A BRIEF HISTORY OF CLUB NAHA KARATE-DO USA
In the world of martial arts, traditions are often passed down through the generations, with stories of dedication, inspiration, and innovation defining the evolution of these ancient disciplines. One such remarkable tale is that of Club Naha Karate-Do, a martial arts school with a history that spans over five decades, touching two continents, and blending the wisdom of Japanese karate masters with Mexican spirit and American resilience.
More than 50 years ago, two young Mexicans, Angel Marquez Lopez and Antonio Marquez Lopez, embarked on a journey to Japan, driven by a profound desire to learn the art of karate from the legendary Toyama Kanken. At that time, Toyama Kanken was already advanced in age, and he entrusted the young Mexican students to the care of Isao Ichikawa Sensei. This crucial period of training under Ichikawa Sensei would shape their karate journey before they went their separate ways.
After returning to Mexico, Angel and Antonio decided to establish themselves in the world of karate. In 1969, they made the bold decision to part ways with their previous school, Doshinkan, and launched their own martial arts schools. Angel Marquez Lopez founded Toyama Karate-Do, and Antonio Marquez Lopez established the Okinawa Karate-Do dojo. This division marked the beginning of two distinct paths, each contributing to the rich tapestry of martial arts history.
Shihan Javier Diaz Piscil, the founder of Club Naha Karate-Do, was deeply influenced by this historical chain of events. He began his karate training under the guidance of Angel Marquez Lopez, the founder of Toyama Karate-Do, and Sensei Angel Romero Arriaga in the 1970s. Through dedicated practice and unwavering determination, Shihan Javier earned his black belt, signifying his proficiency in the art.
Over the years, Shihan Ken's dedication to karate led him to study under various martial arts instructors, each contributing to his evolving style. In 1992, he moved to Maine and established a Club Naha dojo, introducing the Hensan Ryu style to new students. Renshi Craig Sargent was one such student who quickly progressed to become an instructor and earned his black belts.
Shihan Javier Diaz's return to Maine in 1999 marked a pivotal moment in the school's history, as he introduced Shudokan Karate to Club Naha students. As time went on, Hensan Ryu, heavily influenced by Shudokan, gradually transformed into a style more akin to Shudokan Karate. In 2006, Shihan Ken promoted Renshi Craig to Head Instructor of Hensan Ryu, and Shudokan Karate's influence continued to grow within the dojo.
In 2011 and 2012, Shihan Javier returned to Maine to teach Shudokan, further integrating this style into Club Naha's curriculum. With these changes in influence, the style was officially renamed Kai Naha Karate-Do, a testament to Shihan Javier Diaz's impact on the school.
The turning point in the history of Club Naha Karate-Do occurred during a work trip when Shihan Javier and his crew made a stop in Iguala, Mexico. It was there, amidst the streets of this vibrant city, that Shihan Javier's vision was ignited. He stumbled upon a building that seemed perfect for his dream, a dojo to share his passion for karate. Inspired by this fateful discovery, on February 6th, 1982, he realized his dream and founded Club Naha Karate-Do, a name deeply rooted in the heart of Okinawa, the birthplace of karate.
In 1986, while residing in the USA for a brief period, Shihan Javier Diaz crossed paths with Shihan Ken Walsh, who worked at the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club. The serendipitous encounter sparked a partnership that would change the trajectory of Club Naha Karate-Do. Shihan Javier introduced Shihan Ken to the world of karate, and together, they established a Club Naha Karate-Do dojo within the Boys and Girls Club.
However, fate had other plans, as Shihan Javier had to return to Mexico later that year, leaving Shihan Ken without a karate instructor. Undeterred, Shihan Ken delved into martial arts, training in the style of Wonhwa-Do under Kensaku Takahashi. This marked the beginning of a journey that would lead to the creation of a new karate style, Hensan Ryu.
As time passed, Renshi Craig continued to deepen his understanding of Shudokan Karate, culminating in his visit to the Club "NAHA" Karate-Do headquarters dojo in Iguala, Mexico. There, he was awarded his sixth-degree black belt in Shudokan Karate under the guidance of Shihan Javier Diaz. On March 1, 2021, Shudokan Karate became the primary style taught at Club Naha Karate-Do USA dojo, with Hensan Ryu still practiced as supplementary material.
The history of Club Naha Karate-Do is a remarkable tale of cultural exchange, dedication, and transformation. From the humble beginnings in Mexico to the streets of New Rochelle and the hallowed halls of Iguala, this martial arts school has evolved through the ages, leaving a lasting legacy that is firmly rooted in the spirit of its founders, instructors, and students. Club Naha Karate-Do is not just a dojo; it's a testament to the enduring power of martial arts to inspire and shape lives, no matter where they begin.