SKA visiting senior instructor, Jeff Klein, led six amazing practices here at KC Shotokan Karate Club during January 23-25 and February 20-21, 2020. Jeff was a karate prodigy in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s. Ohshima Sensei awarded him yodan in 1976. Jeff won the Nisei Week Karate Tournament several times and has been featured on the cover and inside pages of Black Belt Magazine and other martial arts publications. Now in his late sixties, Jeff has matured into a martial arts force of nature and a gifted and entertaining instructor.
Exceptionally intelligent and creative, Jeff has deep experience in Shotokan Karate plus experience with many other styles from all over the world. Apart from his business ventures (film producer, restaurateur, publisher), Jeff has devoted himself to an ever-evolving understanding of martial arts. His research and practice in the applications of the basic movements of kata is inspiring. Most instructors appear to speculate that kata teaches how to face multiple opponents attacking from many directions. Jeff has arrived at an understanding of kata that is facing a single opponent who you overcome through joint and limb manipulation, throwing, and striking while always moving to advantage and putting the opponent at disadvantage.
The practices Jeff led were similar to typical SKA practices in many respects – we marched with the count back and forth across the floor making hundreds of each technique- there were striking differences. Jeff has ‘bad’ knees (though you’d never guess it from his very low stances and fluid movement) so we omitted kneeling meditation in favor of a simple bow to begin. Then, instead of our usual yoga-based stretching and warm-up, we began with many repetitions of one or a simple combination of basics while focused especially on hikite (pulling hand) and the initiation of stepping in by making the pivot side ‘heavy’ and the stepping in side ‘light and quick.’ We especially concentrated on shuto-uke in basics, kata, and in kumite while we concentrated on off-balancing an opponent and moving to improve our relative positions and especially – using both hands to good advantage.
Jeff was a generous and very positive instructor and coach. His approach reminded of the late Caylor Adkins – an appealing combination of deadly ability, deep experience, good humor, and friendly encouragement. Practices were challenging and intense and at the same time fun and very interesting.
Jeff joined us for drinks and meals and regaled us with his colorful stories of his dealings with the famous and infamous. Stories about SKA seniors. Stories about meeting Bruce Lee and how Bruce was unable to get away from Jeff’s oizuki. Stories about many well known JKA fighters of the 1970s. Stories about running around with movie stars like Beat Takeshi. Stories of business deals gone bad and good. Funny stories, sad stories, maddening stories, but always entertaining and well told, Jeff was a great dinner date for all of us!
From all of us at Kansas City Shotokan Karate Club, THANK YOU, Jeff!