An Interview with Sensei Frank Gorman, Part 1

conducted by Robert Kaiser 

During a recent trip to New Haven, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sensei Frank Gorman for an informal interview. The conversation lasted well over an hour, with Sensei Gorman answering with replies that were candid and inspiring. The transcript could easily fill multiple newsletters and will be included as installments in coming issues.

While the majority of the questions for Sensei Gorman had been provided to me by students from across North America, I started by asking him one of my own about something that is on everyone’s minds: COVID-19.


Robert Kaiser – 8th dan; Mount Vernon, NY:

Sensei, we all practice karate as a way to better our lives, become better human beings, and improve our health. We keep religion and politics out of the dojo – this is one of the most important tenents of our dojo lives. COVID-19 is a health issue and not a religious or political one, which is the only reason I bring it up. As teachers and dojo owners, do we have a responsibility to care for our students’ and members’ health and safety?

Absolutely, yes.

Are you vaccinated?

Yes.

How do you feel about vaccinations for COVID-19?

I think everybody should get vaccinated.


Peter Basch – 4th dan; Washington, DC:

Master Gorman, at what point in your training did you know that Uechi Ryu would be a central focus of your life’s journey – was there one thing in particular that grabbed your attention and “hooked you” on this Okinawan style?

At first, it was George Mattson’s book “The Way of Karate”. It was different from other karate books. It wasn’t so much a book about punching and kicking.

After starting training I eventually went to Japan and Okinawa. It was on that first trip that Mr. Ryukyu Tomoyose met us at the airport and took my teacher, Charlie Earle, and me to his house. He wanted to see what we had learned. He then showed us his Sanchin and it blew me away. He was so fast and strong, and his kata was beautiful. He Then took us to see master Uechi Kanei to “fix” us. Mr. Uechi watched our Sanchin and invited us to return the next day for practice.


Bob Miessau – 6th dan; Bozeman, Montana:

Sensei, I’m turning 60 this year. Please share any insights you have on how our training should evolve as we age.

Probably it is the same answer of how you should train when you are 30 or even 20. Don’t abuse your body. Train sensibly. Train smart. And take care of your health.


Mike Harrigan – 8th dan; Egremont, Massachusetts:

Frank, do you see a correlation between the evolution of an individual’s Uechi training and his or her life’s journey? For example, as we develop patience, focus, spiritual concentration in our training, are we simultaneously developing them in our daily lives? Are we becoming one with our training?

The answer is absolutely “yes”.


Ryan Dean – 8th dan, NAJJA President; Largo, Florida:

If you could go back in time, what might you have changed about your training?

That’s a tough question. I think that I would have, I felt that I was too egotistical to see the forest for the trees, to really understand what I was really doing, what I was really learning through my martial arts experience. The thing I would change is I would put my ego in my back pocket and just study the art for art’s sake.

I moved up in the ranks very fast, and I don’t think that was good for my ego. I wish I had been more humble during my early years of practicing.

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