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My name is Joel Castasus, and I am the dojo owner of the Shorin Martial Arts Bristol Dojo (Kodokan Matsubayashi Ryu Bristol).

I'd like to tell you a little bit about my motivation for learning and teaching karate—how it affected my life and contributed to where I am today. 

As a child, I was always sick and a regular patient at the local clinic and hospital. At my age, I was very thin and weak. It is probably a combination of bad genes (my brother died of bone cancer when he was 7), poor housing and environmental conditions (my dad was a heavy smoker), and malnutrition (poverty). I remember that I was always getting picked to join the School Nutrition Program whenever they were looking for malnourished children who needed feeding. I was always happy then. I thought I was lucky to get free food. I had no idea why at the time. I am also an introvert. To be honest, I did not know the term then, and no one else knew either, and that gave me a few issues growing up.

Being introverted, thin, soft, and weak, I am an easy target for bullies. To keep it short, I had a bit of a difficult childhood. I wanted to be strong, and healthy, and become a superhero to solve this problem. It may sound childish, but remember, I was a child then, and to be honest, it makes sense. Perhaps, in my most simplistic way of thinking at the time, martial arts would make me strong.

​I discovered Karate when a schoolmate of mine invited me to try free Karate training in a local church hall in the Philippines. This was a challenging first time, and this is what I remembered. With my weaknesses, my non-athletic physique, not having good coordination, and being shy, it was hard. But the Sensei was good; he was very funny, warm, and welcoming, and the other senior students were the same. In the second session, the following week and the months were all the same. It was hard, but I kept coming and training until I forgot that it was hard and just got used to it. And as they say, the rest is history.

Through the years, due to life changes and exploration, I have tried different martial arts styles. Taekwondo, Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), kickboxing, and sports karate are some of the things that I have tried. I have met different people and groups of people, and I have learned the ideas and principles of different dojos, styles, and senseis. I was looking for technique, simplicity, beauty, natural movement, effectiveness, history, culture, and being good at nurturing people.

Seeketh, Findeth.

Today, I am now practicing, learning, and sharing Matsubayashi Ryu Karate (Shorin Ryu). It suits my character and fulfills my needs as a martial artist and a person. As a dojo owner in Bristol, I have the honour and obligation to introduce you to authentic Okinawan Karate to the best of my knowledge and ability. I want to share the art that changed and improved my life, and it could do the same for you or your loved ones. Feel free to contact me, and everyone is welcome.



On November 20, 2022, I went to Okinawa, Japan, to take my Sandan (3rd Dan) test. I have successfully passed and also received a renewed licence to teach authentic Okinawan Karate and Kobudo in Bristol. The grading panel included Yoshitaka Taira Sensei, 10th Dan, WMKA president and chairman of the Okinawa Karate Federation; Toshimitsu Arakaki Sensei, 10th Dan, Vice-President WMKA; and Iwao Tome Sensei, 9th Dan WMKA. Photos and more details to come.

Joel Castasus

Matsubayashi Ryu Bristol Dojo Owner

"Karate reminds me of where I came from...

                                    and showed me where I can go"

                                                                - Shorin Bristol

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