Motobuha Shito Ryu (info wanted)

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Hi Folks

I would like to add my cents worth if I may. Back in the early 90s or so I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Reidner, I can say he is truly a very nice guy. during the 70's I trained Renshei John Miller, Shihan Earl Marvin and others under Soke Kuniba, I was there when Soke Kuniba was developing his 5 kata for what later became known as Sogo Goshindo. I also had the privledge to train with Mr Chruch, Mr Church was an incredible man. My first instructor was Shizyura Tanaka Sensei, now all of this and .50 cents will buy you a cup of coffee.
Allow me to get back to my point. When I met Mr Reidner in Columbia SC he wanted to hold a seminar at my school, which I allowed, Further I invited him to participate in a larger event I was hosting at the time, which he gracioulsy consensted to do. Mr. Reidner gave me a small certificate which said in short that my dojo was affliated with his Shiho Karano Ryu system.
I asked him to mail me a list of his credientals which I must say he did. His higest legit rank is a Yondan (4th Dan) I know, Soke Van Camp who also got his Sokeship under the same group / people as Dr. Reidner. Ive seen both perform and while each are very nice gentleman, They do not have the knowledge, skill or rank to hold the title of Soke. Ive sat on a testing board with Soke Van Camp and have been an Uke for Soke Reidner. I know both of these guys real well. i know I keep repeating myself and again I mean no offense. Sadly in these times the Term of Soke has lost its meaning and has become an umbrella for every Tom, Dick and Harry that thinks they are worthy of starting thier own systems.
There are numerous Soke groups out there these days and most by far are merely a net work of good ole boys who self promote. The only requirement for most of these groups is that you pay the fee and know the right ppl to get in. Very few actually require and legit credentials.
The arts have become so watered down and so bastardized. In my opinion there are only a handful of Martial Artist out there who are even close to being worthy of the title of Mastrer, Grand Master, Menjin, Soke etc.
There are way toooooo many BS artist out there who hide under false credientials and made up groups.

One of the finest instrucotors and groups Ive ever had the opportunity to be associated with is that of Mr. Oyata. His skill and knowledge are truly a rare find these days. His Orginazation is well run and goverened and the vast majority of the ppl affliated with his group are honestly some of the finest not only Martial Artist to be found anywhere but also some of the finest ppl in general.
Lets put back the honesty, Integerity and overall values which the arts are designed to instill in us all.

The latin root word for Eduacate is Educo which means to draw from within.
VSanhodo said:
Hi Folks

One of the finest instrucotors and groups Ive ever had the opportunity to be associated with is that of Mr. Oyata. His skill and knowledge are truly a rare find these days. His Orginazation is well run and goverened and the vast majority of the ppl affliated with his group are honestly some of the finest not only Martial Artist to be found anywhere but also some of the finest ppl in general.
Which of Mr. Oyata's students you have met?
RRouuselot said:
Which of Mr. Oyata's students you have met?
I recently moved to Naples Florida from Columbia South Carolina. While living in Columbia I had the fortune of training with Koyshi Jim Logue and Renshi Gary Shull. Of course I attended as many of Taika's seminars as I possibly could and met numerous students of his.
VSanhodo said:
I recently moved to Naples Florida from Columbia South Carolina. While living in Columbia I had the fortune of training with Koyshi Jim Logue and Renshi Gary Shull. Of course I attended as many of Taika's seminars as I possibly could and met numerous students of his.
Mr. Logue and Mr. Shull are two very knowledgeable martial artists not to mention really nice guys. Mr. Logue started with Mr. Oyata back in 1963 while he was in Okinawa.
I am new to this forum, but would like to comment on some of the previous statements regarding Albert Church. Some of the false statements made in this forum concerning Church sensei's background has been addressed at e-budo forum by Guy Power, sensei. I have on my website certification given to Church sensei by Kuniba sensei and also from Hayashi sensei. Along with this certification is a copy of the scroll written by Kuniba sensei naming Church sensei as "Soke" of his art of Nippon Kobudo Kamishin Ryu. This scroll (which was previously said to "not exist") was read and translated by Power sensei. I would also like to mention that Power sensei was allowed to see the other scroll of succesion given to Church sensei by the past head family of this art (Power sensei at that time could not read the kanji). One statment made was that it was not until Church sensei came to America that he "broke away" and formed Kamishin Ryu, well according to this scroll that is not correct. Kamishin Ryu was recognized in Japan on 1 Nov 1969 by the Seishinkai. I hope this does not turn out to be a big battle, I just would like to clear up any incorrect statments concerning Church sensei's background. Another statement made in another thread called into question Church sensei's rank. Again the rank and title certifications are listed on my site and any higher rank acknowledged by Church sensei would have been concerning his own art (not considering any "cross ranks" which seemed to be the "norm" in those days). Also I would like to show that on this site is a Kanban written by Kuniba sensei naming Church sensei as Kanagawa prefectual leader of the Seishinkai. All of these scrolls/certificates can be viewed at
If you have any trouble with the link just go to and follow the links to the lineage documentation.
I hope this clears up any mis-understandings. Although I have a feeling this will not be the end of the debate.
Just because something is displayed on the internet does not mean it is an authentic document.
Not only did Kuniba Soke not give Church a "Soke Scroll", he could not.
The Seishinkai was an organization founded to promote Motobuha Shito Ryu Karatedo. Later Shogo Kuniba added his Goshindo, Iaido and Kobudo. But it was never a "Sokeship" board or registry. There are procedures and processes in place for granting recognition to new arts in Japan and for verifying credentials of thise making claims to lineage.
No Japanese organization would verify the inheritance of an Chinese art left by a Korean to an American then give it a Japanese name and make him a Soke. It's dumb story. It would make a nice movie. But in reality, it's dumb.
You may have a piece of paper that church claimed came from Kunba and you may have photos of church and Kuniba together. But none of that proves that the piece of paper you have came from Kuniba. Kuniba said he never gave him such a scroll, and the family maintains that today.
After church left Japan he never had any further contact with Kuniba. What he did do was make a nice living selling Soke certificates to others like Rod Sachronski.
I came back to edit my last post. It was too late.

First: I did not want to call the poster dumb. He just bought into a dumb story.

The "Soke Certificate" was never fully translated. It seems that the use of "kanji" was so poor that most of the document can not be translated.
Had Kuniba written this, it would be translateable.
Starting from right to left, you can see the red lines drawn around the translated parts. There is a lot of writing in between, what does it say? How come no one knows?

Also, Guy Power did not guarantee that Kuniba Soke wrote this. Atleast to my knowledge. He just said he translated these parts. There's a big difference between translating a few lines on a document that someone hands you and staking your reputation on the autehticity of the signitures and seals.

Speaking of which, the selection does not show a signature or a seal that would go towards verifying that this came from Kuniba. Please provide more documentation to support this claim. Or have someone reputable and knowldegabel come here to say that they examined the original document, compared signatures and seals to other original documents and can say without a doubt that Kuniba created this scroll. I doubt that Power Sensei has done that or even would want to try and stake his reputation on that.

In the mean time all you have is a mostly untranslated copy of a copy of document that someone says someone else got but no one has any more.
You have this against Kuniba's statement that he did not write this document.
See here for a repsponse from Soke Kozo Kuniba, which essentially came from Soke Shogo Kuniba.
As I thought the debate would not end.....

Only a couple of points I would like to mention,
First I agree that the translation of the scroll is limited but contrary to that last post, the kanji being poor was never the reason for the lack of translation. The problem was the poor quality of the copy (according to Power sensei), not the kanji.
I also recognize the article that was written by Kuniba sensei's son BUT I have in my possesion rank certificates written by Kuniba sensei to a senior student of Church sensei dated 1980 (after Church sensei's death). Also I have in my possesion a good copy of a letter signed by Kuniba (possibly actually written by James Hernandez) recognizing Catherine Church as Kaicho of her Kamishinkai organization formed after Church sensei's death (document also written after Church sensei's death). It sure seems like a lot to give to an organization that supposedly "forged" scrolls and certificates in your name. Also I guess the correct channels to recognize someone as Kaicho of a martial organization was by-passed again in 1980 with Mrs. Church.
Also it is always overlooked that Kuniba sensei wrote a Kanban for Church sensei naming him as Kanagawa prefectual leader of the Seishinkai (I have a photo of kuniba sensei standing next to the Kanban as well as a pic of Church sensei next to it.
There always seems to be someone out there swearing it couldn't be but there is a lot more documentation (although some of it hard to read due to bad copies) that points to the truth of this rather than substantial proof against it.
One last point, I am good friends with a group of guys that trained with Kuniba in the 80's in Kuniba's Goshin Budo. Most of them also were very connected with Church sensei and according to all of them Kuniba sensei spoke very highly of Church sensei and the certificates and letter of recognition to Catherine Church supports this.
If it is dumb to believe all of this and the testimonies of people who trained with Kuniba sensei from the Church camp I guess I am guilty.
Much of this history is garbled up, which is not surprising given the intense politics and the lengthof time since its founding. I probably will not address the validity issue of the style and Church, largely since it breeds conflict.
I might clear up some mis-stated facts though. Baillargeon was the first non-Japanese to train at Seishin-Kan (the name of the dojo). According to Baillargeon himself, and also others who were stationed with him in the Osaka area, Baillargeon was an avid marathon runner, and a Master Sergeant in charge of the local workers who were employed on the base.
One day while running up in the hills around Osaka he encountered a very strange building, with loud echoing shouts coming from within. He paused and went up to the door. A polite Japanese gentleman was there to receive him. When he asked to see what went on inside he was politely refused, and no argument effected his entry.
He returned again the following day, and after announcing his position at the base again asked for admission and was refused. He then cut off entry of indigenous personnel to the base for a couple of days; after returning a thord time and explaining this, he was interviewed by one of the instructors. At length it was agreed that he could participate in one class; if he made it through that class then they might agree to allow him to remain as a student.
A Gi was provided for him, he dressed out, and class began. A senior showed him front punch and front stance briefly. Then it began. Across the room they stepped, the entire class, doing basic front punch in front stance. This went on for 20 minutes and many students bowed out and sat down in the adjascent area. With each trip up and down the dojo a few more sat out. After 45 minutes there were 5 left, Baillargeon, the senior instructor and 3 black belts. After a few more passes it was just Baillargeon, the senior and one black belt. Then the black belt sat out. After one more pass the instructor stopped them, and later it became evident that it was done because they would have been very embarassed if Baillargeon had out lasted their senior. ;)

Baillargeon was then stationed at Peshawar, Pakistan along with his good friend Robert Zepecki. The two of them learned Pakistani Stick fighting from a man known to the Americans only as Master John (his name was complex). I have a copy of a picture of Master John standing with Baillargeon and Zepecki and a pile of the unusual weapons that they had mastered.

It was then that Baillargeon returned to the states. Initially he was the USA representative of Seishin-Kai Karate Union; we all wore the red patch of that organization for years. Zepecki of course had a patch that had block embroidery.

A story was told to me about Church, not very flattering, and it is the only time anyone ever mentioned his name to me. Again, going down that path tends to breed conflict. Suffice it to say that Baillargeon knew him and had a short meeting with him a couple of times. There is no evidence Church trained with Kuniba and only his own word substantiated his trip to Japan. That is probably all I should say.

-Chris J.
Unfortunately the history is a bit inaccurate, but probably that is to be expected.

-Chris J.
I have info on Church, Sacrenoski (SP?) and others in the Juko-Kai association claiming rank from Church. It is contraversial and even to some, inflamatory. But the truth can do that sometimes. Better be a private E-mail, though.

-Chris J.
A short story, completely true, might illuminate some of the things being mentioned here.

A couple of years ago I got an interesting E-mail from a man in sweeden (I believe it was Sweden...) named Morten Steen, he had an interesting document to share with a bunch of us on the mailing group. It seems an American who had trained with Rodney Sacrenoski (SP?) was attempting to certify himself as Yondan by bringing a copy of his certification. The certificate looked unusual, with the usual marks that might lead one to suspect a forgery, so a Japanese national was asked to please translate the kanji.

The return E-mail and corrected certificate are most humerous. Many mistakes on usage of characters, several mis penned hiragana, and one GIANT mistake that was just too much. It seems the 'author' had used a kanji for the SEI in SEI-DO KAN out of a book and had picked the wrong character to represent that sound. The meaning shoulod have been "Pure House Way", but the writer had used the kanji for SEX instead of PURE. The translation became "Sex-House Way Karate", and the only possible interpretation for this was "Whore-House Karate". ;) ;) ROTFLMAO!

The very day I got this bitmap image (I still have it!) I immediately lookes at the scanned certificates on Sacrenoski's web site, and at as many of his student's web sites as possible; there were (are) so many claiming to be some Soke of some new art but with ancient roots of some sort. ALL of the certificates that I could find depicted that had come from Sacrenoski had this same gross error! A year later the same search found not one such mistake, yet all persons had depicted copies of their certificates. They had been re-created without these mistakes over the past year and were now being mis-represented as original certificates with bogus dates.

These people, who shall remain nameless, might have decent martial skills, or they might not. I simply do not know. But, if you certify through them, remember this post and reflect on the validity of the rank. And try not to get any on you.
Suffice it to say that the connection between Mr. Church and Mr. Sacronowski has been extremely overstated. Mr. Church had dealings with Mr. Sacronowski in the early 70's but later broke all ties with him. This disconnection was re-stated by Mr. Sacronowski in a letter he wrote that I have a copy of. Any later connections claimed by Mr. Sacronowski or anyone tied to him to Mr. Church would not only go against the facts as witnessed by the students of Mr. Church at that time, but Mr. Sacronowski's own words.
Actually, there seems to be a stronger Church/Sacronowski connection than a Church/Kuniba connection.

Church seems to be the great-grandaddy of the modern day Sokeship associations.
kenpojujitsu said:
Actually, there seems to be a stronger Church/Sacronowski connection than a Church/Kuniba connection.

Church seems to be the great-grandaddy of the modern day Sokeship associations.

Also, as you stated the ties between Church/Sacronowski going against the word of students who were there. Yet, you refuse to accept the word of the students - including the Kuniba family - who were there and say Church did not get a scroll from Kuniba making him a Soke.

The story of the stupid Kanji being used on the certificates is typical of other Church fakes - like the book that he supposedly co-wrote with Baillargeon and Kuniba. The book had photos of both Baillargeon and Kuniba - but none of him with either of the 2 in the same photo. Also, there were wrong kanji and others that were upside down and backwards.
I have been told that other certificates that Church had and claimed came from Kuniba also had upside down and backward Kanji.

Church may have had decent basic martial skills, but he was a scheister at best.
This is getting interesting.....

I will try this point by point , but I bet it won't end here.

1. Church seems to be the great-grandaddy of the modern day Sokeship associations.
It is true that Mr. Church was trying to put together some sort of governing body to oversee American martial artist BUT the onslought of the modern Sokeship board FAR post-dates Mr. Church's life. This nonsense (Sokeship boards) seems to be a rediculous fabrication far removed from any thought Church sensei may have had.

2. Refusal to believe the students of Kuniba that claim Church sensei did not get a "Soke" scroll from Kuniba sensei.
I have not heard from any of Kuniba's students (who were there in Osaka in 1967-69) that he did not. This has only came from Kuniba's son. Since that statement a copy of the scroll has turned up and has been read by Power sensei. The kanji seems to be in the handwriting of Mr. Kuniba, in comparison to certificates that we have given by Mr. Kuniba, personally. AND the witness of personal students of Mr. Kuniba in the 80's training in Kuniba sensei's Goshindo that claim Mr. Kuniba spoke highly of Mr. Church. AND students of Church sensei that Mr. Kuniba cross ranked to Dan ranks in Motobu Ha Shito Ryu right after Church sensei's death. AND a sponsorship letter given to Mr. Church's wife in 1980 backing her as Kaicho of her own version of Church sensei's Kamishin Ryu. I could keep going but it sure seems like a lot to give to the martial "family" of a guy who forged a scroll and lied about sponsorship.

3. The book.....
I have a copy of the book written and there are a few pictures in the book with Church sensei and Kuniba sensei demonstrating kicks etc. together???? Also I have a pic of Kuniba sensei standing next to a beautiful Kanban written by Kuniba sensei to Church sensei naming Church sensei as Kanagawa prefectual leader of the Seishinkai????
As far as the kanji in the book, there are a few kanji in the book handwritten on the sides of the pages by Church sensei that were not correct, this also lends to the impossibility that Church sensei could possibly have forged the scroll.

It is amazing that so many people can be influenced by politics and form opinions that no matter how much evidence you produce it still does not change the opinion. It will be argued forever I guess.
Having a picture taken with someone does not mean that person made you a "Soke".
Yes, Church did get his picture taken with Kuniba. Yes Church did get some crdential from Kuniba.
Church lied about what those credentials were.
If getting your picture taken with someone is indictaive of rank and titles then I am also a 10th Dan and Soke in 20 different arts.

Again, you also need to come to understand that in Japan they do not have the kind of "Sokeship Councils" like Albert Church started here in the U.S. Not only did Kuniba not make him a "Soke", he could not. It's just not the way it's done over there.
Church is dead. Please let his lies die with him.
Ok... I can see that in no way is this ever going to end.

Church sensei did not "just get a picture taken with someone". The picture is of his KANBAN that states Church sensei was the
Kanagawa prefectual leader of the Seishinkai!!! The KANBAN is the point, not that he was in "a picture with someone".
The only reason I even mentioned the pictures of Kuniba/Church being together is that earlier it was stated that there were no pics
of them together and it was called into question whether Church sensei was ever actually in Japan or trained with Kuniba.
As far as the Soke issue...Kuniba sensei did not "make him anything". He was being sponsored and covered by an established system because of his inherited art. He was already a head family. He received a 30 foot long scroll (that has been viewed by several people). It was because of this that he received the secondary scroll from Kuniba (that is on the previous link page with all of his Godan and Shihan licenses from Kuniba sensei and Hayashi sensei). It is not unusual at all for a system to recognize the legitimacy of another system. This would especially be needed in the case of an American inheriting anything.

Of course this will not end here. Everyone has the right to believe anything they want. If all of the pictures and copies of the Menjo/Kanban etc. does not prove it then nothing will.
kamishinkan said:
As far as the Soke issue...Kuniba sensei did not "make him anything". He was being sponsored and covered by an established system because of his inherited art.

Why would this have to happen? Why would Church want to be "sponsored" by a Japanese Budo organization if he alrady inherited a Chinese system from a Korean? I'm sorry, but this is just a dumb story.
Why would Kuniba, who did not know Church before this time even give a flip about it?

If Church was appointed as "prefectural leader" of Seishinkai, how come he never served in that position? If you are now going to say that he did, plase give the dates.

Kamishin Ryu and the "Kuniba scroll" are just figments of Churches imagination.
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