PEDRO J. BERNARDY
I began formal martial arts training in 1973 with George Dillman of Okinawan Kempo in my home town of Reading, Pennsylvania but there were many influences in my life previous to that point that nurtured a fierce commitment to the study of Asian fighting arts. Beginning with those first samurai movies on Public Broadcast TV ("Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", "Sanjuro") where I saw the strength it took to fight only when there were no other options, to episodes of "The Green Hornet" with Bruce Lee when it became my passion to have the tremendous skills he displayed. My first encounter with Dillman Sensei was via a demonstration he and his students performed in our high school in 1969 where he displayed both his skills as a martial artist and teacher and set an example of what could be attained with dedicated and consistent effort.
I continued my training after moving to Chicago in 1974. The studio was the Ali Kai Academy in Maywood, Illinois where I was taught the basics of Shuri-Ryu karate. My teachers were students of Robert Trias, such as Bill and Bernice Downs, who conducted classes that required no less than 100% commitment. These were serious, hard-hitting sessions that I believe are seldom seen in today's commercial dojo setting. Unfortunately the Ali Kai closed after just a few months of my joining, due primarily to the sudden death of it's founder, Pat Wyatt. For the next two years I dabbled in Chinese Kenpo in a local studio of the Tracy Brothers system and practiced what I could with friends and family.
In 1976 I moved to California where by a stroke of great fortune met several martial artists in the Okinawan community in Los Angeles. Among these special individuals are Takushi Yasukazu, Oyakawa (Roy) Shogen, Kimo Wall, and Kenneth L. Penland. These teachers showed me the beauty that is Ryukyu culture; buyo (folk dance), music, food, and of course, karate and kobudo. I will be forever in their debit for the many gifts they shared with me. The RyuBuKan Dojo is only a small measure of repayment for their dedication and contribution to me and many other martial students.
After gaining black belt ranking in Okinawan martial arts I sought to gain a greater appreciation of related disciplines. I studied Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy), ChaDo (Tea Ceremony), Japanese language, and various martial art forms of other cultures, including Shotokan, Tae Kwan Do, and Tang Soo Do. Since 1991 I have taught and trained in Northern California, both privately and in the public sector. My most recent instructors have included Jim Silvan, Oshiro Toshihiro, and Professor Wally Jay. From several trips to Okinawa since 1980 I have acquired friends and mentors that include Matayoshi Shinpo, Nakamura Yoshio, and Shinzato Katsuhiko.
Of all the countless benefits I have thus far derived from my training, it is the support and involvement of my wife, Junko, our daughters and students Julia Ai, and Christina Machiko, and members of the RyuBuKan Dojo which give me the most sense of accomplishment.