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Okinawa Kempo

Grand Master Shigeru Nakamura

The late Grand Master Shigeru Nakamura, the Founder of Okinawa Kenpo.
Early reference to the term "Okinawa Kenpo" dates back to the early 1900's. During this period the name was used as a generic name for all Okinawan Karate. It was not until the early 1950's that the use of the name shifted to describe a particular karate system taught by Master SHIGERU NAKAMURA.

Master Nakamura was born in 1894 and lived in the City of Nago. His first introduction to karate came at the Icchu Middle School, in Shuri where Karate had just been introduced to the educational system. His instructors included Kanryo Higashionna, Kentsu Yabu & Chomo Hanashiro. Yastune Itosu also made periodic visits to the school. Upon graduation from the middle school, Nakamura returned to Nago, where he continued his training under Shinkichi Kunioshi, the successor to the legendary Naha "Bushi" Sakiyama. In 1953 Nakamura established his own dojo in Nago City, calling his form of the art "Okinawa Kenpo".

In 1955, the "Okinawa Kenpo Renmei" was formed by Masters Shigeru Nakamura and Zenryo Shimabuku, with Master Nakamura as President. Master Nakamura was known for his development of the "Bogu Gear" for contact sparring.
Grand Seikichi Odo


After Master Nakamura's death in 1969, the Okinawa Kenpo Renmei, appointed SEIKICHI ODO as Master of Okinawa Kenpo Karate.

Master Odo officially added the weapons to the Okinawa Kenpo system, with the result being what we now know as "Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Kobudo". Master Odo is ranked as Judan (10th Dan) in both Karate & Kobudo, and is considered one of the top weapons practitioners in the world today.

It is rare to find a Sensei that is both. Daisensei holds the rank of Kudan (9th degree) as awarded by his Okinawan peers. Daisensei Odo instructional lineage is traced back to some of Okinawa's great martial art instructors. Daisensei's primary instructor was Shirgeru Nakamura, the founder of Okinawa Kenpo. In Kobujutsu Daisensei Odo learned from Mitsu Kakazu and Shinpo Matayoshi. Master Odo is also positively influenced by Seiki Toma in his karate and Kobujutsu.

Master Seiyu Oyata

Taika Oyata's family lineage dates back to the Zana family, which was a Bushi family in Shuri, Okinawa. His ancestor Zana Oyakata (Oyakata is title) was the King's scholar. When Japan invaded Okinawa around 1609, the Shuri King was captured and the Zana family head resisted and was killed. The Japanese also required the family to change their name to Sinda which means Death. Years later the family name was changed to Ikemiyagusiku and eventually became Oyata.

Taika's father was the middleweight Sumo champion of all Okinawa. When he was young, he and the rest of the Sumo team challenged all comers in Okinawa. Kana Oyata was the strongest man on the team and won the competion for his native island. Taika was the fourth son of Kana Oyata and the youngest. His three brothers Taro, Kiseii and Akio were killed in the second World War, He, also fought during the war and was commissioned a lieutenant in the Japanese Navy. If the war continued a few months longer, Taika Oyata would have joined his brothers in death because he had been selected for a suicide (torpedo) mission, his death certificate had already been sent to his remaining family. As a part of training in the Navy, Taika was required to train in Iado (art of the sword), this is where Taika got his introduction to Martial Arts. When the war ended Taika returned to Okinawa and continued his studies of the martial arts. About this time he started a job working for the US government delivering food to the smaller islands. Food was not readily available and there was much starvation on the islands. Taika Oyata was stationed in the village of Termu where at age 17, He met Uhugusiku No Tan Mei who was from a Bushi Family that resided in Shuri. Uhugusiku No Tan Mei was about 93 years old at the time of their meeting. Because Taika Oyata had royal blood in his ancestry he was allowed to study under Master Uhugusiku. Taika Oyata took extensive weapons training from Master Uhugusiku, learning many aspects of the indigenous weapons of Okinawa.

After the deaths of his previous instructors, Taika joined an analytical research group along with Master Nakamura and trained with Master Uehara. He was accepted as an instructor/student in Master Nakamura's Dojo becuase he had studied from Uhugusiku No Tan Mei. From Master Nakamura, Taika learned the tweleve empty hand kata he now teaches to his present students. Taika worked with Master Uehara (Motobu Ryu) on weapons and was a training partner. Through the years, Taika has constantly analyzed the kata and the human body. He developed his own style of tuite that wasn't dependent of strength but of execution of technique.

Hanshi C. Bruce Heilman

Hanshi C. Bruce Heilman is an internationally recognized Martial Arts Instructor & Author who has been involved in the arts since 1961. He has studied Okinawan Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Japanese Karate and Okinawan Kobudo. Over the years he has had the opportunity to study under a number of leading teachers, the two most significant being: the late Hanshi Robert Trias, the Father of American Karate, and Hanshi Seikichi Odo, the head of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Kobudo system, recently renamed by him as Ryukyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu.
Shihan Heilman has been awarded ranks of: 9th Dan in Karate, 9th Dan in Kobudo, and 3rd Dan in Ju-Jitsu. He was awarded his Hanshi License (Grand Master) in both Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Okinawan Kobudo in 1997. The award of his current 9th Dan ranks was made by his teacher, Hanshi Odo, and Mr. Heilman's title of "Hanshi" was issued by unamanous vote of the prestigious IKKF Executive Board. Additionally the ranks and title were recognized by the following International Martial Arts Organizations: the World Union Of Martial Arts Federations, the United States Karate Alliance, and the International Shorin-ryu Karate Kobudo Federation. Additionally, Mr. Heilman holds a Renshi License (Teachers) in Ju-Jitsu which was awarded to him in 1981.

Kyoshi Ann-Marie Heilman

Kyoshi Ann-Marie Heilman holds the ranks of 7th Dan in Karate and 7th Dan in Kobudo. She also has been awarded her Kyoshi License making her one of the highest ranked woman in the world and the highest in the Okinawa Kenpo system. Mrs. Heilman is recognized as one of the leading teachers of Women's Self-Defense Programs in the country. She is Co-Founder and Vice-President of the IKKF and serves as Technical Advisor Board Member of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, Australia.
Mrs. Heilman had the honor of being inducted into the U.S. Karate Alliance HALL OF FAME in 1996, making her along with Mr. Heilman the only Husband/Wife team to receive the award. She also co-shared the Pennsylvania Instructor of the Year for 1996.

Mr. Shellenbarger began his study of Okinawa Kenpo in 1969. Since that time, his studies have taken him throughout the eastern and southern United States. He has studied with experts from as far as Okinawa, Japan on such subjects as Karate Weaponry, Tuite Jitsu (hidden techniques in forms), and pressure points of the body. He has studied several different styles of karate as well as boxing and jujitsu.
Eric Shellenbarger is a 3rd degree Black Belt in Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo and a second degree Black Belt in AIKIA Karate. He is the founder of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Do Alliance and holds the rank of Supreme Instructor in that organization. He has been teaching in ohio since 1977.





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