Martial Arts: Article about Fightingarts.com Founder and Editor
The Man Who Brought Karate to Finland
Christopher Caile ended up being abroad for well over two years. Before his departure from Japan Oyama asked Caile to act as his representative on the new continent and to report back to him on the development of his dojos in the USA. Many of these Kyokushinkai dojos had previously practiced different karate styles (their level of karate varied considerably).
A photo taken at Kyokushinkai Karate North American Dojo on 14th Street in New York City around 1972. At left is Tadashi Nakamura (then Shihan) who headed Oyama's North American Organization after he moved to the US. Nakamura later founded World Seido Karate in 1976. Next to him is Mas Oyama, founder of Kyokushinkai, then Christopher Caile, who was then Kyokushinkai Branch Chief in Buffalo, New York and later became a senior in Seido Karate's New York Hombu and the founder of the martial arts website www.FightingArts.com. At far right is Shigeru Oyama, also a Branch Chief of Kyokushinkai in White Plains (NY) at this time, who later headed the Kyokushinkai North American Organization after Nakamura left, and who founded, with his brother, his own international karate organization, World Oyama karate.
The next fall returning to college Caile started teaching Kyokushinkai Karate (as Branch Chief teaching at a local YMCA) in Peoria, Illinois. Later he taught in Washington D.C. (while in graduate school) and after that in Buffalo, New York.
Christopher Caile’s friend, photographer Yoshikazu Aona, took this photo at the New York City Kyokushinkai Summer Beach Training in 1967 for a Life Magazine’s article on karate. Maureen Brazel is kicking and Caile steps aside to avoid the blow. Brazel, a gifted judoka, was Tadashi Nakamura’s first female students to achieve a black belt.
In 1976 Shihan Nakamura (who had since moved to the US to head the North American Kyokushinkai organization) founded the World Seido Karate Organization. Caile joined him. Caile notes that Nakamura was not only a friend, but a also superb teacher, probably the best he had ever known. "Nakamura is not only very gifted technically but is also spiritually a very strong karate-ka. He is a born leader who knows how to inspire his students," says Caile.
In Buffalo Caile began teaching Seido Karate at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY). He also lectured on Japanese culture and Zen and taught self-defense to students. Along with his Buffalo aikido instructor Mike Hawley, a Judo teacher Nick Rastelli and a Detective from the Buffalo Police force, Caile also taught city and state employees and in the local community.
Left: Christopher Caile doing a side kick inside a round house kick performed by Shahram Hejazi. This photo (and the one to the right) were taken for a newspaper article on the Seido Karate program at the university.
Right: Christopher Caile executing a jumping spinning axe kick while sparring with his first Seido Karate black belt, Shahram Hejazi, during a class held at Alumni Auditorium on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY).
Currently Caile holds a 7th Dan in Seido Karate with the title Shuzeki Shihan. He practices at Seido Karate's New York City world headquarters (Hombu) where he occasionally teaches and gives seminars. He moved to New York twelve years ago after teaching for more than two decades in Buffalo.
Caile emphasizes that Seido Karate is meant for everyone and that Seido conducts special programs for many groups with physical disabilities. He remembers the day very clearly when one of his students, Kevin, first came to the karate training at the university. Caile saw a young man in a wheelchair waiting for class to begin. When Caile approached, the man said in a broken voice “Kaan ah stuudee kaa raah ahh te?” Caile remembers his dumbfounded expression when he replied: “ Of course.”
Kevin executing an outside block to a punch by Christopher Caile during karate class. Although greatly limited physically by cerebral palsy, Kevin through sheer persistence studied karate, eventually achieving his black belt.
Kevin is an inspiration because despite his cerebral palsy, after years of hard work he overcame his limitations to achieve a black belt.
"There is an old proverb we use in Seido," Caile says. "If you fall down seven times, get up eight. Well, Kevin literally fell down in training hundreds and hundreds of time, and each time struggled up to his feet on his own." His muscle control and balance were poor, but over time they improved so he could perform technique in a limited way," Caile said with admiration in his voice.
You can read Kevin´s story here.
In addition to karate, Caile has practiced Wadokai Aikido for over twenty years. The style's founder, Roy Suenaka (8th Dan), learned his skills from the founder of aikido Morihei Ueshiba in Tokyo as well as from Koichi Tohei, first in Hawaii, then in Japan.
Left: Christopher Caile performing a wrist technique on his 350 pound Wadokai practice partner, Roman Panek, during a recent summer practice seminar held in South Carolina.
Right: Roy Suenaka Sensei, Christopher Caile's Wadokai Aikido teacher executes a wrist lock technique on him during a training session.
Sensei Suenaka was the first to successfully teach aikido on Okinawa (previous aikido teachers had departed after embarrassing and unsuccessful challenges from karate-ka). Caile has also been active in daito-ryu and aikijujutsu (Aiki-Budo). He has taken a break from this training aikijujutsu due to hip problems that lead to surgery, but he hopes to return.
Caile practicing ground fighting with Joel Sutton, a mixed martial arts fighter who won two Ultimate Fighting Championship individual matches.
While in Buffalo Caile shared his house with a mixed martial artist and two time Ultimate Fighter Joel Sutton. "I got familiar with MMA and practiced that for a bit." says Caile. "My judo background helped but I still need a lot of work on my ground work." As part of this training he also practiced boxing with Jimmy Ralston (ex middle weight challenger)." Boxing can be a real eye opener for many martial artists," Caile observed. "You understand the first time you get punched in the head. It is a totally different to experience."
Mixed martial arts, however, also has limitations, Caile notes. It doesn't deal well with multiple opponents (given its emphasis on going to the ground) and it does not deal with weapons. Also it does not provide the philosophy
or emphasis on character and self development as is found in traditional martial arts.
Dr. Zaiwen Shen leading Christopher Caile and others in a class in his family's form of Tai Chi held in Guelph, Canada in the summer of 1993. Dr. Shen's grandfather studied with Yang family decedents in China. He is Caile's Qigong master and teacher. Caile was a private disciple of Dr. Shen for many years when Dr. Shen taught in Toronto, Canada, before he moved to Japan. There Dr. Shen was a Professor of Health Sciences at Chukyo Women's University where he conducted extensive research into qigong. Currently he is President of Dr. Shen's College of Health Medicine in Nagoya, Japan.
"I got interested in alternative treatments and medication when my mother's medical condition deteriorated," says Caile. "Although she had been pumped up with pills and medicine, tested and underwent several operations her condition got worse over time. "I said to myself, 'there has to be something better.'" I lived in Buffalo at the time. "I became interested in Qi (internal energy) and took part in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu and then aikido. But I could not find what I was looking for medically," Caile says. Then he found a Toronto based Qigong teacher, Dr. Zaiwen Shen. For many years he drove a three hour round trip journey to Toronto twice a week to study. 'Finally I reached the level of a qigong teacher and practitioner and opened a clinic in Buffalo for patients, The Qigong Healing Institute. I think I helped many whom western medicine could not. At the university I also founded a Qi Gong Energy Medicine Association." During this time Caile also wrote articles on health and Chinese medicine for the magazine, The Holistic Health Journal, and contributed chapters on these subjects to several books. He was also filmed (video taped) for a prospective TV documentary on alternative health, based on seminars on boosting immunity he had conducted with the local AIDS association.
Twelve years ago Caile moved to New York City and got married. "Because my wife is adventurous too, we decided to spend a part of our honeymoon traveling down the Amazon river from Iquitos (Peru) looking for natural plant medicines. One medicine we brought back was tested at Mass General Hospital (and Harvard) and found that it boosted resistance to diseases (increased "T" cells)."
IN DIFFERENT PROFESSIONS
After graduate school Caile moved to Buffalo, New York where he planned to teach at the state university. "During grad school for my thesis I had gotten interested in a subject that my professor said was impossible to research. I did anyway. but I had to get secret security clearance for research in US military, OSS and Diplomatic files, and travel extensively for interviews. "I was the first," Caile says, " to document the secret U.S. support of Ho Chi Minh during WW II that contributed to in the Viet Minh’s political ascendancy in Vietnam. "I found that I liked research and would enjoy academic life."
When the university put off his teaching for a year, Caile found a job in telecommunications. He eventually founding is his own private telephone company (TeleTrends Corp). He also got involved in boat manufacturing after he designed a new type of portable (light weight, break apart) pontoon boat (Port-A-Boat) that was introduced in American magazine "Popular Mechanics." Selling these companies Caile founded an electronics company (Tree Technologies Corp.) to invent and patent a new distributed digital telephone technology (while studying electronics at night) and system, he envisioned, one that worked without need for central controls. It was sold to Bell South.
Changing occupations Caile then became a newspaper journalist. When he began looking into political favoritism, bias and possible misconduct, he received a few threats on his telephone answering machine. "At one time I even started checking under my car every morning. Just in case," he says.
After getting married, eleven years ago Caile decided to make use of his journalism experience and create a web site dedicated to well written, historically accurate articles on traditional eastern and other martial arts. "Many of Donn Draeger´s words and ideas were speaking to me from the past," Caile notes. At a time much of what was posted on the internet about the martial arts was biased, incomplete or inaccurate.
His own website (www.FightingArts.com) gave Caile an opportunity to write about not only karate and other martial arts, but about Chinese medicine and Japanese art. He is also invited to meet, attend seminars and write about many leading martial artists from around the world.
Over time Caile's philosophy and focus in the martial arts has also changed.
"At first I was interested only in karate and fighting. I was very young then and my goal in Japan was to get really tough and efficient training. It took a good few years until I understood the value of kata and their applications as well as efficient self-defense. Gradually I expanded my knowledge as I learned different Japanese and Chinese arts while also studying their history and background."
Caile writes about these subjects and issues on FightingArts.com now. When he does, he does hears the echo of Drager's voice that told him so many years ago, "To understand budo you have to hold it from more than one corner."
Editor's Note by Christopher Caile: This article appeared in the September 2009 issue of the Finnish martial arts magazine FightSport. The author, Jarmo Osterman, initially contacted me for an interview about my introduction in 1960 of karate into his country, but the interview quickly expanded. Osterman edited my responses and produced two articles, the first in Budoka (which has been previously posted) and the second in the Finnish martial arts magazine, FightSport, a translation of which appears here. This article differs from the first in that it relates more stories and personal accounts of my martial arts experience. The article was translated into English by Ms. Kristiina St. Croix from the text Jarmo had written in Finnish. At Ms. Croix’ suggestion the English translation she provided was edited for clarity and wording, to correct error, and to add supplemental. It should be also noted that websites are different from printed magazines, thus the format of text and photos within the articles appearing here can’t exactly reproduce the layout in FightSport. Also included in this translation are photos the were sent to Mr. Osterman for this article, but which space did not allow publishing due to the length of the published article.
About The Author and Translator:
Jarmo Osterman has been a martial artist for over 34 years and has trained in many arts. His concentration, however, has been on karate, where he has studied seven styles, and jujutsu where he has studied six. He is a yudansha in both Wadoryu karate and Hontai Yoshin ryu jujutsu. He has also written several books in Finnish on budo and its history. In his professional life for over 20 years he has worked as a photojournalist for a computer magazine and a staff writer for several Finnish Martial Arts magazines.
Kristiina St. Croix has been a student of Wushu Quan Kung Fu style in London, England, where she lived for several years. In that city she also served as a volunteer member of the Guardian Angels. Later she trained in Ashihara karate. Currently she is a teacher of yoga and is a staff member in a Finnish language school.