When I began training under Richard Stone in 1970, he called what we were doing Judo. His school was the Bardstown Judo Club. The martial art we studied and tested in was Judo, but he taught us a lot more under the title self defense.
I had joined the Bardstown Judo Club because I had been beaten by two guys when I was fourteen for my religious beliefs. I didn’t fight back because I thought I wasn’t supposed to, but when I arrived home and my parents saw my condition, they both emphasized that while Christians should never start fights or bully others, they should also defend themselves when attacked. My dad, William Sr., was a World War II veteran and gave me my first lesson of self defense. Teaching me a defense position, how to block and punch, along with an emphasis on kicking when outnumbered.
Due to a situation where some students were getting ready to do something illegal, which was reported to the police, I was blamed, though I had nothing to do with it, and then threatened. There were several threats of bodily harm and even one where a guy said he’d catch me out and kill me. Thus when I joined Stone’s Dojo, I made him aware that I was only interested in self defense.
He had me study Kime no Kata, Kodokan Goshinjutsu, and the solo aspects of the Kodokan Taiiku (which included methods of blocking, striking, and kicking) along with common Judo training. He also had us do some forms of punching and kicking without really telling us where it came from, along with some grappling skills that seemed different from the Judo we did. But still in those early days I thought of everything I did as Judo.
When I went to college I worked out with anyone who knew anything about the martial arts, wanting to add to my knowledge of self defense. I trained with various Karate people, Kempo practitioners, Tae Kwon Do exponents, Aikidoka, and other Judoka. I continued to add to my technical knowledge, starting a list of all the techniques I learned from the various influences. Some techniques were the same but with different names, such as the basic punch of Kempo, Karate, and Tae Kwon Do. Some had the same name but was different, such as the reverse punch was the same in Shotokan and Shito Ryu, but Isshin Ryu kept the fist vertical in the reverse punch.
Still I thought of myself as a Judoka who specialized in self defense. No matter what I learned, whether Karate technique, Aikido lock, Tae Kwon Do kick, or whatever, I based its application on the principle of Ju. I believed that Ju was the ultimate principle of self defense, finding many of my friends emphasizing strength and speed, rather than principle.
In 1978 I joined Juko Kai International. At that time I asked Richard Stone to verify my training before the president of Juko Kai, Rod Sacharnoski. At that time I found out that Stone had actually learned along with Kodokan Judo, Kosho Ryu Kempo, Kodenkan Jujutsu, Aikikai Aikido, and another form of Kempo of which he was unsure the style. In college, I had experience in Shotokan Karate, Goju Ryu Karate, Shorin Ryu Karate, Isshin Ryu Karate, Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido, among other styles.
I was pointed to Rod Sacharnoski by Takahiko Ishikawa. I had written to him expressing an interest in progressing in Judo, but explained I cared nothing for competition only self defense. He suggested I find Sacharnoski, since his organization was strictly concerned with self defense.
When I joined Juko Kai I tested in Judo, at that time only caring for rank in that art. But upon reviewing my resume, Sacharnoski advised me to test in my other skills. That is when I discovered my true passion, Kempo. My combined skills in that art was exceptional, but I always loved my Judo and continued to practice it.
In 1980, I experienced a Tenshin Sho, which Sacharnoski eventually recognized and in 1982 he sponsored me before the Zen Kokusai Soke Remmei, which recognized me as Soke. However, I kept training, seeking to master the other Bugei of Juko Kai, so that my system of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo could be a full Bugei. My Judo and Jujutsu training were subsumed in my style of Juho Kempo Jujutsu. My training allowed me to assist several Judo friends in progressing in their development.
Part of Juko Kai is a branch referred to as the Kokusai Koryu Judo Kai, which is a Judo organization designed for the proliferation of Judo as a martial art, where the techniques must not only be practiced from the Kumi Kata position, but also as self defense techniques against attacks. This is how I’ve practiced Judo since I began formal training under Richard Stone and continued under Rod Sacharnoski.
On June 21, 2014, I was awarded my Judan, tenth degree black belt, in Judo from the Kokusai Koryu Judo Kai. It was a lifetime achievement where I had kept the concept of Ju as the leading principle of my system, hence, Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei.
My only regret is that Richard Stone passed in 2012 and didn’t get to see me achieve this award. It was Richard Stone who set me on the right path of the martial arts. He taught me to dedicate my life to a gentle way of living. When I met his first instructor, Ramon Lono Ancho, he emphasized to me the necessity to remember the principle of Ju in the practice of Kempo. My time training under Rod Sacharnoski also emphasized the importance of Ju in all forms of combat, as I saw training in Judo, Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu, and the rare and unique Okinawan martial art of Toide, among others.
Thanks to Richard Stone and Rod Sacharnoski, I was able to accomplish one of the most important achievements in my life. Ramon Lono Ancho issued me recognition as a Judo instructor, noting my emphasis on Ju in the practice of my martial arts system of Kiyojute Ryu. Being recognized as a gentle person is one of the most important accomplishments in my life.
As the Bible points out; ‘The fruits of the Spirit are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.’ The Bible also says, ‘Let your gentleness be evident to all.’ This is why the award of Judan in Judo is so important to me, I feel like I have accomplished what my faith requires of me.