Shihan Matthew Charles 5th Dan
(Shibucho) Australian Branch Chief
Founder and Chief Instructor- Seishin dojo
Shihan Matt is a dedicated teacher who believes that the best way to inspire his students is to not just ‘talk the talk‘ but to WALK THE WALK.
Many other teachers can only dream of the experiences that Shihan Matt has undertaken and continues to do so to this day. As a world class full contact fighter, he learned his craft from the very best. In February 2016 he fought in the WKO World Cup and the WKO World Championship advancing to the top 8 before being beaten by the reining champion.
In February 2018 Shihan Matt trained as an ‘Uchideshi’ (inner student) for four months at the Thailand Hombu under Kancho McInnes in preparation for his next grading, 5th dan black belt. During this time he underwent brutal conditioning and training challenges to prepare him for the rigors of the final test. Known for his unbreakable spirit Shihan Matt was pushed far beyond his limits and was given the right to undertake his test in the home of karate, Okinawa Japan. In may 2018 he passed the examination and was awarded the masters rank of 5th dan black belt. He was awarded his belt by Kancho McInnes (8th dan) and the Japan Chief of of WKO and founder of Byakuren Karate- Soshi Sugihara (8thdan).
In August 2014 he undertook the monumental challenge of completing more than 260 rounds of kumite to raise funds and awareness in what is now known as the ’12hr FIGHT for MS’
In 2019 after being nominated by Kancho McInnes and given the blessing from the Japan masters of WKO, Shihan will undertake one of the greatest challenges in martial arts, the 100 man kumite. He will face 100 black belts in consecutive rounds fighting bare knuckle full contact karate.
He is also well known as a dedicated strength athlete and has competed and won many fitness titles including Crossfit competitions and has also won a Pan Pacific Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu title in 2016. Besides martial arts, he is also well known for his ability to get the very best results from his fitness clients
Shihan Matt has grown the Cranbourne SEISHIN dojo from a small local hall with 6 students to a thriving martial arts ‘EPICENTRE’ with more than 400 students currently calling it home. He has instigated the birth and growth of 4 other full time dojo’s and today consults with other masters and teachers to grow their own clubs to the same standard that he has forged.
Shihan Matt is by far one of the most respected teachers in the martial arts, not just here in Australia, but worldwide. His dojo is now recognized by the WORLD KUMITE ORGANIZATION and has been accepted as an official branch of SHORIN KEMPO. His rank of 5th Dan black belt was officially solidified by the World Chief of SHORIN KEMPO KAIKAN- Kancho Sifu McInnes and is recognized in Japan.
Shihan Matt continues to fight to this day and travels the world to learn from the greatest masters alive. His hope is to inspire his students to be brave enough to accept any challenge that life may give them and to pass on the knowledge he has acquired over the past 34 years.
“My very first martial arts experience was with a friend in my grade 6 class who did karate and I used to watch him perform kicks and punches in the play ground and I was amazed and awed at his ability. I knew right then I wanted nothing more than to be a black belt! I had no idea that what I wanted so much would alter the course of my life in such a dramatic way. I begged my mother to let me go along with my mate to his karate class, not a small feat as I was grounded at the time for some sort of scallywag behavior…
When I walked in to the Dojo I saw the Instructor who appeared 10ft tall and didn’t speak a word to me or any other white belt. As I stumbled through the class I watched the black belts performing complex moves and watched the Sensei screaming words I had never heard. I watched the other kids at the back of the class looking terrified when berated by the Sensei and watching their fathers sitting on the sidelines scalding them for not performing correctly.
As primal as it was, I was not deterred. I was drawn to the tradition of Karate, something that was so old and so practiced. I wanted the guidance of a master and to immerse myself in a code of etiquette, honour and respect. I wanted the approval of a true master and wanted and needed a role model.
After that class I played in my yard and kicked everything I saw. I had broken just about every piece of timber my step dad had stored at the side of the house and started punching holes in my bedroom door, much to the anguish of my poor mother! After 6 months of nagging my mother finally got on the phone to search for a karate school in my area and found a Kyokushin school in Grovedale Victoria that had just opened at the local community centre.
n the spring of 1986 I rode my bike to the hall and waited for what seemed hours for the place to open. I remember meeting my Sensei when he drove into the car park, his name was Vivian Avery. He was a 2nd Dan at the time and had a very calm and unassuming manner and I liked him immediately. The class had very few students, just a couple of kids and brown belt adults but the energy in that hall was electric. I was hooked. I felt as though I had found my calling and I never missed a class or an opportunity to train with Sensei Avery.
It wasn’t long before I rose to the top of the class, being a full contact style meant I had to show a great amount of control, technique and style. I was asked to help out with a demonstration at my high school, an opportunity I jumped at, demonstrating my hard earned skills to my peers and hand out flyers for the Karate School. Not long after we had lots of kids joining up and the class grew substantially.
Those years at the old hall gave me a great understanding of Karate fundamentals, the importance of respect and honour to not only my elders but more importantly to myself.
When I was 22 I was involved in a work accident that left me partially paralyzed. I had blown out 3 discs in my lower spine, causing immense pressure to my spinal cord. I was unable to walk for over a year waiting for the swelling to subside enough to operate and rebuild my damaged vertebrae.
After the surgery I was back on my feet and determined to get back to karate. It would be another 3 years before I was healthy enough to realize my dreams but I was determined. I had moved away from Geelong to the South East and found Ishinryu Karate. Ishinryu was a blend of Kyokushin and Shotokan which suited my experience and I began training with Ishinryu in 1999.
Twenty years had passed since I first walked into a Dojo and my dream of becoming a Black Belt was realized in the winter of 2006 when l was awarded my 1st Dan Black Belt. Now the real challenge of Karate had begun as I was ready to take over the running of the Cranbourne Seishin Dojo.
One of my Mentors, Sensei Des Murphy who founded Seishin Dojo had passed away. His school was at the time being run by one of his colleagues. When I first took over we were operating in a local community hall with a hand full of students. I was reminded by my early experiences training under Sensei Avery in that old community hall and knew that this was my calling and knew my school was going to become a success.
The early days were hard, getting my name out to the people and earning the respect of my students. It didn’t take long for the numbers to grow and before I knew it I had more than 80 students and our ‘little’ hall was getting far too small. In 2007 we moved into our new permanent home in Sladen St Cranbourne.
In February 2010 I decided to leave Ishinryu Karate. While I had learnt a great deal from Sensei Bruce Hyland, I needed far more. The search had begun to find my own way. I founded ‘Seishin Karate’ and dedicated all my effort in the pursuit of the Full Contact method. My students started to do very well at competitions and our club was fast building a reputation as the place to be. We began competing at WKO events and slowly forged a solid reputation with the organizers. Our fighters began winning most events so we dedicated ourselves to the World Kumite Organization. It wasn’t long before i was introduced to the Kaicho for WKO, Kancho Sifu McInnes.
Sifu was truly one of the most amazing teachers I had ever met. His ability to get his message across was uncanny and his knowledge of all martial arts seemed endless. I knew I had found my mentor. I continued to train under Sifu and learn from him as an independent for a couple of years until I made the decision to join his Kaikan, Shorin Kempo. He accepted me immediately which opened the doors for my students to fight on the world stage. Ever since, he has guided me and given me every opportunity to travel the world and meet the most amazing martial artists alive today. So far my students have competed and won in Okinawa, Thailand and Japan. The future for SEISHIN dojo is now very bright.
Today with over 400 students, I am so proud as I watch Seishin, my Instructors and myself grow. I carefully guide my students towards fulfilling their own goals and dreams. I watch as each child passes me with wide eyes and big dreams and I tell them that anything is possible. I watch them become confident young people and I look forward to seeing them become happy, successful adults. I watch as teenagers and adults take positive steps towards bettering themselves physically and mentally.”