Butch Togisala: Shorin Ryu

Sensei Lelagi Togisala known as Butch Togisala is a world renown martial artist. His martial arts career began in 1979 when he was eight years old. He began training under the keen eyes of his father, the late Senosa Togisala and the late Grand Master Sensei Richard Rabago. Senosa knew that martial arts would give Butch a grounding in discipline and respect to help keep him out of trouble.

Butch Togisala trained daily with a strict routine, including running and weight lifting before school, and then training in the dojo with Sensei Richard Rabago after school. Butch began competing on the sport karate tournament circuit at age 10 with a special focus on traditional Okinawan kata. Sensei Rabago entered him in tournaments every weekend.

As a teenager, Butch earned respect in the TPA, winning the Junior Forms, Junior Weapons, and fighting divisions. By the time he was 14, according to April 1986 Martial Arts Magazine Yearbook, “Butch became almost unbeatable in the last half of 1985. With only short time left in that year, Butch pushed like no other competitor to make his way into the top position.”

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His sport karate tournament experience allowed him to travel all over the world to compete. Butch earned multiple World Champion titles for his adept skill in Traditional Okinawan forms in addition to his explosive and highly entertaining creative weapons, rope and kama.

As an adult, Butch Togisala also found work as an actor and stuntman. You would find Butch in the typical ‘bad guy’ roles. He worked in movies with stars such as Steven Seagal, Randall Shiro Idieshi, Art Camacho, Dennis Keiffer, Don Wilson, Ron Yuan and Danny Lopez. In addition, Butch made an instructional martial arts video with master instructors the late Sensei Richard Rabago and Sensei Michael Bacon.

Twelve-time National Black Belt League World Champion, Sensei Butch Togisala still holds the record for most consecutive NBL world titles in Traditional Japanese Forms.  Instructors from across the United States and as far away as Mexico and Guatemala credit Sensei Butch Togisala as inspiring them to compete on the tournament circuit and teach martial arts.

Today, he runs Togisala Shorin Ryu in Torrance, California, assisted by Sensei Pi’ilani Requiro, who also trained under Sensei Richard Rabago. They work to preserve the legacy of Rabago Shorin Ryu.  Butch teaches his students to “guard your grill, knuckle up” and “the basics are everything.”

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