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Yoshukai Karate

The true history of Martial Arts probably began with prehistoric man out of a simple need to defend himself from his enemies, whether they were other men or wild animals.  Because prehistoric man survived and evolved into what we are today, his ability to defend himself must have been successful in the era before the development of weapons.  

The history of Karate can be traced back to Okinawa, a small island located between China and Japan.  In the early 1600’s Japan invaded and conquered Okinawa.  Because the people were forbidden to own weapons, the type of “empty hand” combat that we now know as Karate was born.  Over the next 300 years, Karate was studied and practiced in Okinawa, and was eventually introduced to Japan.

Until the 20th century, there was no systemization of the art, with the various techniques being examined, classified and improved. 

The man most responsible for the systemization of karate and for introducing it to Japan was Gichin Funakoshi (1868 – 1957).  As the study of karate in Japan became increasingly popular many other experts emerged.

Among the better known was Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, 10th Dan and founder of Chito-ryu Karate.  Dr. Chitose was an early student of Funakoshi.  Mamoru Yamamoto, 8th Dan, began studying with Dr. Chitose at the age of 15, and became his top student and the National Champion of Japan in karate tournaments.  Yamamoto interjected new techniques and various weapons into Chito-ryu Karate and, eventually, Dr. Chitose pronounced him the Master of his own style.  This style developed into the system presently known as Yoshukai Karate. 

Mike Foster, 10th Dan, was stationed in Japan with the United States Air Force in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  He first studied Goju-Ryu karate with Sensei Watanabe, achieving the rank of Ni Dan.  Then he studied with Yamamoto for many years, achieving the rank of 7th Dan in February 1976.  During those years he spent time in Japan and was also Yamamoto’s representative in the U.S., expanding the number of Yoshukai schools around the country and becoming the United States Karate Champion in Kumite for the years 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969.  In the late 1970’s, Foster moved on to start his own association—Mike Foster’s Yoshukai International Karate Association.  It grew to include schools in Florida, California, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Latvia, Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. 


In 1990, the Yoshukai Testing Board was formed in order to provide a standardized ranking method for students being promoted within the system worldwide.  The board consisted of some of the most senior members of the association, and all of them were 4th Degree Black Belts or above.  The board was overseen by Mike Foster, but operated independently.

Hanshi Mike Foster was promoted to the rank of 10th Dan on July 12th, 2017 by the Board of Directors of Yoshukai Karate International and honored at Yoshukai Karate International’s summer Tai Kai held at Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida

On June 28, 2008, members of the Yoshukai Testing Board, Inc. (consisting of Michael McClernan, William Moore, Bob Bush, John Matthews, Elizabeth Moore, Ricky Copeland, Michael Myer, Richard Cromwell, Christina McClernan, Lee Farrell, and Michael Mendelson) resigned from Mike Foster’s Yoshukai International Karate Association. The Board now functions as a non-profit corporation, doing business as Yoshukai Karate International.  Its mission is to preserve and promote the history and traditions of Yoshukai Karate, while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, family values, and the fair and equitable treatment of all members.  As we continue on our journey, we are building on the works of the great masters who have come before us.

For more information please visit: www.yoshukai.org

The owner and Chief Instructor of the Bamboo Dojo is John Michael Matthews, Renshi, 7th Degree Black Belt in Yoshukai Karate and Kobudo, 3rd Degree Black Belt in Sanuces Ryu-JuJitsu, 4th Degree Black Belt in Zen Nihon Toyama Iaido Renmei, 4th Degree Black Belt in the U.S. Federation of Batto Do, 4th Degree Black Belt in Zen Nihon Batto Do Renmei, 1st Degree Black Belt in Seizan Kai Toyama Ryu, and 1st Degree Black Belt in Ryukyu Kobudo.

Mr. Matthews is a member of the Board of Directors of Yoshukai Karate International.  He was inducted into the World Martial Arts Council Hall of Fame in December, 1998; received the Silver Life Achievement Award from the World Head of Family Sokeship Council, International Hall of Fame, September 2000; received the Silver Life Achievement Award from the Cosmopolitan Martial Arts Hall of Fame, November 2006; and was named Master of the Year by the Cosmopolitan Martial Arts Hall of Fame in August 2007.


* Enlisted in United States Marine Corps, 1968.
* Completed Basic Training at Parris Island, SC; Advanced Infantry Training, Camp LeJeune, NC,
  Anti-Tank Weapons; Jungle Warfare School, Camp Pendleton, CA, 1968.
* Served with First Marine Division, Infantry Rifle Company, Delta 1/1, Vietnam, 1968-69.
* Served with Armed Forces Police in DaNang, South Vietnam, 1969-70.
* Completed Airborne Infantry School, Ft. Benning, GA, 1971.
* Served in USMC Reserves, ANGLICO Unit, West Palm Beach, FL, 1971-72.
* Honorable Discharge, 1974; Rank: Sergeant.
* Military Medals and Awards include:

Also on the karate teaching staff of the Bamboo Dojo is Pat “Mudbone” Fletcher, Shihan, 6th Degree Black Belt in Yoshukai Karate, and 1st Degree Black Belt in the U.S. Batto Do Federation.  Mr. Fletcher received the Instructor of the Year Award from the Cosmopolitan Martial Arts Hall of Fame in August 2007, and is on the Yoshukai Karate International Testing Board.