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