HISTORY OF OKINAWA KENPO KARATE-KOBUDO
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 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.
Master Shigeru Nakamura, the Founder of Okinawa Kenpo
Master Seikichi Odo:
After Master Nakamura's death in 1969, the Okinawa Kenpo Renmei, appointed SEIKICHI ODO as Master of Okinawa Kenpo Karate. As Master of Okinawa Kenpo, Seikichi Odo was also installed as President of the All Okinawa Kenpo Karate-do League. Shortly afterwards, Master Odo officially added the weapons to the Okinawa Kenpo system, with the result being what we now know as "Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Kobudo".
In the mid-1970's Master Odo created the "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Association", to be renamed in 1983 to the "Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Kobudo Federation". Today 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. In 1998, Master Odo renamed the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation to be the"Ryukyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu Federation", and changed the name of the arts taught under his direct auspices to "Ryukyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu". Master Odo served as a member of the IKKF Executive Board from its inception in 1991 to March, 1999. Master Odo passed away on March 24, 2002 in Okinawa, Japan.
Hanshi Seikichi Odo, the Head of Okinawa Kenpo Karate-Kobudo Shudokan,
recently renamed by him to Ryukyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu
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.
Mr. Heilman has been awarded ranks of: 10th Dan in Karate, 10th Dan in Kobudo, and 3rd Dan in Ju-Jitsu. He was the first American to be awarded his Hanshi License (Grand Master) in both Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Okinawan Kobudo by Okinawan Grand Master Seikichi Odo in 1997. Hanshi Heilman received his current 10th Dan ranks at the 2012 IKKF Annual Banquet. The promotion was recognized by a number of prestigious international martial arts organizations. The included the following: the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Union, the International Karate Kobudo Federation, the International Seidokan Motobu-ryu Renmei, the United States Karate Alliance and the International Shorin-ryu Karate Kobudo Federation. Additionally Hanshi Heilman received congratulation / Recognition Letters from the following: Hanshi Fumio Demura, 9th Dan, Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Genbu-Kai International, USA; Hanshi Spartaco Bertoletti, 9th Dan, Workd Ju-Jitsu Kobudo Organization, Italy; Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, 9th Dan, International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, Australia; and Hanshi Robert Bowles, 10th Dan, International Shuri-ryu Association, USA. Additionally, Mr. Heilman holds a Renshi License (Teachers) in Ju-Jitsu which was awarded to him in 1981.
Hanshi Heilman is the Founder and President of the International Karate Kobudo Federation. In addition he serves as President of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Union; as Kobudo Board Chairman for the United States Karate Alliance; Vice-President of the World Union of Martial Arts Federations, Canada; Vice-President of the Yudansha Kobujitsu Karate Doh Federation, Canada; Board Member of the International Shorin Ryu Karate Kobudo Federation, USA; Technical Advisor Board Member of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, Australia; a member of the International Martial Arts Federation, Japan; and Board Member of the Myung Moon Moodo Ryu Association. Additionally, he had served Master Odo in various positions as U.S. Director, International Relations Director, and as a Board Member of Master Odo's Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation, Okinawa, Japan from 1984 to the end of 1996.
Hanshi Heilman has authored over 37 articles on traditional karate and kobudo topics which have appeared in Black Belt, Inside Karate, Dojo, Karate Profiles, Samurai (Italy), Karate Voice, Kick & Punch (India), Sport Karate International, World of Martial Arts, and Bugeisha. Hanshi Heilman produced a 25 volume IKKF Video Training Tape Series on Mastering Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Kobudo (Panther Productions, 1993, and SOMA Video Productions, 2000), and is also in the process of preparing a book series on Okinawa Kenpo Karate & Kobudo.
In addition, Hanshi Heilman was inducted into the U.S. Karate Alliance HALL OF FAME in 1995, and honored as Pennsylvania Instructor of the Year for 1996 by the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association. Further in 1998, Mr. Heilman was inducted into the Pennsylvania Karate HALL OF FAME. Finally, in 2001 Mr. Heilman was inducted into the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association's HALL OF FAME.
In April, 1998, Hanshi Heilman announced the adoption of a separate "kan" to distinguish the version of Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo taught under the IKKF Program. This new formal name for the IKKF's Karate Kobudo program is "Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryu Kan". The tern "Koryu Kan" translates to "old way school" which ties into the IKKF's motto of "preserving the old ways".
A detailed Martial Arts Resume for Hanshi Heilman is presented as a supplementary section to this page for reference.(Click here for full CBH Resume)
IKKF President, Hanshi C. Bruce Heilman.
Hanshi Ann-Marie Heilman:
Hanshi Ann-Marie Heilman holds the ranks of 9th Dan in Karate and 9th Dan in Kobudo. She also has been awarded her Hanshi 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 up to that time. She also co-shared the Pennsylvania Instructor of the Year for 1996. In 2001 Mrs. Heilman was inducted into the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association's HALL OF FAME.
A detailed Martial Arts Resume for Hanshi Ann-Marie Heilman is presented as a supplementary section to this page for reference.(Click here for full AMH Resume)
IKKF Vice-President, Hanshi Ann-Marie Heilman.
Hanshi Seikichi Odo and C. Bruce and Ann-Marie Heilman during one of Master Odo's numerous visits to the Heilman Dojo in the States.
IKKF Founders and noted Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo practitioners,
Hanshi's C. Bruce and Ann-Marie Heilman.