of Go Kan Ryu Karate
Robert Sullivan is a 7th Dan black belt and is the founder of the Go Kan Ryu karate style. He was born in 1947, and he has spent the greater part of his life studying karate. Despite being a powerfully-built six-footer, Robert is a quietly spoken, humble man with a gentle manner. He preaches virtue, respect and traditional martial arts values, and he embodies these in the way that he lives his life.
Robert's introduction to martial arts came in 1964 when, as a 17 year-old police cadet living in New South Wales, Australia, one of his colleagues put him in touch with Ju-jitsu practitioner, Ms Pat Harrington. Pat subsequently put Robert onto Merv Oakley, who had just returned from Japan with his 1st Dan black belt. Robert was accepted as a student, and he diligently studied Merv's Goju-Kai style.
Robert describes his training from those early days as "simplistic but strong". The influence of his earliest training is clearly stamped upon Go Kan Ryu, the style Robert went on to found.
Sullivan went on to train in Japan, learning the little-known Keishinkan style. His list of tutors and training partners reads like a who's who from the early days of Western karate - Hirokazu Kanazawa, Tino Cerebrano, Masayuki Takasaka and many more.
Robert attained his first Dan black belt in Japan in 1970 and he gained his 2nd Dan in 1971.
In January of 1984, Robert founded Go Kan Ryu karate in Adeleide, South Australia. At the time, karate in Australia was still very much in its infancy, and Sullivan's original intention was to share the benefits of his experiences with just a couple of hundred students. However, after success at the South Australian Karate Federation's Annual Tournaments in 1986, 87 and 88, Robert decided to expand GKR into additional Australian territories.
In 1995, GKR was exported to the United Kingdom under the supervision of Senseis Jason Wright and Joe Estrada. The style continued to grow at an unprecedented rate, and in 2001, it was taken to the United States, a country with a strong karate tradition of its own.
Sullivan developed innovative direct marketing methods for his style, whereby highly-trained self defence consultants (SDCs) canvass door-to-door for new members. Although traditionalists have often criticised this method of recruiting new members, there are thousands of long-term GKR students who gratefully acknowledge the fact that they would never have enjoyed the health, social and mental benefits that karate provides were it not for an SDC knocking on their door
As of August 2005, GKR karate boasts over 50,000 members, making it one of the largest traditional karate styles in the world.
In 1985, Robert Sullivan wrote and published a book entitled "Karate for Everyone" in which he detailed the basics of the Go Kan Ryu karate style, as well as his philosophies on life and the martial arts. The book was reprinted in 2001, but is only available directly from Go Kan Ryu instructors.
Robert Sullivan has the formal title "Kancho" which means founder. His correct form of address is Kancho Sullivan, except to his kids, who are permitted to call him Dad!
Although he's now in his mid-50's, few who see him spar, have any doubts that Robert's karate is still completely effective. He may have lost the flexible athleticism of youth, but he's gained strength, technique and deeper understanding. He has a highly effective blocking system that uses minimal energy, and he tends to stalk his opponents like a panther; watching and waiting for the perfect opportunity to counter-attack. When he does launch an attack, Sullivan has been likened to a freight train with fists!