Shito-ryu Karate, Jason Armstrong biography

Shihan Jason Armstrong, Ph.D. and 7th Dan, has lived in Japan as an uchi deshi (live in student) with a shito-ryu karate instructor. In his early karate years he placed at national and international kumite & kata events in Australian championships, Pacific championships, US championships (kumite only) and in Japan. His last 15 years of karate have been more focused on bunkai & street fighting statistics and how that intersects with traditional shito-ryu.


Jason has competed in a full contact mixed martial art event inside Japan and paid his way through college by working as a bouncer in the 2nd half of the 1980s. Today, he cross-trains with BJJ once a week to explore karate theories and the MMA world and has authored 4 books on karate, including a novel textbook on evidence based practice (EBP) for martial arts, Fighting Statistics & Karate Technique Selection & Medical Outcomes.

Jason lived in two locations while in Japan, Himeji and Tokyo. While living in Himeji his training was focused across four Renbukan dojo which is a style of the Tani (Shukokai) shito-ryu lineage with blended Mabuni attributes through is head in that era, Sotokawa sensei. Jason also visited dojo of other styles in the Kyoto region regularly & he has nurtured his karate with direct Mabuni shito-ryu (Seito Shito-ryu & learnings from Sotokawa sensei). During his stint living in Tokyo, he taught shito-ryu at a gymnasium dojo local to Ueno Park ,and cross-trained with such dojo as Kyokushin Roppongi and Seto Sensei's dojo of the JKA (Shotokan). Jason received his rokudan (6th dan) in 2007 and also a Shihan title in 2007. In 2014 he was requested to physically test and received a 7th Dan from a panel lead by Hanshi John Sells (8th Dan awarded by Mabuni family).

His martial arts training began with Judo and he quickly switched to karate with the style Renbukan (a shukokai/Tani line derivative of karate), he recieved Shodan from Sensei Greg Story (a now almost lifetime resident of Japan who recived 5th Dan there in 1985). Jason also studied directly with Iba sensei & Sotokawa sensei of the Renbukan style in Himeji Japan. All-in-all, Jason spent 17 continuous years in the Renbukan system with dojo(s) in Australia, the USA and Japan. During most of that time the head of Renbukan was Sotokawa sensei, from whom Jason received direct training.


In 1997 Jason established a Traditional Japanese Karate Network to allow cross-training and support for his students testing for Dan ranks. This group consisted of supporting sensei across the styles of Shito-ryu, Goju & Shotokan. That network exists today and remains as not a style, or single badged organization, but as a linked group of different dojo who network through belts tests, camps and cross-teaching. The website www.Downloadkarate.com acts as a repository of information on traditional karate for the network and as a communication/resource hub for karate-ka of any organization.

Left: Training at the Renbukan Himeji Honbu dojo with its' head sensei, Sotokawa 8th Dan (Japan 1997). Sotokawa was head after Renbukan after Fujiwara sensei died & remained head of that style until 1997 when it was passed to the next in-line, Iba sensei.

See :Shito-ryu lineage chart...

Above Right: During the last half of the 1990s Jason (on right hand side) was a regular fighter to support Dan rank tests in the Himeji Shito-ryu Honbu dojo - regardless of whether he was testing for a rank or not.

Below: Training with Morio Higaonna of Goju - Morio was based in California at the same time Jason was and he would travel down intermittently to get Goju exposure in the early-mid 1990s.

Left: Training with Morio Higaonna of Goju - Morio was based in California at the same time Jason was and he would travel down

intermittently to get Goju exposure in the early-mid 1990s.



Below: Jason in 2009 at the famous Jundokan dojo in Okinawa with, Taira Sensei, Miyazato Sensei (son of the late Miyazato Eiichi) & Kinjo sensei. Jason had also visited this dojo in the 1990s when Miyazato Eiichi was still alive.

Performing the same kata at the inaugral international Pacific Cup (now called the Oceania Champs) he received 2nd place.

Left: Jason achieving 2nd place in the Australian Shito-ryu championship in Melbourne in 1989 with the kata seienchin (The Mabuni Cup).

Right: Jason's instructor Sensei Young 8th Dan, (visiting from the USA) at a bow-in at Jason's full-time dojo on Australia's Sunshine Coast in 2005. Jason opened this dojo on returning to Australia after 12 years aboard.


Jason obtained a doctorate in studies on the medical effects of spaceflight while involved in payloads on space shuttle (through a NASA Center for the Commercial Development of Space) and has a Master’s degree in Electrophysiology.





Right photo: Sinn Chew sensei (Goju) & Jason Armstrong (Shito-ryu) overseeing students kata at the Queensland karate camp.

Left: Jason scoring with a front fist in the USA WKF championships.


Jason has undergone Dan tests and had significant developmental influences from the following sensei in particular:

  • Sensei Greg Story (below left), based in Tokyo
    • Greg gained his 5th Dan in Japan in 1985 and was responsible for Jason receiving Shodan
    • In 1987 Jason was the recipient Story Sensei's obi (belt) - a tradition of "passing the baton for the future" so to speak in Japanese budo (pictured right)


  • Sensei Sotokawa 8th dan
    • Based in Himeji, Japan. Sotokawa received his 3rd Dan from Kenwa Mabuni – founder of Shito-ryu. Sotokawa was head after Renbukan after Fujiwara sensei died & remained head of that style until 1997 when it was passed to the next in-line, Iba sensei.


  • Sensei Iba 8th dan. Based in Himeji, Japan
    • Iba was passed the Himeji Renbukan dojo as headed it from 1997. He received it from his senior, Sotokawa sensei, as described above..


  • Sensei Uetake 8th dan Shito-ryu (also with a Shorinji-Kenpo background). Based in Himeji, Japan (formerly Renbukan).


  • Sensei Terashita 8th dan Shito-ryu. Based in Himeji, Japan (formerly Renbukan).


  • Sesnei Young, 8th dan Shotokan
    • Based in California. A student of Kanazawa Sensei & Asai Sensei.


  • Hanshi John Bartholomay 8th dan Seito Shito-ryu – based in California John received his 7th Dan from Kenzo Mabuni – son of the founder of Shito-ryu, and 8th Dan from the Mabuni family line.


  • Hanshi John Sells (left), 8th dan Seito Shito-ryu – based in California
    • Based in California and student of Fumio Demura and Kenzo Mabuni
    • John received his 8th Dan from Kenzo Mabuni – son of the founder of Shito-ryu