The Urban Gojudo "Fight Schools Network"
International Hombu Website
Grand Master Peter G. Urban's Only OFFICIALLY AUTHORIZED Web Site
AmericanGoju.com, UrbanGojuUSA.com, UrbanGojuUSA.us, are owned and managed by Hanshi James Price,
who is the sole webmaster appointed and sanctioned by Grand Master Peter G. Urban.
This website is $upported by the voluntary contributions of its members.
In early 2002, when I learned that they did not have a karate program at the Hoboken YMCA, I approached them and shortly thereafter began teaching there. After I had been there a few months it was brought to my attention that I was not the first person to teach Goju-Ryu at the Hoboken Y - another man had taught Goju at the Y back in the 1950’s – the legendary Grandmaster Peter G. Urban.
This year the YMCA building is celebrating its 80th anniversary, and when the Y directors were looking for “events” to publicize the buildings’ great history, I suggested that we have a ceremony to honor Grandmaster Urban. That ceremony was held on Friday, April 20th. Many of Master Urban’s famous students attended to pay tribute and I was honored to play master of ceremonies.
We had filled the small gym (my dojo) at the Y with about 50 chairs for guests, but that proved grossly inadequate as the turnout was tremendous. There were people in attendance standing 3 deep in the back and along the left and right aisles. I would guess that about 200 people showed up including Hanshi Dayton Guinee, Hanshi Ralph Viggiano, Kyoshi Ray Hermann, Hanshi Walter Parks, Hanshi Manny Saavedra and many, many more.
For the benefit of the “civilian” (non-martial artists) in the crowd, I began the ceremony with the following comparison: “Imagine for a minute, if I told you that Tom Seaver, Cy Young, Sandy Kofax, Roger Clemons, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Walter Johnson all played on the same High School baseball team. “That’s ridiculous” you’d say. How could that many Hall of Famers, some of the greatest pitchers of all time, all come from the same school? But if it were true, your next thought would probably be – “Wow – they must have had SOME coach on that team. Well, Grandmaster Peter Urban was that kind of teacher. A renowned author and ferocious fighter, Master Urban is
considered the father of American Goju karate, his students are among the greatest martial artists of all time and he used to teach right here in Hoboken at the YMCA.”
Following my introductory remarks I introduced Hanshi Wilfredo Roldan, Grandmaster of Nisei Goju-Ryu who entertained everyone with stories like the time Master Urban called him up in the middle of the night to come over and play chess, only to discover 10 black belts waiting for him at the dojo. When he said “I thought we were going to play chess” Master Urban replied “Oh, we will… first we’ll fight, then we’ll play chess.”
I then turned the podium over to Hanshi Steve Malanoski who told us all about the first time he’d met Master Urban, right here in this YMCA building, when he was just a little boy, and how his father, Master Victor Malanoski has said to him “I want you to pay attention to this person… I want you to watch the way he moves and I want you to pay attention to everything he says, because this is a very special person.”
Following the speeches I asked some of my students and students from several other Goju schools to give performances of karate technique. Among the highlights were yellow and green belt youngsters from Kin Dai Martial Arts, and adult students from the Columbia University Karate Club, Ray Hermann’s Fighting Tigers Dojo and my school Koguma Dojo. The demonstration portion of the evening was concluded with a performance of Bujin kata by my friend Sensei John Libutti who performs this kata without his prosthetic leg. It’s an outstanding kata and never fails to elicit a standing ovation and wild applause from the audience and this night was no different. Grandmaster Urban would be proud.
My teacher, Sensei Dave Anderson, always says without new students you don’t have a school, so as part of the ceremony I was proud to promote a couple of my students, Jim Kanze and Jim Mann, to green belt to demonstrate that Master Urban’s teachings continue to be passed on to future generations.
After reading a letter from Julia Urban-Kimmerley (who sadly, due to health concerns and previous commitments, could not be in attendance) I read a proclamation from the Mayor of Hoboken, the honorable David Roberts declaring April 20th 2007 as O’Sensei Peter G. Urban Day and I unveiled the beautiful plaque, both of which will be proudly displayed in the building’s lobby.
I’m grateful to everyone who attended the ceremony, and everyone that helped make it such a huge success. Please come and visit the Y to see the plaque and the proclamation, and if you’re ever in Hoboken on a Wednesday evening, bring your gi and honor my class by training with us in the building where Grandmaster Peter Urban once taught.
Sensei Howard Turoff teaches karate at the Hoboken YMCA on Wednesdays (Kids 6-7PM; Adults 7-8:30PM). Sensei Turoff received his first black belt from the late Grandmaster Johnny Kuhl in 1994 and currently trains at Koguma Dojo with Sensei Dave Anderson who was a student of the late Grandmaster Ronald M. Taganashi. For more information on Koguma Dojo and Sensei Anderson, please visit www.kogumadojo.com.
Sensei Turoff can be contacted at SenseiHT@kogumadojo.com.
Photo Highlights of the event
Page Created on June 8, 2007