Gordon (Jock) Armstrong full bio

Instructor Profile


Unfortunately, Jock lost his long battle with illness and is no longer with us. I have decided to leave this bio here as a tribute to a great martial art pioneer but more importantly a great man.

Gordon “Jock” Armstrong began training in Goju Ryu karate-do in 1981, under the tutelage of Bryson Keenan [at that time a Sandan ] sensei. The dojo was the gym of the 1st battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. This was the beginning of a relationship that continues today. In 1985 Jock underwent his Nidan [2nd-degree black belt] test and in 1986 became the instructor there [ Mr Keenan sensei being away due to employment and family commitments].

He met Mr Glen Gardiner, also a soldier at Lavarack, who introduced him to stick fighting in the form of Doce Pares Arnis/Escrima. Training with Mr Gardiner [and his brother, Martin, the senior exponent in Australia who brought Monung Cacoy Canete to  Townsville on a seminar] whetted his appetite for weapons of all sorts, Okinawan Kobudo and Japanese fencing being his previous exposure to martial art weaponry.

In 1987 he left the army but stayed on in Townsville, teaching and training under Keenan sensei. It was at this time he became involved in security, especially in door-work and crowd control. He also trained quietly in iai.

In 1988 for family reasons, he moved to Melbourne, Victoria and actively trained with a number of highly talented people. Alan Murdoch and Bob Shearwood of Shukokai Karate-Do, Tino Ceberano and Richard Bustillo in Escrima at Tino’s dojo. Sal Ebanez in Goju kai. Les Anyos in Shinbukai [ Anyos sensei had been Mr Keenan’s instructor and mentor], Vince Palumbo in Adelaide, who along with Anthony Kleeman, encouraged Jock’s arnis training and others too many to mention. At this time he also was reunited with an old army and karate friend from the “Ronin Dojo”, Paul Amey, who was living in Melbourne. Together they trained, worked and fought in numerous altercations in the crowded nightclubs of the time. Both worked armed security in the daytime and on doors at night and at weekends. It was an experience that defined the direction of their martial studies.

Already in the “Ronin Dojo” at Lavarack, Keenan sensei’s own experiences and keen analytical sense had modified the traditional Goju somewhat [such as the use of the high guard and boxing type hand combinations]. Glen Gardiner’s tuition in stick and knife had also influenced their approach to fighting techniques greatly. Now the direction of their study was streamlined, fast and above all, combatively practical.

The arrival of Glen Gardiner at ADFA in Canberra gave him the opportunity to train in Doce Pares again and was eagerly picked up. In 1989 he received his black belt. In Melbourne internationally renowned instructors turned up for seminars. In his time in Victoria, Jock attended seminars by Benny Urquidez, Wally Jay and Inoue Soke of Hontai Yoshin Ryu Bujutsu. He also trained in jujutsu with Kevin Mcmenamin sensei. No ranks were given but Mr Mcmenamin’s jujutsu instruction was influential, taking Jock into an area he had so far neglected.

In 1991 Jock returned to Townsville and resumed training and teaching. The word ‘karate’ was replaced by ‘Goshin’ since over the years the changes in techniques had been radical enough so as to make the system almost unrecognisable as traditional karate-do. Jock founded his own group, the Zen Goshu Budo Kenshukai [ by this time having attained the rank of 5th dan (1994 in Goju Ryu Keenan karate)]or The All Australian Martial Way Research Group. After attending university and graduating with a BA in Japanese language in 1999, Jock went to Japan and lived and worked there till 2004, teaching English in elementary and junior high schools. He also studied naginata [not for nearly long enough!] and was lucky enough to find a dojo teaching IBF Nakamura Ryu [swordsmanship]. Ishikawa Tsutomu sensei who had trained directly under Nakamura sensei was extremely hospitable and helpful, as were the other members of the Aoyama dojo in Handa, Aichi prefecture.

Training at the Aoyama Budokan will shine as one of the pivotal points of Jocks martial career. Ishikawa sensei embarked Jock on a full-time training course that resulted in his being given permission to teach and later, being awarded the rank of Nidan. [In November 2007 he received his Sandan {third degree} in Japan.

On his return to Australia in 2004 jock re-established the “Ronin” dojo and since that time the system has spread dojo to Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Jakarta.  At present, Jock is Kaichou [founder and chief instructor] of ZGBK teaching Goshin Jutsu [unarmed combat], Nakamura Ryu Batto Do 5th-degree black belt and Cacoy Doce Pares Arnis; 1st-degree black belt.

Jock was also involved indirectly with the MUC [Military Unarmed Combat] program through Major Glen Gardiner and Major Mark Lewis in an advisory role from the mid-1990s on. From 1991 till 1999 Jock Armstrong served in 31 RQR [Royal Queensland Regiment].

MUC had been run by Major John Whip, a highly experienced judo practitioner and coach. The emphasis was on effective, simple, often lethal techniques- exactly what a soldier in battle needs. When Major Whip retired from service, MUC folded and was replaced by MSD [Military Self Defence]. The emphasis became more peacekeeping/ security-oriented. Stemming from this, Jock was approached to conduct unarmed combat/close quarter battle training by Major Damien Green, the 6th battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 2007. The training was a great success and led to the development of an infantry specific course [mirroring the old MUC concept] for the battalion. This led to the inclusion of the course in the battalion’s pre-deployment training for Afghanistan in 2010.

In 2011the Australian team for Nakamura Ryu Batto Do took the bronze medal in the team cutting division in Yokohama at the annual taikai [gathering/competition].

An intense training seminar was conducted for the Jakarta dojo in Goshinjutsu. Over five days students trained for an average of five hours a day. At the end of the course, a grading was held and belts awarded. Special thanks and congratulations to Steve Young [2nd-degree black belt], Shane Boyd [2nd-degree black belt], Drew Lambert [1st-degree black belt] and Martin Li [1st-degree black belt] from Singapore who joined the Yudanshkai [black belt fraternity].

1979-February; arrived in Australia from Scotland. September; joined Australian Army

1981- began training in Goju Ryu under Bryson Keenan sensei.

1985- received 2nd dan grade [double graded as hadn’t had time to do 1st dan due to military commitments.

1985 /1988; North Queensland Martial Arts Council Open Heavyweight Champion, Met Glen Gardiner, began training in Doce Pares. Discharged from army 1987.

1988/1991- Went to Melbourne. Trained with Alan Murdoch and Bob Shearwood of Shukokai Dandenong. Attended various seminars including that of Benny Urquidez.

1991- returned to Townsville. Began developing Goshin Jutsu as distinct from Goju karate. Re-enlisted 31st Bn, RQR.

1996- began a degree at James Cook University.

1999- graduated with BA in Japanese language and culture. Gained position as ALT in Japan with Nova.

1999/2004- lived and worked in various schools; Nova till 2001. Contracted by Altia Central to teach in state junior high and elementary. 2003 met Ishikawa Tsutomu sensei of IBF Nakamura ryu batto do.

2004- Returned to Townsville. Restarted dojo. Teaching Zen Goshu Goshinjutsu and Nakamura Ryu.

2007/2010- developed and taught MUC/CQB course to 6 RAR. First trip to Jakarta.

2011- awarded 5th dan in Nakamura Ryu Batto do.