensei Urban that appeared in the July 1972 issue of KaraTe Illustrated magazine. Click on photos in order to enlarge.

In the article, Sensei Urban speaks about certain changes that were made to his USA / Urban GoJu system. He states "I have eliminated things that are unnatural to the body such as side kicks and other things that we do with the legs." he says standing up to illustrate his point and moving his legs in back and forth motions to illustrate what he means by natural. "The legs were meant to go this way."

Author's note: For those who practice and or teach USA / Urban GoJu it is important that this information be noted. If we are to preserve and pass on what The Sensei left us, then his wishes and beliefs should be observed. More on this later.

The following letter appeared in the "Kiai Korner" Letters to the editor section of the November 1972 issue of KaraTe Illustrated magazine, which was a bi monthly publication back then.

Click on photo to enlarge.

In the same issue, Sensei Urban answers with his own letter.

Click on photo to enlarge

Let's take a look at what Sensei Urban was talking about considering the side kick topic.

Firstly, let's keep in mind that in traditional GoJu kata, there is no yoko geri other than the low kansetsu geri which is aimed at the knee.

Furthermore, there is no yoko geri other than kansetsu geri in any of the Urban katas.

The yoko geri keage or rising side kick, sometimes mistakenly called the side snap kick, puts the knee in an unnatural angle during it's execution.

The yoko geri kekomi or side thrust kick, torques the hip in an unnatural way during it's execution.

Now it's not like The Sensei didn't teach yoko geri back in the day. He certainly did. Many of us used it all the time, many still do.

As a matter of fact, the side kick was one of my favorite techniques.

Those who new me back in the day, will remember my side kicking people into the dojo walls, and through the ringside crowds at tournaments.

Nowadays, at 49 years old and with arthritis in my hip, although I can still get my side kick up there if the cause arises, I am much more likely to follow Sensei Urban's advice as to the choice of kicking technique.

The purpose of this article is not to condemn the side kick. But if you are teaching USA / Urban GoJu, please remember what you have just read.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Gerald Orange film released.


I am happy to announce that a short movie starring GMstr. Gerald Orange has been released. Gerald Orange is an old time student, "Chinatown DoJo Alumni," of Grand Master Urban. He has been an actor, involved in the theater and movie industry for many years. To watch a short clip of the movie, go to the following address. Gerald Orange appears at the very end of the clip, entering through door in Chef's hat.


The film also has its own website at www.thedaythebreadturnedgreen.com

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Urban Way Ceremony


Our Sensei was honored in proper fashion on Saturday, with a ceremony befitting of a man who's accomplishments had such a positive effect on so many of us. On Central Avenue in Union City New Jersey, where his 10th street dojo was located, a huge group assembled to view the unveiling of a long overdue tribute to our mentor.

I wish that I could have been there, but unfortunately I no longer reside in that part of the country. However, I did have some of my people there to represent and to take pictures and report of the goings on to me. So now I can report the goings on to you.... Click on pictures to enlarge.

Union City Mayor and NJ State Senator Brian P. Stack addresses the audience.

Maestro Urban's daughter Julia is presented with a likeness of the Peter Urban Way street sign.

Hanshi Ray Herman addresses the audience as his students perform kata.

Hanshi Archie Rullan addresses the audience as his sons hold Maestro Urban's Battle flag.

The Ombudsman of Urban GoJu, Hanshi Sekwii Sha addresses the audience.

Hanshi Fidel Montalvan addresses the audience.

The successor of Grand Master Frank Ruiz, Nisei GoJu Head, Hanshi Wilfredo Roldan addresses the audience.

Julia Urban Kimmerley and the crowd watch with excitement as the beautiful commemorative plaque is revealed.

A rightfully proud daughter, touches her father's plaque as Union City Mayor and NJ State Senator Brian Stack looks on.

The look of anticipation as the Peter Urban Way street sign is unveiled.


A lot of well known faces of the GoJu family were to be seen.

It was good to see so many branches of our tree represented.

This was a celebration of The Sensei's life, not a sad occasion of mourning. You can see the joy in the faces of his people.

In a matter much like Grand Master Gogen Yamaguchi's funeral, a group of those present got up and performed the kata Tensho. It is interesting to see the differences in kata nuance of the various factions of our American GoJu.

Special thanks to Sensei Elias Bonaros for taking these pictures and video for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Throughout history, it has bee customary for noteworthy masters of the martial arts to have monuments dedicated to them after their demise.

I have been lucky enough to have been able to travel and live all over the world, and to visit various locations in which these types of memorials exist.

Kanryo Higashionna, seen here with Hanso Arakaki sitting at his left and Chojun Miyagi at left behind him with cap on, has a beautiful monument dedicated to him.

It reads: Kanryo Higaonna sensei (1853-1917) was born the 4th son of Kanyo and Tsuru in the Nishi district of Naha. At the age of 20, he traveled to the Fukien region of China where he studied Nanpa Shaolin Kenjyutsu Hakutsuru Ken (Southern Shaolin Fist Technique White Crane Fist) for 15 years. In 1889, he opened a Karate dojo in Naha. This is the oldest known Karate dojo. Nahate is based on Higaonna sensei's own studies of White Crane Fist on his return from China and became known as a“Te”technique that spread mostly in the Naha region. (Translation of the inscriptions found on the back of the monument)

Note: This monument is known as the Kanryo Higaonna and Chojun Miyagi Monument Memorial and is located in the Matsuyama Park, Naha City.

Gichin Funakoshi, who is credited with bringing KarTe from Okinawa to Mainland Japan, and who the ShotoKan style was named after, has two very cool monuments on Okinawa in his memory.

This one says: The Gichin Funakoshi Monument (Enkakuji, Kamakura)

The father of Karatedo, Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, was born on October 10, 1870 in Shuri City, Okinawa Prefecture.
At 11 years old, he started learning To-te jutsu* with both Anko Asato and Anko Itosu Sensei. Studying the secrets of the art thoroughly, he became the head of the Okinawa Shobukai** in 1912.
From his moving to Tokyo in May 1922, he devotedly taught Karatedo.
On April 26, 1957 he died a natural death at the age of 88.
He completely devoted himself to the spreading and improvement of Karate. While he advocated Karatedo, the main purpose was to adapt the principles of ancestral To-te jutsu. Emptiness (kara or ku) is the perfection in martial arts. The way (michi or do) is the intention of transforming technique into Bushido.
Funakoshi's maxims "Karate ni sente nashi" (there is no first attack in Karate) and "Karate ha Kunshi no bugei" (Karate is a martial art for true gentleman) are based on the principles of warning the misuse of technique.
Reminding the virtues of sensei, the father of Karatedo, and praising his achievements, we his students establish the Shotokai and connected with the adage "Ken Zen Ichi" (Fist and Zen are one), we erect this monument within the Engakuji Temple.

Gichin Funakoshi sensei's "Kansha no Matsu"

The memorial pine "Kansha no Matsu" (Gratitude Pine) stands in the Sueyoshi Park in Naha City. It was planted in August 1998 by Shoto-kai 's Motonobu Hironishi and Jotaro Takagi sensei to honored the 130 birth anniversary of Funakoshi sensei.

Brief personal history of Gichin Funakoshi sensei
(taken from the memorial post standing next to the pine)
Born in 1868 in Yamakawa, Shuri (presently in Naha City)
Chaired successively the Okinawa Shobukan.
In 1922, moved to Tokyo to spread karate.
On April 26, 1957 passed away at the age of 90 years old.

Note: Next to the pine stands another pine dedicated to Yoshitaka Funakoshi sensei, son of Gichin sensei. The pine is name "Homare no Matsu" (Honoring Pine).

Chotoku Kyan, SuriTe = Shorin Ryu, master and teacher of both Eizo and Tatsu Shimabuku has a great monument also.

Chotoku Kyan sensei lived from 1870 to 1945. He is considered as a preeminent karate master from modern times Okinawa. Kyan sensei whose nickname was "Chanmigwa" was born in a prestigious and wealthy family of Shuri in 1870. He spent his childhood in Tokyo and studied the Chinese classics there. In the meantime, his father introduced young Chotoku to karate. On his return to Okinawa, he trained under great masters of Shuri-te and Tomari-te to become the grand master he was. While his height was only of 150 cm, it is said that Kyan sensei developed an extreme power and speed in his techniques.
Around 1910, he moved to live close to the Hija River located in today's Kadena Town. He then taught to students of the Prefectural Agriculture Senior High School, the Youth Teachers School and the Police Academy, as well as teaching for no fee karate to the youth of the surroundings. He instructed them on the "Technique" and "Spirit" of the way of karate. While training was hard, all his students respected and praised his deep knowledge and warmhearted personality. He was truly following the way of "Bun Bu Ryo Do" the way of scholarship and martial arts and as a reminder of his virtue we his students raised this monument. (1997)

On a more occidental tip, Nisei GoJu founder Frank Ruiz was honored with a memorial stone here in the US.

This stone resides in the famouse Tompkins Square Park in the Lower East Side of New York City in the neighborhood that Shihan Ruiz taught. The stone was put there by Ruiz's successor Hanshi Wilfredo Roldan. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE LOVELY EDEN BROWER FOR TAKING THIS PICTURE OF THE RUIZ MEMORIAL STONE FOR ME. Luv Ya Eden.

And finally! It is my honor to announce that my teacher, Peter Urban, The Grand Patriarch of All American GoJu Systems, will now be honored accordingly.
The following is a message from his daughter Julia.
Union City, N.J. , where my father was raised and graduated high school ( Emerson High '53), and then in 1959 established his first dojo, has graciously decided to honor my father's name.

This ceremony bestows my father with a street name "URBAN WAY", a historical marker/plaque , a program itinerary detailing all planned events with pics. and bio . Attending also will be the Mayor and State Senator, Brian P. Stack and other special guests and notorieties.The ceremony is on Central Ave. from 10th to 9th streets and starts at 12:oo

All Urban Gojuists , supporters and guests are invited to attend this marked occasion to proudly commemorate the life and accomplishments of my father, the one and only "PETER URBAN".

Thank you.

Julia Urban-Kimmerley

Monday, July 20, 2009

Profile of an Urban Loyalist. Ol' Reliable

This Satori profile segment will deal with americangoju.com Webmaster James Norman Price, Hanshi USA GoJu.

Hanshi Price is seen here with Maestro Urban near the last days of Maestro Urban's life.

At first glance, Hanshi Price seems like exactly what he is, a well-educated professional. Originally a school teacher, he later became quite successful in, and is now retired from his career as a representative for a major pharmaceutical company. His mannerism is gentle and it is obvious that he is of high moral character.

This mild mannered persona masks a quite different back ground as far as the martial arts are concerned. He originally came from, and acheived Yon Dan Renshi in, the dojo of an old friend of mine, Master Joseph Kelljchian of Florida, who was a student of Sensei Urban. This group, now called U.S.A.G.F. is a no nonsense, hard contact, rough training group to say the least.

Hanshi Price is seen here training with Maestro Urban at Master Joe Hess' Dojo in Florida circa 1979.

Later going directly under the tutelage of Grand Master Urban, Hanshi Price always went above and beyond the call of duty.

I, as Sensei Urban’s representative for the southern states can tell you that whenever we needed anything, Price was there. He and his students also participated in countless seminars, classes, crazy training and tournaments that I ran in Florida. Speaking of tournaments, who could forget the wild tournaments that Price organized on Ft. Myers Beach for Master Kelljchian back in the day? Good times…….

A little vignette about the Internet:

I received a fax one morning from Sensei Urban, asking me if I could put together a web site for him. Originally Master Dayton Guinee had put together a website for Sensei Urban, however, at that particular time he was legitimately to busy to tend to such an affair. Keep in mind that when doing something for Sensei Urban, things had to be done immediately, so understandably Master Guinee had to vacate his position as web master. I contacted Sensei Urban via telephone, explaining that not only did I not own a computer at the time, I didn’t even know how to turn one on if I did. I informed him however, that I had an idea of who we could recruit as our internet guy. After discussing this with Hanshi Price, and him agreeing to take on the arduous job of web master, the official website of Maestro Peter Urban began. Originally called Martial Combatives DoJo. It is now called americangoju.com Grand Master Peter Urban’s Fight Schools Network. Sensei Urban’s intent was to have a web site that besides giving information about his system and organization, would be a list of his active, loyal membership. In order to be listed on his site, one had to apply directly through Sensei Urban. There was no guessing or being mislead as to an applicants standing with Sensei Urban, for as I said, the only people listed on the site were those who’s name received the green light from Urban.

Click on image to enlarge.

There have been misconceptions lately as to www.americangoju.com being only for the last wave of students of Sensei Urban, but as read in his news letter above, it was for all of his legitimate loyal dues paying instructor level students.

Many of us later made our own web sites since then, however, the site that Hanshi Price put together was and still is the one and only official website of Maestro Peter G. Urban PHD.

Today = Now, Hanshi Price is still active in the martial arts, aside from being Webmaster.

Now at ninth dan, he teaches KaraTe and practical self-defense classes at the clubhouse of the Pelican Preserve where he lives with his lovely wife Karen. The Pelican Preserve is an exclusive gated community built in coordination with a National Audubon Society preserve. He is also the curator of the beautiful butterfly gardens there at the preserve.

Friday, July 17, 2009



Something that I have not written about in ages is the nunchaku. Personally this was always my favorite toy/tool/weapon, since I was a kid.

Grand Master Urban often spoke of the difference between a TOY, a TOOL, and a WEAPON.

What is the difference?


Many believe that the nunchaku was originally a farm tool,. A flail used to thrash crush or gather rice etc., later to be used after the ban on all weapons in Okinawa.

Others believe that it was a piece disconnected from a horse bridal .

Although there is little doubt that these tools were at times used as weapons, it seems unlikely that their presence in the Chinese arts came from Okinawan farm tools. Therefore it seems reasonable to believe that the flail has been around in various forms all over the globe since someone was creative enough to attach two or more sticks or what have you, together for the purpose of playing, working, or fighting.

The nunchaku has been an object of controversy on an off throughout the years.

As a kids, in NY and NJ back in the 70s, we used to carry them concealed on the streets. This was both before and after they were made illegal. My memories of the bloody nunchaku fights between various factions of neighborhood gangs are still quite vivid. As a matter of fact, the one and only time that I was ever knocked unconscious in my life was self induced while practicing a difficult under the arm pit and over the shoulder reverse switch at high speed while walking my vicious standard poodle Noal. I awoke with Noal licking my face as a cop looked down at me while straddling over head. The cop said “You were doing pretty good until you clocked yourself!” He had been watching me from a distance. I was more worried about being arrested, than I was about having just whacked myself unconscious. Thankfully, when I showed him my dojo id, he went to his car and brought out his own police issued black, square nylon nunchaku and handed them to me, asking if I wanted to give them a try. I remember that they had a very short string and I was able to whip them around even quicker than my own. However, the police nunchaku was actually more for seizing, pinching, and come along techniques.

On a more legit note: I actually carried the nunchaku that I bought in the 70's at NYC's Honda Martial Arts Supplies, into combat while in the Marine Corps. I also trained fellow Marines in the use of the nunchaku while stationed in Okinawa Japan, both at my on base dojo, and during the hand to hand combat classes that I gave on various bases throughout the 3rd Marine Division.

The nunchaku was made illegal in the 70's, in California first. Then after a police officer had the misfortune of chasing a thug up to a tenement building’s roof, to which the thug waited next to the roof’s door for the cop to follow, the thug proceeded to use a rear strangle technique on him as he exited the stairwell onto the roof. The cop was murdered, and the nunchaku became illegal overnight in NYC.

In this article from Official KaraTe Magazine January 1974, our own Shihan Al Gotay warns the reader of the new anti nunchaku law. (Click on article to enlarge.)

I visited Brendon Lai's Kung Fu Supply Store in San Francisco the other day. Rather than a display of various nunchaku, they had a sign on the counter, saying that nunchaku were illegal out side of martial arts schools in the state of California, and were not sold there.

The nunchaku was introduced for use, to the NY and NJ police departments by USA GoJu instructors who were on the job. This did not go without a certain amount of controversy either.

In This August 1970 issue of KaraTe Illustrated Magazine, the subject of police use of the nunchaku is discussed by Shotokan Master Fred Hamilton "RIP," and NinJitsu Master Ron Duncan, as well as Shihan Al Gotay, who also demonstrates Police Nunchaku techniques.

Master Ed Veryken and Master Joe Hess, both were instrumental in training Police in the use of nunchaku, as seen here in Official KaraTe Magazine's Annual Special Weapons Edition 1974.

My nunchaku training came from quite a few sources. I learned formally from Sensei Urban “who was a weapons genius,” of course.

I also learned from Sensei Ernest Hyman in the mid 70s, who many may remember was billed as the fastest man in the world with the nunchaku at Aaron Banks’ Oriental World Of Self Defense at Madison Square Garden.
I wish that I had some video of Sensei Hyman performing. You would not believe it! I can still remember walking around with cracked finger nails and sore hands after the nunchaku classes that he gave at the New York Karate Academy.

Everybody had a copy of this book when I was a young teen. Fumio Demura's Nunchaku KaraTe Weapon Of Self Defense served as our Chucker's Bible.

Later while stationed in Okinawa I learned the original premise from Dai Sensei Hanso Arakaki.

The way that nunchaku is used in the Ko Ryu = old school is a bit different from what you see in the modern versions. The flailing is less complex, however very powerful. The techniques are really not so much different, but separates them from the modern, is that they were used as a defense against weapons. But for that matter, the bulk of what is contained in the old KaraTe kata are techniques that deal with fighting against an armed opponent.

Hanshi Tadashi Yamashita is an Okinawan Shorin Ryu master who has lived in California for many years. He became quite famous back in the day for his flashy nunchaku demos.

No article about the nunchaku would be complete without clips of Bruce Lee.

The Chinese Connection

Return Of The Dragon

Enter The Dragon

Game Of Death