(Where has the time gone)?
By Master Doug Yates
I have been asked on many occasions to tell my story. The how and why I got involved in Karate and some insights I've picked up along the way. Below is a Biography I put together with the intent to share with the reader my experiences both good and bad. I began my karate training on Thursday November 1, 1973 at the Xenia Christian Karate School. My Karate Instructor was Sensei Dale Holzbauer.I was 16 years old and in the 10th grade at Xenia High School. The reason I wanted to take karate was because I wanted to do something to stay in shape during the off-season of baseball plus I had seen the Bruce Lee movie "Enter The Dragon". High School classmates Mike Hutton and Dale Coy invited to me to start class. The dojo is where Taco Bell stands today on Main Street downtown Xenia. Our Dojo was an old house that was later destroyed in the 1974 Xenia Tornado.
Sensei Holzbauer had 3 under Black Belt assistant instructors. Steve Goodbar, Myles McMahan and Joe Klewinowski. Steve and Myles were teaching down stairs while Joe was teaching upstairs. Joe had Mike Hutton, David Hutton and Dale Coy teach me my first class. They were Purple Belts themselves. They taught me all the Orange Belt
Requirements in the 2-hour class. Back then the belt ranking colors was White, Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Brown (3 levels) and Black (10 Levels). I remember going into the other room when class was over and walked over to the heavy bag which hung in the corner and noticed Conrad Frye a Purple Belt perform a reverse crescent, spinning crescent kick combination on the bag. I asked if I could try. I did the kick and Conrad yelled "Stop" you are not allowed to do that kick yet. He said this jokingly because he felt I performed the kick as good as or better than he. Conrad smiled and said that's not fair. We became good friends and training partners.
I asked Joe Klewinowski to look at this kick that I had saw Bruce Lee do in the movie "Enter the Dragon". I walked to the other side of the room and ran toward the bag and did a jump-flying sidekick. As I landed the kick I tore the bag from the ceiling. Sensei Holzbauer came in and looked at the bag then looked at me and asked if I had ever done karate before? I said no, he put his arm around me and said stick with me kid. This of course made me feel very happy. I was sorry I tore the bag out of the ceiling but was pleased that Sensei Holzbauer was impressed with me on my first day.
Training was on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and 2 hours in length. There were two Saturday classes. The early Saturday morning class was what Sensei Holzbauer described as "Animal Class" at 8 am. He would work us to unbelievable physical and mental limits throwing hundreds of punches and kicks along with hundreds of pushups, set ups and jumping jacks. It was the best condition I was ever in my entire life. I was put into a class with other students who had started in September 1973. Then on December 1, 1973 I was promoted to Orange Belt with the other students. Some were a little unhappy complaining that I have not been in class as long as they were.
One week later for our Saturday group class, Steve Goodbar was scheduled to teach class but was not able. Sensei Holzbauer was in the office and he was not able to teach either so he was going to cancel class. I went into Sensei's office and told Sensei that I knew all the Purple Belt requirements. He laughed and said, "Let me see" so I from memory went through all the Orange Belt and Purple Belt Basics, Kata and Self Defense techniques. He just shook his head and said "there is no way he can move me up to Purple belt yet, you've only been in karate 1 month". He said it was OK for me to teach the class. When I went into the room I asked everyone to line up and they just laughed thinking I was joking around. Then Sensei Holzbauer came in and said that I was going to lead the class.
Boy did everyone shake there heads in disbelief. I look back now and just shake my head as well. Sensei Holzbauer knew that I was paying for classes myself and he realized my desire, so he allowed me to teach the beginners when they started in exchange for paying for my lessons. During this time I was still in high school, I was on the high school Cross Country Team so right after school I would go to cross country practice, and then I had preseason basketball practice. After basketball practice I went to Mrs. Lightheiser the High School French teacher's home whom I worked for. She had a number of rental properties, which I painted and did handy man work for her. Then at 7:30 pm I would be at karate class until 9:30 pm.
We lived in Windsor Park a section of homes on the Westside of Xenia about 4-5 miles away from the karate school, I would run home after karate class. Once home I would get a bite to eat then as I was running the bath water to soak I would do sets of Pushups and Setups on the front room floor. Once I finished my bath I would review all my karate basics, kata's and self-defense moves before I went to bed. Needless to say I was a bit obsessed with my training. I can not tell you how many times my father would come into the family room where I would have the patio curtains open so that the glass in the door would make a giant mirror so that I could view myself to make sure I was throwing my techniques correctly and he would tell me to go to bed. Usually not in a calm manner since everyone else was already in bed.
Friday February 1st was a night that would help shape my entire life. At that time Sensei Holzbauer who at that time was a youth Minster at the Xenia First Church of Christ. He asked me to assist him in a karate demo at a youth revival held at The Bethel Missionary Church. I of course said yes. I thought to myself that it would be a perfect opportunity for me to show off my karate skills in front of people. After the demo, Sensei Holzbauer asked me to sit down and he began preaching about the love of God and forgiveness of Sin, through Jesus. I came forward and was later Baptized at the First Church of Christ as a new Christian. This demo surely was not what I had initially expected but it turned out to be more than I could have ever imagined. Sensei introduced me to Christ through karate.
March 1974 I entered my first karate tournament. The Official Karate Magazine Midwest Regional Championship hosted by J.T. Will. World Karate Champion Bill "Super Foot" Wallace was competing. I remember asking myself what is all this fuss about. There were people all around him wanting autographs with newspaper reporters, karate magazine photographers all swarming around him. After all the under Black Belts finished competing Bill "Super Foot" Wallace began to compete in his division. After watching him I then knew what all the fuss was about. He was absolutely amazing. His left foot was so fast; he kicked his opponent in the stomach, the face, back of the head and stomach again without putting his foot down and it was done with unbelievable speed. I stood there with my mouth wide open. From that moment on I worked very hard to copy his style of kicking. The three main kicks he threw were the Front Wheel Kick (roundhouse), Side Kick and Hook Kick with me being Left Handed and Left Footed same as "Super Foot" it was very natural for me to try and copy his style.
I ended up taking 2nd place in kata. I was in 1st place but because I was chewing gum while competing I was penalized 1/2 point from each judge scorecard. That was a 21/2 Point deduction. This put me in a tie for 1st place. We had to perform another kata and I ended up in 2nd place. I was disqualified in the fighting for kicking my opponent in the face. Back then there were no such things as pads and NO Contact to the face by under Black Belt Competitors.
We had many tough fights at the karate school. The down stairs training room had 3 large windows, 2 in the front and one on the side. One Saturday I was sparring Steve Weghorst, I kicked him with a jump double front kick as he was starting to jump back. This sent him flying out the side window into the parking out. Luckily he was O.K. We later laughed because the front sign said Xenia Christian Karate School and then here he goes flying out the window from a kick. What a scene that must have been if anyone driving by witnessed him flying out the window. I was promoted to Purple belt and like before I had already knew my next requirements in a matter of days. Everything was going along great. Then April 3, 1974 a killer Tornado that killed 34 people and injured over 1,000 people hit Xenia, Ohio. Our karate Dojo was not spared, it was damaged beyond repair, the city planned to tear it down.
One afternoon Sensei Holzbauer and I were at the karate Dojo and we started punching out windows and punching and kicking holes in the wall. Sensei Holzbauer cut his knuckle so he left to get some stitches. I stayed and kicked and punched until I could hardly move. The upstairs was now one big open space. There were 4 rooms and a bathroom. I had kicked and punched all the walls out leaving one massive room. I remember leaving so exhausted but remembering how much fun that was, until later that night Sensei Holzbauer called and unbeknownst to me he had stopped by the Dojo and seen what I had done and he decide to play a trick on me. He told me that he had some GREAT news. I said really what's the news? He said that the city was NOT going to tear down the Karate Dojo and that we were going to start karate classes on Monday. My heart dropped, I could not breathe, I had just destroyed the entire upstairs of the Dojo I thought to myself what am I going to do? He started to laugh and said one of his favorite sayings "you old pea picker you" "I saw what you done tell me was it as much fun as it looked". I laughed and said it was more than fun!
After the Dojo was tore down all karate classes were suspended. Many of the students quit or did not train. Some of the advanced belts and I would meet and train anywhere we could mostly outside. I devised a training tool that took me from a beginner to an advanced kicker almost immediately. I took two 2 x 4's eight feet long, four 3 foot 2 x 4's and dug a hole 3 foot in the ground in my parents back yard. I nailed the two 2 x 4's together and stuck them in the ground. I then placed the 3 foot 2 x 4's around the eight footers. Filled back up the hole and then put padding over the top. I had an instant sparring partner. I would train for hours punching and kicking my wooden sparring partner. I especially threw a wheel kick, Hook Kick and Sidekick trying to copy my newfound karate idol, Bill "Super Foot" Wallace. Soon my kicks began to improve to the point that I could kick someone in the head with relative ease.
September 1974 we started classes back up in the church basement. I was so excited. Sensei Holzbauer reviewed all of our basics and kata's and then it was time to spar. I had not stopped training all summer long where many of my classmates trained little or none at all. When it came down to sparring it was apparent who had continued training and who had not. Needless to say Sensei could tell I had not stopped training. After class Sensei Holzbauer took me to the side and told me that I was way past my Blue Belt standards and that he wanted to test me the following week. Late 1974 early 1975 the Church decided to build a youth center behind the church. This would include a complete gym with locker rooms and showers. Many of us karate students laid brick and painted as our new dojo was being built.
As an under Black belt competitor we went to many tournaments around the Midwest area. I won or placed in every tournament I had entered. My goal was to compete in Kata, Weapons Kata and Fighting and try to place in one event or all. One night at class Master Don Madden who is the President of the AKJU (American
Karate Jujitsu Union) stopped by our Dojo to visit Sensei Holzbauer. Sensei asked me to come up and perform a Double Nunchuku kata I had made up. After I completed the weapon kata, Master Madden looked at Sensei Holzbauer and said that I was Sensei Bob Fryers student. Sensei Fryer owned the Bellbrook karate Dojo and was a member of the All American Karate Jujitsu Union that Master Madden was President of. Sensei Holzbauer asked what do you mean? Master Madden informed Sensei Holzbauer that I was at his tournament a couple of month's prior and had won the kata, weapons kata and fighting and that I had performed that double Nunchuku kata at his tournament.
Sensei called me over and asked if I knew what he was talking about. I told Sensei Holzbauer that a friend of mine named Rick Hall who trained with Sensei Fryer asked me to go with their school and compete at the tournament. I explained that a few weeks earlier my friend invited me to their dojo to work out with them. Ironically, I had worked out all day at home on my kicking pole in my backyard, I then ran to Rick's house in Beavercreek from Xenia some 10 miles. We drove his car to his Dojo in Bellbrook I went through their workout and then was asked by Sensei Fryer if I wanted to spar? Of course I said yes, after the sparring session was over I had sparred everyone in the school. I was a Blue Belt and I sparred 8 Green Belts, 3 Brown Belts and Jimmy George his prized Black Belt. I had only given up 1 point and that was to my friend Rick Hall.
At the conclusion of the workout I was informed that I would not be able to attend his class again unless I was wearing a White Gi. I had worn a pair of Green Army pants and a Black Top with my Blue Belt. I told Sensei Holzbauer that Rick had called me and said that his teacher Sensei Fryer wanted to know if I wanted to go to Master Madden's interclub tournament with them. It was only for AKJU member schools. The only stipulation was that I had to wear a White Gi, which my friend had one for me to wear. So, I competed without telling my instructor. He just laughed and said that maybe the next time I should let him know what I was doing.
I have many memories of my friendship with my fellow karate classmates many of my classmates are gone now. July 1975 I was asked to fight a full contact karate fight in Lawton, Oklahoma. My opponent was Clark Evans. He was a nationally ranked Black Belt since I was only a Brown Belt and had to be a Black Belt to fight him, Sensei Holzbauer let me wear a Black Belt for the fight. Back then Full Contact in the ring was just starting out. The fight was held at The Great Plains Coliseum. We were scheduled to fight five 2-minute rounds. Fighters had to throw at least 8 kicks per round. I won by a 4th round TKO he would not come out of his corner for the 4th round. That was the first time I was able to throw my kicks at full speed and power. I must admit that my Kicking Post I put in my backyard allowed my kicks to be such that my opponent could not stop them. I threw very little hand strikes, mostly kicks during the match.
December 15, 1975 Sensei Holzbauer gave me a yellow envelope and said do not open up until Christmas, I thought I knew what was in the envelope but was not 100% for sure. It was undoubtedly the hardest thing I ever had to do by not opening up the envelope but I did not and on Christmas day I opened the envelope and received my ShoDan 1st degree Black Belt certificate. I remember that for me once I got my Black Belt it was like now I'm ready to go full speed with my training and competing. I realize that for some people getting their Black Belt is viewed as the end of the journey whereas I felt I was just starting, ready to learn and absorb more of what my teacher had to teach me.
Sensei Holzbauer accepted a position as Chaplin at the Ohio Soldier & Sailors Orphanage Home in Xenia. He moved the karate classes to the Armory located on the OSSO Home campus. Sensei taught me Kata Bai Sai Dai on a Thursday night class. Then on Saturday a group of students and I competed in a karate tournament. I competed using this new Kata and took 3rd place. That night I called Sensei Holzbauer and remember saying how excited I was about placing in the Kata division at the tournament with the new Kata he had just taught me. My strengths in tournament had always been in the Fighting and Weapons Kata and now I had a Kata that I felt I could be competitive with.
March 1, 1976 fellow karate student under Sensei Holzbauer Myles McMahan and I opened up the Xenia Shorin Kenpo Karate School. I was still a senior at Xenia High School so I would go to school, then go to Baseball practice or Baseball Game and then teach the last class which was from 7:30 - 9:00 pm. Sensei Holzbauer had given Myles and I permission to open the school. He was planning to move from the area and wanted to make sure that the karate program would still continue on.
April 23, 1976 Sensei Holzbauer hosted Full Contact karate fights at Benner Field House in Xenia. I was scheduled to fight David Pitstick in a 5 round match. What's ironic was that I had a High School baseball game prior to the fight. After the game I rushed to the arena just in time to fight. Also, about a month prior to the fight Don Miller at the time a Purple Belt and I performed a Karate Demonstration at the East Dayton Baptist Church for a youth rally. During the demonstration I pulled my right Hamstring muscle. I remember the pain was terrible but we went on. At the closing of the demo we broke boards and the highlight break was for me to punch through 3 cement slabs.
Breaking is to show power of the karate strikes and kicks. My leg was absolutely killing me and after the cement slabs were put to the corners of 2 blocks I was ready to perform the breaking technique. As I twisted and turned to throw the punch pain shot through my body and I missed the slabs and hit the corner of the cement block. My knuckle busted wide open and blood was everywhere. Needless to say it was a demo that these folks will always remember. Luckily for me I did not break any bones in my hand. So, going into this fight my leg and hand was a mess and I just got done paying a baseball game. I won by a unanimous decision. I guess you could say I did it the hard way.
1977 Myles and I started teaching separately. I began teaching at the Xenia Nazarene Church. As an under Black Belt competitor I placed or won every tournament I had entered. Now that I was a Black Belt I figured that I would continue my winning ways in the point karate tournaments. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. My first tournament competing as a Black Belt was very memorable. I was dating this girl from Trotwood, Ohio. I invited her to come and watch me compete. My brother Tony and his wife came to watch me also. The tournament was the Mid American Karate Championship held in Springfield, Ohio at Springfield North High School. J.T. Will sponsored the event. Some of the top competitors in the Mid West came to compete. There were only 2 divisions in Black Belt. Light weight and Heavy weight. Back then there was not multiple Black Belt Divisions. The Heavyweight cut off was at 165 pounds and up. I weighted 168 so I fought in the heavyweight division.
As we lined up to begin I heard this deep heavy breathing I looked over and up and saw this monster of a guy standing next to me. I asked him how much he weighted and how tall he was? He said he was 230 pounds and 6'4" I might add he was solid as a rock. The official came by and said that I was to fight him. I told him that I thought this was a miss match, he looked at me and said "what's the problem boy, aren't you in shape to fight" I said yes I am but man you are big. I asked him how long he had been in Karate he said he was a Black Belt for 12 years.
I had only been in Karate about 2 1/2 years. So, needless to say I was beat in my own mind before the match even started. I will never forget this match, we bowed to each other, got into our fighting stances, the referee said begin and he just walked over grabbed me and punched me in my face. We lined back up and it was now 1 - 0. I thought to myself he's not going to do that again. The judge said begin and he again walked over grabbed me and punched me in the face a second time, score 2 - 0. I vowed he was not going to do that again. The judge said begin and he walked over grabbed me and punched but this time I moved my head to the right and he missed, he punched again and I moved my head to the left and once again he missed, he then punched in the middle and hit me square in the face and the match was over 3 - 0. Needless to say I was a bit embarrassed but I learned a valuable lesson. It was regardless how big your opponent is, relax and stay calm, find an opening. Don't just stand there and be a punching bag.
I did not compete much in 1977. December 1977 I was teaching karate at the Nazarene Church, I had a bunch of brand new students who had just started. I asked Don Miller my assistant instructor to spar me so that these new students could see what sparring was like. We bowed to each other, he jumped to throw a Jump Double Crescent Kick, I jumped to throw a jump spinning back kick we collided in midair and as I hit the floor my foot got caught under my body and every bone in my foot was dislocated. I was rushed to the hospital and spent 4 days after surgery. Most of those students never came back to karate. I guess what they saw may have scared them away.
March 31, 1978 I took my students to The Buckeye State Karate Championship. I had just got the cast off my foot and was not supposed to do any competing. I figured that competing in the Weapons Division would not hurt anything. So, I competed and took 1st place. Then it was time for the fighting, against my better judgment I competed anyway. I had 7 fights and took 1st place in the heavyweight division. Ron Burgess (Niki Yamashita) won the lightweight division. He and my instructor had many fine matches, now I was fighting him. We were to fight for the overall tournament Grand Champion. The match was to 5 points. I had him 3 -0 and I started to get cocky. Started throwing crazy techniques and the next thing I knew the match was over and he beat me 5 - 3. Boy, did I learn another lesson. Which was to stay focused and not get cocky.
I took some of my students to The West Virginia State Karate Championship. On the way down we were talking about a black belt who studied Shotokan Karate. He said that he wanted to fight me in a Death Match. We just laughed and said how stupid that was. The next morning during the competition I began by competing in the Kata division. When I approached the Judges to give my protocol I said that my style was Shotokan (the style my "Death Match" opponent study) instead of saying Shorin Ryu. Realizing what I said I was totally flustered. I bowed and backed off the floor, the judges motioned me back to the floor and asked what the problem was. I explained that I stated my style was Shotokan but actually my style was Shorin Ryu they told me to begin. Needless to say my scores were very low.
The next division was weapons. I performed my Double Nunchuku kata and received a standing ovation and took 1st place! I guess you could say I redeemed myself. I ended up 3rd place in the fighting division I had unintentionally knocked out my opponent in the semi finals and was disqualified, so I ended up fighting another match for 3rd place and won. We then went to the 1978 American SeiKan Grand Nationals in December. I took 1st place in Weapons and lost in the fighting.
January 1979, I started teaching at the Xenia Armory. Classes were held Monday and Thursday 7:00 - 9:00 pm. I loved to compete and started competing more frequently. 1979 I won the Buckeye State Championship Weapons again and took 2nd in fighting. I then went to the West Virginia State Championships and won both the Weapons and Heavyweight fighting. I followed that tournament up by winning the Weapons and Heavyweight fighting at 1979 The American SeiKan Grand Nationals.
I was at Donges drug store and was looking at the karate magazines. As I was looking I came across the Regional Ratings published by Karate Illustrated Magazine. To my surprise I was rated 3rd in the Weapons division in Region # 7. This region covers Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois. I could not believe it. I started competing on a regular bases.
September 1979 my best friend Butch DeBartolo and I opened the Doug Yates Karate School down town Xenia upstairs on the corner of Main Street and Detroit Street. After seeing my name in print I became obsessed with competing, out of 52 weekends I competed 40 weekends. Many times I would compete on a Saturday and then drive all night to compete Sunday in a different State.
I competed in the 1980 Ohio State Karate Championships and won 1st Weapons and 1st Heavyweight Fighting. I learned another lesson that night. Since I had won the Heavyweight Fighting I was to fight the winner of the Lightweight division for the Ohio State Grand Champion, Ron Shaw had won the Lightweight division. In the Early to mid 1970's Ron Shaw was one of the top karate competitors in the United States. His name was constantly in one of the major karate magazines. I remember watching him compete against my instructor Sensei Holzbauer.
He had suffered a broken leg around 1977 and had a terrible time rehabilitating. The leg had been broken completely in half. I remember when we lined up to fight for the Ohio State Grand Champion that I thought to myself "Yesterday was your day and today is my day". The referee said begin: and then all of a sudden I was hit with a Back fist. I looked round and thought who in the world just hit me? Wow he was fast. He beat me 3 -1. That same night at 12:30 am I called my best friends Butch Debartolo and Chris Doyle, they both competed in the under Black Belt division earlier that day. I wanted to go run 5 miles and asked them to join me. I wanted to talk to them about my fight with Ron Shaw. As we were running I kept replaying our match trying to break down the mechanics of his back Fist. I could visualize him pushing off his rear foot as he struck. In the coming months I worked on that technique over and over until I got it down. I traveled to the Canadian Internationals in May of 1980 and ended up 3rd in the Heavyweight Fighting. It was my first competition internationally.
As I said earlier I completed all over the United States in 1980. I won The Buckeye State Karate Grand Championship and took 1st Weapons and 1st Fighting, The West Virginia State Championship 1st Weapons and 1st in Fighting and The American SeiKan Grand Nationals 1st Weapons and 1st Fighting. At the end of the year I was rated in the Top 10 fighting in region # 7 and # 1 in the Weapons Division. The 1980 National Ratings came out and I was ranked # 7 in the National Weapons division.
I had 2 other Full Contact Karate matches in 1980. I fought Tim Harrison who was from Troy Ohio we competed regularly against each other in the open karate tournaments around the Mid-West United States. He always said he thought that he could take me in Full Contact Fighting so the match was set. I won by a 2nd Round Knock Out. I also fought Tim "The Latin Fury" Anthony who was 14 - 2 with 12 Knockouts. He was scheduled to fight at the Dayton Internationals as the Main Event or Highlight of the night after The Dayton International Open Karate Tournament was done. Anthony's opponent backed out of the fight the day of the fight. I competed all day and took 1st place in the Weapons division and 1st place in the Heavyweight Fighting division. When Anthony's opponent backed out the promoter was going to cancel the fight at the displeasure of all the Full Contact Karate Fans in attendance.
My best friends Butch DeBartolo, Chris Doyle and Myles McMahan started joking with me and saying how they felt this Anthony guy would clean my clock. I went to the promoter and said I would fight him. They of course reminded me that I had competed all day but I insisted and they let the fight go on. I knocked him out: 15 seconds in the first round. My friends just laughed they were confidant that I would win and joked with me to see if I would try to fight this guy. After traveling all over the United States and Canada and sending a lot of money in 1980 I decide to fight Professional under the Professional Karate Association (PKA). My previous Full Contact experience was on mated floors; I was never in a roped ring before and had no amateur fights. My first 5 fights were against Top 10 world rated fighters. I lost all 5 but gave each a very good fight.
After losing I realized I needed to learn how to box. So I began training at the Salvation Army Boxing Club. Reverend Jackson was the trainer. He was a former Professional Boxer with 102 fights. He was a little punch drunk but sure did know his stuff. I remember my first workout. I was doing rounds on the Heavy bag sweat was just pouring off of me, there was actually a puddle of sweat on the floor. Reverend Jackson came over and grabbed the bag and told me to stop, you're killing me, and I said what do you mean he said that I was punching all wrong. So for the next week or so he had me moving across the floor stepping. I was not allowed to punch. He taught me balance and how to get power with my punches.
There were many tough fighters in the gym, they would watch me because they knew I was in karate but knew that I did not know how to box. Then one day a former Professional Heavy Weight Boxer approached me. He was about 6'3" and about 245 pounds. I was 5'11" and 175 pounds. He said, "I understand you want to learn to box". I said yes that's true. He asked me if I wanted to get in the ring and do some rounds. I said yes and we put on the gloves and climbed inside the ropes. Everyone in the gym stopped working out and came over to the ring. They were laughing because they knew what was about to happen to me. The bell sounded and he was all over me knocking me from one end of the ring to other. He hit me with a solid right hand that backed me against the ropes. I could hear everyone in the gym laughing I was dazed and thought to myself I'm not going down, so I pushed him off of me, then spun around and hit him with a spinning back kick. I caught him right in the Solar Plexus as he was throwing another right hand at me. He dropped to the ground his wind was gone. I looked down at him and said I'm sorry, that slipped out. You could have heard a pin drop inside the gym. From that moment on every time I walked into the gym guys were giving me high fives. You could say I earned their respect.
On November 28, 1981 I won the Ohio State Light Heavyweight Title. I fought Neal
Singleton and won by a 3rd round Knockout. Singleton was rated 7th in the World Ratings and was the Mid West United States Light Heavy Weight Champion. After losing my first 5 fights I went 16-4. I fought on ESPN a couple of times and ended my Professional career 16 wins 9 losses with 12 wins by Knockout. I fought Kerry Roop the Light Heavy Weight World Champion in a non-Title bout in Detroit. I knocked him down in the first round with a front-legged wheel kick. He could not touch me for 3 rounds. The beginning of the 4th round he hit me with a front kick which knocked me against the ropes as he was coming forward I tried to roll to my right, but he hit me with an overhand right. The punch broke my jaw.
I got up took the mandatory 8 count and fought until the end of the round. My corner men told me they were going to stop the fight, I knew that I was ahead on the Judges scorecards. I told them no, that I would kill them if they stopped the fight. I fought till the end of the 5th round then had to stop. I went to the hospital and had my jaw wired shut for about 5 weeks. This was the first opportunity I had at getting a World Title shot. If I had won the match I would have for sure gotten a title shot.
Do not let anyone tell you that as a professional fighter you will not get hurt. I suffered having my nose broke 8 times, my jaw broke once, my Retina in my left eye was bruised and a scratched cornea. I've had a number of cuts over the eyes and chin. I've broken my left knuckle on a guy's forehead. Of all these injuries, I won the majority of the fights. I retired from my kickboxing career December 5, 1983. I had just gotten my World Rating and things were looking up but my home life was a mess.
I was married, had 3 children, a job and a Karate school. With all this, I still had to try and fit training into my busy life. It was too difficult to continue. In 1983 and 1984 I was nominated by the PKA (Professional Karate Association) for the Full Contact Trainer of the Year Award. I had a stable of fighters that were prepared and promoters knew they could count on me to have my fighter's trained fit and ready to fight. December 31, 1983 I contacted the Xenia YMCA and worked out an agreement to move my Karate school to the YMCA. 1985 Chris Doyle and I Hosted a weekly Karate Program on Miami Valley Cable Network "Karate for Self Defense", and "An Introduction to Full Contact Karate". Our T.V. shows aired for 5 years.
1983 I started to train under Master Sonny Johnson. Sensei Holzbauer had moved away a few years earlier and I wanted to stay within our systems family. Master Johnson had started training under Master Glen Premru and Master Johnson refined the kata he was teaching in line with Master Premru. They were similar but different than what I was doing under Sensei Holzbauer. I started learning the refined kata but maintained the other kata that Sensei Holzbauer had taught me for personal reasons. The Style that Master Johnson referred his system to was Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu. Master Holzbauer referred to his style as Shorin Kenpo.
1988 Sensei Johnson hosted a karate tournament as part of the PKC Indiana State Championship Series. I did not plan to compete but decide to once I was there. I had not competed in a point karate tournament since 1980. As the competitors were lining up for the fighting competition I noticed a guy hurriedly line up next to me. During my point karate fighting and Full Contact career I weighted around 170 - 180 pounds. I was about 210 pounds and no one really knew me nor my back ground. I'm from Ohio and was in Indiana and had never fought in this tournament series before. The official said I was to fight this guy that lined up next to me. His name was Steve Anderson and he had a big patch on his back that said he was a National Champion. We lined up and the official said begin. I hit him with the "Ron Shaw" back fist. He looked shocked and amazed. I repeated that 2 more times and won 3 - 0 in about: 30 seconds. As he walked off the floor I heard one of his students yell out "What happened Sensei"? He shrugged his shoulders and said I don't know. Isn't it funny how things happen? I was able to teach someone a lesson as Ron Shaw taught me many years earlier. I taught at the Xenia YMCA until September 1989.
Pam Baker who owned the Starlight Dance Studio contacted me and asked if I would go into business with her. The idea was for her and I to split the rent and teach different hours. At first I said no but Pam's persistence won out and we opened October 1989 at 87 E. Main Street in Xenia. We ran the school together for a few years then she quit teaching, so I continued on at the 87 E. Main address until 1997.
During this time my son D.J. started competing. In 1992 he placed at the Ohio qualifier for the USA Karate Federations Regional Championship and then placed at the regional to qualify for the USA Nationals to be held in Dallas, Texas. D.J. won a Bronze medal and went on to the Jr. Olympics in Pittsburg, Pa. where he won a Gold and Silver medal. While we were at the USA Nationals in Texas we ran into Don Madden, Head Coach for the USA Karate Team. This is the same man that visited Sensei Holzbauer when I had won his karate tournament so many years earlier doing my Double Nunchuku Kata. He encouraged me to start competing again. I said I was too old but he and my son both kept asking me to start again.
1993 I started competing again. At the Ohio State Qualifier I began the day off by winning the Adult Black Belt weapons division. D.J. followed by winning the Gold in the Jr. Weapons division. I followed with a Bronze in the Kata Division. D.J. competed and won the Gold in his fighting division he came over to me and said OK dad lets see what you can do. I also won the Gold in my fighting division. It was the beginning of a special time between my son and I. We both qualified for the 1993 USA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona. At the Nationals we both won Bronze medals. 1994 we again won the Ohio State Championship. I was then asked by the USA Karate Team Head Coach Don Madden to compete with Team USA at the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Goodwill Games are like the Olympics.
At first I declined but my wife Doris and son D.J. encouraged me to go. I went and was able to defeat the Russian Heavyweight Champion and won the Gold Medal. I was also part of the Goodwill Games Closing Ceremonies, which was held in Kiev Stadium in front of over 85,000 people on World Wide Television. I performed my Double Nunchuku Kata and led a group of people into the middle of the field forming the world to the music of "We are the World". It was an awesome experience. At the conclusion we marched around the track along with the USA Arm Wrestling Team, Power Lifters, Karate, Jujitsu and some of the Gymnastic Team members. We marched with our USA Team Warm Ups and holding individual U.S. Flags in the Air. It was an unbelievable experience. We also visited Moscow and toured Red Square.
I returned to the United States just in time to take my karate school team to the USA Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida. D.J. and I both won Gold Medals, we were the first father and son to win Gold Medals and earn the "All American" titles at the Nationals in the same year. Karate Profiles Magazine did a story on us. When I returned home I was asked by the city of Xenia to be the Old Fashion Day Parade Grand Marshal. It was very nice being honored by my hometown. The only down side was that it rained. So I guess you could say it rained on my parade. I received a call from the USA Head Coach asking me to compete at the 1994 IJJF World Jujitsu Championship in Italy.
I agreed and was off to Italy. The World Championship was held in Bologna, Italy. We also traveled to Rome and Venice while we were there. I had never fought Jujitsu before but jumped at the chance to compete in The World Championships. I received the rules on the plane on my way to Italy. I remember reading the rules and at different times as I read I would say we can do this or we can that. Coach Madden just laughed and said that I would be OK.
I fought the All European Heavyweight Champion from Spain. He was also on the Spain Judo Olympic Team. I had him 7-0 then we hooked up and I went down he fell on top of me and I suffered a shoulder separation I tried to tell them I was OK but when asked to raise my arm I could not. I decided to bow out. He went on to win the Bronze Medal. This was the second time I had a chance to be a World Champion but again come up short. It was very disheartening.
June 1995 D.J. and I traveled to Ireland with the AKJU Team America to compete at the Irish Cup. D.J. won 3 Gold Medals and I won a Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals at the end of the competition I announced my retirement from competition. I was asked to begin coaching the AKJU Team. I coached U.S. Teams in Ireland in 1996 and 1997. While we were in London in 1997 we were able to be in the crowd of millions attending the funeral of Princess Diana. It was a very sad time. There were flowers all over London. There was a massive wall of flowers at Buckingham Palace. October 1995 Don Madden and I traveled to Ireland to teach a karate camp. Jeff Speakman star of "The Perfect Weapon" and other motion pictures also taught. It was another neat experience. In 1993 I completed my book on karate. "Okinawan Shorin Ryu Matsumura Kenpo Karate Kobudo Training Guide". It included history and belt requirements for our system.
I was inducted into the World Karate Union "Hall of Fame" in June 1996 and was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Association "Hall of Fame" August 2001. It is an honor to be recognized by my peers in the Martial Art Community. In 2002 I decided to start competing again. I won Gold medals in Fighting and Weapons at the 2002 Ohio State Qualifier and qualified for the National Championship in Virginia Beach, Virginia but injured my knee and had to have my PCL repaired. This knocked me out of any competing.
As of January 2004 our school has won 248 medals in National, International and Jr. Olympic competition. 35 National Champions, 35 "All Americans", 28 Jr. Olympic Gold Medalists and 20 International Gold Medalists. I am very pleased with these many students and their accomplishments. I am proud of my personal accomplishments but to see my students excel has been very rewarding.
1997 I contacted Sensei Roy Thomason, Sensei Sonny Johnson and Sensei Dale Holzbauer to share a vision I had about holding a yearly training camp. Sensei Holzbauer was my original instructor and Sensei Johnson was Sensei Holzbauer teacher and Sensei Thomason was Sensei Johnson's teacher. We all agreed and we held our first camp July 1997. This has been an annual camp and has brought together students past and present from all of us. It is like a yearly karate family reunion.
1995 I formed the Miami Valley Tournament Association (MVTA). It is a karate tournament series that sanctions tournaments throughout the Miami Valley. Each competitor earns points each time they place in these events. Those points then accumulate and the top 3-point getters are awarded at our annual banquet. The reason for starting the MVTA was to allow the local competitor to have an opportunity to compete locally and to be recognized for a job well done.
From 1973 to 1985 the main thrust of my karate training was tournament or competition oriented. Then in 1985, I was accepted as a member with The Okinawa Matsumura Kenpo Shorin Ryu Karate Kobudo Association under Grand Master Yuichi Kuda. This allowed me to attend training camps with Grand Master Kuda when he would be visiting the United States. My first camp was September 1986 in LaGrange, Texas. It was my first experience to train under Grand Master Kuda, a legitimate Okinawan Karate Grand Master. Grandmaster Kuda was a student under Hohan Soken and fellow student with Grand Master Fusie Kise. Master Thomason trained under Kise and Soken in Okinawa. I remember I had all these preconceptions of what a Grand Master was suppose to be like. He immediately dispelled these and taught me the true meaning of karate-do. Karate as a way of life.
Camp was held Thursday to Sunday with 3 workouts daily lasting 2 - 3 hours in length. I was in class and we were working some basic kata, I was punching and kicking as hard as I possibly could. Sweat was just pouring off of me. Master Kuda approached me and told me to relax, work the technique; the power will come from within when the proper form is thrown. I might add that the temperature was probably 100 degrees in the shade.
Another memorable moment was during a weapons class, Grand Master Kuda was teaching Tonfa Sho. After doing the kata countless number of times my arms were so weary that on a cadence count I dropped my Tonfa. I did not know what to do, fear rushed through my body, I thought to myself should I drop and perform 50 push-ups,
should I bow out. My mind was moving a million miles an hour. I glanced over at Grand Master Kuda he just nodded his head, so I picked up my weapon and fell back in line. The next move I dropped it again. This time I thought I was dead; I may as well just bow out and leave. I looked over to Grand Master Kuda and his thumbs were in his belt and he was laughing. Of course this was not at all what I expected. I guess I still didn't get it. RELAX it will be OK. Of the many camps I had the privilege attending with Grand Master Kuda the first will always stand out.
During an evening class Grand Master Kuda was teaching and reviewing Pai Sai Sho. I did not know the kata. He stopped class and told everyone to break. He took me in another room shut the door and taught me Pai Sai Sho all by myself. I will never forget that time. Grand Master Kuda has since passed away and he will be greatly missed.
The life of Karate is found within the Kata. When practicing kata the mind must be on the techniques being thrown. There is no wasted movement. Everything has a meaning. These meaning are sometimes obvious and sometimes hidden. Only through countless repetitions can the student begin to understand. I like to explain it as such: there are 4 levels of kata understanding.
The first level of understanding is the student attempts to copy the teacher. The moves are gone through only with memory leading the way.
The second level of understanding is muscle memory: This is when your body tells you that you stepped wrong. This level is accomplished through repetition.
The third level of understanding is when your personality comes through: That's when the enthusiasm of your techniques can be seen coming through as you perform the kata. This is when it is said the kata starts to be your kata because it starts to become part of you. There is no thinking about the moves of the kata it is performed without any hesitation.
The fourth level is what we must all strive to reach. This is when you allow the kata to begin to teach you: This is when you understand that you can do a particular technique at this or that point of the kata and you allow the kata to open the doors of understanding of how the techniques can be used not only in the confines of the kata pattern but in real life application of techniques.
This takes me to Basic Techniques.
Our system has at each belt level a set of required Basic techniques. The basics are the foundation of what we do. If the basics are sloppy then everything we do such as Kata, Self Defense, and Kumite etc. is comprised. If the hand is chambered during our basics then the hand is chambered when we perform kata. It is a given unless directed otherwise.
In 2009, Master Johnson and I formed The Akari Ki Karate-do Kobudo Federation. Master Thomason, Master Johnson, Master Holzbauer and I are style heads of the Federation. As we move forward it is our desire to bring all our past students both Black Belt and under Black Belt back into training. We look forward to what the future holds for our Karate Family.
I have been asked many times why there are different versions of what is being taught within our group. The answer is not as easy as one may think. Each method is valid and leads the student down a path of understanding. With time and progression comes evolvement of oneself. Even though we come from the same beginning point there are 4 distinct styles being taught.
Master Thomason is teaching Sholin, Matsumura Orthodox is being taught by Master Johnson, Shorin Kenpo is being taught by Master Holzbauer and I am teaching Matsumura Kenpo Shorin Ryu. Each style kata is similar but different. Each style kata has its own interpretation of technique. If a student gets hung up as to what is the "correct" way their path becomes clouded and they miss the beauty of what is being taught to them.
It is important that mutual respect is given to each style by members of the different groups in order for us to grow as individuals and as a group of Martial Artists under the Akari Ki Karate-do Kobudo Federation. It has now been nearly 40 years of me being involved in karate yet it still seems like yesterday in many aspects that I was starting my study. My experience has been at times amazing and at other times it was embarrassing and painful but all in all I would do it all again!