Seirenkai Martial Arts & The International Seirenkai Organization (ISO)
The Kokusai Seirenkai Kyokai, or International Seirenkai Organization (ISO), is a traditional martial arts association founded in 2008 with its World Headquarters (Honbu Dojo) in Farmington, CT, USA. The ISO teaches Seirenkai Karate and Seirenkai Jujitsu as its two primary arts; and also includes Seirenkai Kobudo (Okinawan Weapons) as a secondary art. ISO members have the opportunity to study and earn rank in each of these respective disciplines which complement each other but are distinctly separate from one another.
Seirenkai currently includes members in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Currently, Seirenkai's most active communities are in the United States, Finland and Israel. The ISO's leadership includes masters and senior sensei with extensive experience in multiple facets of martial arts, decades of training in several different styles and leadership roles in other martial arts organizations.
The purpose of the ISO is to provide realistic and effective self-defense training in a safe and traditional manner. Participation in Seirenkai Karate and Jujitsu provides many additional benefits such as self-confidence, physical and mental health and positive character development. Seirenkai training for children, youths, adults and seniors is a benefit to all facets of one's life, and is an activity that can yield benefits throughout one's lifetime. Seirenkai also promotes responsibility and respect for others. Our students learn the importance of doing their best to avoid situations that would require them to defend themselves, and the self-control to utilize their skills in an appropriate manner when absolutely necessary.
The Name "Seirenkai"
The name of this style has deep significance on both technical and personal levels. Seiren means integrity and kai means association. Seirenkai literally means "association of integrity," reflecting the philosophical and practical foundation of the system. Integrity refers to the techniques in both karate and jujitsu having physical integrity, meaning they are real, useful and applicable. Integrity also refers to the character of the people who practice these arts as possessing and demonstrating integrity in their actions. One practical way to describe integrity of character is to ensure that one's actions match what they say. The other meaning of seiren is the act of polishing, forging and tempering something, as in the process of turning metal into a strong sword, thereby giving it more integrity at its core. This process is what we as Seirenkai martial artists do with our mind, body and spirit through our training.
While the ISO is a relatively young organization, the bonds of friendship and partnership within it have a history spanning more than four decades. These long-standing relationships based on trust, camaraderie and mutual respect were key reasons behind the establishment of the ISO. The ISO leadership structure includes the Board of Directors comprised of founders Daniel Cohen and Scott Cohen and founding members Vesa Toropainen, Stephen Lisauskas and Robert Zysk. Master Steve Dunne (1952-2010) was also a founding member of Seirenkai and his deep influence remains a constant, permanent presence and guide for ISO members worldwide. All of these individuals bring to the ISO deep and broad expertise in martial arts as well as other professional areas of accomplishment, leadership roles and advanced educational backgrounds.
The ISO also includes a Leadership Committee comprised of Senior Seirenkai Sensei, women and men from multiple countries with decades of training and teaching experience. The ISO's Advisory Board includes high ranking Sensei from outside the ISO representing traditional Okinawan and Japanese based karate, jujitsu and weapons systems. All Seirenkai Sensei (teachers) undergo significant training as both martial artists and instructors. They must be certified by the Honbu (World HQ) to open and maintain a Seirenkai school of their own. Incumbent upon all Seirenkai Sensei is the responsibility of continuous personal training, learning and improvement, aligning with the core Seirenkai philosophy of always doing one's best. Regardless of the dojo location, all students who join a Seirenkai dojo become part of a warm and close-knit family that welcomes people of all types to train in a safe and friendly environment. The ISO emphasizes inclusiveness and respect for all people, and includes members from all walks of life and backgrounds.
The arts taught within the ISO are classified as Gendai Budo meaning "modern martial ways." Gendai Budo is a Japanese expression referring to the modern Japanese martial arts which have a foundation in much older traditional Japanese systems. Technically, Seirenkai karate and jujitsu are classed as "Bujutsu" because of their primary focus on practical, effective self-defense. Philosophically, Seirenkai represents the Budo tradition of enhancing one's character by becoming the best person one can be through diligent martial arts training. All Seirenkai schools and sensei prioritize realistic self-defense practice while stressing safety for one's training partners. The wide range of techniques and training methods in both Seirenkai Karate and Jujitsu is a tremendous asset to our membership, enabling people of all physical abilities, conditioning and background to participate and enjoy martial arts classes in a safe, healthy and supportive setting.