Historical Evolution of Karate in America

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The Introduction of Karate to America

The Introduction of Karate to America : From Okinawa to the USA

The history of karate in America is very unique. Karate Mainly made its way to America Officially by US service men who learned their chosen art from first or second generation Okinawan or Japanese masters. Many of todays American Okinawan karate pioneers includes (but not limited to) John Roseberry Sensei, Frank Van Lenten Sensei, Peter Musacchio Sensei, Peter Urban Sensei, and so on. 

One of the first American service man to introduce pure Okinawan Goju Ryu karate to America was John Roseberry Sensei.  Shihan Roseberry has been training in judo and karate since 1955. He studied judo under Matsumoto-Sensei and karate under Toguchi-Sensei ( a student of Chojun Miyagi) in Okinawa, Japan.  Presently, John Rosberry Sensei holds an 9th degree black belt in karate, 7th degree black belt in judo and 3rd degree black belt in Aikido. He is the founder and head director of the Internationally reknown Shori-Shobukan Association and is truly a legend and gentleman beyond his time.

In the Eastern part of the United States, Frank Van Lenten Sensei was another American serviceman to introduce Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, and Isshin Ryu Karate DO to America's Eastern shores.  Grandmaster Frank Van Lenten ( the founder of the Goshin-Do Association) is considered as on of the most respected and highest ranking American instructors in the Eastern hemisphere.  Frank Van Lenten Sensei (a former US Marine) has over 40 years experience in the martial arts, and was a former top ranked competitor in both the US and Japan. Master Frank Van Lenten was once the only American to ever win a championship in Okinawa, Japan in both Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring).

In the early 1960's, Peter Musacchio Sensei , a returning American serviceman who had studied Karate in Okinawa started the first Karate class in the Central New York area, known as the Central New York Karate and Family Fitness Center. Master Musacchio produced many of todays most finest and famous karate instructors and competitors in the New York State Area. Musacchio Sensei, who is well known for his skills in self-defence, is known around the world as the Father of Upstate Karate.

It was during the late 1960's and early 1970's that Karate began to evolve into an American form.   Many pioneers of American karate did what the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans themselves had done years before. They took bits and pieces of different styles and molded them into a uniquely American system of martial art. It was at this time that different groups began springing up in the US.  One of the first American Karate Pioneer Legends who broke away from tradition and Americanized Karate was Grandmaster Peter Urban.  Peter Urban Sensei was a student of  ( Japanese Goju Ryu Grandmaster) Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei - The Cat.

Peter Urban Sensei mainly broked away from his former sensei due to Yamaguchi Sensei traditional belief that leadership should be passed through family.  Sensei Urban requested for Yamaguchi sensei to promote him to the rank of 10th dan and to allow him to represent Japanese Goju Ryu in America. Yamaguchi Sensei denied Peter Urban's request mainly because he was a foreigner and because (at the time) of Yamaguchi belief, that only an asian could hold such a rank. It was at this time inwhich Peter Urban Sensei returned back to America and did the most unthinkable, breaking tradition and changing the way of karate in America. Peter Urban Sensei, broked away from Japanese Goju Ryu Karate Do and  founded American Goju Ryu Karate Do and self proclaimed (i.e. promoted) himself as a 10th degree black belt and the Grandmaster of American Goju Ryu.

Grand Master Peter Urban Produced many of the most finest martial artist in the world and became a legend who set the stage of American Karate. In America today there are many Karate schools.  There are also many styles and systems.  Although the basis of Karate began thousands of years ago, there has been a gradual changing in the execution of it's techniques.  Each Master of the past has added his own special ideas to produce today a form of unarmed self-defense equaled by no other means.  Changes are being made even now by Karate Masters of today. 

Karate-Do history is being written day by day as it continues to strive for self-betterment in the Art, and character of its followers.  Todays martial artists are stronger, faster, and more knowleable than the past.  Todays martial artists are not limited to one style or art.  They tend to learn different styles and different arts of the Martial arts. Modern Martial artists tend to blend gymnastics, western boxing, and performing arts with Asian martial arts.  However, while change is good, all martial artists recognize that tradition must never be lost.  For without roots, no lineage, there is no art.