Japanese Characters of Isshinryu

Newsletter – March 2012


264 Westfield Road,  Holyoke, Ma 01040 c.holubecki@verizon.net – 413-534-8025


The month of March has finally arrived.  Spring is not too far away.  It has been a great winter, very little snow, with the exception of the first  snow storm we got the end of October. That has created problems for many people living in the East Coast. Everyone who lives in New England has enjoyed this past winter with very little snow accumulation and a mild weather compare to last winter.

Last night we had about 3 inches of snow on the ground.  This is still well below average for New England.

The Last Day

Out of my 38 years if I had to pick the most significant day to me it would be the last day I received any Isshinryu instruction.

I started my studies with Tom Lewis in Salisbury, Md. and I was taught by Lewis Sensei, Dennis Lockwood, Al Bailey and a large group of Mr. Lewis’s senior students. Unfortunately the time came in 1976 I had to move for work and my last night in Salisbury I started learning Chinto kata and I received my green belt.

Moving to Scranton, Pa. the only art I found to train in was Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. I continued my Isshinryu practice on my own and the next summer I returned on vacation to Salisbury. Visited three of the IKC schools and learned Chinto Kata. Almost a year to the day I left Salisbury, Charles Murray moved to the Scranton area to run a Church, and I then had an Isshinryu instructor.

Training was almost one on one, a lot of kata and a lot of kumite. We’d train whenever he was free, including midnight, blizzards, or even nice weather.

In January of 1979 I tested and was promoted to sho-dan by Mr. Lewis and his IKC. Charles continued my training at a strong pace till I only had Shi Shi No Kon No Dai left to learn. The in the beginning of April he took me out for coffee and explained that he was leaving his church to return to the USAF for OCS and his career. Within two weeks he would be gone, and as he had a lot of packing to do, our time together would be short.

On the day he was packing up his house he had me come over to train in his backyard.

Charles would start teaching me Bo Shi Shi, then a line of thunderstorms would go through. The rain would start and he’d go back inside to pack. I would stay outside practicing in the rain, thunder and lightening.

Eventually the storm passed through, Charles would look out the window, see me practicing. Then he’d come out, pick up his bo and teach me the next section.

Unfortunately another line of thunderstorms would pass through and he’d go back outside and I’d repeat the act, practicing in the rain, thunder and lightening.

A rational man would suggest I was insane. Perhaps I was, but I knew this would be my last chance to get the kata from Charles.

As it turned out that was my  last instruction in Isshinryu.

Charles returned to the Air Force, I worked on my studies and later that year started my free youth program at the Boys and Girls Club.  Occasionally I  could make the 6  hour trip to Salisbury with stops often in Dover Delaware with Reese Rigby (another of my seniors) but I just attended class and occasionally was asked to teach.  A few years later Mr. Lewis retired from active Isshinryu and moved west and I again had to more for work to New Hampshire, moving me further away from my former schools. I’ve never been conveniently near others in Isshinryu to train with them.

I had to be my own instructor. In addition to practice and teaching the young, I used competing at local Penna., New Jersey and Maryland tournaments to keep pushing myself, and as I made friends I would travel to visit their own schools, again to push myself, which had the side result of learning a great deal from them too.

Fate has not been kind to Charles and I, allowing us visits only every 3 or 4 years, and then only for several hours. He mostly kept track of my progress and offered encouragement. When we do see each other it’s as no times has passed.

With Mr. Lewis living in Wyoming, things were the same.

But when I think of all the days, all the instructors, all the arts I’ve studied, that last day was the most special of all.   It reinforced forever that one didn’t let life’s challenges interfere with training and sometimes the best training can even happen in a thunderstorm.

Victor Smith, Derry, New Hampshire 


What you think affects how you feel and perform.  Training your mind is as important as training your body.  The average individual does not understand that the mind is a powerful thing and most people don’t use it properly.  One of the key to achieving success in the martial arts or life is learning how to focus on what you are doing and don’t let negative thoughts interfere.

The brain is like a computer that controls the body..

For those who are in tournament competition, the secret to be successful is TIMING – not strength.  You have to stand your ground in the ring.  Footwork is very important, side to side mobility and your angle of attack.  This is something I have taught when my students were in competition.  I have always encouraged students to spar as often as possible if they want to get better in kumite.  Some of my students have done well in competition.  Me, I was an average competitor, won a few and lost many.  All the knowledge I have today, I wish I had back in my young days when I was in competition.  A student has to be mentally prepared with a good positive attitude and the desire to excel.

My cousin, Mitch Kobylanski was in New Hampshire for a work related project for a few days.  He spent time with his family and gave a seminar at Steve Buschman’s dojo in East Windsor, Ct.  Had a chance to see my senior and long time friend Bill Salinardi, Pete Williams, Paul Lizotte.

Mitch, enjoyed watching your seminar.  It was good to see you again.


During my early years of teaching, I would give written test for green and brown belts. One of the questions

was, who are the four leading Isshinryu men in this country ? Of course the answer was Harold Mitchum,

Harold Long, Steve Armstrong and Don Nagel, all were 8th Dans. These gentlemen covered a lot of this country

with their geographics, Nagel in New Jersey, Armstrong in Washington, Long in Tennessee and Mitchum in

Georgia. Each of these men had their own associations with large followings and I belonged to all four. I had the pleasure

and honor to train with three of the following but never with Sensei Long. Knowing these four men like I did, they were four different personality’s but contributed so much to our Isshinryu. Most knew each other but I find it ironic that Mitchum

never met Nagel face to face. Each had their own reputations, Nagel could do things that looked impossible, i.e. could

kick a man standing very close behind him with a kick, it was if he was a contorsionist. Long was very strong and powerful,

he was like a bull and fearless. Mitchum was notorious for his front kick, when fighting the Okinawans, they couldn’t get around his front kick, he once was kicking the 2 by 4’s that held the makiwara’s in Shimabuku’s dojo when it snapped, the Master said ” Mitchum kick you, you die”. Armstrong was another strong man but I remember him as the organizer and a very good judge in the fighting ring.

These are things we discussed in the dojo to prepare students for written exam before the physical test, remember, we 

didn’t have computers in those days. Three of these men are no longer with us, lets never forget what they did for us.

Tom Lewis

A student who becomes a SHODAN is similar to a student who has just completed his secondary education and needs to enter the universities to further his/her education.

A black belt does not realize his/her own mistakes until the black belt starts to try to teach a class of martial arts students.  For only in teaching can a black belt spot the errors of the students and tries to correct their own.

The true purpose of the martial arts lies in personal struggle.  Movement is a struggle, struggle is growth.  It’s only through experience that one may master the art.

The real teacher is within. Once you experience this, you begin to realize that the entire world is your curriculum.  There is a lesson in everything that happens to you.  I have learned many lessons in the 30-plus years of teaching.       CH

To my Friends, Relatives, and whoever else may be interested…

I would like to let you know that my newly released fiction novel HITHER SIDE OF HELL is available

at Barnes and Noble in paperback form and in Nook book (ebook) format.

Also, it is available in paper back and eKindle format at Amazon.

Check the web site:    www.morrisgeorge.com

Thank you for your interest. Best wishes, Maurice Msarsa (aka Morris George)

Until next time…………..