The History of Zanshin

Martial arts systems or specific ways of fighting is a concept that dates back to the earliest of times. From the beginning of time humans along with numerous animal groups have bonded together in numbers to improve their chances of survival. Within these groups different fighting techniques, strategies and concepts were developed and over time codified into combat systems that could be passed on from generation to generation.

To understand the history of Zanshin we must go back to the beginning. Although there are many eastern forms of martial arts which have influenced western cultures and their fighting systems, Goju Ryu is at the roots of our fighting system.

Goju Ryu was created by an Okinawan named Chojun Miyagi (1888 – 1953). Goju Ryu Karate translated literally means, ‘Hard soft school of karate’. Miyagi integrated both Chinese fighting systems (Kung Fu) and those of the indigenous Karate systems of Okinawa. Miyagi later traveled to Japan to spread his form of karate and of note to a student named Gogen Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi would later go on to found his own style named Goju Kai which went on to be far more popular than his master’system Goju Ryu.

A martial artist named Tino Ceberano, an Hawaiian, who was graded from a 3rd through to 6th degree by Yamaguchi, migrated to Australia in the mid 1960’s and established a Goju Kai school in Melbourne. One of Ceberano’s students Bob Jones a renowned street fighter in Melbourne went on to be a pioneer in the martial arts. Jones founded a martial arts style named Zen Do Kai in June 1970 based on the fighting system and philosophies of the Goju Kai system. Jones soon discovered that some applications and techniques of the traditional karate systems were not effective in the modern street. Jones began to utilize only the useful and practical techniques of this system and also from other fighting systems. His attitude of only using “Thee best of everything in progression” later became the basis of Zen Do Kai karate. Jones continued to improve his system eventually moving away from the classic, rigid style of karate to a more free flowing, “Freestyle” approach.

During the 1980’s Zen Do Kai became extremely popular with over 300 clubs and around 5000 students across Australia. It is during this time, Head Instructor Brett Harrison trained with the Zen Do Kai system starting in 1982 under then Renshi Billy Manne in Victoria. Harrison in the military at that time trained in many states under numerous instructors until settling in South Australia in 1988.

Since the founding of Zen Do Kai there have been several break away groups from that system including; The Golden Knights and then the Genesis Martial Arts System.

Looking back through the history leading to the founding of the Zanshin Freestyle Karate system it is not unusual to see break away groups. Zanshin Freestyle Karate was founded by Brett Harrison and Antz Veen in January 2009 due to a noticeable difference in the direction the Genesis Martial Arts Group was taking.

The Zanshin Freestyle Karate philosophy is to be a modern, motivated and professional system whilst maintaining the traditional principals found in the roots of the original Goju system. The instructors of the Zanshin Freestyle Karate system are committed to providing a martial arts curriculum combining superior self defense skills with a blend of Karate, kick boxing, jujitsu and weaponry, “The best of everything”, whilst following traditional philosophies.


Kyoshi Brett Harrison
Shihan Ant’z Veen

Zanshin 残心

Zanshin 残心 is a term used in the Japanese martial arts. It refers to a state of awareness - a state of relaxed alertness. The literal translation is remaining mind.

Please note that the Holdfast & Happy Valley Dojo's are temporarily closed from 18th March due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Clapham Dojo is expected to follow - please contact Shihan Ant'z for confirmation. Our FaceBook group is also regularly updated with additional information.

- Shihan & Kyoshi