Pineland Karate



            The practice of martial arts has been a facet of Okinawan culture since the beginning of recorded history. That tradition was as strong as ever five hundred years ago, when the island of Okinawa served as an axis of trade and cultural exchange between China and Japan. Chinese martial traditions merged with those of Okinawa, and “kara te” (roughly translated “chinese hand”) was born. Soon the word “kara” was re-interpreted to mean “empty,” and the tradition of Chinese-influenced Okinawan empty-hand combat persisted and grew through the centuries on the island.

            First arriving during the Korean War, an American marine by the name of Frank Van Lentin visited Okinawa for more than a decade, and pursued the study of Goju-Ryu, one of the Okinawan styles of unarmed combat. After mastering that style, Van Lentin asked his instructors for their leave to expand his purview of martial arts into other traditions, which they happily gave. Before his return to the U.S. in the mid-1960s, Van Lentin had studied uichi-ryu, ishin-ryu, kempo and shorin-ryu. Once back in Syracuse, New York, Van Lentin founded the Goshin-Do Karate-Do-Kyokai, which was an organization that attempted to bring all of the newly migrated Okinawan styles in America under a single authority.

            A student of Van Lentin’s during this time period was a man by the name of Al Gossett, who had studied judo and jujitsu before achieving the rank of black belt and opening his own school in the hybrid style that Van Lentin was teaching. Myself and many of my contemporaries began their martial arts instruction in this, Sensei Gossett’s school teaching Sensei Van Lentin’s system of Goshin-Do. However, in the early-70s, Van Lentin was unable to dedicate as much time to his art as before due to continuing military service. Eventually, the vast majority of his black belts chose to sever their official ties with Van Lentin’s Goshin-Do in order to open their own schools. Gossett was among them. He formed Goshin-Ryu Karate immediately after breaking away from Goshin-Do, and his first school was in Kearney, New Jersey.

            Two of his earliest students were named Joe Ward and Gene Detoma, who went from white belt to black belt at roughly the same pace. Once they both reached san-dan, they went their separate ways for about four years. Meanwhile, among the next generation of Sensei Gossett’s students were myself (Paul Goncalves) and Genesco Carvalhais. As soon as myself and Sensei Genesco were awarded the proper rank in 1980, we opened Ironbound Karate in Newark, New Jersey as equal partners. Almost simultaneously, Senseis Ward and Detoma were opening Pineland Karate in Jackson after the end of their hiatus. The two schools and their respective Chief Instructors have remained very close ever since. I could not be more proud to have both Sensei Genesco and Sensei Detoma here today as my most honored guests.

            A short time after opening, Sensei Ward came to an agreement with the Jackson school system to implement the community education program, where prospective students would have the opportunity to take introductory classes at Pineland for a reduced fee. This program was and is enormously successful; even today, the majority of Pineland’s black belts can say that it is how they first began their training at the school.

            By 1990, Shihan Gossett had passed away, and I had moved away from Ironbound, where Sensei Genesco had assumed the chief instructorship – a position Sensei still holds today. Immediately upon moving to Jackson, I began teaching at Pineland. A few years afterward, Sensei Ward made the decision to retire. I officially took over ownership of the school in 1993, and have had the honor of being its Chief Instructor ever since. Now that you have a greater appreciation for who we are and where we come from, I would like to tell you a little bit about what we do.



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