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In Memory Of Master Odo

by Paul Ortino Jr, 7th dan,
Chief Instructor,
Okinawa Kenpo Dharma-ryu dojo


This article is written in memory of Grandmaster Seikichi Odo (10th dan), one of karate's most famous martial arts instructors. Odo was the founder of the Ryu-Kyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu Federation (RHKKF). (1) I know him through the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation (OKKKF). He was and will always be my teacher, my mentor and my friend.

Odo was born on July 26, 1926 and died on March 24, 2002. He is survived by his wife Yoshiko and children. His wife and children mourn his passing, but I can also tell you that God has welcomed him in his home. To say that he influenced thousands of martial artists would be an understatement, and I don't want to mention anyone in case I leave someone out. He was and will remain a martial arts legacy.

His primary and last Sensei was the legendary karate teacher Shigeru Nakamura, the founder of Okinawan Kenpo.(2) His kobudo (ancient weapon arts of Okinawa) stems from Shinko (and son of Shinko) Matayoshi founder of Matayoshi Kobudo (3), but he also trained under Koho Kuba Sensei (a student of Kosaku Matsumura of Tomari) and Toma Sensei as well.

Odo Sensei was a great kata man but will probably be best remembered for his outstanding weaponry (kobudo). The disappointing part is there is really no one that is next in line although many will write and claim they are the true disciples. He left an entourage of 9th dans, 8th dans and a few recently promoted 10th dans. There will be videos, books, and pictures surfacing with people who claim they know his way, but I tell you this: there is no single person who can claim to know his way. A student named Julian "Butch" Spain, who was not his most senior student but who probably spent more consecutive time with him than anyone else, probably knows the most.

I was introduced to Master Odo in 1981 when he came to visit the dojo of Sensei Richard Gonzalez (8th Dan). Sensei Gonzalez now teaches at the dojo of my brother, Victor Ortino, in Naples, Florida, and he was the man who was truly responsible for the growth of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation in the U.S.

Odo Sensei traveled to Hawaii (where I live) almost every year from 1982-2002 except when he was sick or traveling the U.S. or in other countries. I thus had the opportunity to know him as a person as well as a teacher. He spent his last trip to the U.S. in our home. While he was on his way to the mainland U.S., he caught bilateral pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He was hospitalized at Straub Hospital and nearly died, but it wasn't his time. Miraculously, he survived, and his last week here was pleasant. He even put on his gi (uniform) and came to our dojo.

He was a simple man who enjoyed unagi teishoku (eel and rice) and oxtail soup, and loved oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My wife Daisy as well as many students and friends took care of Master Odo when he was sick. Many students came by to visit and brought food and drink and gave him his daily massage that he enjoyed so much. The Hawaii Karate Kodansha Kai and the Hawaii Karate Congress over the years honored him with koa bowls and leis and shared many stories together.

Who was Odo Sensei? His small body frame was deceiving. Once he picked up a bo, he could make it talk. Never in my over 30 years of training have I met a man who could handle weapons like he could. Bo (a six foot staff), tonfa (a short staff with a protruding handle), sai (a short metal tapered staff with two side protruding tins),and nunchaku (two short wooden sticks connected with rope or chain, a flail) were just a few, but watching him handle the kama (sickle) was unbelievable. He was a soft spoken humble man with one desire: to spread the teaching of traditional kata and Okinawa Kenpo. Once Odo Sensei was asked, "which kata is your favorite?" His sincere reply was "they are all my favorites." It was then that I truly realized how much he loved his katas.

Today, there are hundreds of dojos teaching his katas and kobudo throughout the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Europe. We all will try to imitate and duplicate his forms, style and bunkai (applications of kata techniques), but there will never be another Master Odo.

His katas combined Tomari-Te, Shuri-Te, and Naha-Te. (4) That is what made him a very special man. He knew the hard and soft styles and topped it off with an eaku (oar), bo (six foot staff), or nunte (a specialized type of sai with points at both end, and with no handle. The tins are reversed). He had forms with kobujutsu using bo against bo, bo against tonfa, bo against sai and others.

Sensei Odo was a true master of the martial arts. He will always be remembered as the father of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo. He will be truly missed.

Please visit our website at OkinawaKenpo.com for more information and pictures of Master Odo.

Footnotes:

(1) Ryu-Kyu refers to the island chain where karate was originated. Hon means original, Kenpo means Chinese fist way and Kobujutsu means old warrior way of fighting.

(2) In the early1900s the term Okinawan Kenpo was used to refer to all Okinawan karate, but later in the 1950's the term became associated with the karate of Shigeru Nakamura. Nakamura studied with many famous teachers including Kanryo Higashionna (the famous Naha-Te practitioner and teacher of Miyagi who went on to found Goju-Ryu Karate), Kentsu Yabu (a student of Yasutsune Itosu and Soken Matsumura and one of the first to teach karate in the Okinawan public school system) and Chomo Hanashiro (a student of Matsumura and Itosu, who assisted Itosu in teaching karate in the public school system). Yasutsune Itosu (who first taught karate in public on Okinawa, creator of the pinan katas and teacher of Gichen Funakoshi who helped popularize karate in Japan) also often visited his dojo. He also trained under Shinkichi Kunioshi, the successor to the legendary Naha "Bushi" Sakiyama. Upon Nakamura's death, Sensei Odo briefly took over Nakamura's organization, but soon turned it over to Nakamura's son, Taketo who now heads the Okinawa Kenpo Renmie (The All Okinawan Kenpo Karate-do League). By this time Odo had formed his own organization, The Okinawa Kenpo Karate-do Kobudo Federation.

(3) In his native village of Chatan (Okinawa), Shink Matayoshi learned the arts of the bo, sai, sickle and ore from Gushikawa no Tigagawa. He also learned nunchaku and tonfa from Jitude Moshigawa. Traveling to China several times, he also studied weaponry and kung fu including Kinga-noon which is considered to be related to Kanbun Uechi's Pangain-noon which formed the basis of Uechi Ryu karate. In Japan in 1915, accompanying Funakoshi, he demonstrated his tonfa jutsu art in Tokyo. Shinpo who later was head of the Matayoshi headquarters' dojo, studied kobudo under his father and karate under Chotoku Kyan and White Crane Boxing from Gokenki.

(4) Tomari (once a small coastal village and trade center serving Shuri), Shuri (the capital of Okinawa and cultural center) and Naha (a larger coastal town and trading center that was also near Shuri) were three centers from which Okinawan karate developed. The karate, or "te" (meaning hand), developed in these areas. While very similar, each had distinct attributes and kata and became known by the generic terms Tomari-Te, Shuri-Te and Naha-Te.


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About The Author:

Sensei Paul Ortino Jr. is the founder and current head of the Dharma-Ryu Dojo of Master Seikichi Odo's art; Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo. Sensei Ortino has been active in the martial arts for well over 30 years now, and holds black belts in several different martial arts. Ortino has dojos all over Hawaii and some in the mainland as well. He incorporates Ju-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo Kung-Fu, and Okinawan Kobudo (weaponry) as well as practical self-defense in his regular classes.


To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Ryu-Kyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu Federation (RHKKF), Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation (OKKKF), kobudo, kobujitsu, Karate, karate-do, Seikichi Odo


Read more articles by Paul Ortino, Jr.

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