Wendi Dragonfire (9th dan, Shuri Ryu karate; 2nd-degree black belt, Modern Arnis) organizes karate and self-defense seminars and weekends on a regular basis. Most of them are open to all interested martial artists, or to all those interested. This includes people with disabilities. Below is a piece about Dragonfire’s background and the history of Shuri Ryu karate.
Okinawan Shuri Ryu Karate-Do
Dragonfire is a direct student of the late Grand Master Robert A. Trias. Trias O-Sensei, the first person known to teach karate openly in the United States, was both the head of the Shuri Ryu system and the founder of the United States Karate Association. His quest to bring practitioners of all styles together to learn from each other and his commitment to leaving the legacy of his style, Shuri Ryu, were the focus of decades of diligent work.
After his death, July 11, 1989, his students banded together to maintain the highest level of martial arts spirit. That spirit is a tribute to the lifetime of work that Trias O-Sensei gave to our great art.
Trias O-Sensei, in his quest to both standardize the style and to keep us together, appointed six Chief Instructors and five Assistant Chief Instructors to maintain a level of cohesiveness so important to the life of a living style. In 1978, Dragonfire was the first person to be appointed Assistant Chief Instructor. Since Trias O-Sensei’s death, Dragonfire has received promotions from both Dale Benson and Gordon Garland.
Benson Sensei and Dragonfire began their karate training in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1971. Dragonfire moved to Phoenix to train directly under Trias O-Sensei almost immediately. Benson Sensei followed her out to Phoenix a year later. The now late Garland Sensei, a boyhood friend and later student of Trias O-Sensei, received his higher level ranks from Pachivas Sensei. As a result Garland Hanshi asked Dragonfire, who accepted, if he could promote her further to higher ranks. Dragonfire thus eventually received her 9th dan through the generous and loving support given her by Garland Hanshi.
In 1974, Trias O-Sensei asked Dragonfire to go out and multiply… teach people who had until recently been excluded or marginalized from the information others take for granted. Benson Sensei stayed in Phoenix and functioned as both Style and Dojo Chief Instructor until Trias O-Sensei’s death. Garland Hanshi relocated to Georgia, where Dragonfire and he spent time together and traded information and stories Trias Sensei had shared with each of them.
After Trias Sensei’s death, Robert Bowles Hanshi was asked by the then highest-ranking Shuri practitioner, John Pachivas Hanshi, to take over the leadership of Shuri Ryu.
The late Chief Instructor Ridgely Abele Hanshi was a very active leader in Shuri Ryu as well. His legacy to all martial artists and especially Shuri practitioners is also greatly missed.