Notes from Miami – Shiina Sensei camp

Arrived at the University of Miami Wellness Center early at 5:35pm. Was worried about Silvia who landed in FLL at 4:08pm driving down to Miami in a rental car directed by her GPS. Thankfully, she finally got here just about when the class was starting. There was about 40 people in attendance, many of whom I haven’t seen in ages. Was happy to see John who took care of my dying dog back in 2000 when I moved to San Francisco!

Sensei Shiina started us with step-in oizuki chudan, kiri-kai and another oizuki chudan – faster & faster responding to his count. Alot of speed, paying attention to hip forward and straight while maintaining stance height during transition. He emphasized how important kiai was to training, but keeping the discipline to kiai on each 10th count and no other. He had some awesome drills following, but what was significant to me was him reorganizing the class into age groups. The kids were called out to the first row, the under 20yo’s and 30yo’s in the next row, and then the under 50yo’s and over 50yo’s in the next 2 rows respectively. He had everyone training hard – giving the younger, spryer ones more of a physical challenge (faster, longer strides and distance to cover etc). This kept the younger folks completely engaged physically and the older groups as engaged in their pace. He talked about how we should be continually pushing ourselves to improving distance and speed of our attacks during training. In particular, he called out the significance of inside tension of our stance helping propel us forward as oppose to dissipating the momentum if our knees or feet are pointing outward while moving forward.

We were sweating and high on adrenalin that came to a crash when Sensei ripped off Frankie’s blister (with kime) at the bottom of his foot! Grimaces of compassion was audible among the class, though Sensei reinforced that we should venture to train until callusses form. Oh how I could really use a pedicure after camp!

He reviewed kata – Heians for the color belts and Bassai-dai & Kanku-dai for the advanced belts. There was good discussion about bunkai and more emphasis on feet positioning (directing power forward to the next move). Refreshingly, an ample opportunity (invitation and encouragement from Sensei) for the class to ask questions of him. Very stimulating!

After class, we convened at the Mexican restaurant next to Miami Shotokan Karate Club dojo for dinner. And of course followed by fun-filled comaraderie with lots of stories from both Sensei Shiina and Sensei Jose Ferrand. Sensei Shiina told of his adventures teaching at international camps where subtleties of cultures come to play. We also reminisced about 1994 JKA world tournament in Philly when Sensei Jose and Sensei Shiina squared off during USA vs. Japan Team Kumite. A personal highlight for me when I whipped out an old photo of my brother and me with Sensei Shiina at that venue to share – CHINO, SHIINA & CHINA photo!


All in all, a fantastic ending for our first day at camp. More to come tomorrow… stay tuned.
~ Christina

10 am class – what bliss! Sure beats a 6am regiment. Even then, we got there just in time (phew!).

This morning’s class had heavy emphasis on hip rotation/hip vibration and the distinction when to use which. We need to pay close attention to hip sideways for blocks and hip forward for attacks – use hips for techniques not only upper body. Sensei shared an adaptation of Heian Shodan kata he did 200 times a day (a regiment that he attributes to helping him win GOLD for kata at the World tournament). He again stressed on pivoting on the ankle driving momentum forward toward the next direction. Today’s kata review – Empi & Jion. Sensei took extra care to quiz and explain application of kata moves (bunkai). He fielded many questions from the group regarding varied kata segments – such as Jitte, Chinte, Bassai-dai, Kanku-dai. There is still so much more to learn about Jitte for me (thankful for the added perspective on applications).

Sensei singled out the candidates for Nidan and Sandan – to review and coach their favorite katas. He will be conducting Dan testing later this afternoon. Kata techniques should be big and expansive as should kihon techniques – this will lead to an easier ability to bridge distance for kumite and stronger techniques. He went over the “multi-directional in place kicks” – make sure that there is no counter reactive motion in the body – momentum yet again needs to follow through toward the direction of the kicks. As Sensei was coaching the Dan candidates, it occurred to me that this is the first time I witnessed an examiner take the time to teach and make clear his expectations for grading – very refreshing!

Karate Men in Miami
Karate Women in Miami

What a grueling test! Kihon (he was scrutinizing on hip rotation and hip vibration); Bunkai questions (he asked many questions which we reviewed at class earlier); he reintroduced the Pen test (speed, control and accuracy in punching the pen); many many rounds of Kumite. He demanded “spirit” – OSU and KIAI when called and at ready in the way that only Shiina can deliver (from the diaphragm with thunderous Kime).

It was nerve-racking even for the family and friends that were there, let alone the candidates on the floor. Very difficult to relax and some mistakes were made, despite Shiina Sensei’s encouragement to “relaaaxx”. Nonetheless, I am certain that half the assessments were already made in this morning’s class. The test was definitely more of a teaching moment for all. At the close, Gustavito was able to surprise Shiina Sensei by leading an eloquent “Dojo Kun” in Japanese (pride for Sensei Jose). Congratulations to All passing the grade!

Last class, how can he possibly best the last two class and the Dan test? No doubt, he saved the best for last – KUMITE, KUMITE, KUMITE!

We began with a series of drills to warm us into motion – and yes one of those in place switch stance with no hop hurt my ankles exercises; another one that distinguishes close range kick (using knee up) vs long range kick (extending hips) and a call out to how JKA uses mawashigeri to bridge distance specifically with the ankle position of the foot … enlightening. We went onto partner drills focusing on TIMING and tai-sabaki (an exercise to dodge partner’s deep oizuki chudan attack by slight shifting of hips out of the way) progressing to SPEED by beating your partner to the punch (one side initiating reverse punch to the body while the other side reverse punches to the face, both step back and both quickly springing forward to oizuki-gyaku-zuki before the other). Thereafter followed by a preset series of techniques leading to FREE-SPARRING until a clear point is scored.

Alot of speed and endurance at one point we had a zigzag formation where you would free spar (best shot in 3 secs a round) with every target in the formation down the hall (5 rounds of it!). It was grueling but exhilarating! All the while hearing Shiina Sensei’s guterral call to go faster and faster. Sensei pushed the young ones hard – I have not seen the kids and the young adults sweat this much in any camp – and not one complain. I can tell that they too were high on Sensei’s energy.

Sensei encouraged us to spar about 2-3 times a week. He shared that he and Imamura Sensei are co-coaching the Japanese National Team. And this exact Kumite training is what the Japanese Team goes through to prepare for tournament. He hopes that we will continue on this regiment and one day, USA and JAPAN will have another opportunity to square off again with great techniques. He reminded us that karate is a dangerous activity – we must be serious in training and focused in practice to avoid injury and accidents.

“This camp is over the top!”   “Best camp ever”  “Shiina Sensei Rocks”  “I’ve learned so much”  “He’s truly inspired me”

A hugely successful camp – folks are echoing resounding good feedback – beyond their muscles, feet and callusses screaming about the great workout, everyone enjoyed themselves.  It is a testimony to how Shiina Sensei gave it his all over the two-days of camp – and everything with Kime like it resonates from his gut!  From his Kiai, to his teaching, his encouragement and reprimands, his stories and time socializing with us over meals/drinks after class, how he plays basketball with the kids before class and most of all his patience with the many photo ops he had to endure.  He spent every moment teaching and leading by example and actions that exemplify his belief that “KARATE COMES FROM THE HEART”.

I do hope that Sensei Jose will be able to bring Sensei Shiina back for an annual affair and for those of you who could not make it this time will have another opportunity to experience an awesome teacher.

Dan/Kyu Testing Results (5/2/09)

Congratulations to JKA NorCal’s first newly certified JKA Shodan:

And to our new JKA NorCal members on their KYU test:
(7 ) – BRIAN LEE

Thanks to everyone for contributing to a successful JKA NorCal Grand Opening event.

– SENSEI MIKAMI for your leadership, instruction and encouragement to us 
– SENSEI KHIM for preparing the students and delivering a standard of excellence in training
– PARENTS for your dedication and commitment to your child’s development
– STUDENTS for your hard work and good attitude in pursuing 
– SENIOR BLACK BELTS for supporting the event and helping out with demo, logistics, crowd control, moral support, marketing the event, et al
– KARATE FRIENDS who came to join in the celebration 
– PRIME TIME ATHLETIC CLUB who hosted the event with beautiful facilities

A special thanks to our photographers (Kore, Esteban & Vinci); Steffi for coming all the way from DE to support us; Mathew & Janeen for the cool website; John Sam for keeping us all in check and taking care of the little things; Patrick for keeping us focused on the cmte; our friends and new members Ron & Sylvia for energizing us.

Thanks also to INTRAMUROS Restaurant and Bar for an exquisite post event dinner venue. Food was delicious, great ambiance, excellent service and among friends!

JKA-AF Camp ’09

For more information visit the JKA-AF website: or contact
For more information visit the JKA-AF website: or contact

JKA AF will be holding their 1st Annual National Camp at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana this year. Two instructors from the Honbu Dojo will be instructing with Sensei Mikami. All karatekas who are not affiliated with the JKA are invited to take the opportunity to join in training and experience JKA karate at its best.  

“A great benefit comes from training together with an open mind
and heart and learning from each other. A special spirit and energy
emerges like fire when a group of people get together and train.”


Hosted by:             Takayuki Mikami, 8th Dan, JKA
Guest Instructor:    Yoshiharu Osaka, 8th Dan, JKA
                            Takuya Taniyama, 6th Dan, JKA

Reily Center, Tulane University Campus
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Thu May 28: Noon        Check-In
                   6-8pm      TRAINING
Fri May 29:   7-9am      TRAINING
                    10-11am  Judges clinic
                    1pm         Optional training
                    3-5pm      Qualifications written exam
                    5-7pm      TRAINING
Sat May 30:  7-9am      TRAINING
                    10am       Competition and judges practical exam
                    4-6pm      TRAINING
                    6:30-7pm Get together with Q&A for the Masters
Sun May 31: 7-9am      TRAINING
                    10am       Dan, Instructor’s and Examiner’s tests

$200 when registered by April 30th
$225 when registered by May 15th
$250 when registering at the door

All other qualifications fees, please refer to 2009 National Camp Package for details.

Sensei Shiina in Miami

Hosted by Sensei Jose Ferrand, 6th Dan, JKA (Miami Shotokan Karate Club) (
Guest Instructor: Katsutoshi Shiina, 7th Dan, JKA

Seen here with Sensei Jose Ferrand at 5th World Shoto Cup Tournament (USA vs Japan in 1994), Philadelphia, PA.


Katsutoshi Shiina is an instructor at the JKA Honbu Dojo in Tokyo. He is most notable for his international success in kumite and in recent years accomplished in kata as well. Sensei Shiina is heading to Venezuela for a training camp there and will stop over in Miami to conduct this 2-day camp May 8-9.

If you are interested, please email who is attending from the Bay Area and can help with arranging logistics from here or directly to for more information.


University of Miami
Herbert Wellness Center
1241 Dickinson Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Class Schedule:
May 8th, 2009 Friday: 7:00AM to 8:30AM & 6:00PM – 7:30PM
May 9th, 2009 Saturday: 10:00AM to 11:30AM & 6:00PM – 7:30PM

Fee Schedule:
$80 – 2 Days / $50 – 1 Day / $30 – 1 Class
Registration will be done on site.
Participants must present JKA Passport or Membership card.


Sensei Mikami visit

sensei_mikamiOur founding chief instructor of the JKA/AF, a JKA 8th degree blackbelt will be here on Saturday 5/2 to inaugurate our JKA NorCal dojo Grand Opening and conduct our first Kyu-Exam.  We will celebrate with a karate demonstration prepared for him and also inviting other Bay Area karatekas to participate in the clinic Sensei will be instructing. Sensei Mikami is one of the first generation of JKA instructors being the first to graduate from JKA instructor’s course. He is also a former All Japan Kumite and Kata champion. For more on Mikami Sensei, see:

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday May 2nd
Location: Prime Time Athletic Club, 1730 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA.    (Studio #1)

3:00-4:00pm Kyu-Exam
4:00-4:30pm Grand Opening/JKA NorCal Demo
4:30-5:15pm Beginner/Intermediate Clinic for Color belts
5:15-6:15pm Advanced Clinic for Brown & Black belts
6:30-8:30pm Dinner with Sensei (TBD location) – All invited

Cost: Beginner/Intermediate $50 with pre-registration by April 27th or $60 at the door on May 2nd; Advanced (both classes) $60 with pre-registration by April 27th or $70 at the door on May 2nd

For visiting participants, this will include a day pass to Prime Time Athletic Club which we have purchased in advanced for the event.

For pre-registration, make check payable to: JKA Northern California with the following information (Name, Rank, Dojo, Beginner or Advanced Clinic and Email-for notification upon receipt of registration) and Send check to:

JKA Northern California
PO Box 282596
San Francisco, CA 94128

Please spread the word and forward to your friends not to miss a chance to train with a great instructor who has not been in this area for at least 13 years. All karatekas are welcome from any organizations and/or styles. For more information, feel free to email

Pre-Test training “mock kyu-exam”

We will be preparing our students for the upcoming kyu-exam this Saturday 4/18 at 10:30am in Studio 2 (Prime Time).  This will help those who have not tested under JKA to get a flavor of the Basics, Kata and Kumite curriculum that would be conducted with Sensei Mikami presiding on Saturday 5/2.

Therefore for this week, this will be in place of our normal Saturday 10-11:30am scheduled class.  All black belts please come in to help out to be on the testing panel.  It will be good experience if you are considering the “examiner” tract for future certification.  Furthermore, it would be a good show of moral support for those testing and of course – good spirit!

We are up and running

We are up and running as of today (2/1)

We are up and running as of today (2/1) as JKA NorCal, a not for profit dojo operating out of

Prime Time Athletic Club
1730 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: 650-697-7311

The address for JKA of Northern California is:

JKA Northern California Inc.
PO Box 282596
San Francisco, CA 94128

So far, we are planning to have Mikami Sensei in May for our grand opening, clinic and testing.

Stay tuned, Christina

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