At OKI, the style of karate practiced is the very traditional Shorin Ryu. Originating in the Ryukyu Islands, known as Okinawa, the secret self-defense techniques of the martial arts have been passed down from generation to generation by individual study and practice.
Okinawa became a major trading hub between China and other neighboring countries during the 15th and 16th centuries. And with open trade, personal safety became an important issue. Martial arts techniques from China and other Southeastern Asian countries were combined to produce the unique karate of Okinawa. Three styles, Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te developed from the main regions of the islands. Experts originated from each region, and because the feudal lords forbade open practice, their techniques were kept secret.
In the late 1800's Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan, and by the early 1900's karate was beginning to be openly practiced. Anko Itosu combined the hidden techniques of karate with the physical education program taught at schools, bringing the martial arts further into the public eye. His student, Chosin Chibana, named the style Okinawan Shorin Ryu to separate Itosu's teachings from other forms of martial arts. After Chibana's death in 1969, his senior students formed branches of the Shorin Ryu system. Katsuya Miyahira's branch is known as Shorin Ryu Shido Kan. In 1967 Miyahira asked his student Seikichi Iha to come to the United States to spread the teachings of Shorin Ryu Shido Kan. Iha first went to California to teach but in 1975 moved to Lansing, Michigan and opened the Original Okinawa Karate Dojo. It was there that Kyoshi Herten met and became a student of Iha's, joining his worldwide Beikoku Shido Kan Association.
Iha's Shorin Ryu emphasizes traditional kata as well as the use of body shifting when blocking an attack. With the feet positioned at right angles to each other, a softer, smaller version of blocking can be used, making for very fast counter attacks easily taking your opponent off balance. His teaching method is very "hands-on" incorporating his philosophy of friendship and cooperation.
Kyoshi Herten has taken Iha Sensei's traditional teachings for adults, and added in all of his own martial arts experience for kids to make OKI's unique blend of karate. The roots of Shorin Ryu karate are deep at OKI, giving the Shido Kan branch room to grow and strengthen with time.