Hanshi Dan Smith who will be holding a master class in the north west. (0202MM11)
Hanshi Dan Smith who will be holding a master class in the north west. (0202MM11)

North west karate expert Michael Quinn has been appointed to a prestigious body to promote the traditions of the martial art.

Sensei Quinn, as he is known to his students, was selected to serve as the Traditional Karate Kobudo Organisation’s (TOKKO) representative for the North and Donegal.

Sensei Patrick Beaumont. (0202MM10)

Sensei Patrick Beaumont. (0202MM10)

The new role will bring him into contact with some of the leading traditional karate masters in the world.

He will also share his skills with local students by hosting masterclasses taught by some of the visiting karate masters at his Donegal Shorin Ryu Karate Club.

In his role with TOKKO, which is affiliated with the Okinawan Ken Karate and Kobudo Rengokai, Sensei Quinn said he hopes to promote traditional karate, which originated in Okinawa.

As a result of his membership of the body, plans are already underway to bring a world renowned karate master, an Okinawan 10th Dan teacher, to the north west.

Sensei Quin and his students are also planning a training visit to Okinawa next year.

This spring, the Donegal club, which has members from Derry, will be hosting a seminar with a 9th Dan TOKKO representative, Hansi Dan Smith, a Shorin Rya Seibukan master.

Hanshi Smith is the only non-Okinawan member of the Rengokai, the parent organisation of TOKKO.

The Rengokai is an organisation of the top teachers of Shorin Ryu, Goju Ryu, Uechi Ryu and Kobudo on Okinawa. The purpose of the Rengokai is to promote the cultural treasure of Okinawan karate and kobudo around the world.

The karate master is no stranger to the north west, having visited Donegal last summer to work with local students.

Since its formation several years ago Donegal Shorin Ryu Karate has been extremely successful and has grown continuously, now having a large number of students throughout the county, including a growing number from Derry.

The club is unique in that it does not train in sports style karate, but strictly adheres to traditional training methods. Students train in body conditioning through utilising hojo undo exercises, makiwara training, breath control, and kong li exericses.

Matsubayashi is a style which mainly concentrates self defense using kyusho Jitsu (striking vital points), and attacking nerves, arteries and joints. This is primarily referred to as ‘life protection arts’.

However the main emphasis is placed on the development of character for all students, and respect and in the dojo all students are expected to show respect to each other, regardless of their rank.

Sensei Quinn feels that it is important also that every student should be allowed to talk and train with senior teachers. He says that ranks should not make any difference.

It simply means that the senior is further ahead in his martial arts journey, and his goal should be to help others obtain a higher skill level.

He says that he encourages all his students, including beginners, to train with and talk to instructors such as Hanshi Smith and Kyoshi Beaumont. He feels that high ranked senior instructors should welcome and encourage new karate-ka without being condescending of lower ranked students.

As Okinawan karate is also used to enhance and improve health, it is important that stances, kata and exercises are taught properly, Sensei Quinn explained.

If the kata is not taught correctly, this leads to improper skeletal alignment, therefore many karate students, especially those who are not taught correctly, develop and suffer complications with knees, joint, and other bone problems. Having access to senior Okinawan masters provide students with the opportunity to have their postures corrected.

In the upcoming seminars, all students will be able to approach both Sensei’s to ask questions regarding karate.

Sensei Quinn’s TOKKO role will involve promoting the martial arts cultural treasure of authentic Okinawan karate and kobudo as a life style to improve health and strength of character. He has also been asked to grow the awareness and participation in Northern Ireland of the Rengokai’s activities and efforts to spread traditional Okinawan karate and kobudo.

Sensei Quinn’s teacher, Patrick Beaumount, a 7th Dan in Matsubayashi has also been selected as the TOKKO representative for the British Isles. He was the first instructor to introduce Matsubayashi to Ireland 30 years ago. He will also be coming to the north west in April for the seminar.

This seminar will be open to anyone who is interested in studying traditional Okinawan karate or kobudo, regardless of their present style or rank.

Constant training in kata is vital to uncover the fighting techniques hidden within the katas, and much time and effort is spent working through the various principles of various katas.