Tino Ceberano (2006)

Tino CeberanoTino Ceberano

Inducted into the A.M.A.H.O.F.(Inc) for 2006
Pioneer – Karate – Australia

Inducted into the W.K.U.H.O.F. for 2006
Pioneer – Karate – Australia

Hanshi Tino Ceberano, 8th Dan Karate, is also warmly known as the father of martial arts in Australia. His years of experience to the martial arts have provided him the knowledge that has written him into the martial arts history books. His expertise and tutelage is now available to you via the Kenshusei program. It is guaranteed that you will be in awe of the many stories that Hanshi Ceberano will share with you. His expertise as a trainer and lecturer (and nationally recognised senior trainer and assessor for the martial arts training package) will make your learning experience enjoyable, motivating, stimulating and above all be credited towards your nationally recognised qualification. The following brief biography of Hanshi’s life will give you a better understanding of the man himself.

Tino Ceberano was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. Of Phillipino – Spanish decent, his father was a Phillipino migrant who came to Hawaii as a professional boxer who also acquired the skills of Phillipino stick fighting when he settled in Hawaii.

In Hawaii, it wasn’t uncommon for everyone to be involved in fights as a youngster and most boys had some basic martial arts experience. In the pre-war days, boxing was a popular pass-time on the island with martial arts such as Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Karate, knife and stick fighting also learnt at a young age.

Martial arts simply existed in Hawaii and the predominant nationalities of the time; Portugese, Chinese, Phillipino, Hawaiin, Puerto Rican, and Japanese, all became closer in the way that they were constantly exchanging ideas and learning pieces from different styles. There were no set martial arts organisations in Hawaii. People basically learnt the arts by watching someone fight or by getting into a fight themselves. People eventually learnt that each art was associated with a particular group and the multicultural existence in Hawaii highlighted what became the forerunner of Western Martial Arts even before Karate was introduced to mainland America.

A young Tino and his father trained together in Kempo, which was the word commonly used instead of Karate. The Chinese would refer to Shorin Kempo as what Shaolin Kempo was. The Okinawans referred to Okinawa-te instead of Karate.

Kempo was actually introduced to Tino by his neighbour, who was a returned soldier from the Korean campaign. He would gather up a group of kids ranging between twelve and seventeen years old and they would train after school and really get stuck into each other.”

It wasn’t until 1959, when as a 17 year old joining the Marines, that Tino learnt to value his martial arts. At this time he remembers a sweeping change in people’s perception of the martial arts right across Hawaii.

Goju-Kai started in Hawaii in 1958. Kyokushin-kai was slightly before that and Shotokan was at about the same time. All before that there was Kempo and Okinawa-te but it wasn’t so serious. Then all of a sudden something changed. They began to understand the values of the arts and became a lot more fine tuned about how they should be practised and the classes began to be organised.

Anton Navas was Tino’s most revered teacher who really took him by the hand and showed him what the true meaning of the arts was all about from 1959 until 1966.

Joining the Marines changed Tino’s life immensely. From living as an islander to being part of the armed forces elite and living much more a Western life-style was almost a cultural shock for him.

As part of the Fleet Marine Force Pacific, he was a specialist in the field of teaching armed and unarmed combat with a background of reconnaissance for which his job was to be on call to engage the enemy or secure information. The Force also served as the protection squad for the elite officers.

Tino also participated in the Fleet Marine Force Pacific Drum and Bugle Team marching squad where he played the bugle. It was with the bugle team that Tino first came to Australia which he toured in 1962 both playing the bugle and exchanging ideas and practice on combative warfare which was part of a highly confidential military operation at the time. The team eventually finished up in Okinawa for four months and it was on his first trip to Tokyo that Tino met up with the legendary founder of Goju-Kai, Gogen Yamaguchi.

In 1966, Tino arrived in Australia with his family and instantly initiated moves to introduce the relatively unknown world of Karate to the continent.

Tino’s martial arts style was well received here. Judo at the time was the mainstay martial art and it was everywhere and was everyone’s ideal of a fighting technology. At the time, Karate was still nonexistent. Tino performed a demonstration at a local Judo club which was so well received he was asked to regularly perform demonstrations at all of the Judo clubs.

From here the popularity of Karate just mushroomed. He would have as many as 60-100 people in a class.

The style he taught was very hard. His reasoning for this was that at the time, people wouldn’t really take on the likes of the ritualistic type of regimented training involving a lot of repetitions. So he gave them exercise as well which either made them or broke them and that was to sort out the mentally and physically strong from the weak. This hard style proved something as well. It made the name associated with the school a strong one and the school gained a high standing and became a strong foundation for what martial arts was going to be like in the future.

In 1966, Tino arrived in Melbourne on relocating from Hawaii with his family of two children and saw entry to a country of hardly what one would call fanfare however the location would soon prove well for establishing his martial arts career.

On the third day of arriving in Melbourne, the 6th Of November, his first invitation to the Croydon Judo School of Sensei David Jenkins was a God Send for this young martial artist as he was a guest in this small dojo invited by circumstance of an acquaintance of the family, a member of this humble dojo in the foot hills of the Dandenongs in Melbourne.

The turning point from there started a chain reaction of dojos (of all Melbourne’s Judo schools from the Judo Association) inviting him to demonstrate and before long employing him as a resident teacher on given days as scheduled on a vast rotation to the entire region of Melbourne, outer suburbs, as well as dojos in Geelong and as far as the Flinders.

Whilst the beginning of this era saw only what was a dribble of other martial arts he was always looking for others that may have been teaching so he could link up with their activities or perhaps form an alliance.

The days of the Silver TopTaxi as well as the Gym of the Mighty Apollo (Paul Anderson known strong man of the time who dragged trams up Burke Street with his teeth and have a vehicle drive over his body) had been the only known practitioners of the time in Melbourne.

In the interest of the acknowledgments to those of the Silver Top Taxi group he mentions the names of Senseis Ivan Barry, Ivan Zavetchanos, Billy Brain, Eddie Amin, and Jack Rozinsky.

Twelve months was soon to pass when Tino was informed that a Shorinryu Karate under Sensei Barry Packenham was commenced in Ballarat.

Of course amongst the Chinese in China Town, the occasional word got around of those who trained in silent and reserving only to the Chinese as noted to the practice of that era.

In this period of time Tino became a show pony to the many Judoka and their dojos as the early years of the mid sixties to early 70’s progressively developed as with the oncoming of the Bruce Lee Era of which many start ups of dojo’s began the serge of the martial arts in mass production.

As well as the Judo dojo’s that he was training with were also the Karate dojo’s. Amongst these dojo’s were the clubs of Wally Maclean and Johnny Watkins both of whom later on became the propagators of the Wado Kai in Australia.

In 1967 Tino took the first summer training camp in a lodge at the Falls Creek resort. In those days it was of course his Marine training that created the ordeal of what he believed had been at the time, unprecedented as the young endured only just. He was in his heyday and running was his forte as with the many physical jerks you would imagine. They would never finish the day off without having to have done the hundreds of push ups, sit ups, squats and hours of basics. Their training started as early as 5am and finishing at no earlier than 10pm in the evening. They had a full week of that ordeal. These camps were continuous from that year on to the late eighties where his camps and others who followed since have set the stage of training with a serious pursuit of endurance, indoctrination of the arts as in the traditional sense, and putting the physical practice to merge with the mental ordeal as in the mind over the matter.

In 1967 he also undertook the challenge of opening his first dojo in Melbourne as an independent from what was previously arranged with teaching dojo’s of the Judo schools already existing.

It was such a challenge for himself having to endure the unforeseen circumstances of being on his own lonesome. He fought as a foreigner possessed even as he spoke the language because of the demand put on him from all angles. There had to be the challenges as was then noted from many. The days of the Sharpies & the Skin Heads were a growing breed and the dojo’s filtered the many tryers.

In 1968 Tino was undergoing studies as a future Physical Education Instructor of which got him well into the departments interest of having Martial Arts in the schools. His first engagement was the Wattle Park High School of which he will never forget as a launching pad for his future endeavours. Education to the youth of tomorrow became an ideal of his as he reached for answers to why his calling as an instructor was imminent as a mission in life disguised his role.

It was also in this year that he started the competition circuit from within his schools to create a means of public display in what was the martial artist’s dream of competing to test one’s skill against another and enjoy the relationship in personal attributes. The very first ever recorded competition proper that was ever created was at the opening of the Aboriginal Advancement League’s Centre in Fitzroy. It was in honour of the famous prominent Politician Sir Edgar Nichols who later became one of South Australia’s Premier. From that event came the beginnings of the Box Hill tournament that saw the old boys of the Goju Kai from that era best each other with the best of spirit and skills that made Tino proud to this day of what transpired to greater things as the years went on.

In 1968 a visit by the 1st World Olympic Champion of Judo from Japan, Sensei Isao Inokuma, accompanied by the great teacher and most respected foreign exponent of the Japanese Martial Arts (he was dan graded to more than 5 different arts in Japan) Sensei Don Draeger. Complimented by the Judo Union of which was headed by Sensei Ivan Zavetchanos of Brunswick. A special line up of all the Judo Greats from most of Australia was taken by Inokuma Sensei to an easy ippon win of all his opponents at that very memorable event held at the Monash University.

The many events since followed with great instructors arriving to these parts from every where only meant a healthy development of the Martial Arts scene.

Tino remembers the likes of Kato Sensei from Kyokushin Kai, the arrival of Sensei Paul Gurreliot of the Shotokai, the return of Sensei Ke Hyung No of the Taekwondo who prior to that was the training instructor of the Silver Top Taxi in Judo. Later in time was the man with his famous nunchaku Sensei Masayuki Takasaka, and another great name of the Kyokushin Kai Sensei Takumi Higashitani, Sifu Bill Cheung, Bill Lau, Rocky Kwong, Barry Pang, David Pederson, and Pier Tsui Po and others from the Kung Fu lineage.

Tino has not mentioned all of the following instructors who have since made the honour roll of who’s who in the arts from these parts. Unforgotten are those of the Judo and Juijitsu group also, Komp Sensei, Bradshaw Sensei, and those that had been around from the early days.

In 1969 the Japanese Navy visited Melbourne with a team of Karateka’s ranging from the 3rd Dan ranks to their instructor Sensei Masami Tanaka of the Shotokan as a 5th Dan. In Tino’s humble dojo the Mailing Road Goju-Kai Training Centre, they hosted these members – a total of 20. His students all brown belts at the time, amongst them Bob Jones, Richard Norton, Mike Costello, Max Fabris, Jim Riddle, Albert Lau ,Warren Ross, Jim Karakostas, Bernie Fraser, and many more were there to play them as foreign guests. It was an evening to remember, not only did they conquer them in Kumite but a good drink down the Pub for the old Aussie hospitality of having a technicolor swill. Tino had his time cut out with each and every one of the Japanese 4th Dan visitors taking him on in a fight to the finish. He took on the Japanese twenty, one at a time, as they gave him all they could. Tino is proud to say that he was able to defeat all that took him on, a moment that he will never forget for the rest of his life. That of course was only a good friendly match, one that they would not forget as he recalls having to meet a couple of them back in Japan some years later on one of his trips.

In 1970 after his return to Melbourne regaining his footing after an extended stay in Japan living with the famous Grand Master of renown – Gogen Yamaguchi, the Goju remnants of what became a historical change and perhaps the first ever visit to the State by a Grand Master, saw the famous ‘Cat man in action’. The venue, Albert Park Basketball Stadium. The line of people entering to see a legend began from the very door of the Albert Park Stadium to near the Queens Road highway. There was never since a standing show of how supportive the many spectators to a Martial Arts display paying honour to such a great humble and truly Master of the Arts – Gogen Yamaguchi Hanshi.

Tino’s initial feeling of pride was overwhelming. He saw the people of Victoria pay honour and revered attention in awe of a man who was the legend of the time. The demonstrations, the display of remarkable skills in truly traditional Goju Ryu techniques, and the manner of which this entire night presented sat craved in the audience’s memory of the visit of the ‘Cat man – Gogen Yamaguchi Hanshi’.

The beginning of the Federation of Australian Karatedo Organisation created what had been till this day, a direct drive to the society’s interest of Martial Arts in organisational order. Tino was the very instigator to this FAKO, he brought the elements together at his cost with just about all of the practitioners involved in the Japanese style practice from all of Australia. The venue was a humble restaurant in Bondi, New South Wales. The interim President was unanimously appointed because of his expertise and leadership in this area of organisational gathering and intentions to development. His name Mr Donald Cameron, MP of Queensland in the years to come becoming the Deputy Whip in the Federal Parliament of Canberra.

These beginnings saw development of major changes of progressive and positive expansion.