The following is a personal facebook post by one of the recent students who graded under Taira Sensei. All content has been published with permission by the original author, Mathew Weisfeld, owner of United Martial Artist Dojo, and student of Mark Kapel Sensei .
"Hi everyone! Not too long ago I had an amazing experience of meeting and training under Taira Sensei and acknowledged by the Okinawa Gojuryu North America. I've trained most of my life, 20 of those years were various forms of American/US Gojuryu, and Gojuryu Kai/Japanese. In general, I was not a traditionalist or even that Kean on Kata and Bunkai. I liked to kick high and hit things but took a major step back because of life and complacency.
COVID-19 pulled me back into the "karate world" to save my old school, but I initially didn't have a real passion to save it. That is a much longer story for a different time.
For me the stress of the Pandemic was starting to hit more than I realized. Everything was making me upset, drinking more than ever, weight gain, and really "feeling old" (and I was only 35 at the time). Saying that Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai saved me might be an exaggeration but its not too far off. I met (my now Sensei) Mark Kapel with no intention of training. I went through my favorite kata, Seiyunchin and realized I never really understood it. Next thing I know I'm hooked and training everyday! Doing Sanchin in the snow, learning and relearning katas, and training Bunkai on a deeper level with the unrealistic aspirations of meeting Taira Sensei. As a Karate Nerd I knew all about him as a Karate Idol
My training got my head back on straight. I work in manufacturing/the music industry and us going out of business was a very real possibility. The decisions I've made in my life/day job were directly positively impacted by Karate.
Training in Traditional Karate kept my life at work and home balanced when I needed it most. More importantly 2 weeks ago I had a chance to not only meet but train and grade under Taira Sensei himself! This is the greatest moment for me in my Martial Arts career and one of the greatest in my life. I can't thank Kapel and Taira Sensei enough and now I'm training even harder so I can get to Okinawa!
I wanted to share this because I'm proud of what I accomplished but also to encourage everyone, KEEP TRAINING! Find a Traditional school (or whatever you have access to) and reach your goals and dreams! If you have had a life changing experience from the Martial Arts, share it!
Taira Sensei left me with the kanji: 一期一会, Ichi-go ichi-e: One encounter one chance, one life one chance.
We all get one shot at all of this, we can't waste it! Thanks to everyone who actually read this Facebook novel I wasn't planning on writing"
It has been a long time since we have been able to have Taira Sensei visit us for a grading and seminar. We are proud of all of the students who had a chance on his visit to train and grade with him!
A big congratulations to all who trained and graded! We hope everyone continues their efforts to push themselves as they take another step in their Martial Arts Journey! Looking forward for others to make the trip to the Head Shibu Dojo in New Jersey and become part of our Karate Family!
After a forced two year break from seminars with Taira Sensei, we are excited to have accomplished the first successful Gasshuku for 2022!
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to join us this weekend for the amazing training experience with Taira Sensei. Congratulations to all those who trained and graded! Schools from all around the country and as far as Canada journeyed to the Head Shibu Dojo for the experience to train with Taira Sensei. We will post more about the experience, the training, spot light on those who graded and more! If you are part of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai North America you have all associated schools behind you to support and train in our art!
If your school has pictures or video from this weekend or have questions about the seminar or our organization please email us at email@example.com or private message us.
Proud day for our organization! The other day members of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai North America graded and pre-graded in preparations for Taira Sensei.
Greg San is the true example of what is possible with dedication and training. Having more fake body parts than the bionic man, nothing stops him from hitting the deck and putting in his time to train. He might be over 70 but he has the heart and spirit of 20 year old! Greg successfully fulfilled all requirements to earn is Ni Dan in Okinawan Gojuryu. He has learned and continues to train with his son at Shibu Dojo Mountain Martial Arts
Besides his training, Greg also helps Kapel Sensei with community classes taught for both students of older ages and others with physical and mental disabilities. Greg isn't just a black belt, he is a hero!
Congratulations Greg San on being an example for all of us.
On June 25th 2022 the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai officially added another member to their ranks. Mat Weisfeld, owner and head instructor at United Martial Artist Academy graded for his Shodan in Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai. Mat San has trained in different aspects of Martial Arts for over 30 years but made the commitment to train in traditional Karate after his first visit to the Head Shibu Dojo under Sensei Mark Kapel.
(Taken from Mat Weisfeld's facebook page)
"I have been training in the Martial Arts for 30+ years but tonight is one of my proudest nights. Thanks to everyone who has helped support during this especially Jane Weisfeld who has been taking care of the kids while I'm training and hitting stuff like a crazy person
Thanks to Mark Kapel for taking me in and training me in Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai North America"
Mat San has spent the past 2 years training and fulfilling all the requirements for his grading all while making the same changes to his own school. Originally from an Americanized form of Karate, Mat's school now has transitioned to a full globally recognized Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai curriculum. Some of those requirements include (but not limited to) demonstrating proficiency in:
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent Kata/Bunkai workshop! Very proud of the hard work and dedication. Continue training and bringing your karate to the next level! Students of Okinawa Gojuryu form all over traveled to join in the training experience.
The workshop covered an examination of the finer points of kata and how they connect to Bunaki application. In addition the workshop covered multiple Bunkai drills and training exercises. See you all for the next class. All those interested are welcome to join in the training
The time has come! Learn directly from Goju Ryu Virtuoso Masaji Tara, Hanshi 9th Dan Chairman of Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai
June 10, 11, 12 in New Jersey at the North America Shibu Dojo hosed by Mountain Martial Arts / Gojuryu Kenkyukai of New Jersey
Contact us for any questions regarding registration.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration.
You are invited to participate in our Wednesday Kata/Bunkai Workshop Live Stream! It will be live streamed here on our Facebook page and all future Wednesday nights at 7:30 PM EST.
Our January workshops will teach the basics of Okinawa Goju Ryu (Sanchin-Tensho_Kakie-Sandan Uke) and how to apply them to Gekisai Dai Ichi/Ni~Kata/Bunkai. Participants will learn a basic Renzoku pattern and explore the many possible variations using proper kihon. This is an open invitation to all members of the Goju Ryu Kenkyukai North America family and any interested Martial Artist.
Class will be taught by Sensei Mark Kapel 7th Dan, Kyoshi-Goju Ryu Kenkyukai.
With the events of the past year we are proud of the continued efforts by members of the Okinawa Gojuryu Organization both in North America and Globally. The world continued to be impacted by COVID-19 and skilled Sensei's continued to educate and provide training opportunities for their students. Whether it is in-person or virtual, all efforts of sharing Traditional Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyukai education are important for molding and shaping new students.
We want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year while hoping all school continue to thrive and train throughout 2022, the year of the Tiger!