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  1. MisoCray is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 12:21am


     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Texas Soryu - Self-Promotion and Misrepresentation of a Japanese Style?

    I would like to get some input from other people on the following situation:

    The Texas branch of Soryu karate (a style that originated and still exists in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan) has had a long history. Recently, I came into some information that set off some alarms for me. I found out that the man responsible for bringing this style to Texas, Joe Alvarado, actually cut ties with the Japanese founder of the system because others were promoted above him. His last actual rank with Soryu was 4th dan. After cutting ties with Japan, he apparently promoted himself to 10th dan and has since promoted some of his students up to 9th dan. They still use the name “Soryu” and they still use the Japanese symbols to represent their style. I actually used to be a student of Soryu under several of the instructors. Among them were Richard Guerra, who claims to have a 7th dan from Japan Soryu. I am planning to visit the honbu in Sasebo to verify his rank (since I moved to Okinawa), but that’s another thread all together.

    To add to this, the curriculum they are teaching in Texas has a lot of the kata missing. I only discovered this recently by getting in touch with the Japan-approved U.S. representative, James Caldwell, who holds a rank of 8th dan, issued by Japan. Even in summary, there are vast differences between what is being done in Texas and what the original Soryu really is.

    My question is this: Is this bullshido? Are the folks in Texas misrepresenting the style by misleading people into thinking that they are still connected to Japan? It looks like it to me, but I want to know what the community here thinks. Thanks for reading.
  2. Rock Ape is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 1:56am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Ok, Whilst the issue of self promotion and other BS traits are interesting to us, we're not here, nor do we exist as a platform for potential organisational political wrangling.

    If you can provide proof that there's been self granted rank inflation, can also prove with some form of tangible evidence that said instructor is no longer a part of the main organisation, yet appears to represent or gain credibility from them by using logos etc, then let us see that however...

    You have now made an accusation in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, you need to back that up with evidence.

    If you fail to do this, I will remove your posting abilities and move this thread away from the investigative forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaliae View Post
    My question is this: Is this bullshido? Are the folks in Texas misrepresenting the style by misleading people into thinking that they are still connected to Japan? It looks like it to me, but I want to know what the community here thinks. Thanks for reading.
    In direct response to your question.. I think you already know the answer, hence the reason for your post.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Rock Ape; 3/08/2013 2:00am at .
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler
  3. jnp is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 3:19am

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     Style: BJJ, wrestling

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by kaliae View Post
    I actually used to be a student of Soryu under several of the instructors. Among them were Richard Guerra, who claims to have a 7th dan from Japan Soryu.
    Bullshido has looked into Mr. Guerra's claims in the past. Here is a link to that thread:

    http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=73319

    Edit: I see you already found the other, longer thread on Mr. Guerra.
    Last edited by jnp; 3/08/2013 3:24am at .
  4. MisoCray is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 3:36am


     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    All right, I think I got the stuff you want. The following is a post from a closed facebook group, Soryu Karate Association. It is between myself and Cristobal Lopez, a student of Joe Alvarado who claims to have received a 9th dan in Soryu. He states that Alvarado parted ways with Japan in the post. I questioned Mr. Lopez because He was posting about how proud he was of one of his students, Jeff Bonugli (an 8th dan). The ranking seemed a little suspicious because James Caldwell U.S. successor to Michio Koyasu, the founder of Soryu karate, is an 8th dan. I have underlined the important points. Some of the other stuff is not so relevant and some is:

    "Kalia: I really do admire Bonugli's accomplishments and his spirit. I just want to know, his 8th dan, who awarded him that? Is it recognized by the All Japan, or is it from Texas only? Thank you.

    Cristobal Lopez: Japan and I parted company more than 30 years ago. I promoted Mr Lussier to the rank of 7th Dan on the same day I promoted Mr Bonugli to 8th. Both are accomplished martial artists. As competitors they were the best in the state, and have continued to excel in the martial arts in the 38 years they have been with me. Mr Lussier can stand with any Soryu Master in the world. His form is flawless and his ability in kumite knows few rivals. As to Mr Bonugli, he has no peer in Soryu Karate, not in this country, nor in the Orient.

    Kalia
    : But, again, you have no [sic] idea what's going on in Japan. So, how does this ranking thing work? As far as I know, Mr. Alvarado was only promoted to 4th dan by Japan Soryu. How does one who began training after him become 8th dan?
    So, once you broke away from Japan, did you promote yourself to 10th dan, therefore giving you the authority to promote someone as high as 8th?

    Cristobal Lopez: Thank you for asking. For the sake of others, I will attempt to answer. Japan Soryu Karate makes much ado of the fact that Mr Alvarado is only a 4th Dan in their eyes, but long ago, they snubbed and abandoned him. We venerated Mr Koyasu; perhaps therewere other players behind what took place. One glaring and inexcusable example was when they went so far as to promote one of his students to a rank higher than the rank they left Mr Alvarado at, this being Mr Guerra. That they would have the degree of respect they do for Mr Guerra, is indicative of Mr. Guerra's ability. He is innocent in what took place, and surely worthy of the rank they bestowed on him. But they should have taken into account Mr Alvarado, whom they left adrift at the rank of 4th Dan. One does not promote the student over the instructor! They abandoned him, and they abandoned us, leaving him at 4th Dan and myself, Steve Besa, and Jessie Ortegon, at 2nd Dan. In Texas, the highest martial arts authority was separate from this style, in the persons of Allen Steen and J Pat Burleson, descended from Tae Kwon Do Master Jhoon Rhee. Steen and Burleson dominated Texas Karate. (Allen Steen defeated both Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis in 1964 Tourney) and from them have come some of the greatest karateka in the world. Joe Alvarado enjoys an enviable reputation with them. What Japan Soryu would not do for Joe Alvarado, they did, bringing him up in rank with them. But more important, we, his senior students, hold him at that level. My promotion to 9th Dan comes through Mr Alvarado. Should the time come that I feel necessary in my mind a need to go higher, I will consult with my Master Instructor Board and Mr Alvarado. My students are, so to speak, my resume. The same holds true for Mr Alvarado, as should be for any instructor.And no, I do not know about Japan. What I do know is that Kalia has chosen another style over Japanese Soryu. That speaks volumes ABOUT WHERE THEY ARE NOT. In my town, and wherever my students teach, we dominate. We leave no question as to who is the superior school. None whatsoever! And if we can't aspire to, and step up to that standard, we don't need to be instructing. My school was never number 2 in my town, not ever! We led the way. My students, of whom Mr Bonugli is a prime example, do the same. In the end, it is not about the style, but about the man or woman teaching in that particular dojo. He or she had better push their students without mercy. He or she had better bring out the best in each student, as people and as competitors."

    The group also uses the Soryu symbol, an archimedean spiral, that was created by Michio Koyasu back in the 1950s on their association patch. I tried to post images, but it says I have to have 5 posts up in order to post a link.

    Anyway, there are several others who are using the Soryu Japanese symbols to promote their schools. Among them is proclaimed 5th dan Mike Hill, who is a student of Myron Burse (student of Joe Alvarado, proclaimed 7th dan, and head of the Soryu Karate Association). If you google "Mike Hill Texas Soryu" you'll get his school.

    Richard Guerra (who has a facebook page titled "TRADITIONAL SORYU KARATE FEDERATION") is another. I have asked Mr. Guerra to post or send me a photo of his certificate from Japan so that I could get it verified, but he has not followed through.

    Cristobal Lopez also still uses the Soryu name in promoting his school. If you google "Chris Lopez Soryu Karate Federation" you will find evidence of this.
  5. Rock Ape is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 4:22am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Ok, this is somewhat more information but, none of it is actual evidence, what it is, is second hand rhetoric.

    By proof, I'm expecting to see tangible evidence, not a copy paste transcript.

    In response to your last paragraph .. You might think I'm being pedantic however, you came to us. It's not for us to Google anything. You've made the accusation, you hit those websites, screen capture whatever information you feel supports your statements, then post them in this thread.
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler
  6. MisoCray is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 5:11am


     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Screen shots are on their way as soon as I can figure out how to post them...wth...

    http://www.texassoryukarate.com/HOME.html

    But there's Mike Hill's link. You can see on that page that he is using a Japanese symbol to represent his school. He also has the kanji translated incorrectly. It actually says "So Ryu" not "Ren Mei."
  7. Rock Ape is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 5:33am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Here's what I would like to see:

    A copy of some document or full email transtript including headers, from the Japanese Hombu stating that the person in question is not a member of their organisation.

    I'd like to see confirmation from the Hombu of the legitimate yondan grade

    I'd like to see evidence be that from a screen capture of a website of the nanadan claim.

    I'd like to see the official Soryu Karate logo or organisational identity and then that being used by the person in question.

    Over to you.
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler
  8. MisoCray is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 7:25pm


     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    3
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Here is a screen shot of the facebook thread that I mentioned in my second post. Again, it mentions that Joe Alvarado separated from Japan and that he was only a 4th dan when he left. Mr. Lopez also claims that he, himself, is a 9th dan here:

    [IMG][/IMG]

    As for the evidence that was asked for:

    A copy of some document or full email transtript including headers, from the Japanese Hombu stating that the person in question is not a member of their organisation.
    I have been in contact with the U.S. successor Soryu Karate, James Caldwell, and will work to get that e-mail sent. I have the contacts for the Japanese honbu but am in the process of setting up a translator. What is my time limit for this?

    I'd like to see confirmation from the Hombu of the legitimate yondan grade
    That will be difficult to obtain. According to James Caldwell, Joe Alvarado stopped associating with Japan and was since stricken from the honbu's records. However, I will try to obtain an e-mail that confirms this directly from the Honbu in Japan. In the meantime, as far as Caldwell knows, Joe Alvarado only obtained Shodan. Here is the e-mail from Caldwell that confirms that:

    [IMG][/IMG]

    I'd like to see evidence be that from a screen capture of a website of the nanadan claim.
    There are many of these around, including the one on Bullshido. But here is one of the many:
    [IMG][/IMG]


    I'd like to see the official Soryu Karate logo or organisational identity and then that being used by the person in question.
    All right. As obtained from James Caldwell, here are some of the logos that have been used to represent the Japanese style throughout history:

    This is the latest one, established as the emblem for The All Japan Soryu Karate-Do Federation (AJSKF) 全日本総流空手道連盟 1987. The ring around the logo is particular only to the U.S., but the inner logo is the original Japanese design. James Caldwell uses this emblem at his school:
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Here's a screen shot of Richard Guerra's facebook page "TRADITIONAL SORYU KARATE FEDERATION" which utilizes this logo:
    [IMG][/IMG]


    This one is the spiral that was created by Michio Koyasu (founder of the style) circa 1950, used to represent his dojo. The spiral is usually red with a white background:
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Here's a screenshot of the Soryu Karate Association page and their newly created patch that they are selling for $15.00. As you can read in the comments, they want to use the money to buy "more patches," "more black belt certificates," etc...
    [IMG][/IMG]

    In general, the term "Soryu" is used to refer to the style that was created by Michio Koyaso. There are several others who use this term to promote their art, however their connection to Japan is no longer. This is something that some, such as Cristobal Lopez, will openly admit, yet they still feel justified in using the name "Soryu" to draw students to them.

    Here are links to other websites of instructors that hail from the Joe Alvarado lineage:

    Mike Hill: http://www.texassoryukarate.com/HOME.html
    Cristobal Lopez: https://www.facebook.com/soryukarate
    Arthur Flores: http://www.floressoryumartialarts.com/

    Here is a link to the Soryu Karate Association's youtube channel. You can see what their exams and techniques look like here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/SoryuKarateA
  9. Rock Ape is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 8:54pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Thank you for providing the information I requested.

    Are there any instances in the public domain which show Alvarado claiming to still be associated with Soryu Karate in Japan ? If so can you capture that information here.

    Has there been any publicity surrounding his promotion (by any means) to the 9th dan he now claims ? If so can you capture that information here. (does he have a certificate on show - for instance)

    Does he refer to himself as "Soke" or "Shihan" "Osensei" or any other such honorific title since assuming 9th dan ? If so can you capture that here.

    What action has Soryu Karate Japan taken against Alvarado for unauthorised use of their intellectual property ? Again some form of evidence here would be very useful.

    Is the Soryu Karate mon/emblem/logo either trademarked or copyrighted in any way ?

    What is your relationship to Soryu Karate Japan ?

    What is your relationship to Alvarado ?

    Are you willing to put your real name to any formal write-up which either myself or another contributor might assist you with ?
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler
  10. Rock Ape is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/08/2013 11:04pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I also note that Alvarado states he's a Vietnam veteran, do you have any additional information about his services in the US Military ?

    Can you also confirm if the Texas Soryu Karate school uses or teaches the Japanese sword in any?
    Last edited by Rock Ape; 3/08/2013 11:16pm at .
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler
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