Why I Joined the WMKA

Or was he…?

The World Matsubayashi Ryu Karate Dō Association is often attributed to Shoshin Nagamine. However, it was actually the brain child of, and started by, an American instructor living in New York, USA. There are some things about the association that are strange to me, such as how they deny the fact Kinsei Taba was once president and pretend that Yasuhara Makishi was instead.

However, I attribute this to the general Okinawa mindset that “agreed upon legends” are the “official history” of an art.

So, as a karate history buff and researcher, why would I knowingly join an association that wasn’t entirely forthcoming about their past?

LtoR: Jerry Figgiani, Takayoshi Nagamine, and Kinsei Taba. Photo stealthily borrowed from Jerry Figgiani Sensei.

Because I honestly don’t care about their past!

I care about the future! Karate’s future! My future! My future students! And my future student’s future!

Shocking! I know!

I joined my original association in 1995. Over the decades that followed I kept a close eye on changes. Eventually I was even made a record keeper and historian for the association under the request of its founder Han, Man-Hee. I watched as once upon a time we had an age requirement of 12 for 3rd Gup/ Kyu, but then later they promoted a 12 year old to 4th dan. I watched as our Instructors Course went from a 36 hour course to an 18 hour course. And the rank requirement for the course was done away with so yellow belts (9th and 8th Gup/ Kyu) could take the course and get certified to teach. I watched as Cat Stance was removed from the curriculum in favor of back stance. I watched as Green Belt Drills (7th and 6th Gup/ Kyu) became Master Level Drills. I watched a style, or rather System, or martial arts crumble and die, due to corruption and laziness.

I witnessed the worst-of-the-worst!

I don’t know…

And due to how things were structured, I was powerless to stop this!

That association was micromanaged down to the smallest degree.

Belts were pre-established and concrete.

Ranking system was pre-established and concrete.

Testing requirements were pre-established and concrete.

How to run testings was pre-established and concrete. You weren’t even allowed to add things to the test, such as: partner drills, form applications, fitness requirements, NOTHING!

What was to be taught at each rank was pre-established and concrete. And heaven forbid if you tried to teach something “earlier” than required!

How to run tournaments was pre-established and concrete.

How to run seminars was pre-established and concrete.

Certain schools would even try to place additional restrictions on other schools in an attempt to establish dominance!

So I left that association New Years Day of 2016 and joined the Shorinkan.

Needless to say, the shackles chaffed and I walked away for good!

However, after Richard Poage Sensei and Jeff Alred Sensei passed away, I was in the process of Shopping Around for a new association to join. I could have started my own! I had helped start several other associations, so starting my own would have been a cake walk.

Problem is, I have no interest in being my own Top Dog. I hate Top Dogs! Always barking!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

So I had two criteria: No micromanagement below Shodan (1st dan) and high standards above Shodan!

This may surprise you, but most global associations DO NOT CARE what you teach below Shodan. Even the Shorinkan has no requirements for instructors, prior to Shodan! But as I had left the Shorinkan, that wasn’t going to be a viable option for me.

So up to this point, I had trained to “Black Belt Level” in Taekwondo, Judo, Hapkido, Shobayashi Ryu, and Kobayashi Ryu. And for a wide variety of reasons I always left! Be it because my instructor jumped ship, my instructor died, or… no that’s it! Just two reasons…

So I called up Michael Mullett, my current instructor, and I began asking questions.

Turns out the WMKA was an association that maintained high standards above Shodan and didn’t care what instructors did before Shodan.

Be still my heart!

So I became Michael’s student, with the intentions of eventually opening a registered WMKA dojo.

My Shorin Ryu sensei. One retired, two died, and the fourth loves my crazy antics.

I get to choose what belts I use, how many kyu I use, what order I teach concepts and kata. I get to choose how to handle promotions, testings, testing requirements, etc. So long as, by Shodan, my future students meet the minimum requirements (12 Empty Handed kata and 7 Yakusoku Kumite). And lets face it, the fact one WMKA dojo has little to no sway over another, is just icing on the cake!


If I could get rid of Kyu completely, without it biting my future students in the back, I would!

Published by mattskaratecorner

A martial arts student and instructor. A school teacher and researcher. A curmudgeon with a lot on his mind.

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