U.S.A. GOJU ASSOCIATION
Sensei Michael Shazam Pralgo 6th Degree Black belt Japanese Goju-ryu - Benson, AZ
I was a student of Master Urban from the China Town Dojo. I wanted to get in touch with Sensei Urban to tell him why he hasn't heard or seen me for a few years. I sent him a letter but he must have died before he could read it, I'm sad to say. I'm a 6th degree black belt in Japanese Goju-ryu and trained only in Goju-ryu with all most 40 years in the art. I worked as a bodyguard for years for a lot of well known people on TV and politics. I was also Chief self-defense instructor for Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels for 4 years, and a bodyguard for the Russians in there New York Night Clubs. At that time, I had one of the very few full time carry gun permits in New York. I'm now in a wheelchair because I was hurt working as a courier moving Millions of dollars... but I'm alive. Sensei Urban's extreme training in the 60s saved my life at least a dozen time over the years, because he trained me and a lot of students in the China town dojo to be street fighters, not contest fighters. In that old Dojo, you fought for your life every night, and you never knew how you would come out of there. I just wanted to send you a message to let you know how I feel. Even in my wheelchair, I will be teaching out here in AZ in a small town called Benson.
Kyoshi Earl Woodbury 8th Dan, Bronx, N.Y
My training started in 1969 with Great Grandmaster Peter Urban's first generation students, Grandmaster Khemfoia Padu and Grandmaster Sekwii Sha, and in 1970 with Grand-master Florendo Visitacion (Vee-jitsu ju-jitsu). Training was hard, and by the time I reached Purple belt, I had the honor of training with Sensei Urban at his Chinatown dojo for a short time.
I knew that Goju was for me, and that this man who had the gentleness of air (that is everywhere) and the roar of a lion, and his breathing techniques would help preserve me so that I could live longer and help me develop my inner chi. I was out there competing in various tournaments. At the Ying/yee tournament Grandmaster Urban would always give me advice on my Kata, Weapons, Breaking, and Kumite in which would help me mold my Goju fist, "The iron hand inside the velvet glove", (Block soft/Hit hard).
I had the great honor of training with Sensei Urban in 1983 at his home in Queens, N.Y. Classes were from 1pm-6pm and that is when I really got to know him. When I arrived at his home I was greeted by 10-15 dogs of all sizes and tempers. I had to ring the bell, Sensei Urban would come to the doorway, and my first lesson was to make it to the door without the dogs jumping on me, intimidating me, and biting me as well. I was able to make it through the dogs to the dojo, and allowed to train that day. Of the others that followed month after month, many failed and had to put their green money power white envelope in the mailbox and had to try again on another date in time. He was a genius and a father to me as well as to all his children and grand children.
We played chess, and of course, I lost. I was transformed back into time and then into the future and then into the now with the individual training he gave me. He made me see the GO, JU, RYU, KARA, TE, DO, BUDO, ZEN, TOTSEGEK (No retreat, no surrender).
O'Sensei Urban, I will always teach your way, and help guide those on the path of U.S.A. Goju Karate-Do for the rest of my life, thanks to your love, knowledge, laughter, patience, and creativity. Our Kata have profound meanings and application for all types of confrontations and health benefits, and spirituality. You are now with many, many, masters in heaven. You have earned your place in history, and in so many hearts here on earth. I will, we will, miss you, but "WE LOVE YOU" OSS!!!!
Hanshi Keith M. Teller, 9th Dan - Goju Hall# 047
My first meeting with Master Urban was when I was a green belt at The Zen Goju Temple in Brooklyn N.Y. My Sensei, Shihan Merenda, took us there to perform kata and to do kumite for Master Urban. I remember sparring for Master Urban, and when the sparring got very rough, he would stand up and ring a large brass bell and shout Yame'.
While going up through the kyu ranks, and even after I received my Black belt, we visited Sensei many many times. In 1978 Master Urban came to the Zen Goju Temple while I was testing. After many grueling hours, Sensei promoted me to the rank of Nidan. One month after receiving this rank I moved to Pensacola Florida to finish my college studies.
In 1991 I went to visit Sensei with my wife. Sensei prepared a fabulous lunch for us. During this visit we spent many hours talking and watching videos of historical events.
Since 1993 I have not missed The Goju Invitational where I would sit with Sensei and talk. Bringing students to meet Sensei has always been a highlight of this trip. His passing has been a great loss not just to the martial arts world but to all those that he has touched over the years with his knowledge and his wisdom.
Sensei; Till we meet again OSSSSS!!!
Steve Phillips-Godan USA GoJu
Sensei Urban had been my instructor for several years. I was fortunate to live near Sensei when he lived in NJ and spent many days at a few different residences that he had. I would go over to visit Sensei frequently and he would always tell me stories and play chess ( and sometimes analyze my kata). I sure am going to miss those days. I feel that we should all continue our mourning and on April 25th celebrate the life of a wonderful Teacher who will still continue to live with us in our hearts and souls. I also feel that after we honor our Teacher that he would want us to remember his most basic lesson: "Today is Now!" We have so many other organizations that have stemmed from the USA GoJu system such as Nisei GoJu, Chinese GoJu, as well as many others.
He would want us to move forward with our lives and training. We should never forget what Sensei Urban has done for the martial arts and for us personally.
He has touched many different lives in one way or another. I'm sure Sensei has had more of an impact than most of us realize in the martial arts.
From your Great Grandson in Goju, Kyoshi Lord Utmost Amor EL.
I remember in the 1990's at Al Gotay's tournament, me and my teacher Zumar X Mayo were chatting, or should I say my teacher was fussing at me. For marking my body with tattoo's. I put our patch on my arm. well, in the middle of the argument, Grand Patriarch, Peter Urban, grabbed my arm and said good work! He looked at me and said; "if you're not going to be a Career Sensei, I'm gonna have to take this arm off and give it to somebody who will use it better." I moved from NYC leaving my job with transit as a Train Operator, went to Cape Cod, and got myself a two story store in the plaza, and became a Career Sensei. Thanks To Maestro Urban, I now do 4 things in my life: Martial arts, fish, spend time with my 6 children, and with 6 children you know the 4th, I spend time with my wife. Peace and Love Maestro Urban.
James Price, Kyoshi, 8th Dan - Goju Hall# 288
(Proud webmaster for Maestro Peter G. Urban, Ph.D.)
Those Fabulous Kata Seminars
The first time that I met Grand Master Urban was when he flew down to Fort Lauderdale to visit his Goju Halls in the area, and to put on a series of his fabulous Kata seminars. It was October, 1979, and I had just received my green stripe for promotion to 4th kyu (advanced white belt). Now this was a VERY IMPORTANT promotion, because only 4th kyu and higher were permitted to take the seminars, and I was not going to miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime.
Even though Maestro's plane was to arrive late in the evening, my teachers, Master Joseph Hess, and Master Joseph Kelljchian, had prepared their students for the big arrival. As The Grand Patriarch of USA Goju came through the doors of the jet way, he was greeted by thirty uniformed karataka lining both sides of the isle way and setting erect in perfect seiza. On command, we all gave our Grand Patriarch a deep, long bow. Then, with his shepherds staff in hand, our Maestro meticulously reviewed his troops. He was larger than life, and I was a thirty four year old man, that was beside myself with excitement. Not only did I get to meet this karate GIANT, I was going to be able to train with THE MAN...The Grand Master himself.
The long skinny dojo on Oakland Park Blvd. was bursting with excitement. It was bursting with students too, because everyone who was permitted to attend, was there. Maestro presented a Teikyoku course, a Tenshoa course, and an Empi-Ha course during that phenomenal week. To this very day, as I teach new students those three kata, I try to duplicate Maestro's deliberate and meticulous methods that I watched him use so successfully in those seminars so very long ago.
The certificates of seminar completion, were beautiful 11x14 printed parchment diplomas that Maestro presented at the end of every Kata seminar that I attended. He personally filled them out, with each attendee's name, the course name, the date, and his personal signature. He also wrote on the diploma that that person had earned ten kata credits for each course taken (I collected thirty kata credits that week). I never used (or knew how to use) those credits, so I will continue to hold on to them for good luck, and as fond memories of Maestro.
I am reminded of another memorable event that occured some four years later when I was a new Black Belt. In 1984, It was another terrific seminar that included a beach workout. Did we have a blast! Punching the sand like a makiwara, spearing watermelons with our nukite, punching and stepping up and down the beach, fighting in and out of the water (nearly choking to death sometimes...from the salt water), and THEN the sword demonstration by the Grand Patriarch. Maestro had us build a huge mound of sand as a platform. He then had a female volunteer lie across the mound on her back, place a watermelon on her stomach, and had her lie very, very, still. I must digress for a moment to explain some basics. The art of cutting fruit and vegetables from a students stomach in pretty intense, and I have done it hundreds of time in demonstrations without injuring my volunteer. The precision in the demonstration is not to slide or slice the blade when you do this downward move. If you cut strait down, and you stop just through your target, you usually will not cut your helper. The cut that Maestro performed that day was unique and dangerous. He performed a reverse nukitsuke (he drew the sword underhanded) and made a slicing reverse kiritsuke (cutting movement) pulling the sword back towards himself while slicing into and through to the very bottom of the watermelon. One miscalculation, and the helper would have been cut into. What an amazing demonstration from a man who has never ceased to amaze me.
What an inspiration he was! Twenty six years later, I can visualize his teachings as thought they happened yesterday. Maestro Peter Urban was a profound intellectual, educator, and a man of exceptional vision. The world is just now beginning to realize its very serious loss.
In Memoriam - Maestro Peter G. Urban, Ph.D.
Hanshi William "Stonewall" Myers - Ba-Ja Iron Mountain Do-Jo
Memories: "Let Me Tell You About O Sensei"
Sensei Urban taught me to follow my instincts and that self preservation was a normal part of life. He said furthermore necessity was the mother of invention.
One of the most memorable lessons I had in life was learning to be myself. This day we had a large array of high ranking black belts. Our lesson was how to administer Aiki Jitsu techniques, leg sweeps, and kicks to the lower regions of the body.
Sensei Urban presented us with a question, "What kind of pain does a martial artist feel?" There was a great silence in the training hall at 1 Crosby St in Chinatown that day. There were some puzzled looks. Then came a variety of answers. Some named scientific and sophisticated terms. Others said that a Karateka feels no visible pain when struck.
I was the youngest and lowest experienced Black Belt there. I was fearful of being wrong or looking foolish. I was the last to give an answer. I said, "Sensei, I don't know about you, but my karate fighting begins when I am in pain. I feel the same pain as anyone else!"
Sensei Urban broke out in laughter. After that everybody could not contain their laughter. We had a way of relating and communicating to the people he was talking to. He was demanding and could also be humorous getting his point across. He spoke and wrote a number of languages: English, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese while in my presence at the "Shanghai Dojo," Chinatown, N.Y.C., USA. You should've been there to witness, as I did.
The moral of the story is to be yourself, follow your first most sure instinct, and not to hesitate when thinking out things.
Master John Fera, Progressive Kung Fu
It is a great loss for the Martial Arts world, and I am deeply sorry to here Grand Master Urban has passed away. I will always hold dear the times I visited him in Williamstown.
Sometimes my brother Wayne, or Master Phil, or Mark would be there, and we would train or play chess. I have gotten so much more than just the rank I received from Master Urban. I have had different teachers in my 19 years of Martial Arts, But none were like Master Urban, a true Martial Arts giant.