There are hundreds of various styles of martial arts throughout the world, with each style having the ability to contain thousands of variations. In Korea, there is obviously, Taekwondo and dozens of others; there are Japanese arts such as Judo, Aikido and Karate; there is Wen-Do in Canada and Nhất Nam in Vietnam; Savate in France and Silat Seni Gayong in Malaysia and the list goes on and on.
At times, locating a martial art school which offers authentic, traditional teachings can prove to be difficult. Although all styles maintain similar techniques such as strikes, kicks and blocks, many styles of martial arts have their roots in Japanese Karate; with the four best known styles being: Shotokan, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu and Wado Ryu.
Japanese Karate is primarily a striking art, yet traditionally, is rooted in much greater aspects than a fighting art. Complete and authentic Karate also teaches the traditional values passed down through generations which include: personal growth and development, patience, respect, morals and ethics. To the historic martial artist, these long-established and time-honored teachings are just as important in learning as the art itself.
The Ocala Karate Dojo, located within Marion County, serving Citrus and surrounding counties as well, has provided training in authentic, traditional Japanese Karate within the style of Motobu Ha Shito Ryu since 1985. Founder and Director, "Kyoshi" Bill Woodard is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Karate Do, “Shihan” 6th Degree Black Belt in Kobudo and “Senesi” Yondan 4th Degree Black Belt in Iaido. The award winning Dojo also teaches Kobudo (Okinawan Weapons) and Iaido and Iaijutsu (Sword Arts). He has been involved in martial arts for over forty years.
He also holds Master Instructor licenses and is registered in Japan by the Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Kuniba Kai International, the Japan Karate Federation (JKF) and the World Karate Federation (WKF). He is one of only seven instructors in the world who legitimately holds the honored title of "Kyoshi," (Master Instructor) as well as being one of the highest ranking instructors in the United States.
He is a Certified Representative for Japan in Karate preserving the original teaching in Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Karate Do, Okinawan Ryu Kyu Kobudo Tiara Ha, and Iaido, as well as in Okinawa in Ryu Kyu Kobudo Tesshinkan. All training is completely authentic and documented as passed down from instructor to student for centuries: truly traditional Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Karate.
Via his website, Kyoshi Woodard explains:
"Authentic Karate as it was taught for centuries enforcing morals and values, finding ones' own weaknesses and conquering them. Authentic Karate is an education in behavior and how to respond to it. A Behavioral Science going far beyond the typical kicking and punching. Conditioning your mind and body to respond in unison with coordinated reactions."
Such recognized as a leading authority in Motobu Ha Shito Ryu, Kyoshi Woodard once received a certificate in Okinawa from then 100 year old Grand Master Sekiichi Uehara, known in Okinawa as a "Living Treasure," while a TV film crew recorded the ceremony.
Not only has Mr. Woodward won over 200 State, National and World titles, but he is also a three-time Florida State Champion, two-time National Champion and World Champion Forms, Kumite, Weapons. He has also received proclamations and awards from the President of the United States and former Florida Governor, Jebb Bush. He is an inductee to both, USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame and the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
One of the greatest aspects of the Ocala Karate Dojo is that students are provided the rare opportunity to actually train with visiting Grand Masters and Masters, directly from Japan, including Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate; visits such as directly with Soke Kozo Kuniba, known as one of the last practicing Samurai that continues his family heritage of Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Karate.
The training provided is so authentic, that in fact the floor of the Dojo is made of shock absorbent Oak Plank for the traditional feel and look as in Japan. Also offered are the Karate Dojo Tea House, martial art equipment from the Karate Dojo Pro Shop, and authentic Hand Forged Swords and Kobudo Weapons from Shureido of Okinawa.
The System of Motobu Ha Shito Ryu is derived from the Kuniba family heritage and one that Kyoshi Woodard readily admits that he is proud to continue in the preservation of their tradition. It is no wonder that people from around the globe come to train at the Ocala Karate Dojo and why it is recognized as one of Florida's most valued martial art treasures.