The All Japan Soryu Karate-Do Federation, USA
By Kaicho James A. Caldwell a.k.a. Tatsuo Koyasu
Michio Koyasu’s teacher, Kanken Toyama, never felt there should be styles of Karate-Do. Toyama Sensei founded the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (AJKF) in order to perpetuate this belief. The AJKF was created to provide a format to bring different Karate factions together not only for competition but also to encourage dialog and the sharing of technique and ideas. Sometime after 1955 Toyama Sensei deferred all promotions to the federation and stopped personally issuing rank certificates.
Being a loyal student Koyasu Sensei tried to stay true to that idea. In honor of that idea he decided to take it one step further and develop a program that would hopefully appeal to all practitioners of Karate-Do. This vision did not take in account the ego and pride of individual practitioners. None the less Koyasu decided to continue to develop his idea of a unified Karate system that ultimately became known as Soryu Karate-Do. Unfortunately Koyasu’s vision never came to past. Currently pockets of his students continue to practice and teach what he developed.
In 1967, after Toyama Sensei’s death, he laid out a foundation for his vision. Koyasu Sensei felt that there were too many styles of Karate-Do so he embarked on a quest to develop a system of Karate-Do that everyone could accept. He felt that the orthodox/classic systems were rigid and did not adequately cover all technique such as kicking. It is noted that the classic Kata do not incorporate many kicks. In Koyasu’s vision of a good Kata, laid out in his treatise, there should be a good balance between left and right, hand and foot etc., in other words a balance of technique which is lacking in many of the classic Kata and systems.
Koyasu started his development, in about 1970, of a universal style of Karate-Do by doing an analysis of all of the classic Kata using his philosophy of what constitutes a good Kata. He came to a conclusion in the instance of the Pin An Katas that Pin An Yon Dan came closest to his model. He eliminated all but Pin An Yon Dan from the curriculum. Of the classic Kata Koyasu Sensei only kept Patusai, Jion, Kushanku, Seishan, Sochin, and Useishi in the curriculum.
Earlier he had started developing Ura Kata for several of the classic kata. The Ura Kata is an answer for the Bunkai of the Kata that an individual can practice alone. When a partner is available the Ura Kata can be broken down with the Kata into a Bunkai exercise. He developed Ura Kata for Patusai, Jion, Kushanku, and Useishi. It is unknown why he stopped with only those Kata.
After developing the Ura Kata he started developing the Soryu Karate-Do legacy Kata. Kihon Kokyuho was the first and is probably the most important of the legacy Kata then Unryu and Bairei were developed. He completed developing the legacy Kata in 1977 with Soshin. This group of Kata represented Koyasu’s idea of what constitutes a good Kata for each level of practice for beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. With two of the legacy Kata, Kihon Kokyuho and Unryu, he added the requirement of preforming the mirror (Kegami) of the Kata (Kegami is a term that Shihan Caldwell coined in place of how Koyasu Sensei made reference to the Kata. He would always use left and right.). This was again to achieve a balance in the training.
In addition to the legacy Kata and the Ura Kata Koyasu Sensei developed a series of Yakusoku Kumite exercises for each belt level in a progressive level of complexity and intensity from beginning to expert level. The mainstay and most complex of these Yakusoku Kumite was Sanbon Kumite A, B, and C. Along with Sanbon Kumite A and B Kumite Gata Nibon and Sanbon were developed. Kumite Gata Nibon and Sanbon were Kata that incorporated all of the moves of Sanbon Kumite A and B so that an individual could practice the movements and techniques without a partner. When a Partner became available then the Kata could be broken down back into a Yakusoku Kumite exercise. Koyasu Sensei realized that it was not always possible to have a partner to practice with, thus Kumite Gata. He was asked in later years if there was a Kumite Gata Ichibon whereupon he responded that there was. It was for Ippon Kumite which had been eliminated from the curriculum. The reason was not given. The assumption was that it was supplanted by another Yakusoku Kumite exercise that was less involved.
Sometime in the 1980’s it was decided to reincorporate the classic Kata that had been taken out of the curriculum in the 1970’s. Naihanchi, PinAn Sho to Go, Chinto, Wanshu were all reintroduced. In addition to the Kata, some Yakusoku Kumite was also reintroduced such as Kihon, Renzoku, and Ippon Kumite’s. Around 1985 Toyama’s AJKF dissolved into a confederation of styles of likeminded systems and practitioners that would come together for competition. Koyasu at that time founded the All Japan Soryu Karate-Do Federation (AJSKF). It became obvious by this time that a universal style of Karate-Do would not be accepted by other styles. Koyasu Sensei came to believe that it was important to move forward but at the same time preserve the past. As a result Soryu Karate-Do is now a culmination of its orthodox/classic past and its progressive legacy Kata and Yakusoku Kumite. What separates Soryu Karate-Do from other styles are its legacy Kata, Kegami Kata, Ura Kata, and Yakusoku Kumite making it a unique style of Karate-Do. Soryu (All Style) Karate-Do was officially sanctioned as a style in 1967.