Sensei’s Corner: Nishiyama Method

Guest Contributor

Sensei Toru Shimoji, 5th Dan, is the chief instructor and operator / owner of Jinsendo Martial Arts in Smyrna, GA.

Born in Okinawa, Japan, Sensei Shimoji grew up in Hawaii where he started his Karate training. In 1982, he moved to Los Angeles, CA and began training under Master Hidetaka Nishiyama. He became a member of Nishiyama’s teaching staff, managing and teaching the adult beginner-intermediate program and children’s classes.  As a member of U. S. National Team, he competed nationally and internationally and won several Kata titles. After attaining his B. S. Degree in Kinesiology from UCLA in 1991, Sensei Shimoji moved to Okinawa and studied Goju-ryu Karate under Master Yoshio Kuba, and Japanese calligraphy (Shodo). Upon his return to the United States in 1996, he based his operations out of Atlanta, GA and became the Technical Director of the American Amateur Karate Federation (AAKF) South Atlantic Region.

Sensei Shimoji is also an artist and creator of figurative and organic sculptures.

Nishiyama Method

As a novice, I was taught to listen to my teacher and train diligently, so I went to the dojo and practiced as hard as I could so that one day I could be as good as Bruce Lee. (Remember, this was back in the 70’s.) I did not think too much about the techniques, just repeated them over and over; “more is better” was the prevailing thought. I started getting injured, but I didn’t stop since overcoming pain was the essence of martial arts. Looking back, those overuse injuries I had suffered were completely unnecessary and I’m lucky none of them became debilitating.

When I started training under Nishiyama Sensei, everything began to change. Focusing attention, noticing the subtleties of the movements, and seeking insights through analysis and contemplation, I felt like I went from kindergarten to university. Through him, I learned to process external  (what you hear, read and see) and internal stimuli (what you feel inside your body), and attempt to find a better way to move my body. The essence of enhancing the quality of your Karate movements lies in this type of mindful learning: introspection combined with physical experiences. It was an arduous experience to train under Sensei to say the least, but I am forever in debt to have had the honor of being his student. 

I feel that the Nishiyama Method is alive and well in our dojo. Instead of blindly following, this approach allows you to take ownership of your development. It seems to me that new beginners in our program are improving at a faster rate than the previous generation. Our seasoned students as well as online members are also getting a renewed spirit to improve their existing skills. I believe that is the most accurate interpretation of the Japanese word, dojo: a place (-jo) where you find your way (do-). 


Train hard, train smart.


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