Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas -- Our Lineage
Today, we are all so very fortunate to be able to study traditional Okinawan karate in this great school - together in a place that we all hold sacred. Under the leadership of our head instructor, Ilene J. Smoger, we are afforded opportunities to train with the very best martial artists. We celebrate our accomplishments together, mourn our losses together - we are active participants in the lives of the students that walk through the dojo doors each day. Since 1984, this dojo, while it has had several homes in various places around the Dallas area, has been a steady source of life, energy, family and community. The seeds that Smoger planted have now taken root and continues to flourish and grow not only in Dallas, but now in many other parts of the country.
Smoger Sensei and the Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas did not just appear one day. To understand our beginnings, we must travel back in time to the start of our Sensei's beginnings. Smoger Sensei, attending college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, spent much of her free time playing softball. It was on the fields that she met Barbara Christensen. Toward the end of that softball season in 1974, Christensen Sensei invited Smoger to join the Asian Martial Arts Studio, which was headed by Garrick Hu Sensei. Since Smoger did not play softball in the fall or winter months and she was inter-ested in taking up something physical, she agreed. As she entered the dojo, one of the first things she noticed was that there were very few women; Christensen Sensei, a green belt red tag at the time, was immediately noticeable working out. Smoger says that she looked so awesome that without further thought, she joined the dojo and began her training. Christensen Sensei started the Okinawan Karate Club of Ann Arbor in 1980 as an official sports club of the University of Michigan.
Smoger was her first student. In 1982, Christensen Sensei took Smoger to Connecticut to train with O'Sensei. Smoger had accepted a job in Dallas, Texas and she was hoping to find a school to continue her training once she relocated. O’Sensei said, “No teacher, but you teach.”
It all began in the laundry room one day later that year. Two strangers passing one another living their own lives, when a single recognition of three words would forever change the course of their future. “Original Okinawa Karate” — those three words printed on a t-shirt prompted them to stop what they were doing for a moment and set the foundation for a very long and fulfilling friendship. These two strangers, Ilene J. Smoger, with the assistance of that very friend, Sean Deuby, set the course to establish the Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas.
As they were building their friendship, they discovered that apart from their similar interest in tradi-tional Okinawan karate, these two new Shodans(1st Dan) were also transplants to Dallas upon finishing college in Michigan. They both studied very similar styles of traditional Okinawan karate in schools just 60 miles apart.
Smoger and Deuby began to train together for the next few years at different locations throughout Dallas. Then in 1984, Smoger Sensei taught a self-defense class at Brookhaven Community Col-lege, where she invited her students to continue their training in the evenings. Those evening classes at The Hockaday School in Dallas were the birth of the Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas. The school practices Okinawan Shorin Ryu karatedo as taught and handed down by O’Sensei, Eizo Shimabukuro, Grandmaster 10th Dan. The school also practices Shudokan karatedo as taught by the late Walter Todd, United States Shibucho for the late Kanken Toyama. Students are ranked in both of these styles of traditional Okinawan karate.
Smoger Sensei, with the continuous support of her primary instructor Barbara Christensen and the Yudansha of the OKCD have promoted more than 61 students to Shodan since it’s inception. The school has both hosted and attended many workshops and seminars around the country, led by a veritable “who’s who” of the martial arts greats including O’Sensei, Eiko Shimabukuro, Bill Hayes Sensei, Guro Laura Holmes, Master Silvio Azzolini, Devorah Yoshiko Dometrich, Hanshi Ronald Lindsey, Shihan Fumio Demura, Nancy Lanoue Jun Shihan, Sarah Ludden Kyoshi, Janice Okamoto Shihan, Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, Nishiyama, Tashi Troy Price, Anne McCabe Nepsky, AWMAI, NWMAF, PAWMA, Kise Seminar, Shorinkan Karate & Kobudo Seminar, White Crane Seminar, OKC Special Training and the International Martial Arts Symposium to name a few.
To truly understand our history, we must trace back the beginnings of our styles to the ancient masters of martial arts. The majority of all styles of karatedo can be traced back to the same beginnings. As records were not well kept back in the 17th century, much of what we know about our history has come from stories and anecdotes passed down from teacher to student for many, many generations. More information about our heritage is becoming increasingly available as students and teachers publish their own histories on websites, boards and blogs across the internet. For now, we strive to collect, review and pass down the histories of all the masters that passed down their art through the years into our dojo today.
As far as the available history indicates, both of the styles that are taught at the Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas, Shorin Ryu Karatedo and Shudokan Karatedo share their roots from the first documented master, Peichin Takahara. He is purported to be the first teacher to the “father” of martial arts, Tode Sakugawa. Sakugawa also received instruction and training from a Chinese diplomat, Kang Kusanku.
For those that are studying the forms taught at OKCD, you might find familiarity with these names. Peichin Kumi Bo, Sakugawa Bo, Kusanku Sho and Kusanku Dai are just some of the forms that are taught at various ranks. As you read further down into the lineage, you will begin to really see and understand how these masters have handed down their teachings into our two systems. Each master has added to what they learned and passed it down to their students. Christensen Sensei said, “Everyone who teaches imparts some of their values through whatever they are teaching.” When asked what she loved most about being a karate practitioner and what she has loved most about being a karate instructor, she replied, “What I like about the martial arts is the unlimitedness of it. There is always more to learn, more people to train with, more ways to practice. It is a wide-open sport.” This is the spirit with which Smoger Sensei operates and why the students of OKCD have such a rich and long standing tradition of training with the finest martial artists world-wide.
The blue lines indicate masters that are shared between the two styles that we are taught. The red lines indicate the lineage of our Shorin Ryu style as handed down by our Grandmaster, O’Sensei Eizo Shimabukuro. The green lines indicate the lineage of our Shudokan style as handed down by the late Walter Todd, Shibucho for the late Kanken Toyama. The other boxes in the lineage represent noted martial arts masters, influential teachers, visiting instructors and founders of other styles of karatedo. Many of our Yudansha have come from other systems prior to joining the OKCD and have brought along many skills and techniques handed down to them into our dojo.