Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo

Last updated
Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo
Koshinkai Organisation Logo.jpg
Date founded1977
Country of origin Australia
FounderJim Griffin, Max Estens, Des Paroz, Lesley Griffin
Current headJim Griffin, Max Estens (Joint Chief Instructors)
Arts taught Karate, Okinawan Kobudo
Ancestor arts Okinawan Martial Arts, Judo
Ancestor schools Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate, Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha Karate
Official website

Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo (少林寺流古新会唐手道) is a school of karate based on the Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karatedo lineage of Kōri Hisataka, as passed on by two of the leading students of the founder, Masayuki Hisataka of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan and Shunji Watanabe of Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha. [1] Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo was jointly founded by Jim Griffin, Max Estens, Lesley Griffin and Des Paroz in Australia. Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo is the school of karate taught by the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association, the original Australian school of Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate, founded in 1977. [2]


History of Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo

Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo is the school of karate practiced by the members of the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association Inc.

Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo has a history dating back to 1977, when it was founded by Laurence Vanniekirk (aka Lori Vann). Vanniekirk had immigrated to Brisbane, Australia with his family from South Africa in 1970. His previous background was in judo and the Shitō-ryū karate, having set up the South African branch of Tani Ha Shito-Ryu Shuko-Kai. After having sustained a shoulder injury in judo, Vanniekirk took up karate in 1959, initially studying from books, before visiting Japan in 1964. During his time in Japan, he was graded to 3rd Dan by Chōjirō Tani, founder of Shukokai. [3]

After immigrating to Australia, Vanniekirk founded the Australian branch of the same organisation. He subsequently established the Australian branch of an offshoot of Shukokai, Renbukan. After leaving the Renbukan, Laurence Vanniekirk and a group of his students trained independently. Vanniekirk was given a copy of the book Scientific Karatedo by Masayuki Hisataka, and after reading it, he made contact with the author and subsequently visited Japan to train in Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate with both Kōri Hisataka and Masayuki Hisataka. On returning to Australia in 1977, Laurence Vanniekirk established the Australian branch of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo, and in so doing set up the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association. [4]

During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo grew strongly, with many dojo established in Queensland (mainly around Brisbane), and New South Wales. The NSW group started in the Coonabarabran and Coolah area, having been started by local karateka Scott Brown and Graeme Bowden, who had travelled to Brisbane to train for an extended period with Laurence Vanniekirk. The NSW dojo expanded to include other country centres including Gunnedah and Tamworth, as well as the Sydney metropolitan area. Scott Brown also spent an extended period of timing training in Japan, directly studying under international head master, Masayuki Hisataka. [5]

In 1985, Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo (under Vanniekirk's leadership) hosted the 5th International Koshiki Karatedo Championships, in Brisbane. At that event, Masayuki Hisataka promoted Laurence Vanniekirk to 6th Dan in Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo. In the late 1980s, Vanniekirk retired as Chief Instructor, passing the reins jointly to the two senior instructors, Phillip Hooper (Queensland) and Scott Brown (NSW). Phillip Hooper was a long time student of Vanniekirk, while Brown had studied extensively under Vanniekirk, but was also a direct student of Masayuki Hisataka, having spent a significant period of time in Japan at the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo so-hombu dojo. At the time, both were graded to 5th Dan in Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karatedo.

In 1994, Scott Brown stepped aside, and Phillip Hooper became sole chief instructor. He was graded to 6th Dan in by Masayuki Hisataka at the World Koshiki Karate Championships in Japan during that year.

In 1995, Phil Hooper lead Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association in separating from the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan organisation, thus becoming an independent school of Shōrinjiryū Karatedo. At this time, the school was simply known as Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo.

Phillip Hooper retired as chief instructor in 2000, passing the reigns, jointly, to Jim Griffin (Queensland) and Max Estens (NSW). Griffin was a student of Phillip Hooper, whilst Estens was a student of both Scott Brown and Phillip Hooper. Both had also studied under Masayuki Hisataka in Japan and Australia. As of 2012, Jim Griffin and Max Estens continue to jointly lead Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo.

Seeking to establish ties with the international community of practitioners of the Shorinjiryu Karatedo style of Kōri Hisataka (the founder of Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate), in 2001 Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo became a member of the International Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokai, an umbrella organisation of various independent schools based on the same foundation. Contingents from Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo have competed in that organisations international tournament, held annually in New York, in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2011.

In conjunction with the 2006 trip, led by Jim Griffin, Max Estens and Des Paroz, the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo contingent spent a week in Baltimore, training at the dojo of Shunji Watanabe, a direct student of the founder of Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karatedo, Kōri Hisataka. [6] Shunji Watanabe was very forthcoming in sharing the karate taught to him by his teacher, giving the contingent a glimpse into the old style Shōrinjiryū Karate originally taught.

Along with two of his senior instructors, Shunji Watanabe visited Australia in 2007. At that time, he invited the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association organisation to become members of his organisation, the Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha Federation, and to become his students. So in 2007, the school of karate taught by the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association became Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha Karate. Although the karate taught by both Masayuki Hisataka and Shunji Watanabe was each based on the Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karatedo of Kōri Hisataka, there were some significant differences, with Watanabe's karate relatively unchanged from that taught to him, while Hisataka's had evolved, particularly based on Hisataka's foundation of the Koshiki Karate competition system, utilising Supersafe Anzen Bogu protective equipment. In this way, the Australian organisation has the unique position of having learned two distinct interpretations of Shōrinjiryū, directly from the founder's two senior-most students.

In 2011, the members of the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association again elected to become an independent school of Shorinjiryu Karatedo. Jim Griffin and Max Estens, together with senior instructors Lesley Griffin, Des Paroz and Tony Fletcher, founded a new school of Shorinjiryu, which has been named Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo. [7] Koshinkai means the group of the old and new, and represents the bringing together of the various teachings of Shorinjiryu they have been exposed to from Masayuki Hisataka, Shunji Watanabe, Laurence Vanniekirk and others. The name was chosen to reflect each of these influences, and also reflects the spirit of the Japanese koto waza known as "On Ko Chi Shin", which reminds us[ who? ] that by studying the old, we better understand the new.

As of 2012, Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo, the school of karatedo taught by the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association has seven active dojo, including Bribie Island, Brisbane (Coorparoo), Murgon and Rockhampton in Queensland, Coonabarabran and Sydney (Hunters Hill) in NSW, and Melbourne (Altona and Point Cook) in Victoria.

Grading structure

Like many schools based on Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate, Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo utilises a belt system, with 10 coloured belt levels (kyu) for non-black holders (mudansha) and 10 levels (dan) for black belt holders (yudansha).

The 10 levels of coloured belts used in Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo are:

Black belt holders (yudansha) all wear a black belt that may be embroidered with the holder's name and style. There are ceremonial belts for high-ranking black belts, including the red-and-black panelled belt for 5th Dan, the red-and-white panelled belt for holders of 6th, 7th and 8th Dan, and a red belt for 9th and 10th Dan masters.

Joint Chief Instructor Jim Griffin is currently the highest-graded proponent of the Shorinjiryu Koshinkai organisation, holding the rank of 7th Dan and the title of Kyoshi. Joint Chief Instructor Max Estens is also graded 7th Dan and holds the title of Shihan. Senior Advisory Council members Des Paroz and Lesley Griffin are graded 6th Dan and hold the title of Shihan. [8]


The range of kata practiced in Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo include forms passed down from Masayuki Hisataka of Shōrinjiryū Kenkōkan Karate and Shunji Watanabe of Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe Ha Karate.

As of December 2011, the following empty-hand forms are practiced as part of the formal syllabus: [9]

In addition, the following weapons kata are included in the syllabus:

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  1. Clarke, M 2011, "Karate With a Twist", Blitz Australasian Martial Arts, Vol 25 No 9 (Sept), pp. 36
  3. Overton, G 1989, 'Instructors Profile: Sensei Laurence Van Niekirk', Australasian Fighting Arts, Vol 12 No. 2, pp 21–23
  4. Overton, G 1989, "Instructors Profile: Sensei Laurence Van Niekirk", Australasian Fighting Arts, Vol 12 No. 2, pp. 21–23
  5. Nowland, D 1991, "Instructors Profile: Sensei Scott Brown", Australasian Fighting Arts, Vol 14 No 6, pp. 26–29
  7. Clarke, M., "Karate With a Twist", Blitz Australasian Martial Arts, Vol 25 No 9 (Sept 2011), pp. 32–36