About Sensei James Mercer

Sensei Mercer holds a Fifth Degree Black Belt and the title of Shihan in Shudokan Karate. He has been teaching in the Northwest for many years and has trained with numerous masters, including Hanshi Morris Mack, head of Shudokan Karate-do in the U.S.


With the advent of Gichin Funakoshi’s introduction of Okinawan Karate to Japan in the early 1920’s, the popularity of karate began to grow. Soon, other Okinawan masters began to travel to Japan to proliferate their arts. One such man was Kanken Toyama, whose Okinawan name was Kanken Oyadamari. A school teacher by profession, Toyama’s chosen avocation was the instruction of karate. He started his karate training at the age of 9 with a master named Itarashiki. His major teacher was the famous Itosu Yasutsune, with whom Toyama studied for 18 years.

Toyama became one of only two of Itosu’s students to be granted the title of “Shihanchi”, or protégé, of Itosu’s O kuge (innermost secrets). Aside from learning Shorin-ryu from Itosu, Toyama studied and mastered their styles of karate from other notable masters of Naha-te and Tomari-te, which included weapons arts.

A few of his other teachers were, Aragaki, Azato, Chibana, Higaonna, Oshiro, and Tana. Toyama ‘s interest in martial arts was not limited to karate. He was considered an expert swordsman, as well. While on a six year assignment to teach elementary school in Japanese occupied Taiwan (1924-1930), he studied Chinese martial arts with masters Chen Fong Tai in Taipei and Lim Fun Fong in Taichung .

Given this diverse martial arts background, the Japanese government soon recognized Toyama ‘s prowess, and awarded him the right to promote to any rank in any style of Okinawan karate. An official gave Toyama the title of master instructor. Toyama ‘s first dojo was opened in Tokyo in 1930, and he quickly became famous for his Aka Ryoku (strong gripping methods of Itosu and Itarashiki). The name of Toyama ‘s school was Shudokan, which means “Institute for the cultivation of the way.” Today, this term refers not only to his school, but also to his system. Shudokan karate is a composite system, encompassing Kobutjutsu (Ancient art, referring to the specialized weapons practice of Okinawan karate).

There are also kata (formal exercises) that are unique to Shudokan karate. Shurite, sometimes known as Shorin-ryu, or Itosu-ha is a component of Shudokan karate. Its kata represent light, quick motions and a variety of power sources.

The Naha-te system’s forms, sometimes known as Goju-ryu, Shorie-ryu, or Higashiona-ha, represent strong rooted motions with an emphasis on internal breathing. Power sources include both hard, and soft. The Tomari-te style is generally considered an extinct system except in a few composite systems such as Shudokan. Tomari-te is characterized by the speed of the Shorin-ryu and the strength of the Naha-te, and also included its own soft type of power. Tomari-te included some tight yet sophisticated motions; and in appearance it is both graceful and noble.

The aspect of weapons in Shudokan adds to its versatility and practicality. Weapons have also affected the empty hand forms in that the motions tend to be larger, often drawing a number of intersecting circles, with different parts of the body moving on different planes at the same time. Shudokan is characterized by large circular motions with an emphasis on covering. The practice of extension of the motions develops power and physique. Soft power is taught along with sophisticated applications. Which included throws, blocks, and chokes. Because of the balance between hard and soft power, this system promotes good health.

Shudokan, because of its physical character, has developed its own unique kata. One set of forms that were developed within the system is the Kyoku forms. There are seven kata in this group, starting with the very basic techniques, and building into long complex form, in a set progression. Originally taught only at the Hombu Dojo (Headquarters School), even the most basic of these kata were reserved for members who held a third-degree black belt or higher. These forms were developed to represent the fighting techniques of the system and were considered secret. Today, the basic Kyoku forms are taught only to brown belt student, and the longer more complex forms are still taught only to black belts. Another unique set of forms created by Shudokan are; Sonshin, Kakashin, and Choshin. These forms are used to develop and concentrate the potential of an individual. As an educator, Toyama believed his system should not stagnate. This intention was built into the system to allow for its continued growth of both the individual and style.

*This account is edited information that has been provided by Shihan Walter Todd (the American Shudokan Association), and the East Asian Cultural Institute.

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Puget Sound Area
Emerald City Karate

Address: 8314 Greenwood Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
Telephone: 206.437.3932
Website: www.emeraldcitykarate.com
Sensei Tobey Stansbury

Evergreen Karate

Address: 10121 Main St.
Bothell, WA 98011
Telephone: 425.486.4105
Website: www.evergreenkarate.com
Sensei Rachel Lyon

Karate West

Address: 5828 221st Place SE
Issaquah, WA 98027
Telephone: 425.391.4444
Website: www.karatewest.com
Sensei Randy Holeman

Karate West @ Mercer Island

Address: 8451 SE 68th St.
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Telephone: 206.232.4477
Website: www.karatewest.com
Sensei Randy Holeman

Mt. Si School of Karate

Address: Si View Community Center
400 SE Orchard Dr.
North Bend, WA 98045
Cell phone: 425.281.0889
Sensei Michael Morris

Portland Vancouver Area
Shudokan Karate of Portland

Address: Eastside Athletic Club
4406 SE Boardman
Milwaukie, OR 97267
Telephone: 503.491.3241
Sensei Reed Secunda

Vancouver Shudokan Academy

Address: Vancouver, WA
Instructors Sensei’s Andrew & Dawn Evert

Southwest Oregon Area
The Family Karate Center

Address: 577 River Rd.
Eugene, OR 97405
Telephone: 541.344.5288
Sensei Elida Roy

North Central Washington
Wenatchee School of Karate

Address: 1517 N. Miller
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Telephone: 509.663.6389
Website: www.wenatcheekarate.com
Sensei’s Kari Erickson and Dave O’Connor
Address also at Wenatchee Valley College

South Central Washington
Yakima School of Karate

Address: 13 N. 7th Ave.
Yakima, WA 98902
Telephone: 509.457.5462
Website: www.yakimakarate.com
Sensei Morris Mack

Central Washington School of Karate

Address: 314 N. Pine
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Telephone: 509.925.1091
Website: www.cwskarate.com

Southeast Washington Area
Central Basin School of Karate

Address: 830 Main St.
Othello, WA
Telephone: 509.488.2131
Sensei Terry Stone

Moses Lake School of Karate

Address: 4359 Airway Drive
Moses Lake, WA 98837
Telephone: 509.488.2131
Sensei Terry Stone

The Karate Center

Address: 413 S. 9th Ave
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Telephone: 509.529.8809
Sensei Dave Lybbert

Trinity Martial Arts Academy

Address: 1405 Goethals Drive
Richland, WA 99352
Telephone: 509.308.6046
Website: www.tmaakarate.com
Sensei’s Michael & Sarah Franco

Northeast Oregon
Trinity Martial Arts Academy of Hermiston

Address: 1055 N. 1st Place Ste. K
Hermiston, OR. 97838
Telephone: 509-308-6046
Website: www.tmaakarate2.com
Sensei Mike Franco

Central Idaho
Martial Arts America

Address: 519 Thain Rd.
Lewiston, ID 83501
Telephone: 208.798.8324
Website: www.lewistonmartialarts.com
Sensei Frank Arnett

Southern Idaho
Nampa School of Karate

Address: 203 5th Ave. S
Nampa, ID 83686
Telephone: 208.899.9286
Website: www.nampaschoolofkarate.com
Sensei Ben Kincheloe

Treasure Valley School of Karate

Address: 911 N. Meridian Rd.
Meridian, ID 83642
Telephone: 208.283.4051
Website: www.boisekaratedo.org
Sensei’s Jim & Vanesa Perkins

Central Illinois

Coming Soon!
Chicago, IL

Central Kentucky
Kentucky Shudokan Club

Address: Twin Pines Christian Church
1139 Tanbark Rd.
Lexington, KY 40515
Telephone: 859-229-8655
Website: kyshudokan.wordpress.com
Email: [email protected]
Sensei Jeremy T. Hanke

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