Lessons from Hanshi Chuck Merriman

Hanshi Merriman,  9th degree Black Belt,  attended EMAC’s National Black Belt Grading and Gasshuku, Oct. 23-24, 2009. The event was hosted by Sensei Brian Lowry,  Chief Instructor, Napanee Karate Club & President,  EMAC Canada. Merriman Sensei observed the National Black Belt grading, and was impressed with the spirit of the students. He taught seminars to Dan ranks, and  shared his lifetime experience in the Martial Arts. As the highest ranking person in North America in Jundokan Goju-Ryu, we are greatly  honored!

EMAC SEMINAR – OCT. 24, 2009

Notes from the Merriman Sensei’s Black/Brown Belt Seminar and all-Belt Seminar taken by Richard E. Welsman, Sandan, Napanee Karate Club


  • Eiichi Miyazato Sensei did not train everyone the same way. He looked at the individual’s own size and abilities and trained them accordingly.
  • The application of technique will vary from one person to the next. As instructors we should not insist that only what works well for us should be the only way for the student to apply the technique.
  • Goju grows. Don’t change the kata but develop new ways to use the kata
  • Bunkai is the product of personal research. It is not static. It varies according to the person. Kata should be analysed and then utilized.
  • Kata is not about learning a routine. Professional dancers can learn it in a few minutes. For them it is just a dance. Learning kata is about internalizing what is learned and doing that takes a long time.
  • The cycle for the student is DEPENDENCE to SEMI-INDEPENDENT to INDEPENDENCE. (Shu Ha Ri)
  • It is a mistake to rely on physical strength because it will some day be lost.  Life is a circle. When we come into the world we have no teeth and are bald and we finish the same way.
  • Train in the technique because it will work for all ages
  • There is a limit to how long physical strength alone will work
  • There are two kinds of strength; a muscular strength, and Ki, an inner strength. It is the latter strength that will endure.
  • When training with a partner under the supervision of an instructor do not talk even to discuss what one or the other is doing.
  • There is only one instructor and he will speak. If you are talking you are not listening. If you are talking when you practice you are not focusing on what you are doing.

If one is having problems with the drill seek the instructor’s assistance. The student is learning and cannot correct another. 


  • Be as hard as the world makes you, be as soft as the world will allow
  • Okinawans are the kindest and most gentle people in the world. They can be that way because they are strong people
  • Okinawan Goju Ryu  is not about blocking and punching, but about developing character.
  • Japanese Goju is designed for competition. Okinawan Goju is designed for self-defence.
  • Free sparring is not used at the Jundokan but I don’t think karate would survive in the United States without  sparring.


  • If a student quits I will not have him back. If he comes to me and asks for a break from training I will give it to him.
  • Everyone has a choice to commit themselves to training on a regular basis in whatever way they can arrange it.
  • Plan your training. Continuity is the key.
  • Personal research should be a priority because everyone can use their training differently.


Look for what is commonly held opinion among good instructors and authors.

To be polite Okinawans will respond to misinformation by saying ˜That is a nice story’.

Added notes from Brian Lowry:

Thank you Richard Welsman for taking the time and effort to put this together. It was gratifying to hear Merriman Sensei speaking about so many of the things I have believed in and taught.

  • Patience
  • Continuity of Training
  • Inner Strength (Ki)  grows as physical strength dims
  • Kata remains the same, while understanding grows
  • Make good decisions, and stick with them
  • Kindness should be part of your being.