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The Making of Makoto Kabayama


Makoto KabayamaBorn Lawrence Makoto Kabayama, he studied Dance, Eurythmics and Theatre Arts in residence at the National Ballet School of Canada from 1969 until 1974. It was then that he began his formal training in the martial art of Kendo under his father, Dr. Michiomi Kabayama.

Later, he was inspired by his Grandfather, Rev. Jun Kabayama, to investigate and embrace the history of the Kabayama Bukei and his place as a 24th generation Samurai.  This would begin his search for traditional martial arts and the philosophy of the Samurai: Bushido (the Way of the Peacemaker).

Makoto’s natural talent as a peacekeeper and unique persona soon found him working security throughout the Toronto music scene during the 70’s. As his reputation grew, Makoto’s responsibilities began to include personal protection, most notably escorting victims of violent crime to court ‘pro bono’, as well as onstage security with celebrities such as James Brown, Jello Biafra, etc.

These experiences renewed his desire to train and research every aspect of self-defense. Makoto went on to study Jujitsu at the notable Hatashita Judo Club in Toronto; exchanging and sparring with martial artists of other disciplines, including Boxing, Kick-boxing, Wing Chun, Tae Kwon Do and many others, in the search for a complete street-effective system.

In 1984, his “musha shugyo” (warrior pilgrimage) led him to the west coast and the world of Dan Inosanto, Paul Vunak and Bruce Lee’s dynamic art of Jeet Kune Do. Makoto was also introduced to another original Bruce Lee student, the late, great Larry Hartsell, founder of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Grappling Association.

On March 1st, 1988 after years of intensive private lessons, Makoto became the first person certified by Sifu Paul Vunak to teach Jeet Kune Do Concepts in Canada. He would go on to become one of only a few worldwide to achieve Senior Full Instructor status under Paul Vunak’s Progressive Fighting System and a representative for Sifu Larry Hartsell’s Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Grappling Association. In 1991, Makoto assisted Sifu Vunak with combat instruction of the elite counter-terrorist U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six .

Makoto spent 5 years as a Training Coordinator for the Guardian Angels. He trained and patrolled with Guardian Angels chapters internationally, including Toronto, New York City and London, England. Makoto achieved ‘Guro’ status in Filipino Martial Arts and is certified is a Law Enforcement Use of Force Continuum Defensive Tactics Instructor.

Makoto has appeared in several newspapers and magazines including the Toronto Star, Black Belt and Inside Kung-Fu and  has been interviewed on Breakfast Television (Anti-Bullying) and Canada AM (The Last Samurai). He has also made guest appearances on ‘Kung Fu – The Legend Continues’ and ‘Nikita’ and was featured in ‘City Commando’.

Sifu Kabayama continues to teach and study in Toronto and is now in the process of researching for a text on his thoughts towards this integrated fighting system.

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My Teachers, Influences and Friends

Makoto Kabayama
My late Grandfather, Rev. Jun Kabayama
Reknown Kendo Sensei, teaching what he referred to as ‘Samurai Judo’, as he spoke of Bushido and the Kabayama Bukei. He explained the significance of my Japanese name ‘Makoto’ (translated: ‘sincerity’: the cardinal virtue of the Samurai). He shaped my spirit as a human being and a martial artist.

My Father, Dr, Michiomi Kabayama
My first formal martial art Instructor, who taught Kendo at the famed Takahashi Judo Club in Ottawa, Ontario.  The solid basics with the ‘Way of the Sword’ (self-discipline, timing, sensitivity, balance, explosiveness, control of centerline, etc.) continue to influence my martial arts today

Paul Vunak
Founder of PFS and a gifted instructor in the art & science of JKD Concepts. Sifu Vunak taught me not only the art, but the importance of sharing.

Guro Dan Inosanto
A quintessential martial artist chosen by Sifgong (Bruce) Lee to perpetuate the art & science of Jeet Kune Do. Dan is an inspiration, innovator and “the lantern that lights the path ahead”– my teacher’s teacher. Founder of Maphilindo Silat.

Sifu Larry Hartsell
“The premier Jeet Kune Do fighter of our time.” - Guro Inosanto.
He left a lasting impression on my art.

Pendekar Paul De Thouars: Pukulan Pentjak Silat Bukti Negara
Taught me the subtlety of balance.

Rickson Gracie: Gracie Jujitsu
Taught me patience, grace, and the importance of basics

Professor Salem Assli: Savate
Taught me precision and that our feet can be as versatile as our hands.

Mandala Tuhon Philip ‘Sled Dog’ Gelinas: Pikita Tersia, Kajukenbo, Inosanto Martial Arts, Dog Brothers Martial Arts, Muay Thai
An original “Dog Brother” and extraordinary artist.

Sifu Nino Bernardo: Wing Chun Gung Fu
Taught me how functional Wing Chun can be.

Sensei Stephen Hayes: Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
Helped me better understand the ‘Five Elements’: Earth, Water, Wind, Fire, and Void.

Sensei Philip Takahashi: 9x (!) Canadian Judo Champion
A family friend reminding us that everything ‘old’ becomes ‘new’ again

Guro Nonoy Gallano: Integrated Martial Arts
Reinforced attacking the weapon & the vicious close-quarter combat potential of Tai Chi and Bagua.

Guro Jun DeLeon: Kali DeLeon
A fine martial artist, a true gentleman and more importantly, a man of honor.

Sensei J.C. ‘Court’ Elliot III: Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
Just plain ‘walks the talk’.

To my own Kabayama Bushidokan
I have learned far more from you than I could ever return.