Sandy beaches on a tropical island, crowded sidewalks,
ancient castle ruins, Shinto shrines...
Rough back alley dojo's, ramshackle homes and private dojo's...
These are among the places my teachers brought me for martial arts training.
These experiences, shaped in the land of karate, formed my perception of what martial arts practice should be.
My story continues below...
8th degree black belt- Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobujutsu from Seikichi Odo.
8th degree black belt in Shorin-ryu Seidokan Karate from Toma Seiki.
5th degree black belt in Motobu Udundi from Ryoshu Taira and Tetsuo Takamiyagi.
US representative of the Gudokan Motobu Udundi Dojo, Koza, Okinawa.
B.A. in Communications and a B.A. in Anthropology
U.S. Marine Corps- Security experience in the US, Europe, and Asia.
I began my martial arts study in 1978. While serving in the Marine Corps. I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is a small island (1/3 the size of Rhode Island) in the East China Sea, and it is where karate was created.
I found a skilled teacher in Seikichi Odo. Born in 1926, his karate and weaponry were a window into the old ways.
I received my black belt before leaving the island. Odo Sensei visited his students throughout the U.S. over the next twenty or so years and I received corrections and instruction during most of these visits.
Rank promotion from Odo.
Odo at Kodokai Dojo
Rhode Island, 2001
Odo and me, 2002, Okinawa.
I was on the island of Okinawa for some training with Master Odo. As was custom, I paid my respects to 84 year old Master Toma Seiki, a friend and teacher of Odo. In his home/dojo, which looked like it was inspiration for the Okinawa scenes in 'Kill Bill', Master Toma introduced me to the art of Palace Hand (Motobu Udundi).
Toma, with his crooked walking stick in one hand, demonstrated simple techniques that easily could bring me to the ground. It was simple and effective, yet relaxed and deceptive.
Master Toma, waving goodbye to me outside his home/dojo.
Shuri Castle, headquarters of the royal family for centuries.
He was the teacher to the last king and crown prince of Okinawa.
Master Odo passed away six weeks after my 2002 visit. I continued to practice and teach karate but I was very intrigued by Palace Hand as it was nothing like anything I had seen in the West.
Palace Hand, at the time, was headed by Uehara Seikichi. He was taught by Motobu Choyu. When the class system was abolished Uehara became the first person of non-royal descent to learn this style.
Uehara passed away in 2004 leaving Taira Ryoshu as grandmaster of Udundi. Taira recieved private lessons from Uehara twice each day for 35 years and his skills were amazing. He had plenty of practical experience as the owner of a nightclub in the village of Koza, once a rowdy party spot for troops coming from, and going to, Vietnam.
Uehara presented Taira with menkyo kaiden,
'certificate of complete transmission'.
Takamiyagi Sensei, Kodokai Dojo
Taira sensei, in handcuffs, teaching fighting
methods for use when your hands are bound.
With luck, persistence, and the help of many, my students and I were accepted as students under Taira sensei and Takamiyagi sensei.
Takamiyagi sensei also has an incredible background. He is a 10th degree black belt in karate under Toma Seiki, an 8th degree under Shimabuku Eiso, and an 8th degree in Motobu Udundi under Uehara Seikichi.
My teachers immersed me into the culture of Palace Hand and brought me to memorial services, tea ceremonies, and to the dojo's and homes of other masters. We ate together and shared endless conversations on philosophy, tactics, history and anything they felt was helpful. They put great care into ensuring that I understood more than just technique.
Takamiyagi Sensie's business card.
Eating in the dojo allowed us to get right back to work. Mrs. Takamiyagi provided delicious food.
Takamiyagi sensei with Toma sensei Inside Toma's home/dojo.
Our teachers were steadfast in supporting our endeavor to bring Udundi to America. Besides teaching us on Okinawa, Takamiyagi sensei has come to our dojo in Rhode Island six times and Taira sensei visited us shortly before his passing at the age of 80.
Kodokai Dojo became the first school dedicated to this art outside of Japan and Okinawa.
Fortunately, you can now learn Palace Hand right here in Rhode Island!
We are not affiliated with
mainland Japan-based Udundi organizations.
Our Udundi comes from Okinawa- not mainland Japan.
Taira sensei often reminded to me to tell people that...
"We learned Okinawan martial arts, on Okinawa,
from Okinawan people."
As you can see, Kodokai Dojo is a school with history, experience and deep roots in Okinawa. Over the years we have seen countless schools come and go in northern Rhode Island. Yet, here we are, teaching martial arts that have stood the test of time for good reason.
There are many schools teaching versions of karate that have been passed around here in America for so long that they barely resemble the real thing. Altered by commercialism, changed to look flashy or to succeed in tournament point sparring, and sometimes changed due to lack of understanding, cultural ignorance or poor teaching standards, all karate isn't the same.
We offer you authentic arts that we personally brought straight from the source. There is a difference.