Mars Hill Shotokan (Club)

Mars Hill Shotokan karate club






      As you probably know, I received a promotion recently from my Sensei Jim Baize. My rank is now Yondan (4th Dan). I am very proud of receiving this rank, but at the same time very humbled by it. As you may also know, this allows me to test and promote up to Sandan (3rd Dan) within the United Shotokan Karate Federation. That is Sensei Baize’s organization. At last count, Sensei is Godan (5th Dan) ranked under Sensei H. Nishiyama. I do not know if Jim will pursue any further rank or not, especially with Sensei Nishiyama gone.

     My pledge to you is the same as always, I will continue to try to teach traditional Shotokan Karate to the best of my ability. For a multitude of reasons, I will not attempt to change the principles or methods that I have been taught by what I would consider to be some of the best Karate practitioners in the business (or formerly in the business).

     We will not be very involved with other schools in the area unless we find some traditional Shotokan schools around or some move here. All styles have their strong points and their weak points. My knowledge comes almost entirely from very well grounded Shotokan schools. My involvement with other styles has been and will continue to be fairly minimal.

     I want to personally thank you all for making Mars Hill Shotokan a very successful school. Our numbers are not extreme, but our quality is just fine. I look forward to a very long and fruitful journey with each of you as you pursue your Karate goals. My greatest hope for you is that your Karate goals become very closely aligned with all of your goals. It works well when that happens.
     We will be in for some changes in the next year. I will be giving you more detail as it develops. At any rate, the traditional style will NOT change. You will be presented with Shotokan Karate the way I have learned it.

     Thank you in advance for giving me the support to help reach the goal of perpetuating such a wonderful art form.

Sensei Don



I found the website for 24 Chickens to be of limited value. The video
portions were not too informative and frankly, for Japanese
practitioners, seemed very weak. The conversation strings were a total
waste of time. I am 4th Dan, 2nd generation from G. Funakoshi through
H. Nishiyama,  and have been around Karate for over 30 years, and I
would not present myself to be the expert that these writers did.
When Nishiyama passed away, he left a great void in the Karate world.
It appears that no one has been able to authoritatively step into his
shoes. Therefore, this void will be filled by whatever it is filled
Through guidance from my Sensei's, I have tried to put together a
library that does not stray from our tradition. The 3 authors that I
have chosen are G. Funakoski, M. Nakayama, and H. Nishiyama, NO
OTHERS. Sugiyama's 25 Katas book was actually co-authored by
Nishiyama. His name has been dropped, and frankly I am not sure why.
Until someone is able to fill the gap, I will shy away from most
writers and hopefully all would-be leaders and stick to what we know
to be correct. There are some videos of Nakayama and Nishiyama around.
Try to get those as you surf the web. Even some of the bigger names in
Karate have broken from the traditional training. I try to review the
ones added to our website, so we stay close to the original teachings.
To reference one of the strings on the website, Funakoshi watered down
the bunkai of the techniques/katas to teach kids. He taught adults and
college students to the best of my knowledge. I'm not sure where the
teaching of kids became fashionable, but I do not remember ever seeing
any reference to it in JKA. I don't recall any of the All Japan Karate
tournaments having kids divisions. Other styles referenced agreed, so
says the writer. I have worked with Shorin-ryi, Goju-ryu, Isshyin-ryu,
and Kyokushenkai people, and never experienced any such deference to
Funakoshi or Traditional Shotokan. Unfortunately, the Shotokan name is
carried by a very large group of Karate-ka, and they are NOT the same.
Some may even be heard to say, NO BORING KATAS TAUGHT HERE. I hope we
can say the same, but we teach and believe Kata to be one of the most
important parts of teaching and learning Karate, we just don't have
any boring ones.
The JKA seems to be leaderless in the US and maybe vanishing here, I
hope not. We are members of the United Shotokan Karate Federation
(USKF) which is an affiliate of the International Traditional Karate
Federation (ITKF) which was founded by Nishiyama, and the JKA. I am a
member of all of those organizations and a life-time member of the
JKA. We will do our best to remain Traditional, using the traditional
teachings and try to refrain from personal interpretations, etc. When
I do not know an answer, I will go to Sensei Baize. If he does not
know, he will find out. However, he is quite well studied and read in
our and other styles and generally knows the answers (every time I've
I appreciate you asking my advice and thoughts on the website and hope
that all the students do the same. It is very easy to become misled,
especially in the environment that we find ourselves in today with the
relatively recent departure of Nishiyama and the incredible void that
he has left. So, for this one, I'd say, don't waste your time.
Sensei Don





Our first objective here at Mars Hill Shotokan is to teach Traditional Shotokan Karate and further advance our understanding of Karate through its practice.  Since this is our main objective we make every effort to keep the cost to the Karate-Ka (students) as low as possible.

MONTHLY FEES: Will be handled directly with Sensei all fees are expected on time thanks.

EQUIPMENT:  Gloves, shin pads w/ metatarsal protection, mouthpiece, cup for boys, chest pad (optional), headgear (optional), forearm/elbow pads (optional) it is important to remember that equipment can be ordered through Sensei.  This equipment is typically cheaper than retail usually including the shipping fees.  Shipping fees are significant however.  Equipment will only be ordered after it has been pre-paid for and Sensei can always answer questions concerning the equipment that is needed (as well as sizing).

INTERMEDIATE CLASS:   Intermediate class will begin on Nov. 1 at 6:30 pm. We want all Little Tigers with rank at or above 2 yellow stripes in there as well as kids over 11 years old. If there are any questions or individual needs/concerns, please speak with Sensei.






Bruce Clayton PhD

I want to introduce hip technique at a relatively high level because something about the traditional way of explaining these skills handicapped me badly for many years. I had to dismantle my idea about koshi waza and start over. Let’s look at the technique and figure out how to teach it.

First, it is a given that koshi waza depends on balance, posture, pressure reaction, etc. This forum is about hip motion channeling power into hand and foot technique for explosive focus.

I think the traditional terms and ideas are flawed... not the technique but the way we talk about it. We speak of hip "rotation," hip "vibration" and "pendulum action" as if they were three different things, and I think this confuses students. It certainly confused me for about two decades.

So I propose a more generic definition of koshi waza:

The hip on the power side (same side as the technique) is the “power hip”. To throw the technique, the performer drives the power hip sharply in the same direction as the technique, which in most cases is straight forward. (Sometimes the power hip generates force upward, or sideways, or to the rear, or even downward, depending on the technique.)

The hip on the opposite side is the "supporting hip." The performer should think of this hip as remaining stationary, to serve as a fulcrum for the power hip.

I have recently had very good results teaching koshi waza in Bassai Dai using this explanation.

Warning: It is a very bad idea to mention “hip rotation” to students. Hip rotation is the outer visual impression one gets watching a person do koshi waza. It isn’t what is happening inside. "Rotation" is a very misleading idea.


Shihan Randhir Bains once put my class through a koshi waza drill that taught my students isolated control over one hip at a time. Standing in natural stance, arms relaxed, Bains had us drive the right hip forward hard (as if punching) and stop. Then snap the hip back to the neutral position. Repeat several times.

Then the same drill with the left hip. Drive the hip forward hard, all by itself, and snap back to neutral position each time.

Then he surprised us by reversing the motion. Take your right hip and drive it powerfully backward, straight to the rear. Snap back to neutral and repeat. Switch to left hip; drive backward hard and return to neutral.

Bains’s final step was to connect the pieces by having the right hip drive forward AND the left hip drive backward at the same time. Then reverse it, left hip driving forward and right hip driving back. Voila, “hip rotation.”

I have developed a less thorough but more practical variation of this lesson. Last evening I was trying to teach hip technique to a brown belt who just wasn’t getting it. He seemed baffled by the idea until I stood close behind him and knocked him out of stance by slamming my right hip into his butt.

Once he had the idea, I had him stand in natural stance, hands down, and drive the left hip forward and focus, then snap back to neutral position. We repeated this maybe twenty times until he caught on. Then the right hip; drive forward hard and focus, then snap back and try again.

Then left inside block, concentrating on driving the left hip forward hard and focused beneath the blocking elbow... driving forward power into the block. I made him overcome resistance to the block by pushing forward, not sideways. We kept going until he got the hip/arm timing right and could put forward drive behind the block.

Then the right side, same thing. Drive right hip forward under the inside block. Repeat until concept understood, if not mastered.

OK, now, set up for left inside block. On the count, do the left inside block with hip action, then flow directly into the right inside block with hip action.

You should have seen him. The light dawned and the kid did the prettiest and most powerful “hip rotation” you ever saw. Then I taught him the first few inside-block clusters of Bassai Dai and he looked great.

I never mentioned anything about hips “rotating” or a hip going “backward.” All he needed was an awareness of what the power hip had to do, and the rest took care of itself.

Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition.





History and Definitions

    Although today there are many different Karate sports, originally there was only one.  
    The first or Traditional Karate (Karate-Do) was the original Karate from which these
    later sports borrowed the name “Karate”, as it is commonly and widely used today.

    Karate has its roots in “Tode” – a weaponless self-defense system developed in
    Okinawa, influenced by Chinese martial arts with more than two thousand years of
    history.  In mainland Japan, it was established as a part of
    “Budo” (Japanese martial
    arts) system; “Traditional Karate” therefore is a general term for Karate that follows
    Budo principles.

    After World War II, Karate’s value for self defense, physical fitness, competition, and
    overall mental and physical development came to be increasingly recognized.  
    However, as a martial art, it necessitated long and repeated careful study.  Because
    practice of Karate soon came to approach the semblance of a “boom” in popularity,
    requirements of long and repeated careful study came to be overridden by the
    demands of today’s world for more rapid results and quicker development.  The result
    was the emergence of many new sports using the name of Karate.  To avoid confusion
    with these new sports, the public began distinguishing the original Karate as
    “Traditional Karate”.

    The international governing body of Traditional Karate is the International Traditional
    Karate Federation (ITKF), which is composed of Traditional Karate national federation
    from each member country.  Each member national federation is the governing body
    Traditional Karate in its respective country.  Worldwide, members of ITKF practice
    different “styles” of Karate (such as Shotokan, Goju-ryu, etc.).  These “styles” are
    comparable to schools or academies and have their own unique training systems
    developed by Karate masters over many centuries.  However, even under the same
    style, groups affiliated with ITKF pursue Budo Karate while others not belonging to
    practice so called “karate sports” which are merely punching / kicking games with
    Budo principles.

Objectives and Values

    The purpose of Traditional Karate is to develop well-balanced mind and body, through
    training in fighting techniques.  Traditional Karate also shares the ultimate aim with
    Budo, which is to cultivate great human character of a higher class that prevents any
    violent attack before an actual fight occurs.

    Budo originates in the practice of physical fighting; however, it has a significant effect on
    the spiritual and physical development of a human since Budo philosophy and
    are absolute requirements for the study of techniques and improvement of
    Elements such as manners and etiquette were not adapted from outside
    elements nor
    are they independent from the physical training, but existed within the
    system since the
    origin of Budo and were integrated to the technical improvement:

  • Seriousness:
    Budo training must be done in a serious manner, because its techniques are derived
    from severe life-or-death situations, where one must win the fight in order to survive.  
    This is why Budo practitioners are required to have a serious mind set.  Only in such a
    condition can one possibly achieve extreme levels of mind and body far beyond
    levels.  This is apparent in competitions.  For example, a Kumite (sparring)
    match is
    carried out in Ippon-shobu (one perfect “finishing blow” determines the
    winner) format.  
    Because only one definitive technique can conclude a match,
    competitors are driven to
    learn the importance of serious attitude.


  • Humility:
    To achieve a higher level, Budo requires a practitioner to keep a humble mind and
    behavior.  This allows one to always learn something from anyone.  Once one thinks
    that he or she is better than others, the possibility of improvement ceases.  This is the
    basis of the high importance of respecting instructors as well as training partners in


  • Calmness & Discipline:
    As already mentioned, the original Budo techniques were designed for the critical
    situation where one may or may not survive.  Under such a condition, it is difficult for
    anybody to keep a calm mind; the ability of clear judgment or physical reflex slows
    down, and often one may find himself immobilized due to nervousness.  Therefore
    keeping a calm mind is a crucial concern in Budo practice, and this is why a training
    session begins and ends with a period of meditation.  In addition, Budo’s rigorous and
    disciplined training makes a practitioner confident about his techniques and gain
    mental stability.  According to the recent research by sports psychologists, this method
    is recognized as most effective in avoiding mental fluctuation.


  • Skillfulness:
    In Budo, the proper technique and power are generated by skill, rather than relying only
    on muscular strength.  Techniques are delivered from the center of the body so that it
    can utilize a quick and efficient reflex of the entire body.  In the same way, Traditional
    Karate requires an integrated physical action controlled by the center of the body,
    starting from the feet on the floor.  Proper training develops a body with each part
    moving in proper sequence without unnecessary moves, and as a result, allows one
    build a well-balanced body.


    Acknowledging the above described values, it is easy to see why such physical and
    mental training became the basis for the concept of Budo and Traditional Karate
    demanding unlimited seeking of total human development.

        Copyright © 2007 International Traditional Karate Federation.  All rights reserved.