William’s Martial Arts Journey

Posted on

As we begin this new year, I thought that it might be interesting to share more personal stuff with you.  I’ve been training for the longer part of my life now, and intend to keep doing it as long as possible.  Here’s my story. I began my martial arts training as a teenager in Okinawan Kenpo Karate Kobudo under Sensei Joseph A. Bunch in Hawaii.  My first dojo was at the Ford Island Gymnasium (now the Pacific Aviation Museum) in hangar #37.  I achieved 2nd Dan black belt rank before relocating back to California.

Me as an assistant instructor blue belt with the Ford Island Gym Dojo Branch

Karate, as practiced in Hawaii, is a very traditional martial art that originated in Okinawa.  In fact, Hawaii was one of the first places outside of Okinawa and Japan that karate was demonstrated to the public in the early 1900s.

Okinawan Kenpo was founded by Shigeru Nakamura in the 1950s.  Nakamura died in 1969 and named Seikichi Odo as his successor to the style.

As a green belt With Grandmaster Seikichi Odo.  

Odo Sensei served as Grandmaster till his death in 2002.  He added weapons to our system.  To this day, Okinawa Kenpo practitioners learn weapons at the color belt level, unlike the few karate styles that incorporate weapons training at black belt level.

Training as a new black belt with Sensei Bunch at the Moanalua Dojo

The various schools of karate in Hawaii enjoy a friendly collaboration with each other.  The primary outlet for all this training was tournament competition.  Our dojo competed a lot, and also hosted many tournaments.  

Point fighting as a green belt at a tournament on the Aliamanu Military Rec Center

Competing in Kobudo (weapons), with a bo, at a tournament on the Navy’s Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor. I’m a purple belt here.

Over the years, before his passing in 2010, Sensei Bunch developed our dojo into a competitive force that entered into international competition.

As a black belt (seated on right, next to Sensei Bunch) with the Moanalua Dojo Branch.

While living on Ford Island, I started working at the Ford Island Gym, and would spar with some of the other active-duty guys from the Marines, Navy, and even a couple of Navy SEALs. 

We’d put on 12oz boxing gloves, foot protectors and headgear, and fight full contact!  As many of these guys were bigger than me, I quickly learned what worked and what didn’t.  I was inspired by Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do and wanted to practice with practicality.

Full contact sparring with one of the Navy Guys on Ford Island.

When my father retired from the Navy, my family left Hawaii to return to my childhood home of San Diego.  I started my professional entertainment career down there as the TV shows Silk Stalkings and Renegade filmed locally. That put me in range to be able to move to Los Angeles and Hollywood where I am today.

Getting some roundhouse kicks in at the Hollywood Gym

Blasting the heavy bag at the Hollywood Gym

I train regularly, about 5 days a week.  During this past year, with the pandemic closing gyms here in Los Angeles, I’ve had to adapt my training to home.  Karate and the martial arts are also a great way to stay fit as the conditioning helps with cardio too, and is a lot more interesting!

I’m looking forward to film and TV production coming back, when I can finally move forward with some of my more ambitious film projects like CYBER FIGHTER.