'Trias Karate systems', named for the man who introduced the art to the United States, is a grouping of karate styles that were developed from a single source. Robert A. Trias had served in the U.S. Naval service during the last years of World War II as a weldsman on the island of Tulagi in the Bristish Solomon Islands. Though his service time in the Florida Island group of the Solomon Islands was short, serving in active duting for less than one year, his contribution was great. His specialty as a weldsman had him being responsible for the repair and reconstruction of Elco PT boats around the clock. The active forces that utilized these vessels were under constant enemy fire and it was the job of enlistee Trias to keep them afloat and back in service. The British Solomon Islands were always under the threat of a possible Japanese attack and retake throughout the war, yet the time Robert Trias served there between October 19th, 1944 and September 2nd, 1945, only the occasional 'fly-by' and distant bombing were all that was to be experienced. Not too far from his position, Singapore was under Japanese occupation from their first attack on January 11th, 1942 all the way through til after their surrender, releasing control in September 12th, 1945.
Upon arriving back home in Phoenix, Arizona, Robert Trias took some time to settle back into his civilian life. He joined the Arizona Highway Patrol and in 1946 he opened the first karate school in the United States in the Arizona Boys Club. His dojo was a first and soon others were to follow. Robert Trias began teaching a karate style called Shorei-ryu. Shorei-ryu karate is sometimes referred to as a 'kempo'. This is due primarily to it's lineage to the Chinese arts. Kempo is transliterated as 'Chinese fist' or 'Chinese boxing'. Shorei-ryu is translated to mean 'School of Encouragement' and the transliteration is 'by the way of the Bright Stream'. The movements in Shorei are generally stronger, longer and aggressive as well as often to be circular in execution. Deeper stances are a characteristic of Shorei kata (form) and kumite (sparring). Our repetoire of kata are of both Shuri-te and Naha-te. The karate(s) of Naha-te were later developed to be Goju-ryu through Masters Kanryo Higashionna and Chojun Miyagi.
Through the years of the development of Robert Trias' karate, Judo became a facet of the training. Robert Trias was active in representing the Kodokan Judo in the USA and was given the rank of 6th degree black belt. The incorporation of Judo throws, reaps, holds, grappling, chokes, takedowns and breakfalling in our belt requirements made our karate a more comprehensive art. Kobudo, the art of traditional weapons, was also a part of our cirriculum and was promoted as a part of our regular karate training.
The Phoenix Arizona honbu dojo soon became a meeting place for many different karate-ka and their styles. When Robert Trias co-founded the USKA (United States Karate Association), the membership soared to numbers unsurpassed to this day, making it the largest karate governing organization ever. Many styles of karate coming together under one organization had given their influence on Robert Trias' developing karate. In 1960, a young Goju-ryu practitioner by the name of Charles Iverson joined the group. It was his Goju katas and methods that influenced the change in our style's name. With the addition of these naha-te kata, Master Trias' karate soon became known as Shorei-Goju-ryu, and due to the slip of word order it was also called Goju-Shore-ryu. This evolving karate was more inclusive of the Goju-ryu katas and methods of technique as well as incorporating Shuri-te influence. In early 1989, Shorei-ryu, as a style, was appointed to the headship of Terry Sanders by Master Trias and is preserved as such to this day by Kaicho Terry Sanders. As Trias karate was entering into it's fourth decade, Robert Trias was recognized world wide as Master Trias, meeting with many Japanese, Okinawan, Korean and Chinese masters, winning their admiration. With his joint meetings with Konishi Yasuhiro and Gima Makota, a decision was made to ordinate Master Trias' karate to recognize him as the international style-headship of Shuri-ryu karate. Grandmaster Trias soon codified and unified his karate teachings under the single name of Shuri-ryu. The waza (methods) and kata (forms) were primarily of Shuri-te lineage. Certain of our kata are of Naha-te and Tomari-te lineage and yet some are distinct compositions of Grandmaster Trias himself. It is unclear to many of to this day of the lineage of many of our kata, as they are in some ways different from other Shuri-te and Naha-te kata. Years of influence from many style practitioners have left their mark on how we perform our kata.
As with any system or style of karate, kata and technique will vary. This, of course, is the results of personalization to great degree. Our masters of the past would prefer certain technique and/or kata and make the modifications and changes to which it became their 'version'. This explains the reason why we see so many renderings of the kata Naihanchi (iron horse), or the kata Patsai (pressing asunder). Often, katas were added to or broken into parts and given minor and major versions for ease of teaching or preserving the theme. In Trias Karate, we endeavor to explore and understand these differences as they are found in our ryus.
Kata is best described as 'a packaged routine of karate technique'. The techniques involve stances, movements between stances, kicks, punches, strikes, blocks and breathing principles. Often, there are some rather ornate techniques needing much explanation as to their peculiar execution. Many kata are passed down to us from years of teacher to student, having been originated or 'composed' by certain masters. With respect to their 'composers', we endeavor to keep them 'alive'. The kata is the embodiment of karate. There is much is to be learned of any given style or system of karate just by its kata.
In the Trias Karate systems we continue to adhere to traditional practices, yet encourage the exploration of 'ha'. 'Ha' is the personalization of any 'ryu' (study or style). Adaptation is necessary due to our differring body heights, weights, shapes and our abilities. Within our karate practice we learn to use our body to the best of its trained abilities. Not all persons are capable of high kicks or deep stances. Some practioners may even have physical handicaps or limitations. This is why our karate suits any 'type' person best for their needs.
Our study of karate is indeed a deep study. It gives us a greater understanding of the physical, psychological and physiological principles. We learn to recognize our weaknesses and strengths. Through karate we learn the building blocks for a better balance in our lives. Our principles of the body, mind and spirit are applied in daily practice. To learn and to expand our abilities in all three areas gives us a 'well-rounded' confidence in 'who' we are and what we are capable of. With constant practice and improvement of our physical techniques, we develop good health in our body.
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In studying the culture, history and philosophies of our karate's roots, we exercise our mind, understanding ourselves as people. With training and discipline through respect and reigisaho (ettiqutte), we intensify our spirit. Character building is the 'window' of our spirit. Who we truly are is represented by our character. Our 'character' is embodied in our conscience. With a good conscience and having strong character we are able to control our body and mind. A student with 'great' character is one who helps others, understands pain, controls his emotions (namely, anger), respects all others, behaves with dignity, avoids physical confrontation, has cleanliness, exhibits confidence in his actions and never gives in to wrongfulnesses.
Self-defense is conditional, environmental and absolute. We teach a student to react to a situation accordingly. Attackers of much lesser body size don't deserve to have their elbow broken, three lower ribs cracked and suffer a severe concussion just because they 'pushed' you. The ability to determine the need for such techniques is relative to both the 'attacker' as well as the 'defender'. Body size, lighting, location, terrain, weather, clothing, weapons involved, gender as well as age are just a few factors that are taken in to consideration when defending oneself. We explore one's capabilities versus the endless possible scenarios. Not one method of self-defense can ever be universal. Environmental factors play a big part in what one is capable of doing to defend his or herself. The ability to think fast and utilize our environment can make all the difference in survival. Chairs, doors, books, pens, branches, rocks, sand are all acceptable for being used for defending one's self. Absolute is what we must be sure of. When practiced, understood and utilized, any technique used must be determined to best suit our end goal... survival with a minimum of injury to ourself. Doubtful or partially executed techniques can result in 'back-fire', leading to a more dangerous outcome on the defender's part. We never want to be faced with the possibility of the having to defend ourself to result in the death of another. REALITY... If the situation dictates, this may be the only outcome. Women are faced with more incidents of physical crime. This is factual. The perceived weakness of the victim plus the bad intentions of an attacker can result in terrible consequences. A female defender needs to react with absolute justification in defending herself. This is one of our primary goals in teaching self-defense. To awaken and empower individuals to defend against the realities of our society's 'evils'.
The total benifits of practicing karate are multifaceted. Many students enjoy good health and weight control. Others overcome physical ailments such as asthma and scoliosis. The calming of anxiety related ailments are also experienced. Whatever the need, karate has it 'covered'. Karate was and has always been understood to be a 'life-maintenance art'. To better understand karate, one has to emerse him/herself in the art.