Sensei Garland passed away on September 10th, 2009.  As the third anniversary of his passing comes near, I want to share my memories of him as a tribute to this great man’s life and achievements in martial arts.  One thing that made Garland Hanshi great was his character.

Getting to Know Mr. Garland

Mr. Garland was of the generation that brought karate from Okinawa and Japan to the United States, many decades ago.  He was one of the first, if not the first to craft traditional weapons here in the United States, and was a master weapons maker long before I met him at the turn of the century.  When I saw him for only about the second time, back at the beginning of 2002, I was a lowly brown belt training inside a gym, part of a small dojo in Gilbert Arizona.  And yet, Mr. Garland, then holding the title of Kyoshi, took the time to sit and talk with me after classes.  He struck me as a caring, regular, down-to-earth human being.  He was happy to talk about the subjects I brought up in our interview and also to add more knowledge to the mix.

As I got to know Garland Hanshi a little bit more over the years, it struck me how much he cared about his grandchildren.  It was also obvious how much thought and consideration he put into each and every weapon he crafted.  Just this year at Summer Camp at Headquarters, I learned that Mr. Garland was one of a small group in attendance at the first United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance Summer Camp.  Gordon Garland Sensei was a friend to Michael Newland Sensei, and was responsible for the introductions that got our dojo involved in Ryukyu Kempo.  Because of that I, personally, am a stronger martial artist, and so are my students, and I will always be glad for those introductions.

URKA Summer Camp 2002. Back row: Mr. Lawson, Mr. Shintaku, Mr. Amor, Mr. Garland, Mr. Reimer, Mr. Mueller. Front row: Mr. Fisher, Ms. Tull-Gauger, Mr. Smith, Mr. Newland.

2002 Article about Garland Kyoshi

Here is the article that resulted from my meeting with Mr. Garland.  This was printed in the February, 2002 East Valley Kicker, the official newsletter of my dojo, East Valley Martial Arts:


I know what you’re thinking: ‘who’s this Dan guy, what is he eighth in, and what does kyoshi mean?’  Let me clear things up a little – Dan, is a Japanese word for level (like level of black belt), and is pronounced, “don.”  Kyoshi is a special title given to certain people with 7th or 8th level black belts.  Titles like Kyoshi are awarded for exceptional achievement and outstanding character (not just because a person earns a certain rank).

I had the honor of talking with Kyoshi Gordon Garland, who recently earned his 8th Dan black belt, and his words are what I would like to share with you.

Interview with Garland Kyoshi

My first question was, “What does it take to achieve 8th Dan?”

Kyoshi Garland responded, “It takes about 34 years of visiting everybody, seeing everybody, going to seminars, learning about all of the different weapons, all the different people and different styles.  From 5th Dan on, it’s mostly honorary.  Nobody says, ‘now you’re going to test for 7th Dan.’  The higher levels are mostly based on past accomplishments.  The title of Kyoshi was given to me by John Pachivas of the United States Karate Association Incorporated, Head of the Shuri Ryu (Karate) system.  He also gave me 6th Dan and a rank in Kobudo [traditional weapons].”

Kyoshi Garland’s Martial Arts studies began in 1945, “I was in Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan.  On the island of Sacebo, I started studying Judo.  I carried that Judo to the United States with Robert Trias.”

Kyoshi Garland has two children who took Martial Arts, “Frances dropped out when she was about a yellow belt.  Gordy never did drop out.  Today he holds a 4th Dan.”

A highly respected martial artist, Kyoshi Garland was there when the ancient arts came to America.  Today he uses modern technology (a web site) to distribute his hand-crafted martial arts weapons.  This qualifies him to give this advice, “You can’t always trust what you find on the Internet.”

I will leave you with that wise advice from Gordon Garland Hanshi as you return to the World Wide Web.

by Jenifer Tull-Gauger


  1. Gordon Garland on March 14, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Gordon Garland was my dad and I miss him very much and I missed the martial art world and all the things we used to do and the places we used to go and the people that we knew if anybody out there wishes to get ahold of me for any reason you can find me on Facebook or my email is m o s 1151 Gunner at yahoo.com

    • Evma on March 14, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you for the offer and the comment. We miss Garland Kyoshi too. He was a great weapons maker and will always be remembered for his generosity and human kindness, as well as his service to our country.

  2. Evma on July 25, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    I tried to find you on Facebook. There are a lot of Gordon Garlands. You might be able to find me on Facebook more easily. I think there is only one Jenifer Tull-Gauger. If you send me a message or friend request, we can keep in touch.

  3. John Garland on September 16, 2022 at 5:03 am

    I am one of Gordon Garland sons. He was a great person we didn’t always see eye to eye but he was my dad and I respected him a lot. -John Garland

  4. Patricia Love on January 14, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    My father, Gordon Francis Garland, was a great man and legend in is time! I loved my father more than any words can express. In this comment I want to tell all how my father came up with the name of his business’, “The Supremeway Has No Hinderance”. I was at my mothers house playing around my mothers computer one evening. This was the first time I had ever sat down at any computer. I was so astonished and amazed at how they function. I had the idea I was going to make something, print it and keep it to remember that day at my mothers. I had no idea what. As I am sitting at the computer my father comes over to visit. He walked over to me and asked me what I was doing. I told dad, “I am playing around and I think I am going to see if I can make a greeting card”. My father asked me if I minded him sitting with me. I told him, “of course not dad”. Dad sat next to me watching me. I was so proud. My love of God, and majestic mountains is where my mind was at that moment. Inside the greeting card I placed a majestic mountain image. He asked me what I was going to put on the front of the card. I told him I did not know. Suddenly, I came up with the words. On the front of the card I put the words, “The Supremeway Has No Hinderance”. My father asked me to print it. I printed it. My father picked it up, looked at it and said, “Do you mind if I keep this card”? I said, “of course you can dad”. I was so joyed that he liked and wanted to keep that simple little paper folding card. That card is the first thing I had ever given my father. My father told me, “you just gave me the name I am going to use for my business'”. I was confused but happy he wanted that card, I said, “I did”? He told me all about what he was going to do. We all visited that evening over dinner. He took that card. After his passing, I got the printed card back that I made that evening. I have and will keep this card to date. I miss you with all my heart and soul dad. The world lost a great warrior. The world will never be the same with out you. Rest In Peace. ~The Supremeway Has No Hinderance~

    • Evma on January 17, 2023 at 3:56 am

      Thank you for sharing, Patricia!

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