Koei – Kan is an original style of Karate that can be traced back to its origins in China, Okinawa, and Japan. Koei – Kan Karate – Do was brought to the United States in 1954 by Edward Kaloudis with the permission of Koei – Kan founder Kancho Eizo Onishi .
KOEI-KAN Japanese karate style founded by Eizo Onishi in 1952. In the koei-kan system the individual is stressed, and each koei-kan student is taught to strive for the highest degree of self-attainment. In Japanese, this philosophy is a blend of bun (obedience), shi (divergence), and shu (separation). Naturally, there is some uniformity during each stage of learning; however, after the fundamentals have been mastered, new methods are encouraged as they pertain to a student’s particular needs. Koei-kan teachings embrace the ethics of budo: humility, truth, self-discipline, self-reliance, peace, respect, unselfishness, honor, and courage.
In koei-kan, physical training is composed of: taiso (calisthenics), waza (techniques), and the application of techniques, which are divided into kata (form), and kumite (free-sparring). Techniques are classified as kihon (basic) and kaishu (advanced).
In kihon renshu (basic training), instruction progresses through three levels. The first is kihon dai ichi (basic one), in which techniques are executed singly, i.e., one reverse punch, one front kick, etc. The second is kihon dai ni (basic two), with techniques delivered in combinations of two, i.e., reverse punch-front kick, roundhouse kick-back fist, etc. In the third stage, kihon dai san (basic three), techniques are executed in groups of three or more.
Kata is stressed in the koei-kan system to develop speed, timing, coordination, balance, focus, precise breathing, eye contact, and quick reflexes. Koei-kan teaches the history and origin of kata, and their practical importance. Five Naha-te kata created by Kanryo Higashionna and 16 Shuri-te kata created by Yasutsune Itosu are taught.
The next phase of training, kumite, improves the ability to maintain a state of mushin (empty mind), a Zen-like concept dealing with heightened powers of concentration. Neither hand nor leg techniques predominate; instead, the student is taught to adopt the technique most fitted to the moment.
A unique aspect of koei-kan is the use of bogu (armor or protective gear) during full-contact fighting. Bogu was invented by Eizo Onishi in 1955 and first tested at the All Japan Karate-Do Shikoku Regional Championships in 1957. The gear resembles somewhat the protection worn by Japanese and European fencers, as well as that used by kendo practitioners. It consists of: men (helmet), a steel-mesh face mask and heavy padding on the sides and neck; do (body protector), a large cushioned pad extending from neck to waist; te (gloves), padded; kinteki-ate (groin protector). Koei-kan theory considers full-contact fighting a training necessity. Although the gear is heavy and confining, practice for speed, focus, timing, and power while the bogu is worn can only result in greater mastery when the bogu is discarded.
Tenshin waza (body transfer techniques), applied both defensively and offensively to evade, attack, and counterattack one or more opponents, are to be used on opponents who are larger and stronger, armed, or numerous. There are 15 basic tenshin waza exercises and many variations. They are first practiced singly in all directions, then combined with blocking, striking, kicking, and punching. Koei-kan teaches that proper execution of tenshin waza enables the best use of body weight, distance, and an opponent’s power. The techniques are taught, practiced, and researched until quickness and fluidity are achieved. Some of the methods are easily visualized by name and include: tsuri-ashi (dragging the feet), fumi-dashi (lunge step), hineri (hip twist), oshi-fumikkomi (push step), kosa su su mi (intersecting or cross step), and yoko-ido (side step).
The koei-kan system-like all substantial karate systems-is physically demanding; its philosophical and ethical teachings help the student endure the hardships and trials of training. The academic aspects of training include medical, cultural, and historical components. All shodan candidates write a culminative paper that is sent to Japan for sensei Onishi’s approval.
In History: Eizo Onishi, known as kancho (head of the system) sensei to his followers, established the first koei-kan dojo in Kanagawa-ken, Japan, on April 2,1954. The founding of the koei-kan system was the crystallization of years of training and study by Onishi under the auspices of two great masters: Kanken Toyama (1888-1966) and Juhatsu Kiyoda (1888-1967).
Under their supervision Onishi became en expert in his own right, and was graded hachidan (8th-degree black belt). Prior to his death, Toyama awarded Onishi the menkyo-kaliden (hand-written scroll), and appointed him chairman of the All-Japan Karate-Do Association.
In his continuing search for knowledge and martial wisdom, Onishi traveled to Okinawa to observe the training methods of other karate exponents, including the late master Choshin Chlbana. Later, Onishi visited Peking, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, where he studied Chinese chuan ta with various teachers. Of these, the most notable was Koichi Kyo, an expert in the northern Shaolin style, Yue derivative. Onishi also traveled to Southeast Asia, the U.S., and Europe in his capacity as president of the International Koei-kan Karate-Do Federation, which is headquartered in Tokyo.
Edward Kaloudis is the U.S. director of the koei-kan system. He operates from the national headquarters in Clifton, New Jersey, which is under the auspices of the International Karate-do Gaku Federation and the All Japan Karate-Do Association. Other major U.S. representatives are Brian Frost, the 1972 All Japan Koei-kan Champion, who serves as chief technical instructor, and Richard Woodgeard, a senior instructor and advisor who also studied in Japan under master Onishi.
Koei-kan is currently practiced in Europe and South America also The style and its representative emblems are trademarked. Only certified instructors are granted permission to use the koeikan name, emblems, and training materials. The phrase “karate-do gaku” was coined by Onishi to describe koei-kan; it represents the improvement of karate through research, experimentation, and individual adaptation of conclusions. (EDWARD KALOUDIS)