4th Dan, Blue Water Dojo, Michigan

Erich Shoemaker, 4th Dan, Blue Water Dojo, Michigan
Blue Water Dojo - Phillip Koeppel, John Hutchcroft, and Erich Shoemaker
Blue Water Dojo – Phillip Koeppel, John Hutchcroft, and Erich Shoemaker

I began studying martial arts at around age 13 in Traverse City, MI with Tang Soo Do. Over the years, I experimented with various styles before finally finding Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu at the age of 25 underneath Sensei Tom Fabiano in Holland, MI.

Upon joining the school, my interest in the art along with my previous experience propelled me to set the school records for the fastest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dan before Sensei Fabiano’s retirement. Following his departure, I transitioned to studying with his sensei, Hanchi John Hutchcroft in 2016, which led to a vastly greater and deeper understanding of the art. In 2018, Hanchi promoted me to 4th Dan at a particularly meaningful moment that significantly caught me off guard and remains one of my fondest memories in the martial arts. Today, I teach at my own place,

The Blue Water Dojo, in Grand Haven, MI where I focus specifically on functional self-defense-oriented karate in a holistic manner. What this means is that I choose to focus not on what is possible within the martial arts, but rather on what is necessary for viable and good self-defense while remaining true to its Okinawan roots.

“Kata teaches how to generate power, bunkai teaches how to apply it. If these two are not in balance….if you’ve spent significantly more time generically running kata than trying to actually understand its bunkai….you will find that your growth ( in terms of functional self-defense) will significantly stagnate if it even grows at all. No amount of mindlessly repeating motions devoid of intent will grant you any meaningful insight or improvement other than the same improvements a dancer may make to their routine. It makes it look prettier, crisper…you may even win tournaments with it, but it is still just as functionless and useless for self-defense as the dance.”

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Blue Water Dojo
Blue Water Dojo training area