As a member of Kodokai Dojo,
Our history is your history.
This is where your martial arts are from.
Sandy beaches on a tropical island, crowded sidewalks,
ancient castle ruins, Shinto shrines...
Rough, back alley dojo's, community centers, ramshackle homes and private dojo's...
These are among the places my teachers brought me for martial arts training.
These experiences shaped my perception of what martial arts practice should be and this is why we are different from the over-commercialized schools that seem to pop up everywhere.
My story continues below...
8th degree black belt- Okinawa 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 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. After a NATO exercise in West Germany I asked for orders to Okinawa, Japan, where karate was created. I found what I was looking for 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 visited his students throughout the U.S. over the next twenty or so years and I continued to receive instruction during most of these visits.
Odo's karate reflected his teacher, Nakamura Shigeru, who felt that karate, first and foremost, must be effective as a fighting art. He therefore was opposed to limiting karate by dividing it into styles. This gave us a martial art that combines powerful strikes with throws, joint locks and weaponry. While grounded in tradition and proven methods, our karate is adaptable and not stuck by the rigid confines of a 'style'.
Rank promotion from Odo.
Odo at Kodokai Dojo
Rhode Island, 2001
Odo and me, 2002, Okinawa.
My teachers and some training pics from the last 40 years.
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.
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.
This was 'Palace Hand', the martial art of the Okinawan royal family. It was, and is, a martial art seldom shared with foreigners.
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'.
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.
Taira sensei & Takamiyagi sensei
Taira sensei, in handcuffs, teaching fighting
methods for use when your hands are bound.
Each side of 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 (Palace Hand) 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. It was a difficult process and trips to Okinawa made it very costly to bring this art to the U.S..
Fortunately, you can now learn Palace Hand right here in Rhode Island! From a teacher who speaks English!
Taira sensei was proud of the fact that Udundi was an Okinawan martial art and "not Japanese".
He often reminded to me to tell people that...
"We learned Okinawan martial arts, on Okinawa,
from Okinawan people."
We are not affiliated with any
Japanese-based Udundi organization.
As you can see, the world is losing the older generation of masters. Their knowledge of martial arts is also being lost.
In Rhode Island, there are no other instructors with this type experience, and certainly none who can teach you Palace Hand. Too many teachers are about plastic trophies, gimmicks and crass commercialism. In many cases I don't blame them. Isolated in their strip mall schools they just don't know what they don't know and they are often sincere about what they are teaching.
But there is a difference.
So, wether you want self-defense, fitness, a hobby or a lifestyle, we are here for you. Get it while you can.