History of Bojuka Ryu From 1972 to present.

Eddie Stewart

        After visiting his dojo, I was truly impressed and became a member. I remember the dues, paid for two, two hour classes a week, but was open. This meant that you could, for the same money, make as many classes as you wanted. I started out with the two classes and soon found out that I never got over being sore. I increased to three nights a week and that helped but realized that I was not advancing as quickly as I wanted. I was getting my ass kicked regularly. It was after my first green belt test I began training five nights a week and worked out in the children's class before the adult classes. That gave me four hours a night of training, five nights a week and continued it for the next four years.

       

        In 1972 when I started, we were training in Sensei Stewart's garage and was the "Neighborhood Karate club". The Style was Chito Ryu. But because of the boxing and jujitsu inserted into the system, Sensei was not being recognized by the system any longer. If my memory serves me right, this caused several problems. One was that we could not promote and receive certification from the system. Another problem was that of voting in the association meetings. He was encouraged by the students to start his own style and eventually he did.




1972.


        While working at the Firestone factory in Salinas California, I was introduced to Eddie Stewart as an instructor of the Martial Arts. I had started training at the Boshido Kan and was not happy with the school and was looking for something different. That was when I first met Mr. Stewart.

Original Patch Design

1973.

Began conversion to Bojuka Ryu.


        While working with Sensei Stewart at the factory, we began to set forth in motion the new system. We would sit out back of the factory during lunch, by the trash dumpsters so no one would bother us, and discuss how to and what to do. It was there the name of Bojuka Ryu was born and on a Pane of Plexiglas  I drew the design for the school's patch showing the parts of the system of boxing, judo (or Jujitsu) and karate. Hence the name BOJUKA.     The Triangle represents the Chito Ryu system from Shihan's past. The fist in the center is a left hand fist and is to represent balance, that is, equal strength on both sides. The bamboo below the triangle represents strength and flexibility as the bamboo bends with force and springs back with strength. Black and green, green is the border of the patch, were to be the club's colors.

      On July 16, 1974 the new system officially became "Bojuka Ryu". The school was moved to 291 Carmel Ave. in Marina California. I do not know the date the move was made, but if memory serves me right, it was before this date. Sensei Stewart took the rank of Shihan and wore the black belt without rank as a symbol of leadership. It was on the 29th day of December, 1975 that Bojuka Ryu became incorporated.

      After my first green belt test, which nearly killed me, I made the choice to do much better so I increased my training schedule to five nights a week, as I stated above.  I also made the bold statement to Sensei Stewart that I would be his best Black belt ever". I am sure he had a good laugh over that. It took all of that for me to get it. The requirement for testing was a minimum of 6 months. If your requirements were good enough and it been 6 months since your last test, you could be tested for your next rank. There are only the three belt colors in the system, green, brown and black. Within each belt ranking there are three levels (or Kyu's) and a stripe on the belt indicated advancement to that kyu level. In the junior classes, no one under the age of 18 could wear the black belt. There was a special marking given on the student's brown belt to indicate a "junior black belt".  This is because there is much more to carrying the Black Belt than just the requirements. It requires the maturity of mind and spirit to handle the responsibility of such an honor.

       The school thrived and on May 1, 1975, I became an assistant instructor and taught open classes on Friday evenings.  There was an actual contract printed up which showed my specific duties as an assistant instructor.  Sometime during that time frame, the new patches came in. Sensei Stewart awarded me with the first patch made. Sometime later, he gave me the pane of glass the original design was drawn upon at the factory.

       Also in 1975 it was decided that we would start Judo completion. The original idea was to give us a real place to practice our Jujitsu throws. A real life experience if you will. We had to take special training to down grade our techniques to coincide with JUDO rules. Many students still had GI's with "Neighborhood Karate Club" on the back and that was quite a site for the other competitors. We had limited knowledge of the rules at the start and got a lot of strange looks when we would block and strikeā€¦.not allowed at all. At the time I was a 3rd degree brown belt and had to put on a white belt to compete in judo. Starting all over and I might add that was fun for a while.  However things did get tougher as time went on.  I continued to compete in Judo until 1982 when I reached age 35 and Shihan made me quit for reason I shall talk about later. I did reach 3rd brown in competition Judo before I retired.

It was in 1974 that Professor Lee and Professor Luke, AJI officials from Hawaii, came to  our Marina Dojo to see our status in Jujitsu.

       As a surprise to them, Sensei Stewart took me and Neil Miyamoto and had us put together a fighting demonstration for the officials. The fight included, to the best of my memory, 19 throws and a knife attack, a disarm, and final throw. The whole fight lasted only about 30 seconds, yep, it went fast. We were drilled on it forever because it had to be perfect. I guess it was, because the officials actually believed the fight was real at the beginning and rose to stop it until Sensei motioned them to sit. It was during the knife attack by Neil that I disarmed it with a slap on the back of the hand and wrist which set the knife flying into the air. The knife landed in one of the officials lap, fortunately flat. The look on his eyes was great.  They were very pleased with it all and we were invited to give the demonstration at their dojo in Hawaii. We never made it. In the picture above, I was awarded the Distinguished Service award. The date is 8-7-1974. The note on the photograph reads 1975 so I am assuming the note is incorrect.

March 11, 1976, I made first degree black Belt in Bojuka Ryu. Note that a Black Belt in Bojuka Ryu was also a black belt in Jujitsu as well. That's why it took a minimum of 4 years to make 1st degree black.  It is written in the "Bojuka History, I received from Shihan Stewart and was given the honor of being the first Black Belt in the Bojuka Ryu system. Shortly after receiving my black belt, I moved to Gridley, California to help my father in his painting business. My plan was to start a school of my own there and within a few short months, I had my first students. Here, Gary Honan and I are working out in my carport. Gary was my first student and later became my first black belt. I had no building at that time and worked outside year round.

We eventually moved into the basement of the First Christian church to train and then to a building on a rice farm shown at the left. By the end of 1976, my club had only grown to the above four students.

Eventually, I bought this house and used the family room as my dojo. By the end of 1977 we had grown to a whopping 5 students. Shortly after this time I gained a new student, Brandon Byrne. His mother had connections with the city and because of her help, we were able to share a building at the park with the Boy Scouts. They only used the building once a month so we had it most of the time. Between having our own space and some rather ingenious advertising on my part, the school began to grow rapidly. Within a year we were outgrowing our space at this facility and began looking for a bigger place. We had grown from five to over 35 active training students in every class. I needed more room badly. In 1979 I found a building in town that had all the space I would ever need. The problem was that is was not rentable as it would not meet code. I made an agreement with the owner to renovate it with the guarantee of a locked in rent for as long as I remained in the building. With that, I began renovation. There was a deadline to meet and I remember working many "all nighters" at the school. By this time, I had taken over the painting business full time as my father had retired. I was teaching two classes five nights a week and tournaments on many weekends. I also had a photography business and was taking Saturday college classes. The only time left was nights and some weekends when we weren't on the road. Fortunately, I was used to living on 2 hours of sleep since I started training in Marina and could make it happen. In 1980, we moved into our new facility.

I was very proud of our new facility. It was complete with dressing rooms, my own office space and spectator area. I had custom made mats for the floor and the training area which was 30' x 60' was covered with emerald green mats wall to wall. There was also a 15' x 15' area with thicker mats for judo training. I also had a weight training room and message room.  We were honored with Shihan Stewart and his Marina club on several visits to work out with us and testing at our dojo.  Here students are being tested and Shihan Stewart is sparing with Gary Honan. It was in 1981 it was decided that Bojuka Ryu should hold an annual seminar.

The first seminar was held at our Dojo and had instructors come from the Indiana Dojo, Sensei Bob Leisure, Sensei Leonard Sostand from Riverside Dojo and a Dojo from Germany as well. The purpose of the seminar was to unite teaching techniques and requirements in the dojo's, instruct Sensei's on new requirements and give help to instructors on any weak areas they might have. There was also testing for those who were up for Shodan and higher.

In 1982, I was instructed by Shihan Stewart to travel to the Dojo's to give instruction as needed to the Sensei's. There were changes being made to the requirements and I was to give the information and teach these new techniques to the other Dojo's. My first trip was to Sensei Robert Leisure's Dojo in Indiana on January 2, 1982. I spent a week there working with him and his students. We did have several memorable events while there.  I will never forget how cold it was. Thank you Bob for that!

Garland Bowers, Robert Leisure, Bob Day, Warren Spears
Garland Bowers, Bob Day, Warren Spears

In 1983-84, the economy in California began to get worse and I had trouble keeping all my ventures in the black. Even though the school was going well, it was only a small part of my financial ventures. By the end of 1984 I had no choice but to move. I offered my school to a couple of my black belt students but no one was in the position to take it over. I did eventually leave it in the hands of a brown belt but he was not able to make it and the school did shut down by the end of 1985.

   My plan was to move to Kansas City, Missouri and start a school there. I figured that with the equity in my home, savings and work I had located in Kansas City, I could finance a school long enough to get it going. What I didn't know was that the economy had fallen so far that I was not able to get any equity from the sell of my home. I even had to refinance my truck to get enough to pay off the first mortgage when the home did sell. As a result, I came to Missouri with very limited funds and a truck payment too.  I did manage to pick up a couple of students and we attempted to work outside as I did in California, but quickly found out that the winters here was not going to allow outside training. I did rent a space downtown and put together a school, placed ads in the paper with hopes of getting enough students soon enough to make the rent payments because I knew I wouldn't be able to afford the rent on my own for long.

It didn't happen. I tried to remain active as best as I could. I had an acquaintance who lived nearby who had seen me working out in the park nearby became a sparing partner. He was active in a Tae Kwon Do school and invited me to a sparing session with them. I was made to put on all the head gear, body suit and gloves and then told I could not make heavy contact or throw as well as many other rules I can't remember. I remember throwing anyway and apologizing for my lack of skill. I was not invited back, go figure.

On January 1, 1988, I was promoted to Hachi Dan along with Sensei Leonard Sostand. At this time I was trying to keep sharp alone. I could not find any students to work with and could not afford to pay for a building to train in and eventually turned my attention to my family. I had married in 1985 and had my first daughter in 1987. I was struggling with my construction business still trying to get it off the ground. Money was very tight and was working long hours.  I wanted to continue to at least be active in the system but received no communication from headquarters, no help, support or encouragement. I felt abandoned and soon went on with my new life. By 1993 I had three girls and life was very busy and stressful.  There was no time for anything but work. In 1994, my business finally took off and life took on a turn for the better.

     No matter how separated from the system, Bojuka has always been a great part of my past, one that I cherish the most. Shihan Eddie Stewart had been my closest friend for years. He changed my life and made me what I am today and gave me the ability to change many others lives in the process. For that I am most grateful.  There is no man in this world I respect more than Eddie. I know he has the title of Shihan, but for me, he will always be sensei. He is my teacher. My biggest regret is that I failed him by not getting my school started here in Kansas City. Had that happened, Bojuka would be a force to deal with today.

All of the above information was supplied by Garland Bowers of which I am extremely grateful.  Even though I am no longer a practitioner of the Bojuka Ryu system, it is of which are my martial arts roots and feel that it's history should be remembered.


Shihan Dennis L Wissler

Aibudo Martial Arts System



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