The practice of martial arts has been a facet of Okinawan culture since the beginning of recorded history. That tradition was as strong as ever five hundred years ago, when the island of Okinawa served as an axis of trade and cultural exchange between China and Japan. Okinawa and China were close friends and allies for centuries. Over the course of several hundred years Chinese Kung Fu techniques were continually introduced in Okinawa where they were gradually merged with the “te-gumi” martial arts native to Okinawa. Okinawan “Kara-te” (roughly translated “China-hand”) was eventually born. Decades later the word “kara” was re-interpreted to mean “open” or “empty,” and the tradition of Chinese-influenced Okinawan empty-hand combat has persisted and grown through the centuries on the island.
First arriving during the Korean War, an American marine by the name of Frank Van Lenten visited Okinawa for more than a decade, and pursued the study of Goju Ryu; one of the Okinawan styles of unarmed combat. After mastering that style, Van Lenten received permission from his instructors to expand his study of Karate to include other Okinawan styles. Before his return to the U.S. in the mid-1960s, Van Lenten had also studied Uechi Ryu, Isshin Ryu, Shorin Ryu and Kempo. Once back in Syracuse, New York, Van Lenten founded the Goshin-Do Karate-Do-Kyokai, which was an organization that attempted to bring all of the newly migrated Okinawan styles in America under a single authority.
A student of Frank Van Lenten’s during this time period was a man by the name of Alfred Gossett, who had prior training in judo and jujitsu before receiving his black belt in the hybrid style that Van Lenten was teaching. Sensei Al Gossett’s school incorporated Sensei Van Lenten’s system of Goshin-Do and thereby formed the Goshin-Ryu Karate Association. Today the Goshin Ryu Karate Association of New Jersey has 4 branch schools, hundreds of active black belts, and thousands of students throughout New York , New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida.
Eastern Shore Martial Arts teaches Goshin-Ryu Karate. Goshin-Ryu Karate is a combination of Goju-Ryu, Isshin Ryu and Shorin-Ryu, karate with some additional kata and training drills from other sources as well. Although Goshin-Ryu is a relatively new creation, the training is strictly traditional. There are 12 katas in Goju-Ryu, and 18 katas in Shorin-Ryu. These comprise the majority of the 30-plus empty-hand katas practiced by Goshin-Ryu style karate. Kata is the heart and soul of Karate. In Goshin Ryu, karate katas are taught in the traditional, unchanged form. Therefore, we are quite literally “walking in the footsteps of the masters” who came before us. The Master Instructors of the Goshin Ryu Karate Association have taught us that traditional karate kata is to be trained for life, as there are hundreds of advanced applications, even deadly techniques that can only be realized by proper training over many years. Traditional Okinawan weapon forms include Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Kama, Nunchuka and others.
The instructor at Eastern Shore Martial Arts is Doug Fleming. Doug’s martial arts training began in 1969 in Bangkok Thailand, where he lived for 3 years and trained in Tae Kwon Do receiving a brown belt before returning to the US. In 1987 Doug received his black sash in kung fu. In 1988 Doug was recognized as an instructor of Lung Jop Pai Shaolin Dragon Style Kung Fu. Doug was a Dragon Style instructor in Hightstown, NJ for several years. In 1996 Doug received his Black belt in Goshin Ryu karate. He is currently a 6th degree black belt and member of the board of directors of the Goshin Ryu Karate Association of NJ.