In Memory Of Master Odo
by Paul Ortino Jr, 7th dan,
Okinawa Kenpo Dharma-ryu dojo
article is written in memory of Grandmaster Seikichi Odo (10th dan), one
of karate's most famous martial arts instructors. Odo was the founder
of the Ryu-Kyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu Federation (RHKKF). (1)
I know him through the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Federation (OKKKF).
He was and will always be my teacher, my mentor and my friend.
Odo was born on July 26, 1926 and died on March 24, 2002. He is survived
by his wife Yoshiko and children. His wife and children mourn his passing,
but I can also tell you that God has welcomed him in his home. To say
that he influenced thousands of martial artists would be an understatement,
and I don't want to mention anyone in case I leave someone out. He was
and will remain a martial arts legacy.
His primary and last Sensei was the legendary karate teacher Shigeru
Nakamura, the founder of Okinawan Kenpo.(2)
His kobudo (ancient weapon arts of Okinawa) stems from Shinko (and son
of Shinko) Matayoshi founder of Matayoshi Kobudo (3),
but he also trained under Koho Kuba Sensei (a student of Kosaku Matsumura
of Tomari) and Toma Sensei as well.
Odo Sensei was a great kata man but will probably be best remembered
for his outstanding weaponry (kobudo). The disappointing part is there
is really no one that is next in line although many will write and claim
they are the true disciples. He left an entourage of 9th dans, 8th dans
and a few recently promoted 10th dans. There will be videos, books, and
pictures surfacing with people who claim they know his way, but I tell
you this: there is no single person who can claim to know his way. A student
named Julian "Butch" Spain, who was not his most senior student
but who probably spent more consecutive time with him than anyone else,
probably knows the most.
I was introduced to Master Odo in 1981 when he came to visit the dojo
of Sensei Richard Gonzalez (8th Dan). Sensei Gonzalez now teaches at the
dojo of my brother, Victor Ortino, in Naples, Florida, and he was the
man who was truly responsible for the growth of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate
Kobudo Federation in the U.S.
Odo Sensei traveled to Hawaii (where I live) almost every year from 1982-2002
except when he was sick or traveling the U.S. or in other countries. I
thus had the opportunity to know him as a person as well as a teacher.
He spent his last trip to the U.S. in our home. While he was on his way
to the mainland U.S., he caught bilateral pneumonia and congestive heart
failure. He was hospitalized at Straub Hospital and nearly died, but it
wasn't his time. Miraculously, he survived, and his last week here was
pleasant. He even put on his gi (uniform) and came to our dojo.
He was a simple man who enjoyed unagi teishoku (eel and rice) and oxtail
soup, and loved oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My wife Daisy
as well as many students and friends took care of Master Odo when he was
sick. Many students came by to visit and brought food and drink and gave
him his daily massage that he enjoyed so much. The Hawaii Karate Kodansha
Kai and the Hawaii Karate Congress over the years honored him with koa
bowls and leis and shared many stories together.
Who was Odo Sensei? His small body frame was deceiving. Once he picked
up a bo, he could make it talk. Never in my over 30 years of training
have I met a man who could handle weapons like he could. Bo (a six foot
staff), tonfa (a short staff with a protruding handle), sai (a short metal
tapered staff with two side protruding tins),and nunchaku (two short wooden
sticks connected with rope or chain, a flail) were just a few, but watching
him handle the kama (sickle) was unbelievable. He was a soft spoken humble
man with one desire: to spread the teaching of traditional kata and Okinawa
Kenpo. Once Odo Sensei was asked, "which kata is your favorite?"
His sincere reply was "they are all my favorites." It was then
that I truly realized how much he loved his katas.
Today, there are hundreds of dojos teaching his katas and kobudo throughout
the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Europe. We all will try to imitate
and duplicate his forms, style and bunkai (applications of kata techniques),
but there will never be another Master Odo.
His katas combined Tomari-Te, Shuri-Te, and Naha-Te.
(4) That is what made him a very special man. He knew the hard
and soft styles and topped it off with an eaku (oar), bo (six foot staff),
or nunte (a specialized type of sai with points at both end, and with
no handle. The tins are reversed). He had forms with kobujutsu using bo
against bo, bo against tonfa, bo against sai and others.
Sensei Odo was a true master of the martial arts. He will always be remembered
as the father of the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo. He will be truly missed.
Please visit our website at OkinawaKenpo.com
for more information and pictures of Master Odo.
(1) Ryu-Kyu refers to the island chain where karate
was originated. Hon means original, Kenpo means Chinese fist way and Kobujutsu
means old warrior way of fighting.
(2) In the early1900s the term Okinawan Kenpo
was used to refer to all Okinawan karate, but later in the 1950's the
term became associated with the karate of Shigeru Nakamura. Nakamura studied
with many famous teachers including Kanryo Higashionna (the famous Naha-Te
practitioner and teacher of Miyagi who went on to found Goju-Ryu Karate),
Kentsu Yabu (a student of Yasutsune Itosu and Soken Matsumura and one
of the first to teach karate in the Okinawan public school system) and
Chomo Hanashiro (a student of Matsumura and Itosu, who assisted Itosu
in teaching karate in the public school system). Yasutsune Itosu (who
first taught karate in public on Okinawa, creator of the pinan katas and
teacher of Gichen Funakoshi who helped popularize karate in Japan) also
often visited his dojo. He also trained under Shinkichi Kunioshi, the
successor to the legendary Naha "Bushi" Sakiyama. Upon Nakamura's
death, Sensei Odo briefly took over Nakamura's organization, but soon
turned it over to Nakamura's son, Taketo who now heads the Okinawa Kenpo
Renmie (The All Okinawan Kenpo Karate-do League). By this time Odo had
formed his own organization, The Okinawa Kenpo Karate-do Kobudo Federation.
(3) In his native village of Chatan (Okinawa),
Shink Matayoshi learned the arts of the bo, sai, sickle and ore from Gushikawa
no Tigagawa. He also learned nunchaku and tonfa from Jitude Moshigawa.
Traveling to China several times, he also studied weaponry and kung fu
including Kinga-noon which is considered to be related to Kanbun Uechi's
Pangain-noon which formed the basis of Uechi Ryu karate. In Japan in 1915,
accompanying Funakoshi, he demonstrated his tonfa jutsu art in Tokyo.
Shinpo who later was head of the Matayoshi headquarters' dojo, studied
kobudo under his father and karate under Chotoku Kyan and White Crane
Boxing from Gokenki.
(4) Tomari (once a small coastal village and trade
center serving Shuri), Shuri (the capital of Okinawa and cultural center)
and Naha (a larger coastal town and trading center that was also near
Shuri) were three centers from which Okinawan karate developed. The karate,
or "te" (meaning hand), developed in these areas. While very
similar, each had distinct attributes and kata and became known by the
generic terms Tomari-Te, Shuri-Te and Naha-Te.
About The Author:
Sensei Paul Ortino Jr. is the founder and current head of the Dharma-Ryu
Dojo of Master Seikichi Odo's art; Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo. Sensei
Ortino has been active in the martial arts for well over 30 years now,
and holds black belts in several different martial arts. Ortino has
dojos all over Hawaii and some in the mainland as well. He incorporates
Ju-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo Kung-Fu, and Okinawan Kobudo (weaponry)
as well as practical self-defense in his regular classes.