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How/what is GKR karate?


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had one of these GKR guys come round my house a while back, I'd only been back a week from spending 18 months at Siping City in Jilin... Prior to that I'd been Thaiboxing for a few years.. Me being quite talkative I got chatting to the guy, who then suggesting "if I fancy learning something a little less dated I should give GKR a try".........


At the point the eyebrow was raised and the front door closed quite firmly...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I found this thread on google and after reading a few pages (there are a lot) I decided I would like to join in.


I am 40 years old and trained in Wado Ryu when I was 18. I loved it and I think after about 2-3 years I got to 4th Kyu. Life sort of took over and I didn't train for a long time. I do not claim to be an expert in any way, shape or form.


About 4 years ago, I had a knock on the door from someone from GKR. I always wanted to get back into karate and this was just a push I needed. The whole family joined though I am the only one who carried on after my husband and I divorced.


There are a lot of arguments on here for and against GKR. Personally I really love GKR. There are a lot of similarites to Wado Ryu and some obvious differences which I expect come from the other styles Robert Sullivan trained in. Doesn't everything change over time? I am sure some of the very tradtional stlyes from years ago are a little different to the same styles practised today.


As for the contact - there is not a huge difference between what I did in Wado Ryu and what I do now in GKR. I personally would not like to practice full contact on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I would if I was that way inclined but I don't want to. I have taken an accidental punch to the face and I take it, I have also given them out.


I think GKR is probably more appealing to familes and older students who have never had any MA background because of this. Yes, you could probably attend the gym or do some other excercise for the same price but I like the family atmosphere. If GKR is a kick start to some youngsters who later decide to try different styles, isn't this a good thing?


I do have reservations about the door knocking selling of GKR but if they hadn't knocked on mine I don't know if I would have ever started up again.


It has taken me about the same time, maybe a little longer because of some personal problems I had to get to 5kyu which I am now. I hope to grade in the next couple of months so no quick gradings as some have suggested in this forum. My sensei (who is a black belt) will not grade anyone who she doesn't think is ready. As a result in any tournaments our club have attended, we have done very well against others of the same grade from around the country. I myself have won medals for both Kumite and Kata.


For those of you who would like to see a GKR tournament then the GKR Nationals are being held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield on 16 November. Why not go along and look for yourselves at the standard of competitors. The top 3 in Kata and top 4 in Kumite from all the Regional qualifiers will be competing. I think the competition starts at around 9 or 9.30.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear Baerenfanger,


I'm an Australian. I've known Bob Sullivan since we trained together with Merv Oakley, Tony Chew and Masayuki Takasaka.

You wrote:

"I was once shown (by a GKR instructor) a photocopy of Robert Sullivan's 2nd Dan grading certificate from Kei Shin Kan Karate (now called Kei Shin Kai in Japan). It was signed by Master Masanao Takazawa 8th Dan."


That is an authentic grade. It is the last grade Bob was awarded by a Japanese master.


Bob was never given any permission from anyone in Kei Shin Kan to train under the name GKR. GKR is his own compilation of a mix of Goju Kai and Kei Shin Kan. He openly admits this, unlike some other identities in the martial arts world - some very famous, especially in the gung fu world - who lie about the art they teach being taught to them by another (usually deceased) master. Sensei Takasaka, as his instructor at the time, was considerably less than happy that Bob devised his own art. The quality of GKR I leave for others to judge.


You write of Sensei Takasaka:

"He is still training in Melbourne at Belmore Road, Box Hill under the name Koryu Karate Do- having broken away from KSK Japan"





You write:

"Sensei Uchida 5th Dan is still training in Sydney under Kei Shin Kan"




You write:

"Old home movies of Sullivan training with Kei Shin Kan when Master Takazawa visited Australia in or about 1974 with his senior 5th Dan students, still exist"



I was there.


You write"

"They are the most incredible movies, because when people like Sullivan were babies in karate terms, here were 5th Dan and 8th Dan (Master Takazawa) Japanese displaying amazing karate"


They were, and are, fantastic.


You write:

" Sullivan calls himself 7th Dan"


Several from that time have "moved up in grade"


You write:


"Well I ask you, if you could learn from Sullivan or the Japanese instructor who is the real deal, who still trains in Melbourne, Uchida in Sydney - who would you go to?"


Indeed. Bob was a "good bloke" but is now a very ill old man. Senseis Takasaka and Uchida are likewise older guys - but are hale and hearty and

incredible karateka. Thank you for posting your comment.

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Thought I'd post my experience with gkr.


I was an sdc with them for 2 years. I started when I was 17. training in the southern zone, my zone director was joe estrada. Unfortunately this was my first experience in martial arts training and so I had nothing to compare what I was being taught to. GKR is a business. But not a business as you would imagine. It's more like a cult. The gkr students are a broad mix of people from all classes of society who train once a week and go back to their normal lives. GKR staff however are a little different. The vast majority are simple people who have been recruited from the local high street in the middle of the day. They have nothing worth while in their lives with no hope of securing a real job or career. This is the type of person that can be manipulated and controlled. My excuse by the way: I had only just left school and my stepfather (a regional manager) made me do it! I was still young and naive. To this day I don't really have any bad feelings about the gkr business model. It is a business after all. The principal of a business is to make profits which it successfully does. gkr's fast expansion, as many people know, is due to the fact that they will allow anyone that is willing to teach a class. And make no mistake - they have not been selected because of talent and they could be any grade. One of my sdc buddies started teaching at 9th kyu / yellow tip after 10 lessons! - no lie! BTW - unless you are a regional manager working full-time you do not get paid for teaching a class for gkr. So why do they all agree to do it!? The reason they agree to do it is because they get given a black belt with a white stripe through the middle. This is often mistaken as a penis extention and gives these wasters instant gratification and authourity in their lives. Now they're a somebody!

Now lets get to the martial arts. If it was called gkr sport karate - I may even find that acceptable. But its not. GKR calls itself a traditional style teaching real self-defence techniques. This is a lie. Whilst GKR teaches authentic kata's (yes i know sulliven has altered them all slightly one way or another) I find it astonishing that not a single GKR instructor could tell you what these moves in kata are actually for. Not even 7th dan sulliven himself. I have since researched these katas and realized that karate is not a simple striking art that many consider it to be. These kata teach everything from throws to grappling to joint minipulation and even ground work! If only there were more instructors around that knew the real meanings of these katas.


I have trained now for a long time in mma which includes muay thai and submission grappling. This is by far the most dominent martial art on the planet. It is nothing new though! All the moves come from judo, wrestling, karate, kickboxing, ju-jitsu etc. What it is, is a collective knowledge of the techniques which are proven to work from all martial arts styles under combat situations. I still however teach my own karate school. Whilst mma is my preferred style, it is too hard and too technical for mainstream martial artists. I also like the etiquette and respect that goes with karate which is not found in mma classes. I believe this to be just as impotant as the techniques themselves. Especially for youngsters in todays world!


Just to summerize, anyone wishing to persue martial arts. 10 days of mma training will be more beneficial to you that 10 years with GKR. If you wish to train in a more traditional art such as karate (like many top mma fighters either had done previosly or still do in many cases) then find yourself an instructor that knows what he/she is talking about. There arn't any in gkr!



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I would not refute anything you say about GKR, regrettably.

The modern, sportified martial arts world, especially karate is a poor reflection of the art even only forty years or so ago, let alone a hundred.

There are instructors in the karate world who can give you all the applications of all the katas. Many moves have multi-applicability. Learn from your unhappy experience and seek out true masters. They may often be people no-one has ever heard of, in my experience. Best wishes on your journey!

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I would not refute anything you say about GKR, regrettably.

The modern, sportified martial arts world, especially karate is a poor reflection of the art even only forty years or so ago, let alone a hundred.

There are instructors in the karate world who can give you all the applications of all the katas. Many moves have multi-applicability. Learn from your unhappy experience and seek out true masters. They may often be people no-one has ever heard of, in my experience. Best wishes on your journey!


and a quote from Matt

Just to summerize, anyone wishing to persue martial arts. 10 days of mma training will be more beneficial to you that 10 years with GKR. If you wish to train in a more traditional art such as karate (like many top mma fighters either had done previosly or still do in many cases) then find yourself an instructor that knows what he/she is talking about. There arn't any in gkr!




And from me, price.


There is, in Sheffield, the Norton Dojo, a fact which I've often "advertised", ad nauseum, on SF. This is, as the signature says "Karate as it's meant to be." Non competetive, purely traditional, original (as near as we can get) Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate. It contains all the " multi-applicability" of techniques mentioned by Kitsune, taken from the katas, and we do know what we're talking about.

Okinawan karate wasn't influenced by the Japanese after WW 2 because the US took over Okinawa in 1945 and, while nominally a Japanese Prefecture, it was, in reality, completely US dominated until 1972. Okinawa was then returned to Japan. By this time "traditional" karate, as we call it, was/is even more deeply embedded, without the outside influences of some of the more competitively orientated Japanese Karate. When all's said and done Okinawa is where kara-te started. To see the sort of training /techniques used in Goju-Ryu logon to the our website and click Videos. If you're really interested in the History of Karate may I recommend "The History of Goju-Ryu Karate" by Sensei Morio Higaonna, that is, if you can get hold of it. It seems to be quite rare. Apologies for the long-winded post but there are so many charlatans in "business" in karate. It spoils the reputation of what I believe to be a valuable discipline that could be very beneficial to a lot of people for whatever reason they choose to practice it for. I'm going for a lie down now.:thumbsup:

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Guys, sorry to drag up an old thread. :(


I've been involved with GKR for 11 years.

GKR is what it is ..... it suits some people and not others.

I started looking elsewhere around 6 years ago after grading to shodan as it was the same old thing day after day ....


If you ever come across anyone who is say sandan or yondan in GKR ask them what they have learnt since shodan-ho ....... if they're honest they'll tell you 'only a couple of kata' :hihi: if they tell you anything else, they're lying. I needed more than that.


I now do Krav Maga. :)


The business side of GKR is the biggest scam but some people are too stupid to see what's happening.


Here's an example from one guy who got suckered in by all the promises:

I started training with GKR in 2004. A guy knocked at my door and told us all about it. I wanted my daughter to do it but she was shy and wouldn't do it without me so i signed up her and me and a friend of ours. I hadn't done MA before, although I had boxed for a few years so I didn't know what to expect.


I was the only adult in the class so once I'd got my yellow belt i used to spar mainly sensei. It used to make me laugh that he could normally block my jab or cross but never my hook. He just didn't know what to do with it.

A couple of weeks after I got my yellow belt sensei asked me if I would be interested in joining the STP. I remember how shocked I was at being asked. I didn't know what I could possibly offer any class. After all, all of the senseis were BW belts and I was only a yellow.


So I turned up at the sensei training. The training was tougher but my motivation was that if I attended, I wouldn't have to pay for my training any more. After a few weeks of training I had to sit a test. I was nervous untill I saw the questions. They were super easy and we were never given the results. I know now that the test was just lip service and we would have passed no matter what our score was. At the end of the test myself and the other guys were given BW belts. I remember being embarassed to put it on. After all, I had now been training just 16 weeks but I carried on training because the STP training was that much better than at the dojo I had started in.


A few weeks after getting my BW belt my RM called me over after class. I thought I was in trouble but he told me "that I was being offered a fantastic opportunity". He asked me if I would like to head my own class. I was not sure at all as this would now involve being out 3 nights a week.


I spoke to my wife about it and decided to take up the offer of this fantastic oppotunity. I still didn't know what I had to offer but the RM assured me that all of the students would be white belts and all I had to do was give them the standard class format and teach them the first kata.


Months rolled by and I was loving training and loving teaching and made some great friends. At work I was halfway through doing a degree that would really help my career so things were looking really good. Then one day I heard that GKR were looking to open dojos in Canada. It had been my dream to live in Canada so I asked my RM if I would be elligible to go to Canada. He said he would ask Sensei Gavin Samin. A week later he called me and told me that

Gavin had told him that if I wanted to go to Canada I had to be full time with GKR. I asked what this role involved. I was told I would be an SDC and would have to go door knocking in the evening and train during the day but that it would only be for about 4 months untill we was off to Canada. I was so excited that I quit my job that day and started the next day.


Training was tough. Really tough but I was getting a buzz. I was leaving my house at 8am, training in a gym for a couple of hours. Then going to the job centre to recruit new SDC for my own team. Then my karate training in the afternoon and then door knocking in the evening untill about 10 pm. My wife wasn't happy that she was at home all day every day with the 3 kids but i assured her it was for the greater good. Canada was what we both wanted so she suffered it as well as washing and ironing my gi every day. I met Sensei joe Estrada. He seemed like a nice guy. He was heavily into goals and what he was saying must have been true. After all, he had a ferarri, a porche, an imported Holden Menaro and a load of houses.


He told me that to get my goals and go to Canada I had to be prepared to cut all of my ties with The UK and be ready to go at a moments notice. He then told me the story of how quickly he had upped sticks and moved to the UK for GKR. I went home and told my wife that we needed to sell our house to be ready to go to Canada. I wasn't making the money that I'd been told

I would and we were starting to fall behind with our mortgage but if we sold our house we would have money in the bank for when we went to Canada. My wife wasn't happy as she was pregnant for the 5th time. She was quite stressed because we had lost our 4th baby so she was quite scared. But again I assured her it was for the greater good and reminded her of all the stuff Sensei joe was telling me.


We had our 4th baby a week before we moved out of our house. It was a sad time because I had practically built the house from the floor up. And even though I had originally been told we was going to Canada in February, it was now the end of October.


I was not making much money at all but it didn't matter too much because we now had the money in the bank from the house sale. I told joe Estrada that I was going to Canada for a month the following july for a holiday. He told me to take my canvassing folder and knock on a few doors to see the reaction I got. And also I should look at some halls to hire and check out things like life insurance. I was excited but my wife wasn't. She was sure we had given up everything we had worked for for the last 6 years for nothing. But I told her it must be soon because Joe Estrada has asked me to check out hall hire costs.


By the following September I realised that my wife was right.I had a meeting with Joe Estrada and asked him a few questions about my future with GKR and when we was going to Canada. He couldn't answer me and I realised then how badly I had let down my family. I'd missed a year and a half of my children growing up. I wasn't there for my wife when she lost our baby and ended up in intensive care.


I was meant to be the head of the house but let them all down.

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I agree that the business side of GKR is a complete shark infested water - no-one in their right mind would attempt to make a career from it. Looking at the structure, it’s like a pyramid scheme - the rich at the top, paid for by the free contributions of the instructors and the £6 a lesson + £20 per grading from the students.


The fact your mate was taken in by the hype is a disgrace, but not surprising. I've seen people give up careers to works as SDCs (door knockers), on the income of keeping the £25 joining fee, with the promise of greater glory to come. But this will never happen for them. They are just the grunts.


I also agree that taking yellow/orange/green belts on as GKR instructors is ludicrous - the argument used by GKR 'you only need to be one belt ahead to teach a class' is complete rubbish. You need to have good MA ability, good teaching skills and a good level of understanding of what you are teaching before you should try to pass this on.


I rejected becoming a GKR instructor till I made blue belt, had been training 2/3 times a week, and had been doing it for 3 years. Then I trained even harder 2 times a week in the instructor’s class. Then I was allowed to assist in class. If all GKR instructors were taken on under these circumstances, then the quality of the teaching would be more consistent and of a quality befitting a UK wide club.


I have no issue with not being paid in cash - it's like any other business arrangement where trade and exchange are used as currency. I get (free of charge) high quality training from the black belt instructors twice a week - in exchange, I teach 1.5 hours a week in a class. A fair and equitable trade.


I apply myself to the study and training of GKR karate in order that I can apply this in practice and pass this onto the class I teach in. However, there are some instructors in GKR whose lack of effort, knowledge, sparring skill and fitness is a bl**dy disgrace - a serious cull is needed to improve quality at the expense of quantity. More dojos and more students should not be the mantra without the high quality of teaching to go with it.


Many issues remain with GKR, but I believe (having been on the inside with my eyes open), that it is not all bad.


Getting your foot on the road to any exercise is a great thing. Moving from being a lard-ass to a fit, athletic, agile individual is a great achievement. Making a start on this, by joining a karate club is a great personal achievement.


Remember - when signing up to any karate - Ask the person signing you up how many lessons a week does the instructor train and how many years have they been doing it and what grade are they. This will be a good yardstick for the quality of training you will receive.

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Lets do some quick maths on how much each region makes in cash, based on reasonable estimates




In 1 week

800 students

avg. lesson fee (max 6, min 4.5) = £5

= 800x5 =£4000




instructor wages - none (they get free training)


SDCs wages - effective zero cost to GKR (each students sign-on fee pays the SDC wages)



less hall fee = avg £20 per hall per week

number of halls = 25

= (25x20) = £500


All other stuff like insurance is paid for by the student in the joining fees (2 installments of £25)




so income for GKR, PER region = £3500 per week


= £182,000 per year ( from weekly training)


Now lets add gradings


12 grading sessions per year

avg # students per grading = 50

cost grading = £20


= 12 x 50 x 20 = £12000


So total income (less expenses) for just one region of 25 dojos = £200,000 profit


...and there are dozens of regions......



I'm not saying it's wrong, but there's some real money being made by the regional managers and upper eschelons of GKR.

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