Kyoshi Robert B. Herten has loved the martial arts since he was a teenager. At 16 he began what was to become his life's work by practicing jujitsu with a friend from high school. When he joined the US Air Force in 1963, he learned a little TaeKwondo. But he really began to get serious about karate when he was transferred to Okinawa, an island known for its traditional martial arts masters. There he met his first teacher, Shugoro Nakazato, the master of the Shorin Ryu Shorinkan style of Okinawan karate. Herten knew right away that he had found his calling.
After being discharged from the Air Force, Herten opened his first karate school in Totowa, New Jersey in 1969. Along with teaching traditional Okinawan karate and kobudo (weapons), he developed a unique fighting style. In the early '70's he competed in some of the legendary tournaments in New York City. Using a blend of these teaching styles, he built a good strong following of students. For more than 27 years Kyoshi Herten remained a practitioner of Shorinryu Shorinkan and a disciple of Master Nakazato, and, in 1985 was promoted to Nana Dan (Seventh Degree black belt).
Early in 1990, feeling the need to become a student again, Kyoshi Herten went to Lansing Michigan to visit Seikichi Iha, a ninth dan in Shorin Ryu Shidokananother branch of the same style of Okinawan karate. He knew Iha Sensei was the senior student of Katsuya Miyahira, who, like Nakazato, was a student of Chosin Chibana, one of the great masters of this traditional style. For two years, Kyoshi Herten traveled bi-monthly to Lansing to practice under Sensei Iha. It was hard work changing himself and his students over to Shidokan's traditional versions of the Shorin Ryu katas and Iha's style of soft blocking and body shifting. On a visit to Okinawa in 1993, he was awarded an equivalent seventh dan by Miyahira and Iha.
Today, Kyoshi Robert Herten heads the East Coast branch of Shorin Ryu Shidokan. The organization has dojos in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and soon, Florida and Virginia. Kyoshi Herten teaches every night at the Totowa, N.J. dojo and is available for seminars on Shorin Ryu Karate and Ryukyu Kobudo.
In April 2001, Kyoshi Herten was promoted to eighth dan, making him one of the highest ranking Americans in the worldwide Shorin Ryu Shidokan organization. He still practices regularly with Hanshi Iha, honing his skills and perfecting his art. His philosophy remains: It takes a good student to be a good teacher.