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Legacy Masters

Our Legacy

The Association was founded on Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin and acknowledges its debt to this renowned master of the martial arts. The Phoenix Karate-do Association has also continued its unbroken direct line, begun in the early 1960s and strengthened with Raymond Elmore as our first Kancho, of following the Kyokushin style of karate.

We acknowledge our masters and their great contributions to the art of karate.

MASUTATSU OYAMA (1923 - 1994)
Founder, Kyokushin Karate
10th Dan

Masutatsu Oyama was born in Korea and moved to Japan in 1941, where he became a pupil of the great karate master Gichin Funakoshi. He soon resolved to live his life in the way of karate and determined to follow the doctrines of its way.  After 1948, for a full three years, he secluded himself from human society, devoting himself completely to a life according to the precept of zen. He lived in temples and in the mountains and subjected himself to the disciplines of the martial arts both night and day. Through such rigorous training as seated meditation under waterfalls, struggles with wild animals, and smashing trees and stones with his bare hands, Oyama refined not only his doctrine of karate but also his own mind and body. His amazing techniques, manifested most dramatically in his ability to rip the horns from bulls, caused a sensation in the karate world. Beginning in 1962, starting in Europe, he went around the entire world establishing training halls for the Oyama karate method.  In 1958, Oyama published his first karate guide book, "What is Karate?" and went on to publish a number of highly acclaimed karate texts. (Excerpted from This Is Karate, Japan Publications Trading Company, revised edition, December 1973)

Oyama Sosai’s organization, the International Karate Organization (IKO)  Kyokushinkaikan, grew to become one of the largest karate organizations in the world. The great Mas Oyama passed away in April of 1994, at 71 years of age. Oyama was one of the "old masters" of karate and his contributions to the martial arts shall remain legendary.


HULON WILLIS (1922 - 1989)
Kyokushin Karate USA Pioneer
10th Dan

Hulon Willis is credited with founding Kyokushin karate in the southern tri-cities of Virginia USA. A highly regarded and respected instructor, Kyokushin Branch Chief and prominent tournament official, he was a pioneer in the history of Virginia and USA karate. He advocated the benefits of karate and served until his death as a senior master and mentor to karate students.  Hulon Willis is important to the foundation of the Association as he was central to the ryu that would eventually lead to the founding of the Phoenix Karate-do Association.  He left two versions of introductory kata that continue to serve as cornerstones in the Phoenix Kata System.  One of his early students, Raymond Elmore, served as the first Kancho of the Phoenix Karate-do Association.

Donald A. and James P. Radcliffe, who chartered their Petersburg, Virginia dojo on February 20, 1962, were also early karate pioneers and instrumental in developing karate along with Hulon Willis.  They worked together to develop a karate legacy through their Southside Virginia Police Karate Association. The Phoenix Association wishes to properly acknowledge them, and other trailblazers, for their contributions to karate history and paving the way for us today. 

Read his “Sensei’s Philosophy."


RAYMOND ELMORE (1942-2006)
Kyokushin Karate USA Pioneer
1st  Kancho of The Phoenix Karate-do Association
8th Dan

 Raymond Elmore became active in formal karate in the early 1960s’ when he began studying under Hulon Willis and the Radcliffs at the Southside Virginia Police Karate Academy. Under the auspices of Elmore’s School of Karate and the City of Hopewell Recreation and Sports Program’s Karate Club, he developed a large dojo that trained thousands of  karateka in Kyokushin karate. He helped pioneer karate in southern Virginia and the surrounding states, traveling widely to compete and instruct karateka. A disciplined and celebrated instructor, Elmore taught in a traditional atmosphere with an emphasis on physical conditioning, demanding kumite and tameshiwari. A proponent of the way of karate, Elmore stressed the positive values of the art’s philosophies. In 1990 he assumed Kancho in order to assist in the development of the Phoenix Karate-do Association, a position he held until his death.

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