Posted by: Martial Arts Point Room | March 17, 2012


Hello, This blog is about promoting, & discussing,  martial arts of all kinds in a peaceful and respectful manner. If you have an interesting martial arts story, great technique, you want to share, cool martial arts video, etc. Please tell us about it.

Here’s a link to a YouTube, video I shot at David Blair’s Dojo in Fontana, Ca, 2007.

I’m a 2nd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate, with a couple years practicing Kali. I started with Sensei Ken Tambara, in 1972, trained and tested with Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama at central dojo in Los Angeles, as well as trained with James Yabe, after Sensei Tambara passed away. Unfortunately, I injured my knee a few years ago, and I am just now getting back to working out again. I am an advocate for martial arts, not only Karate. I believe it builds character, and strength. I believe it’s about the practictioner, rather than the art itself.

I’ve viewed many videos on YouTube, regarding karate verses judo, verses, kung fu, verses, etc. I’ve heard Ju Jitsu is better, because they can choke you out, I’ve heard Muay Thai, is better because they kick harder. For the most part, people representing these styles in these  martial arts matches on YouTube are not that proficient. I have been practicing martial arts for about 40 years as a life style, not as a martial arts style.  Although most of my training has been Shotokan, I’ve taken techniques I like, from different styles.

I believe, to be really proficient at any martial art, you need to train hard and all year round. Not just when you have a test, or a competition of some kind. The argument appears to be (and this is not my opinion) that one style is better than the other. MMA is better because it’s mixed martial arts, (more is better right?) karate doesn’t really work, etc, etc, etc. I’ve even heard that karate is satanic, because we meditate.
The JKA (Japan Karate Association) lead by Master Nishiyama taught me Shotokan karate was far superior to other styles. Again not now my opinion, but it has worked well for me. I admire the Japanese culture. When I was younger, I studied every aspect of Shotokan Karate I could find. I was under the impression that there was some kind of mystical thing with Karate. I learned , it’s all about hard work.

When I decided to sign up for karate, to get in shape,  at the age of 23, I went to a local park where Sensei Tambara was teaching. I went on a Saturday morning, when they were having exams. Most of the students were approximately 15-20 years old. I couldn’t believe my eyse. These teens were delivering blows to each others bodies, I thought could break ribs, but they seemed to do it effortlessly, and the ability to absorb a punch to the torso, I thought was incredible . I thought, sign me up! When do I start?

As time went on, I loved it, I noticed, different people have different body styles, and some people most likely, would never be that proficient at executing karate techniques, but they learned other skills. Self control, discipline, coordination, how to exercize, etc. Also, I learned just because it didn’t look good didn’t mean it wouldn’t work under the right circumstances.  I also, realized that having a black belt, or piece of paper signed, by Sensei Tambara, Master Nishiyama or anyone else, was not all that important. Not to say, I don’t cherish the time, I spent with any intructor I’ve had because, in my mind they all are masters at what they do.
I know this because, my second degree black belt, certificate was burned in a fire at Central dojo in Los Angeles many years ago, and my first degree certificate was stolen from my office. I realized it wasn’t important, when not having the $100 dollars for the certificate at the time of my test. Master Nishiyama placed the certificate in the dojo files until I had the money to pay. Of course I made the error by waiting too long to get the certificate. Before I knew it, 20 years had past.

When I heard about the fire at central dojo, I contacted Master Nishiyama, to inquire about my black belt certficate. Master Nishiyama informed me I would need to pay, $500 dollars and schedule to re-take my second degree black belt test at central dojo again, and he would re-issue the certificate.
I then inquired about JKA records in Japan to verify my test. He then informed me, there were never any test records sent to Japan from the United States.

So what does this mean? It means, the largest martial arts organization in the world, did not keep accurate records. Why?  Maybe, they felt there was no need to send black belt certificate records to Japan from America, because they didn’t put American black belts on the same level as their Japanese counter parts? I don’t really know.

My point? The value I received from Sensei Tambara,  Master Nishiyama or Sensei Yabe, can not be measured by a piece of paper, the color of the belt they awarded, or a trophy received in a competition, but the skill aquired, and no one can take that away. Not even the burning of the only record, of that effort.

I learned a great deal from Sensei Tambara, and Master Nishiyama, and Sensei Yabe, and not only about fighting. It gave me confidence in myself, in my professional career. I still learn to this day. Not to mention the exercize, put me in the best physical condition of my life.
I know karate works, because I’ve had to use it in a real situation, (because I would have been pounded into the ground otherwise)and not for points that are awarded,  by  humans who may or may not favor their particular style or competitor.

I honor the memory of Sensei Tambara, and Master Nishiyama, and have a great deal of respect for Sensei Yabe. I thank them for allowing  me to learn karate from them.

The value received from any martial art, is proportional to the amount of time and effort you put into it. I was fortunate in the sense, I was afforded the opportunity to learn from, what I believe to be some of the best instructors of our time.

Responses welcome.



  1. I haven’t had much activity here, so I’m going to try and revive it. Here’ is a link to a YouTube web series I produced. Please watch, comment, and share. Thank you

  2. I also studied with Sensei Tambara in 1972 at that park you mentioned. Didn’t know he had passed. Could you please tell me when? He also influence me significantly,

  3. On the header images who is the brown belt to the far right ?

    • That photo was taken some where around 1976. In a Shotokan class with Sensei Ken Tambara. I think his name is Ted, but I am not sure. He is also, on the right side. He is on both sides of the photo’s. Why? do you know him?

  4. yea, i learned that certificates dont mean a whole lot, once people (not saying any names) started trying to get by instructors by forging their own names on someone elses certificate. The nerve, and the extremes people will go to in order to pass themselves off. What ever happened to hard work?

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