Martial Arts

Martha holds the rank of 5th-degree black belt (godan) and is a member of the elite Oyata Shin Shu Ho Ryu organization within the International Ryu-Te® Karate Association.

Her studies included empty-hand techniques, body mechanics, and principles of movement, as well as the following classical Okinawan weapons:

  • Bo (6’ staff)
  • Jo (4’ staff)
  • Tanbo (pair of 2’ staves)
  • Chizikunbo (pair of six-inch “fist bos”)
  • Tonfa (pair of handles for a grinding mill)
  • Nunchaku (flail: two sticks connected by cords)
  • Sai (metal weapon shaped like a Japanese hairpin – long point, two shorter curved hooks, and a handle)
  • Manji Sai (similar to Sai, but the hooks face opposite directions and the handle is a shorter pointed end)
  • Eiku (boat oar)

This is not an all-inclusive list of Ryu-Te® weaponry, just those that Martha has worked with.

Mr. Oyata was an amazing man who has served his community and his students without reservation. During WWII he served in the Japanese navy, and afterward sought out the man he wished to study from. Mr. Uhugusiku was not a karate teacher but a bushi, the equivalent of the Japanese samurai. His family had been responsible for guarding the front palace gates for generations.

Okinawa was subjugated to Japan in 1609 when the Satsuma clan took over the islands. In 1869 the Meiji restoration abolished the bushi class, thus the edict that the topknot would no longer be allowed. When asked to cut his off, Mr. Uhugusiku declined, challenging the officials to cut it for him. He wore the topknot the rest of his life. In his 90s, he accepted Taika as a student and came to call him grandson. Mr. Oyata also studied under Mr. Uhugusiku’s friend, Mr. Wakinaguri. This is the origin of the art that Mr. Oyata brought with him to America in 1968. I have personally watched him knock out two men simultaneously-one with each hand-and they dropped so fast the two men behind each were hard-pressed to keep their heads from hitting the mat full force. The man watching next to me fell off his chair!

This art and the knowledge learned from it form the basis of the combat scenes in Martha’s fiction. Her specialty weapon, the “chizikunbo,” appears as “chisas” in her novel-in-progress, The Slipaway Trail.

Ryu-Te® dojos exist in many states. Here are the links to the official Ryu-Te® site, and to some of the individual dojos.

RyuTe® Site RyuTe Karate®
Learn about Mr. Oyata’s Classical Okinawan Budo Dojo of Jim Logue, South Carolina
Mr. Oyata has named Mr. Logue the heir to his family system Dojo of Charlie Peterson, Michigan
Hudson Valley RyuTe® Dojo of Joe Mansfield, New York


Other dojos are listed on the RyuTe® web site. However, many fine dojos do not have web sites, including Iowa and Alaska, among others. A phone call to headquarters may identify someone in your area.