Entering the Marine Corps and being selected for top secret intelligence work were determining factors that placed Alan Dollar in Okinawa. The physical and mental competitiveness of the Marine Corps was responsible for Dollar being in the most superb mental and physical shape of his life when he arrived on the "Island of Karate"
Dollar remembers vividly the night he slid open the worn door and peered into the diminutive Kadena dojo. The strength and intensity displayed in all aspects of the following three-hour workout were fascinating.
The personality and explosive teaching style
of Sensei Seiyu Shinjo of the Kadena dojo still renowned in Okinawa. Dollar
realized that he had been presented an extraordinary opportunity and took full
advantage of the situation. He approached Sensei Shinjo at the end of the night
and requested admission.
Two-hour day classes at the dojo were precious moments of time, often one on one, with Seiyu Shinjo. Three-hour night classes offered the challenge of training with Okinawan black belts of amazing ability. The Okinawan black belts took advantage of Dollar's size, fitness, and lack of karate ability by soundly beating him in sparring in spite of any prior training he had. This proved to Dollar the effectiveness of karate and increased his determination to become as proficient as his seniors. The burning stare of Kiyohide Shinjo's eyes during sparring became Dollar's new standard of toughness and indestructibility.
completed all colored belt test in the Kadena dojo and tested for black
belt, Shodan, in the Futenma dojo before Kanei Uechi and the Uechi Ryu
Karate Association on May 18, 1975.
He continued visiting whenever possible to receive further training from the Grand Master. Dollar naively thought that Sensei Shinjo might not find out he was visiting the Futenma dojo, but he did.
|The visits were approved
because of the profound friendship between Kanei Uechi and Seiyu Shinjo.
Both men had been taught directly by Kanbun Uechi yet they both taught in a
very different manner.
The soft approach of Kanei Uechi balanced the hard approach of Seiyu Shinjo. Together they epitomized Uechi ryu karate do.
|Dollar competed in the annual
Uechi ryu tournament the same year he became a black belt. He placed
fourteenth out of forty-five black belts representing all the Uechi ryu
dojos of Okinawa.
Soon, however, Dollar was transferred to Hawaii and had to leave Okinawa and the dojo of Seiyu Shinjo that had become his home. Leaving Okinawa was a depressing undertaking.
A "sayonara party" was held the night before Dollar departed. At the end of the party Seiyu Shinjo and Alan Dollar stood outside in a downpour saying their good-byes. Master Shinjo leaned his forehead against Dollar's chest and they both cried.
|Back in Okinawa for the
second time, Dollar immediately resumed his training in the Kadena dojo.
He tested in Futenma and was promoted by the Uechi Ryu Association to second-degree black belt, Nidan, on May 15 1977.
Dollar requested permission to teach Uechi ryu
karate in Hawaii and later in America after his discharge. Kanei Uechi presented
him with an instructor's certificate, Jun Shihan. The second parting from
Okinawa was somewhat easier because it did not carry the finality of the first
departure. It was understood Dollar would come back to Okinawa.
Dollar retired from full contact competition and devoted his time and energy to running a formal class of Uechi ryu karate. During subsequent detachments to Okinawa, his students trained at Kadena dojo. Seiyu Shinjo was surprised and quite pleased at receiving students from Hawaii who already knew Sanchin and Kanshiwa kata.
While on special assignment to Fort Devons, Massachusetts, Dollar had the opportunity to train at the famous dojo of George Mattson, whom he met in Okinawa.
The Antioch Dojos
After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, Dollar converted his garage into a traditional Okinawan dojo and resumed teaching Uechi ryu karate again in 1982. He soon realized it was time to return to Okinawa for further training. During that visit he was promoted by Kanei Uechi to third degree black belt, Sandan, on November 4, 1982.
Dollar then leased a building and opened the first public Uechi ryu dojo in the San Francisco Bay Area. The humble dojo hosted visits from Tsutomu Nakahodo, Kiyohide Shinjo, Kanmei Uechi, and Narahiro Shinjo.
Dollar returned to Okinawa again in 1984 for further training. He was promoted, again in Futenma dojo by Kanei Uechi, to fourth degree black belt, Yondan, on November 11, 1984.
Alan Dollar's commitment to teaching Uechi ryu karate grew. He began building a traditional dojo of Okinawan design. Soon after construction began he returned to Okinawa for further training and to announce the news of the new dojo.
He tested for fifth degree black belt, Godan, on November 13, 1987. He was also presented with Master Instructors Certificate number ninety-six, Shihan.
On May 11, 1988 Dollar quit his job and became
a professional karate instructor. To update and enhance his knowledge of
physical fitness training outside karate, Dollar attended the Cooper Institute
for Aerobics Research in 1992 and received certification as a physical fitness
specialist and personal trainer.
Sensei Dollar was promoted to sixth degree black belt Renshi, Rokudan, by Shinyu Gushi, James Thompson and Kiyohide Shinjo on August 7, 1992. The test was held in Dollar's dojo, the Kenyukai Shubukan, Antioch California.
Previously, when testing in Okinawa, all black belt ranks through Yondan were also certified by the All Okinawa Karate Association. A formal test is required for fifth degree black belt. On November 14, 1993 Dollar tested and was promoted to Godan in that Association.
Dollar sponsored the first Uechi ryu tournament on the West Coast. The event became an international black belt tournament by the twelfth annual tournament in 1995 and concluded with the Golden Gate '98 world event.
He has written magazine articles published in five countries. He also produced a video series documenting the Uechi ryu style which has experienced wide sales in 20 countries and the United States.
Sensei Dollar was promoted to Kyoshi Nanadan, 7th degree black belt, in November, 2000.
Kyoshi Dollar has traveled extensively across America and to other countries for training in various traditional styles and for tournament competition in kata, kobudo, and kumite. He has taught Uechi ryu karate, kobudo, defense, and physical fitness seminars around the world.
Kyoshi Dollar retired from tournament competition and promotions in 1998. He retired from teaching outside his own dojo in 2001.
Of his life in Uechi Ryu Karate Do, Kyoshi Dollar has this to say:
"All men possess an inherent desire to be strong, both physically and mentally. It has been man's historic role to defend the home, castle, farm and so forth. The desire to be courageous and strong enough to protect himself against violence is instinctive.
The technical society of today breeds masses, not warriors. One must seek training besides one's normal lifestyle to develop courage and combative strength. The martial arts have always been an excellent tool for this purpose.
Physical strength and mental fortitude are interdependent in the martial arts. Without developing mental strength and self-discipline, a physically strong person may easily be led down the wrong path. To gain mental strength, a strong, healthy body is necessary. Physical fitness breeds mental alertness.
The most imposing adversary to overcome in this quest is yourself. Balancing oneself and developing self-discipline are the underlying principles of karate practice. To overcome external adversity you must first learn to overcome internal adversity.
"I am is indebted to Okinawan Uechi ryu karate and the great people who have taught me for instilling this strength. Thank you for showing this aimless wanderer the correct path to follow!"
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