Like all martial arts schools, the Ken-Shin-Kan School has its own theory and was established by its founder Master Seiichi Yoshitaka Akamine (1920-1995). Master Akamine who possessed the grade of 8th Dan black belt (graded by the Japanese Butokukai), and was amongst one of the highest authorities of Goju-Ryu styles in the world.
To begin with, it is necessary to establish certain differences between the traditional Goju style, and the Ken-Shin-Kan Goju style, foundered by Master Akamine.
The traditional Goju looks at attaining mastery by the duality between hard and soft. The Ken-Shin-Kan Goju-ryu style maintains the concept of the harmonious combination of the opposites, but with a slightly different perception, as explained below:
The “Go” represents strength and hardness, originally inspired by the characteristics of the Bear, and the “Ju” represents smoothness and softness, based on the characteristic of the Crane.
The “Ken” represents agility and strength, characteristics of the Tiger. The “Shin” represents the speed, eyesight and intelligence, characteristics of the Eagle.
Due to the above we can establish that by changing the characteristics and the nature of the animals that originally inspired the Goju Style, Ken-Shin-Kan’s training varied notably from the traditional.
Many exercises to strengthen and harden the body were practiced in Okinawa. Certain tools were used to achieve this, for example: oval iron rings, iron sandals and canes with weights at one end.
Master Akamine would emphasize the strengthening of the legs by executing all types of squatting exercises and jumping kicks. To strengthen the arms he would train the Katas with controlled tension. Training Kobudo with weapons heavier than normal was also an integral part of the training.
Traditional Goju uses 70% of hand and arm techniques and these constitute the most powerful weapons of the style. Leg techniques constitute 30% with little variations or combinations. Also legs are used with less frequency and directed to the low zones of the body.
The Ken-Shin-Kan Goju uses 50% of hand techniques and 50% of legs. When training with the arms, emphasis is put on speed and the correct execution of both strikes and blocks. When training with legs there are a variety of combinations, at times using three or more consecutive kicks, which is unusual in the Goju style. Jumping kicks are also used and executed in all different directions.
Both the concepts of “Go” and “Ken” are represented by the Sanchin kata. The objective of this kata is to purify the three fundamental centers of the human body, such as the brain, the heart, and the stomach. At the same time, it strengthens all the muscles and tendons in the body and teaches the three stages of breathing, considered to be the complete breathing. The concepts “Ju’ and “Shin” are represented by the Tensho kata. This kata composed of circular movements that imitate the flapping of the bird's wings teaches you to breathe in a soft and rhythmic manner. Both forms have the same structure and both develop and awaken the internal energy known as “Ki”. It is believed that the Sanchin kata is of Taoist origin dating back to 2000 B. C. On the other hand, it has been said that the Tensho kata is of recent origin and was created by Master Chojun Miyagi (1888 – 1953) and that it was based on the Chinese kata, Hakutsuru (The White Crane).
Master Akamine would say that a “Strong Spirit” could also be defined as “Courage”, this being an essential element to become an authentic martial artist. He said regardless of having great physical development and advanced technical skills, this alone would not be sufficient to defeat an adversary who has overcome his fear. Therefore “the spirit must be that of a warrior”.
To summarize the spirit of the Ken-Shin-Kan, Master Akamine would state the following:
A martial artist must possess four essential aspects:
Once this psychological and physical training is accomplished, a student might be in a position to attain the black belt level in our academy.