Ilene J. Smoger, Sensei was the Head Instructor of OKCD from 1984-2019. She began her martial arts training in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1975 with Gary Hu Sensei, who holds the rank of Godan, 5th dan black belt by Shimabukuro O'Sensei and Sandan, 3rd dan black belt, by Isao Ichikawa Sensei and Karl Scott III Sensei, who presently holds the rank of 7th dan black belt in Shudokan Karatedo and 5th dan black belt in Shorin Ryu Karatedo. Hu Sensei and Scott Sensei trained under Herbert Wong Kyoshi, an 8th dan black belt under Shimabukuro O'Sensei. Wong Sensei trained in both the Shudokan and Shobayashi Shorin Ryu systems of Karatedo, Sil-Lum Hung-Gar (Tiger-Crane) Kung Fu, Wing Chun Kung Fu, and a number of internal Chinese martial arts. Barbara Christensen Sensei was also a student of Hu Sensei and Scott Sensei.
Barbara Christensen Sensei opened up her own dojo and Smoger Sensei continued her training with Christensen Sensei in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Smoger Sensei was her very first student. Christensen Sensei, holds the rank of Nanadan 7th dan black belt by Shimabukuro O’Sensei, Yondan, 4th dan black belt, by Todd Sensei and the rank of Shodan, 1st dan black belt, in Aikido. Christensen Sensei was the Head Instructor of the Okinawan Karate Club of Ann Arbor for several decades. She is Smoger Sensei’s primary instructor since the late 1970’s.
Smoger Sensei, now the director of training for the Okinawan Karate Club of Dallas, holds the rank of Nanadan, 7th dan black belt, given to her directly by Shimabukuro O'Sensei in the Shorin Ryu Karate system. O’Sensei also awarded her the rank of Sandan (3rd dan) in Toei Jujutsu.
visiting instructors & stylists
Many other Shorin Ryu stylists have visited OKCD. Bill Hayes Hanshi from Strafford, Virginia, Luis Fernandez Kyoshi from Miami, Florida, and Richard Bonsteel Sensei from North Carolina, have also instructed at the Club. The Club also traveled to Connecticut to train with Bill Funk Sensei. Mark Moeller Sensei from Atlanta, Georgia also has instructed at our Club. In 2004 and other occasions, Sheree Adams Hanshi and Mary Margaret Graham Kyoshi instructed at our Club. We have had a large number of visiting instructors who have given their time and energy contributing to our Club’s growth.
Sean Deuby Sensei has also brought the Shorin Ryu style from Seikichi Iha Hanshi, Director, North American Beikoku Shido-kan Association to the dojo and took students over the years to their annual training in Michigan.
Wishes From the Late Shibucho Walter Todd
Smoger Sensei also holds the rank of Godan directly given to her by Todd Sensei. A few years after Todd Sensei’s death, Mrs. Todd sent Smoger Sensei her Rokudan certificate that Todd Sensei had not yet given her but had in his safe. In 2004, she was awarded 7th dan in Shudokan Karate by the Todd family at the expressed wishes of the late Shibucho Walter Todd. It was Todd Sensei’s wish that if Smoger Sensei and her dojo were still practicing Shudokan Karatedo five years after his death, that she should be in charge of Shudokan karatedo in her area and she and her dojo would not report to any other Shudokan Shibuchos that Todd Sensei appointed since OKCD was directly under Todd Sensei for so many years. Todd Sensei passed down to our Club the katas from Shudokan Karatedo and his great knowledge of Japanese Budo. Smoger Sensei did learn some Shudokan katas from Gary Hu Sensei who was also a student of Isao Ichikawa Hanshi, the founder of Doshinkan karatedo.
In the fall of 2006 at Okinawan Karate Fall Training in Florida, OKCD had the pleasure of training with Christian Bellina Sensei from Austria where we studied Shudokan katas together.
After the passing of Todd Sensei, OKCD got its Shudokan certificates from Mrs. Eve Todd, the wife of the late Walter Todd Sensei. That was done to assist Mrs.Todd financially and to honor Todd Sensei and to carry on Shudokan Karatedo. Mrs. Todd passed away on January 28, 2017.
Besides studying Shorin Ryu karatedo and Shudokan Karatedo, OKCD has been influenced by a great deal of other martial arts practitioners. The dojo 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 but not limited to Guro Laura Holmes, Master Silvio Azzolini, Devorah Yoshiko Dometrich Kyoshi, Ronald Lindsey Hanshi, Fumio Demura Shihan, Nancy Lanoue Jun Shihan, Sarah Ludden Kyoshi, Janice Okamoto Shihan, Patrick McCarthy Hanshi, Nishiyama Hanshi, Tashi Troy Price, Anne McCabe Nepsky Sensei, Kise Hanshi, AWMAI, NWMAF, PAWMA Seminars, Shorinkan Karate & Kobudo Seminars, White Crane Seminar, OKC Special Training and the International Martial Arts Symposium to name a few.
Smoger Sensei also taught martial arts all over the country. She has instructed at Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists (PAWMA), National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF), Association of Women Martial Arts Instructor’s (AWMAI) conferences (in 2007, she was co-coordinator of the AWMAI conference) and all of the Okinawan Karate Club national seminars. She has been honored by the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame as “The Woman of the Year in the Martial Arts.” Additionally, she received the Sensei of Merit award at the International Martial Arts Symposium in South Carolina.
the traditions carry on
Under Smoger Sensei’s leadership as Head Instructor, the Club has promoted over 80 black belts throughout the years. Additionally, there are four affiliated dojos with OKCD. Tim Kelley Sensei has a dojo in Atlanta, Michele Elefante Sensei in San Francisco, Wayne Murphy Sensei in Lantana, TX and Rajesh Chathapuram Sensei in Frisco, TX. Smoger Sensei led the way for OKCD karateka to expand their martial arts knowledge and to attend seminars throughout the country. Now many of the yudansha are teaching seminars throughout the country passing on Shorin Ryu and Shudokan karatedo to others. We are continuing to pass on the traditions of karatedo under the new leadership of Donna Mullett Renshi, Head Instructor, Cody Rogers, Co-Executive Director and Chris Sopithakul, Co-Executive Director. Smoger Sensei continues to be the Director of Training for the OKC dojos.