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Stefani Valverde

As I move farther along my journey through the martial arts, I’m learning more about myself, about
the changes in me. I realize that the people around me and the people who came before me support
who I am and who I am becoming in the martial arts. Just as I am supported by the people who I am
learning with, and the ones in the dojo who are further along their journeys, Karate itself has a long history. It is a history in which each step along the journey of each master has developed the art into what it has become today.

Okinawan Karate dates back to the 6th century when Bodhidharma, from India, traveled to China
and settled at a Shao-lin monastery. In the late 1300’s exchanges, both cultural and trade, began
occurring between China and Okinawa, which introduced a Chinese influence into Okinawa in many
aspects, including boxing and martial arts. There is evidence that te (“hands”) was indigenous to
Okinawa (the birthplace of Karate) starting in the villages of Shuri, Naha, and Tomari. This begins the foundation of th Shorin-Ryu Karate from the Shuri-te system. The islanders were not of wealthy status, so there were few weapons and the unarmed combat of Okinawan Te was evolved as
warlords fought to gain supremacy on the island.

When King Sho Hashi banned weapons from Okinawa, the need for unarmed combat became
stronger and the Okinawans began the practice of Kobudo with farming implements as weapons. The practices continued in secrecy in the villages and continued to be developed as the Okinawans were suppressed by different dynasties. When Japan barred all trade relationships except with China, this allowed te, which originated in Okinawa, to mix with ch’uan-fa to develop eventually into modern day Karate (“empty hand”).

Takahara Peichin (1683 – 1760) became known as the “Father of Okinawa Karate” as he was a
great warrior and was the first to explain the aspects of the word do (“way”). These are Ijo, Katsu, and Fo which are the way of compassion, humility and love, the complete understanding of all
techniques and forms of Karate, and dedication and seriousness of Karate that must be understood
in practice and in actual combat. He was the first teacher of Kanga”Tode” Sakagawa (1733-1815).
When Peichin died, Kusanku (1720-1790) became the teacher of Sakagawa.

Kusanku was a Chinese ambassador from China to Okinawa. When Peichin died, Sakagawa began
studying under Kusanku where he was able to combine the essence of Te and Chinese boxing
principles to form the basis of modern day Shorin Ryu. He studied in China for 6 years. There is a story told of how Sakagawa one day tried to push Kusanku off of a bridge and Kusanku sidestepped
the attack and knocked Sakagawa into the water then lectured Sakagawa on respecting elders and
knowing the “why” of karate, not just the “how.” Sakagawa developed the first version of Kusanku
kata to honor his teacher’s memory. He also developed a bo kata Sakagawa no kon. Sakagawa
was also known as the “father of Karate.” Sakagawa was the teacher of Soken “Bushi” Matsumura
(1796-1893), who was the first to systematize Shuri-te from which the four styles of Shorin-ryu have been passed down to us.

Matsumura introduced katas into karate. On official business as a bodyguard and martial arts
instructor, he traveled to China and Japan where he studied Chinese boxing and Japanese swordsmanship. He is credited with the katas Nahanchi 1-3, Passai Dai, Chinto, and Gojushiho,
which are practiced today in the Kobayashi Shorin Ryu system. Matsumura began training Yasutsune “Anko” Itosu (1830-1915) when Itosu was young.

Itosu is known for simplifying many of the ancient katas, creating many of his own, and
revolutionizing how karate is taught. He helped change the public perception of karate as simply a killing art into one where there is an emphasis on physical and spiritual health, making the study of karate easier and less dangerous. He introduced karate into the Okinawa public school system in
1901. He created the original Pinan (peaceful mind) katas, as well as developing Naihanchi Sandan, Passai Sho, and Kusankusho. His students included many famous karate masters including Chosin
Chibana (1885-1969).

Chibana began training with Itosu in 1900 and studied with him until Itosu’s death in 1915. Chibana opened his first dojo in 1920, and opened others later in his life. In the 1950’s he ran his dojo as well as worked for the police department in Shuri City as the Chief Karate Instructor. Chibana was recognized with multiple honors and is credited with creating the three kihon kata. Chibana Sensei is considered the founder of Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (young forest school), one of the four branches of Shorin Ryu.

The other 3 branches of Shorin-Ryu are Matsumura Saito (or Matsumura Orthodox), Shobayashi –
Ryu (small forest school), and Matsubayashi-Ryu (pine forest school). Matsumura Saito is reported
to be founded by Soken Hohan, a student of Matsumura Nabe, who was a student of Matsumura
Sokon. Shobayashi –Ryu was first taught b Chotoku Kyan, a student of Itosu. Kyan trained many
notable students including Shoshin Nagamine who founded Matsubayashi Ryu in 1947. All Shorin-
Ryu styles are interpreted as “Shao-lin way” which refers to the original Shao-lin temple located in a small pine forest in China.

It is at Chibana Sensei that our branch of Shorin-Ryu, Shorinkan, separates itself under Hanshi
Judan Shuguro Nakazato. Nakazato first began training in Shito Ryu Karate (1935-1940) under
Seiichi Iju, but by the end of World War II, Nakazato returned to Okinawa and became a student of
Chibana. They opened a dojo together in 1951, and then Nakazato opened the Shorinkan dojo in
1955. Nakazato was awarded Ninth Dan by Chibana in 1967 after 20 years of training and when
Chibana Sensei died in 1969, became the president of the Okinawas Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan Karatedo Kyokai. He was promoted to Tenth Dan in 1980. He headed the Okinawa Karate delegation and was asked to do a performance at the 1996 Olympics. He introduced the Gorin kata.Nakazato is an influential karate Grand Master in Okinawa and has received multiple honors and awards. His son Minoru Sensei is currently preparing to take over the next generation of Shorinkan. Nakazato currently has many influential students in the United States including Kyoshi
Nabil Noujaim, who is my Sensei, Salvatore Cirincione’s, immediate Sensei. Kyoshi Noujaim has
been studying Shorin Ryu Shorinkan karate since 1972. His dojo is located in El Centro, CA, but he has influential students across the United States and travels internationally to train and to train others and annually draws in students for an international camp in Southern California.
Sensei Salvatore Cirincione has been studying martial arts since 1989 and studied many forms
before entering Shorin Ryu Shorinkan. He trains under Kyoshi Noujaim and he travels annually to
Okinawa to train under Nakazato Sensei, and pursues his life of martial arts fully. He is highly
respected and admired by his students and teaches them about the lifestyle of Karate both on and
off the mat. Just as the history of karate journeys over a 1000 years, our individual journey through Karate can span a lifetime of discipline and study.

A Note to Sensei Sal
I began this paper soon after you asked me to write it, at least I began to look online for sources of information and to read through it. I have done a lot of research and have written a lot of papers throughout my education, but I think this was one of the most difficult. I am in a different stage in life right now where my focus is spread out over many different priorities. As I read through the
information, I began to realize that a lot of the information was arranged in different ways and
sometimes was in conflict with other information I would find. I guess this is a lot like the martial arts journey in itself because as we continue to grow in the martial arts, we are changing in life, in martial arts, and the people around us are changing. There are many perspectives and we have to
listen, understand what we can, learn what we can, take what we need and can use and apply it in
the right way for our life and our journey. As we grow and change, these perspectives often change (ours and others’) and we see and experience different steps of the path. As long as we continue to listen and move forward, we will learn what to use and what to discard.

I’m sorry this paper is so late, I was working on it when I got in my car accident right before testing last April, and just never finished it before testing. Thank you for all your work to help me continue in the martial arts.

Shorin Ryu Shorinkan San Diego
Peaceful Warrior Martial Arts – Arizona
Shorin Ryu Shorinkan Website
Yamashita International Borbon Karate, Groton, Connecticut
Orland Shorin Ryu Karate and Kobudo
White Crane Martial Arts
Shorin Ryu Karate of Williamsburg
Karate STL Okinawan Shido Kan Shorin Ryu


At the age of ten, when my family and I came back to America, I realized I had a passion for soccer. However, I was unable to play on a team due to financial circumstances. At
thirteen we moved to San Diego. My parents worked a lot, so I began spending time after school at a local Boy’s Club; which happened to be just up the street from where we
lived. It was a great outlet for a boy with lots of energy. It was at the Club that I met many people whom I still call friends today. They also have stories of what a big impact the Club
was in their lives. One of my favorite things to play was soccer, and since most of the Club members were Spanish it worked out well. “Soccer was in their blood as it was in mine .
Soccer at the Club was what glued us together despite our different cultures. .

Once outside of the Boy’s Club doors the only outlet offered were gangs, and I was in the right neighborhood for that too. But my parents taught me better than that. I had been
going to the Boy’s Club for about six months when I thought I knew all the programs the Club had to offer… Except for one. The Club offered a karate class which was held on
Thursday nights. I had first learned of this class by accident. One day my brother and I stayed at the Club a little later than usual. I was walking into the gym when I heard lots of
screaming and shouting. I wondered what was going on so I walked into the room which was always locked, and I saw someone who looked like Chuck Norris and a bunch of
kids doing karate. I got so excited, yet I was suddenly saddened because I new of the home finances. Regardless, I sat down and watched the class.

I returned the following week. The Sensei (teacher), Sensei Randy Langawski, asked me if I wanted to try out the class. I had to refuse because I knew I was unable to pay. As
I sat there, I could not help myself and I did more than watch the class from where I was sitting. I jolted my arms and legs with the same motions as the class and did it with the
karate students every “kiais”(Shout). After class, Sensei Randy waited for me outside the class room. Instead of asking me if I wanted to try the class he said, “Karate is free if
you’re a member of the Boy’s Club.” He must have read right through me. When I heard that, I officially became the happiest kid in the world! Inside I was crying happy tears, and it
was at that moment that my life would change. “Till this day I steal tear when thinking of that moment” Thank you Sensei Randy For changing my life.

” I became a martial artist.” I studied with Sensei Randy for six years in the system of Isshinryu. My brother and I became his two highest ranked students ever to date. It was
with Sensei Randy that I had learned most of the traditions, morals and discipline that the art has to teach, much like the karate and Ninja movies that we grew up with. Sensei
Randy taught me a lot on how one should carry , he was teh one who also taught how to punch and kick. ” The art of Isshinryu sums up how a person should carry themselves
with these I studied with Sensei Randy for six years in the system of Isshinryu. Sensei My brother and I became his two Randy donated many of his years teaching karate to
children like few words, “The whole heart method.” myself. I pledged to do the same, to give back the same gift that was given to me. Due to health problems Sensei Randy had to
stop teaching karate and thus karate at the Club existed no more.

I started working at the age of 13 in a local Italian Restaurant as a busboy, I learned a lot about the business and now owner of an Italian restaurant myself. I attended college
with the hopes of becoming a physician assistant, but later realized the medical world was not for me, so I studied business with a minor in Japanese. I’m also a certified
masseuse. On occasion you can find me singing karaoke or playing the guitar to some Italian songs. I love languages and the music world.

When I was seventeen I walked up to a park and Aikido was one of the arts being taught. The price was right so I studied with Sensei Jerry Jamel for two years. To me, Aikido
was a graceful way of practicing the art. It can be seen performed by one of the top ranked martial artist in the Aikido Federation. This person is Steven Seagal, but most of his
movies portray a harder form of Aikido. In the summer of 1995 I studied Goju karate with Sensei Gabe Renaga, who is a North American champion.

I like to get myself involved in many things. Thus this involvement is was set me out to join the US Army in October, 1995 and graduating top of my class. In the Army I was an
engineer and a chaplain’s assistant. While in the Army I continued my studies in the Juun-Ryee system. I even tried out for the All Army Karate Team but as luck would have it I
broke my ankles. In late 1998, I got out of the military and focused the next four years of my life working a vigorous sixty hours a week, attending college full time and maintaining
karate. In 1999 I trained with Sensei Johnny Killer under Master Alonso Wilson. By 2000 I Returned to my original roots of Okinawa style. Now studdign the art of Shorin-Ryu
Shorinkan karate.

I have also spent a lot of time in the tournament circuit. My first big competition I was sure that I would get last, but I cried as the judged game me my 1st place trophy. The
arts made me believe what I always knew but never practiced- if you put your heart into it you can achieve anything your heart is set on. I had won not only “The International
Tournament”, but also a “Regional Tournament” and in 2001 “The World Championships.”

My Martial Arts training began in 1989. I have been taught numerous arts under great teachers, and in most cases, only achieved the rank of brown belt. Due to circumstances
I was unable to be ranked any further. I was beginning to think that I was cursed and was never going to earn a black belt. The color belt a person wears is not of importance, but
after fifteen years it was a chapter in my life that needed closure. In 2003, I was called and told I would be tested for my black belt. I waited nearly 14 years for this day. It was a day
I will never forget. I took a good beating during my testing, but it did not matter because I was numbed by the feeling of what it would be like to finally have my dream come
true…and it did. I passed my test and was ranked shodan (black belt). I was now one among the ranks of black belts. I was always a martial artist in my heart, but I was now
honored in the eyes of my Senseis to join them in their rank. I have studied Kendo, which is the art of the sword. I study Shorinkan Shorin-Ryu karate under Kyoshi Nabil Noujaim,
a great man who is widely respected and has many accomplishments in the martial art world and who studies under 10th Degree Shugoro Nakazato Sensei.

After many years I held true to a promise. I took the place of Sensei Randy at the Boys & Girls Club of Vista and now teach classes. I want every child to realize that they can
reach the stars no matter what their story might be. It’s easy for a child to believe that he/she does not have equal opportunities in life, especially when living in an area in which
mentally does not offer positive ideas. I fell into these sad beliefs but thanks to the opportunity the Boys & Girls Club gave me I managed to turn myself around. I realized I could
achieve more in life if I follow my heart because I truly believe, “you can do what ever you set your heart on”. It’s an intense feeling teaching karate; this gift that was once passed on
to me. It’s a part of my life as I hope it becomes that to someone else.

What the Boys & Girls Club of Vista has done for me I cannot put in words. Sometime in 1992 when I was going to the Boys & Girls Club as a member I was selected as Youth
of The Year. It felt nice being the one recognized out of thousands. I also realized that not everyone can be chosen. Learning karate gives one a feeling of importance, and they are
because they are learning an ancient art that goes back thousands of years. One of my biggest goals is to own a home on my private vineyard. Another one of my goals is to
become the Mayor of Vista some day. My heart is not set on it but I have thought about it. You never know what calling God has for us. For now I can put my time where my heart
has always been and that’s with the Boys & Girls Club of Vista.

My Club Bio

I grew up and was raised at the Vista Boys and Girls Club since 1989. Everything I experienced at the club as a child was to become an opportunity, a layer to my life teaching that
would one day make me into the man I am today.
“Crazy legs Sal” is what my friends called me at the club. I had dreams of one day becoming a professional soccer player but life did not have that in my future. Instead the Club offered a
karate program which became a tool in my life and when I played soccer, my crazy legs where all over the field.

Finances were vary tough at home when I was growing up. Playing soccer at a city level team was an opportunity I never had. So the club filled that void in my life and also gave my parent
a peace of mind that my brother and I were in a safe place.

I remember once as a teen the club took us on a ski trip. It started as a awkward ski trip being that there were those of whom were gang members from different gangs and teens with
attitudes. As we skied down the slopes most of us had fallen many times. But we dared not to laugh at each other for we knew it would turn out bad. On the second time down the slopes
we fell again but it was impossible to hold back the laughter and no one fought nor did anything negative. The club provided an environment for us to be ourselves and forget about the
outside stresses that we dealt with on a daily basis.

The club taught me the importance of an education, treating others with respect, fair play, giving with a pay it forward mentality, and the importance of family.

Today I’m still a club member but not as a child in need of guidance or opportunity. I now stand as those before me as a successful business man and a Club Executive Board Member
creating opportunities, a safe environment and tools for our children that were once given to me…
“Touching Lives One at a time”.

My life Journey of the Martial Arts as led me to Kyoshi 8th Dan Nbil Noujaim, a great Man and a Wonderful mentor.

“Thank you all.”

“Touching Lives One at a time”.
“A martial artist stands out among a crowd because they carry themselves in such a matter. We set standards and norms. I am only a teacher with hopes to create
masters. I invite you to learn this gift and create a master within yourself!” – Sal Cirincione

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