Martial Artists Train At Southwick

Submitted article

The little girl stood at the edge of the water, pointing out into the lake.

“Look mommy!  Karate people!”

Several yards out into Lake Ontario, martial arts students were doing traditional training exercises in the waist-deep surf.  Members of Seibukai (Pure Heart Organization) International had come from as far away as Tennessee to train together on the beach.

“This is a special event,” explained Marvin Labbate, Director of Central New York Karate in East Syracuse, and head of Seibukai Goju-ryu Karate-do International, headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.  “Only black belt students are eligible to attend.  This is exactly the type of training and environment that the founders of karate practiced on the island of Okinawa.”

The event is called a gasshuku which, paradoxically, translates as “coming together under one roof.”  These events are held by schools all over the world that practice traditional Okinawan karate.  Many organizations, like Seibukai, which have members all over the country recognize these get-togethers as an important part of their training.

“It’s partly about practicing traditional beach training exercises,” Labbate said.  “But more important is the sharing of knowledge and the camaraderie that the gasshuku engenders.”  People who don’t often see one another get together to train under their common instructor, learning the same techniques the same way, while building and cementing friendships.

This training day has brought together a number of people, including a small but fascinated group of beachgoers who stand at the edge of the surf and watch Labbate’s group train.

“It’s something we look forward to all year,” said Labbate.

Central New York Karate’s main location is at 720 West Manlius Street in East Syracuse (315-437-9417).  They have been teaching traditional Okinawan Goju-ryu karate in Syracuse since 1963.