Allan Amor Kaicho is the head and founder of the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance (URKA). This is an international organization dedicated to the preservation of the Okinawan cultural tradition and martial arts, and the spirit of brotherhood fostered through these traditions. Our dojo, East Valley Martial Arts – Kenshin Kan, has been associated with the Alliance pretty much from the beginning as I understand it. (That was before I was associated with our dojo.)
Amor Kaicho hosts a URKA Summer Camp at his Headquarters Dojo in Missouri every June. I will always remember the 2006 Summer Camp as highly influential on our dojo. Over the course of that camp we heard several times the message from Kaicho that all Alliance dojos must make sure that we know and practice the 12 base katas (three naihanchis, tomari seisan, five pinans, niseishi, passai and kusanku) in the same way that is promoted and taught at the headquarters dojo. My Co-Head Instructor, my husband, and I returned to our dojo ready to make some changes to the katas and the curriculum.
We figured this would help students who are testing for their black belts to easily unify with a group they may not have worked with before. It would also help students to use natural body motion in their katas to make their self defense techniques stronger. We hoped (at advanced levels) to learn to unlock the techniques of the katas to be applied in life protection situations.
This process did not happen without growing pains and some difficulty. We had already tried and failed to implement Ryukyu Kempo katas alongside the similar Shorin Ryu ones. In the past, this had resulted in general disagreements, confusion, and even tears for one particular beginner.
In 2006, however, our leadership team jumped in with both feet, incorporating the Ryukyu Kempo as immediately as possible. Because of our students’ and instructors’ patience, efforts and trust, we were able to make this living art of ours the best it can be, for us all. It is 2014 now, and I have said with confidence, for years, that becoming more proficient in Ryukyu Kempo helped each of our students (and us) to become stronger, more knowledgeable martial artists. The undying support of the URKA over the years has been invaluable to our dojo.