History of Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu
Karate in the United States
In 1947 Shoshin Nagamine opened his first dojo in Naha, Okinawa named "Matsubayushi-Ryu Kododan Karate and ancient martial arts studies".
In the next several years his dojo flourished in size and reputation. American service men in the local area began training in his dojo. Soon this martial art form would migrate to the United States.
The American who brought Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu to the United States in 1960 was Jim Wax. Jim Wax was the first non Okinawan allowed to train in Shoshin Nagamine’s dojo in Naha Okinawa. He was the first American to receive a black belt in Matsubayushi-Ryu Shorin Ryu Karate. When he returned to the United States this was the beginning of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. He continued to practice and teach Matsubayashi-Ryu in the Ohio area. He taught in Cincinnati and Dayton Ohio, as well as Indiana and Kentucky. Some of the individuals who were early students of Jim Wax were Bob Yarnall, Greg Helm, Frank Grant, and Parker Shelton. Each of these students of Jim Wax would continue to teach this style of karate and become legends in this form of karate. A profile of each of these individual is included in this document.
In 1962 Jim Wax would begin teaching in the St. Louis area. Parker Shelton also came to the St. Louis school to teach both karate and Judo. Bob Yarnall who had been promoted to sho-dan would soon join them in St. Louis. Jim would stay in the St. Louis area until 1963 when he would join his Sensei Ansei Ueshiro in New York.
It is in St. Louis that Bob Yarnall continues developing his martial arts training. He taught at clubs located through out the St. Louis area and began to train several individuals who will become black belts and influence karate on their own merit. The notable students beginning under Jim Wax and continued their training under Bob Yarnall in the St. Louis area are Bill March, Jim Harrison, Parker Shelton, Dave Nichols, and Mike George. Bill March was the first student to receive a black belt under Bob Yarnall.
These early black belts under Bob Yarnall would continue their martial arts training and are still active participants in Matsubayashi karate today.
In January of 1963 the first National Karate Championship was held in St. Louis and Bob Yarnall was the winner. He remained a consistent tournament winner throughout the 60’s.
Bob was police officer in St. Louis and was appointed chief of police in a suburb of St. Louis and eventually would be a City councilman.
Bob Yarnall is a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame and currently holds the title of Hanshi. He is still very active in karate today. A brief profile of each of the early black belts under Bob Yarnall is provided below.
Bill March became successful on the European tournament scene. He became the European champion in a match against the legendary Allen Steen.
Jim Harrison who was a black belt in Judo would earn his black belt in karate while studying in St. Louis under Jim Wax and Bob Yarnall. Jim Harrison is a legend in both the karate and judo.
He was one of the first kick boxers in America. His match with fellow legend Vic Moore is still a topic of conversation among old time karate men.
Before becoming a full time instructor in martial arts he was an undercover police officer for the St. Louis police department.
He promoted the very first televised professional karate event where the winner received compensation of one dollar. Karate legend Joe Lewis won the dollar.
Harrison is a three time all American grand champion, Asian challenge champion, and national masters champion. Jim Harrison a retired police officer who resides in Missoula Montana where he continues a long and successful career as teacher, coach, competitor and promoter.
Parker Shelton would also continue studying under Wax and Yarnall then he would leave the St. Louis area and continue his martial arts teaching in Indiana. . In 1969 he received the Trias International Award. From 1972-1974 he was ranked number 1 in the nation. He still is active in the martial arts doing seminars and has his own school in Fort Wayne Indiana. Parker Shelton has the title of Hanshi in Matsubayashi karate.
Dave Nichols started karate under Jim Wax in the early summer months of 1962. Dave Nichols who now resides in Farmington Missouri He continues his 46 year association with his instructor Bob Yarnall. He continues to be a part of martial arts in the southeastern Missouri area and co-hosts the Missouri State Karate Championship which is one of the oldest tournaments in the Missouri area. Dave also has a 1st degree black belt in Judo and a 2nd degree black belt in Jujitsu.
Mike George started under Jim Wax in the early summer months of 1962. After Jim Wax left for the New York area he continued to train under Bob Yarnall, Jim Harrison, and Parker Shelton. After Parker Shelton and Jim Harrison moved to other areas he trained exclusively with Bob Yarnall until he left St. Louis area in 1968. He continued his training in the Southern California area. In the Los Angeles area he began training with Sensei Shima, Sensei Taba, and Sensei Kina. From the early to mid 1970’s he trained with karate legend Mike Stone. Mike George has continued to maintain Sensei student relationship with Bob Yarnall. Mike taught in St. Louis, Missouri; Springfield and Kankakee Illinois; Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Los Angeles and Orange County, California. He also taught and competed in Full Contact Karate. In the mid 1970’s he fought an exhibition full contact karate match against a boxer. He stopped the boxer in the third round. He has a title of Kyoshi and continues to train in karate.
In 1962 Grand Master Nagamine decided to send his student Ansei Ueshiro to the United States. Jim Wax was instrumental in obtaining a special visa allowing Master Ueshiro to come to the United States in 1962. After traveling throughout the United States visiting many of the Matsubayashi dojos, he decided to settle in the New York area. Ansei Ueshiro died in 2002. Early students of Sensei Ueshiro in the New York area were Joe Fusci, Ernie Ferarra and sometime later were Robert Scaglione and Terry Maccarrone. A profile of each of these individual is included in this document.
Frank Grant who originally started his training under Jim Wax continued his training under Ansei Ueshiro in Ohio. In 1963 Ansei Ueshiro promoted Frank Grant to Sho Dan. Frank Grant continues to promote and maintain the World Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Federation and currently holds the position of Chairman of the board. Currently Mr. Grant holds the title of Hanshi.
Greg Helm taught in the Ohio and New York area. He retired from Karate due to a back injury. However during the short time he was in martial arts he left a lasting impression.
Joe Fusci was one of the early senior black belts under Ansei Ueshiro. He passed away eight to ten years ago. He was a dedicated karate man in the New York area.
In 1960 Ernie Ferrara first studied the Shotokan style of Karate. One of his first instructors was the noted John Slocom from Flushing, New York. It was there that Ernie Ferrara met and saw James K. Wax who demonstrated his style of Shorin Ryu (Matsubayashi-Ryu) Karate. Mr. Ferrara then chose to study the Shorin Ryu system under James K. Wax. While studying under Sensei Wax, in September of 1962 Master Ansei Ueshiro of the Shorin Ryu system came to the United States from Okinawa. Ernie Ferrara then trained under both Sensei Wax and Master Ueshiro and later only trained under Master Ueshiro.
In May of 1963 Sensei Ferrara became the first person to receive a Black Belt Certificate under Master Ueshiro in the United States and he became the first member of the International Karate Black Belt Federation (James K. Wax, President/Ansei Ueshiro, Foreign Representative). Sensei Ferrara has been teaching in the greater New York and Long Island area ever since.
In 1991 Sensei Ferrara and Sensei Zermeno formed The North American Shorin Ryu Association. Sensei Ferrara holds the rank of 8th degree in The North American Shorin Ryu Association. He also holds 9th degree in the United States Karate Association that he received in May of 1994 from the director of U.S.K.A. John A. Pachivas.
In January of 2001, Hanshi Ferrara was inducted into the Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame and received the Golden Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of dedication. In addition, Hanshi Andrew Linick, Founder of the Karate Masters Hall of Fame, inducted Sense Ferrara as a member in June of 2001 in recognition of his great martial skill in developing, teaching and propagating the Art of Shorin Ryu in America.
In 2002 after the death of Ansei Ueshiro, he created the United States Shorin Ryu Association to honor Sensei Ueshiro’s four decades of teaching in the United States.
Heshiki sensei is an ordained Zen priest in the Chozen-ji order as well as a seventh dan kyoshi in Matsubayashi Ryu, one of the three major forms of Okinawan Shorin Ryu.
Later Heshiki moved to New York where he began his study of Matsubayashi Ryu. Over the years he made frequent trips to Okinawa to study directly under Master Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi Ryu. He also returned to Argentina and Uruguay at the request of students to teach karate.
While in New York, Heshiki devoted himself wholeheartedly to the study and practice of Matsubayashi Ryu. His dojo prospered and at one time he had over 40 active black belts and over 200 students.
Zen has always been an integral aspect of Heshiki sensei's life and teaching. Nagamine sensei, has stressed that Zen training is the cornerstone of Matsubayashi Ryu. He enjoyed a long relationship with Omori Sogen Rotaishi, the founder of Daihonzan Chozen-ji and himself a renowned budoka. The late Omori Rotaishi visited Okinawa on many occasions to teach Zen at Nagamine Sensei's dojo.
He began his karate training in 1967 under Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro. Hanshi served in the U.S. Navy and became a NYC Police Officer. He voluntarily worked exclusively in high crime/high hazard areas during his entire 20 year tenure with the NYPD. He served in many assignments in all five boroughs of New York City including uniformed street cop, undercover officer and as a Detective in the elite Special Investigating Unit featured in the film "The French Connection." He retired from police service in order to devote himself full time to the art of karate.
Hanshi began his karate training in the NYPD. He continued his training under Sensei Terry Maccarrone - Shihan of the Hegashi Karate Dojo on Long Island, New York. He was Senior Instructor at the St. James Dojo for five years. Master Ueshiro, wanting a dojo in Manhattan, asked Hanshi to open a dojo in New York City. He founded the NYC dojo in 1977, which became the headquarters of Shorin-Ryu Karate USA several years later. After ten years, in 1987, Hanshi relocated to Merritt Island, Florida and founded the Okinawan Karate Dojo leaving his senior student David Baker, Kyoshi, to continue operation of the NYC Hombu dojo.
In 2002 Hanshi continued the propagation of the Shorin-Ryu style in Florida with the founding of the Cocoa Beach Karate Dojo, and in 2004 the Cocoa YMCA Brevard Community College Dojo.
Hanshi is the co-author with artist Bill Cummins, Ni Dan, of "The Shorin-Ryu Karate Question and Answer Book" and has written another entitled "Building Warrior Spirit." His student David Seeger, Kyoshi, an Emmy Award winner, has produced several karate videos with Hanshi. Hanshi has written and assisted his students in writing newspaper and magazine articles, film scripts on varied subjects, novels, and stage plays. He has appeared on national TV and radio, in stage productions, and at Universities and schools giving karate demonstrations and lectures on self-defense and assault prevention.
Terry Maccarrone, Kyoshi professor of Okinawan Karate-Do and Kobudo. As International Representative for Master Ueshiro Terry Maccarrone traveled to Japan and Okinawa in 1982 1983 1986 1992 1994 and to China (Canton and Hong Kong) in 1982 and 1983 In 1989 Terry Maccarrone became the representative of Fujiwara Kenjutsu in America and traveled to England and Europe several times in the 1990's The IMAF Kokusai Budo-in authorized and titled Renshi Terry Maccarrone to Northeast Regional Director in 1986 and hosted many Japanese Budo Seminars on Karate Kobudo Kenjutsu aikido Judo and Jujitsu. He was active in the USKA Organization founded by Robert Trias 1980-1989 and New York State director for USKK founded by Phil Koeppel 1996 to present. In 1994 while visiting Japan, Kyoshi Patrick McCarthy invited Maccarrone Sensei to become a member of the new Research Society now know as the International Ryukyu Research Society and KSL research group studying Okinawan Koryu Uchinade and Kobudo...This website is a direct result of that effort. Terry Maccarrone still trains and teaches at his karate USA dojo and at St Joseph's College in Patchogue a fully accredited self-defense and karate course for physical fitness.
Soke Nagamine who is the son of Master Shoshin Nagamine arrived in the United States in the mid 1960’s with the rank of 3rd Dan. He began teaching in the Ohio area and is currently head of the World Matsubayashi Ryu Karate Do Association.
Chotoku Omine was a senior black belt under Shoshin Nagamine. He was sent to the United States by Master Nagamine to head up the All Okinawan Karate Do in America. He was first based in New York and then later in the San Francisco area until the time of his death in 1975.
Gary Tiktin who had also trained in Okinawa founded the American Karate Federation in 1962. Some of his black belts are Walt Sapronov, Dennis Oliver and Doug Van Cleave. Mr. Tikten continues to train privately and serves as president of the American Karate Federation.
Sam Palmer had a school in Belleville Illinois in the early to mid 1960’s. He retired from the Air Force in 1972. In 1979 Palmer Renshi traveled to New York to take part in a black belt promotion board. After having participated in grading and performing demos Palmer Renshi suffered a sudden death cardiac event and collapsed while performing Pinan Sandan. In spite of resuscitation efforts he did not survive. This was the way Palmer Renshi would have like to have left this world, doing what he loved.
The late Masao Shima who was a tenth degree at the time of his death was a senior black belt under Shoshin Nagamine. He was the sensei of Eihachi Ota, Toshihiro Oshiro, Kiyoshi Nishime, and Mike George. Masao Shima was in the Los Angeles area for approximately one year. Mike George had the privilege of training with him during this time.
Kensei Taba is a tenth degree black belt and a senior black belt under Shoshin Nagamine. Kensei Taba heads his own world wide karate organization called Okinawa Shogen Ryu Karate Do Association Kensei Taba was located in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960’s. Mike George was also able to train with Sensei Taba at this time.
In Naha City, Okinawa after gaining recognition as one of the strongest in his high school’s karate club; he was invited to join Sensei Shima’ s private dojo. In 1969 Sensei Ota moved to the United States and in 1973 he opened his first dojo in Los Angeles. Sensei Ota is an expert in all the traditional Okinawan weapons of self-defense. He is the head of his own Karate Organization the Shorin-Ryu Karatedo Kobuto Association (SKKA).
Shihan Toshihiro Oshiro started studying Karate at the age of 6. He has continued training for the past forty plus past years and has earned advanced degrees in Kobudo, Judo and Kendo. He is now 7th degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate.
Sensei Oshiro moved to the USA in 1979 when he retired from his position of detective for the Okinawan/Japanese Police Department. He has been teaching Karate and Kobudo since then in his San Mateo Dojo.
Chief Instructor in the USA for the RBKD (Ryuku Bujustsu Kenkyu Doyukai), an organization dedicated to the research and development of Okinawan Martial Arts, Sensei Oshiro is considered the premiere National Martial Arts Weapons expert in the United States.
Kiyoshi Nishime moved to the United States in 1973 to teach karate.
He studied under Masao Shima. In 1998 he was awarded a life time achievement award from the Japanese government and was recognized as 1999 national instructor of the year by the Amateur Athletic Union. He now teaches seminars world wide as well as teaching in the Cincinnati Ohio area.
It should be noted that there are many other people who are associated with Matsubayashi who may not have been covered here. The people listed above are the pioneers of Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate in the United States. These Sensei’s have produced many black belts and those black belts have gone on to produce even more across the United States. Please contact Sensei Ota with any other information that you might like to see in this profile.
Much of this information has come from personal accounts by Mike George or from sources on the internet. Any information that may be incorrect in any way please contact Sensei Ota so that we may correct any errors or omissions.