Peter Ralston

Peter Ralston was raised in Asia and began studying martial arts at the age of 9. By 20 he held black belts in Judo, Jujitsu, and Karate, had been Sumo champion at his high school in Japan, Judo and fencing champion at UC Berkeley, and had demonstrated proficiency in Kempo, Chuan Fa and Northern Sil Lum Kung Fu. He went on to study Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing I Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, Aikido and Western boxing.

peter-ralston-bwRalston has pursued this endeavor with a passionate determination for more than 35 years. He sought out and studied with the world's most demonstrably skilled teachers, broadening his study with such arts as Aikido, Japanese and Chinese fencing, western boxing, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and new levels of his own investigations into all of these arts. His exceptional commitment (often practicing for more than eight hours a day) and depth of study, his intense meditation and open inquiry have led Ralston to profound levels of skill and understanding. Consistent with Zen studies, his investigation into martial arts also came to include a questioning of reality. Long periods of intense contemplation resulted in many enlightenment experiences regarding the nature of self and reality which greatly influenced his study.

In 1977 he opened a center called “The Cheng Hsin School of Internal Martial Arts and Center for Ontological Research” in Oakland, California. In 1978 he became the first non-Asian ever to win the World Championship full-contact martial arts tournament held in the Republic of China.

“One of the fundamental reasons I fought in a world tournament is that I ask people to do “unconventional” things, to actually question and understand themselves. I want people to listen to me, to open up to what I am saying. Winning this world tournament was done so I could say “I did it. What I am teaching you is functional. It works.” Now people listen to me who wouldn’t before, yet I am saying the same things.” ~ Peter Ralston

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Gichin Funakoshi


Father of Karate


Gichin Funakoshi was born in 1868 in Shuri, the old capital of Okinawa. As a child he was weak and sickly, but after beginning karate training he gradually grew stronger and for the rest of his life, his health was so good that he never had to take medicine or even see a doctor.

Funakosi was a small man - standing about five feet tall and probably weighing only 120 lbs. He came into the martial arts because one of his friends at school was the son of Yasutsune Azato (1827-1906), the noted karate master.

It was with Azato that Funakoshi began his training in karate, which in those days was still regarded as a mysterious martial art. Later he also studied with the famous Yasutsune Itosu (1830-1915) one the most important figures in karate history. Both of these experts - who Funakoshi revered to his dying day - had been students of Sokon Matsumura. Azato and Itosu were friends, although rather different in physique and temperament. Itosu was rather short and sturdy with great natural strength. He was widely regarded as the leading expert in Shuri-te and is responsible for many of the modern day versions of Kata, such as the ‘Pinan’ (Heian), the ‘Passai-dai’ and ‘sho’ (Bassai), and so on.

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