My name is Bill Stewart. I started my Kyokushin training in late 1980 with Sensei J.R. (Swanny) Swanson. I started leading and instructing classes in 1984. From 1986-1991 I was an instructor at Swanson’s School of Karate in Orlando, Florida. In 1991 I formed my own dojo, Florida Kyokushin Karate.
In my lifetime I have been a member of just two organizations. The original IKO (International Karate Organization) under the founder of Kyokushin, Sosai Masutatsu Oyama, and the IFK (International Federation of Karate) founded by Hanshi Steve Arneil, a personal disciple of Sosai Oyama, and famous for being the first man (after Sosai Oyama himself) to complete the 100-man Kumite.
During my years in IKO (1980-1996) I was able to travel and train with a number of well-known Kyokushin instructors including Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama, Shihan Bobby Lowe, Shihan Yasuhiko Oyama, Shihan Keiji Kanemura, and Shihan Akiyoshi Matsui.
In 1996, two years after Sosai Masutatsu Oyama (the founder of Kyokushin) passed away, USA-IFK Kyokushin was founded by Shihan Mike Monaco. I made the decision that Florida Kyokushin Karate would join USA-IFKK. In 1997 I traveled to Canada to meet and train with Hanshi Steve Arneil which further cemented my decision to join IFK. I was also able to train with him when he visited the United States later in 1997 and again in 1998. During the early years of the USA-IFK Kyokushin organization, I made multiple trips to New York to train with the new organization. In addition to Hanshi Arneil, I trained with Shihan Mike Monaco, and extensively with Sensei (now Shihan) Bill Richards. That continued until 2001 when I made the difficult decision to close my dojo following 9/11 and return to active military service.
From 2001 to 2012 when I retired from the United States Navy I worked as a Master-at-Arms (Military Police). During my time in the military, I was certified as a Non-Lethal Weapons Instructor. I taught the use of force, baton, OC Spray, unarmed self-defense, and the use of PPCT (Pressure Point Control Tactics). I also received training in Marine Corp Martial Arts and Army Combatives in preparation for worldwide deployment. Outside of Kyokushin, my deep and lifelong interest in martial arts has led to training in Tai-Jitsu, Kobudo, small-circle jiujitsu, and arnis, and recently I began formal training in BJJ. I have always considered Kyokushin to be my core art though, and other training as something that contributes to being a more well-rounded martial artist.
After spending a good portion of the previous two decades outside the United States, I returned to my home state of Texas in 2021 and my hometown of Bryan. After coming home I re-connected with USA-IFKK. I launched Texas Kyokushin Karate in November 2021… 41 years after beginning my own training and study of Kyokushin karate. If you happen to live locally and wish to apply click here.
This blog will be a reflection of my own journey. It’s ups and downs as I have traveled through life. I’ll share my thoughts about everything from philosophy to fitness and training, to the state of Kyokushin. I hope that people will find some value here!
Although I’ve decades of teaching experience I see myself as a student first and am always seeking to learn. Teachers I have known have often spoken of how much they have learned from their students. In my experience, this is very true! The process of teaching and explaining things helps us gain insights that we never would have had if not for our students!
Lastly, I’d like to say that I’m always open to reading others’ thoughts and perspectives as well. Please feel free to comment. I’m still learning after all! 🙂