Donald B. Joyner
HACHI-DAN SHIHAN (Eighth Degree Black Belt, Master Instructor)
Shihan Certification #139 by the Okinawa Karate-Do Association
BORN: April 2, 1957
OCCUPATION: Business Owner, Karate Instructor
DOJO: Don Joyner Professional Karate Schools
3320 NE 37th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33308
Sensei Don Joyner began his Okinawan Karate training in 1972 at the Kalamazoo YMCA under Black-Belts Steve Fuller and Bill Keith of the Okinawan Karate Club of Kalamazoo, MI. Then his formal training has been under James Thompson, 9th Degree Black Belt, Shihan Hanshi Master Instructor of the Okinawan Karate Academy, in Kalamazoo, MI.
Over the years, Sensei Donald Joyner has trained at summer camps in such places as Florida, California, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Canada, and Okinawa, with such renowned people as Dan Inosanto, Tadashi Yamashita, Grand Master Uechi Kañei (10th Dan), and Randy Williams (Senior Instructor of Wing Chung in Singapore).
On April 22, 1979, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Donald Joyner was promoted to Nidan, 2nd Degree Black Belt, Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Soke Shubukan Certification # 599, by Shihan James Thompson and a Board of Examiners, which included Sensei Bill Keith.
On June 1st, 1981, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Joyner was promoted to 3rd Degree Black Belt, Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan Certification # 260, by Shihan James Thompson and a Board of Examiners, which included Shihan Toshiyuki Itokazu testing Sanchin kata.
On May 15, 1983, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Donald Joyner was promoted to 4th Degree Black Belt, Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Soke Shubukan Certification # 163, by Grand Master James Thompson Hanshi Kyudan and President of Uechi-Ryu Kokusai Kyokai.
In August 1984, Sensei Joyner attended the Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Summer Camp training in Boston, Thompson Island, Massachusetts, where he met Grand Master Kañei Uechi and studied Wu-Shu Tiger and Crane forms under two Wu-Shu masters from Red China.
On August 1st, 1989, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Joyner was promoted to 5th Degree Black Belt, Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan Certification # 169, by Grand Master James Thompson Hanshi Kyudan and President of Uechi-Ryu Kokusai Kyokai.
In August 1989, (for the past 7 years) Sensei Joyner had hosted the Battle of the Great Lakes Open Karate Championship in Kalamazoo, Michigan as one of the youngest Godan. In December of 1990, Sensei Joyner and Sensei Mark E. Stewart held a seminar at a grand opening of the Multi-cultural Martial Arts Association in Kenoga Park, California. Guests included Ted Wong, who was a senior student of Bruce Lee in the 1960’s, Ted Lakai Lakai, and Louie Campos of the Jeet Kune DoTM System.
In 1994, Sensei Joyner won the Karate Grand Champion in the AAU Regional Gold Coast Championship in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
On July 9th, 1995, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Joyner was promoted to 6th Degree Black Belt, Okinawa Karate-Do Association [Oki-Ku-Kai] Certification #82, by Grand Master James Thompson Hanshi Kyudan and President of Uechi-Ryu Kokusai Kyokai.
Sensei Joyner was owner-operator of Joyner’s Professional Karate School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1991 to 2002, when he trained many students that became his Yudansha, Legacy of Black Belt student. During that period, he also trained several Junior Olympics participants who won trophies in national tournaments. He also hosted seminars with the late Sensei Sherman Harrill (Isshin-ryu system).
On January 8th, 2002, in Quincy, Massachusetts, Sensei Joyner was promoted to Kyoshi 7th Degree Black Belt, Shohei-Ryu Certification #64, by Grand Master Shigeru Takamiyagi, Hanshi Judan in Oki-Ku-Kai (Okinawa Karate-Do Association) hosted by Sensei Walter Mattson from Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do in Massachusetts.
On November 21, 2008, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sensei Joyner was promoted to Hachi-Dan, 8th Degree Black Belt, Certification #8006, by Grand Master Shinyu Gushi, Hanshi Judan and President of Ryukokaku Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do. In addition he received the title Kyoshi for the second time. Also, at the age of 51 years old, he is one of the youngest 8th-Dan Karate Masters in the world.
For the past several years, in addition to regularly attending classes in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sensei Joyner has been training with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champions in Florida and continues receiving private lessons currently. He has also traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where his instructors were trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and became Champions.
Sensei Donald Joyner presented a seminar involving his interpretation of Kata, Energy Strikes, and Close range fighting skills on Wednesday, the 9th of February 2011, at the WinterFest 2011 by Sensei George Mattson in Mount Dora, Florida.
Sensei Donald Joyner presented his seminar entitled, Kata, Energy Strikes, and Close range fighting skills on Saturday, January 28th, 2012, at the Bennetts Karate dojo, 515 Briggs St., Erie, CO., during the Colorado Winter Camp 2012 by Shihan Richard Bennett.
On October 6th, 2012, Sensei Joyner again attended a very interactive seminar with Grand Master Tadashi Yamashita, with Shihan Al Bennett as his partner taking Ukemi from him. At this event Sensei Joyner correlated previous knowledge from Sensei Sherman Harrill (Isshin-ryu system) to further develop his presentation, Kata, Energy Strikes, and Close range fighting skills for his explanations previously. Sensei Joyner has continued to train each year since with Grand Master Tadashi Yamashita at his seminars in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Near the end of 2012, Sensei Joyner and the world grieved the loss of Grand Master Shinyu Gushi who had passed away. As a result of his passing, Sensei Joyner was
without a formal teacher or organization to continue his study of Uechi-ryu Karate-Do. As such, he applied for membership with OkiKuKai Uechi-ryu Karate-Do which was recently formed by Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan and several other instructors in Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan.
Sensei Joyner upon his application began his three year probation period and he has traveled to Okinawa to train each year since. This included training at Sensei Shintoku Takara’s dojo and affiliated dojo locations in the Tokyo area and Okinawa, Japan from Friday, November 1, 2013 till Monday, November 11, 2013, from Tuesday, November 4, 2014 till Thursday, November 13, 2014, and from Monday, June 1, 2015 till Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Sensei Joyner attended a summer camp in Massachusetts featuring seminars with Grand Master Tsutomu Nakahodo, Hanshi Judan and Hanshi Judan Toshio Higa from August 2 to August 7, 2014. Also in attendance was Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Joyner.
On January 10, 2015 Sensei Don Joyner was Chairman of a Black Belt test at his Grand Rapids dojo with Al Bennett also on the board of examiners. James Gemmell was promoted to Shihan Renshi Rokudan. Chris Cohee from OkiKuKai Shohei-ryu [6- 8-13], applied for a second Godan diploma as a dojo with OkiKuKai Uechi-ryu Karate- Do Association under Sensei Joyner. He received the dojo certificate in the summer of 2015 with Sensei Joyner.
In May 2015, Sensei Joyner was accepted by the OkiKuKai Uechi-ryu Karate-Do Association. His new formal teacher of Uechi-ryu Karate-Do thus became Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan. He traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the Association Anniversary Celebration which included several training seminars and rank testing. At that event, Sensei Joyner was given two certificates for his dojo locations in Michigan and Florida, as well as a new diploma for Kyoshi Hachidan, Eighth Degree Black Belt with OkiKuKai Uechi-ryu Karate-Do Association under Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan. This was his 2nd diploma for 8th-dan and 3rd documentation for Kyoshi certification. In attendance was Shihan Renshi Jason Ferguson and Shihan Kyoshi Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Don Joyner, during these seminars and rank testing in the Tokyo, Japan area.
In January 2016 Sensei Don Joyner was Chairman of a Black Belt test at his Grand Rapids dojo with Kyoshi Al Bennett also on the board of examiners. Several black belts were promoted. Muhamet Vitia was promoted to 5th-Dan and also received a dojo certificate.
Sensei Donald Joyner returned to train with Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan and an affiliated dojo from February 13 to February 18, 2017 in Okinawa, Japan. Also in attendance was Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Joyner.
Sensei Donald Joyner presented his seminar entitled, Close range fighting skills on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at the Bennetts Karate dojo, 720 Austin Ave., Erie, CO., during the Colorado Winter Camp 2017 by Shihan Richard Bennett.
After being delayed in Beijing, because of a Typhoon that hit Okinawa on 10-26-17 and 10-27-17, Sensei Joyner returned to train with Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan and several other instructors in Okinawa from October 30, 2017 to November 3, 2017. Also in attendance was Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Joyner. It was then plans for the 2018 training activities at the Okinawa Karate Tournament were discussed with the Takara family.
Sensei Joyner presented his seminar entitled, Kata, Energy Strikes, and Close range fighting skills on Monday, November 6th, 2017, at the Perl-Mack Karate Club, 7125 Mariposa St., Denver, CO., during the Denver Karate Winter Camp by Shihan Renshi Amanda Bennett. One of the black belt students at that seminar, Tim Yang, attended and competed in the 2018 Okinawa Karate Tournament along with Al Bennett’s 3 son and daughter-in-law. Al Bennett was there as their Coach. Sensei James Thompson 10°dan and Kazuya Takara 8°dan were Judges at the tournament from 8-3-18 till 8-8- 18.
Sensei Donald Joyner returned to train with Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan at his son’s Futenma Dojo January 8, 2019. His son, Kyoshi Kazuya Takara 8°dan was previously 1st place winner of the Okinawa Karate Tournament several times. On that trip Sensei Donald Joyner to train with Hanshi Shintoku Takara at his grandson’s Yomitan dojo. His grandson, Takenori Uechi 6°dan, was 1st place winner of the Okinawa Karate Tournament on 8-8-18. Also in attendance was Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Joyner. After several day of training, they returned on Jan. 17, 2019.
After being delayed in Taiwan, because of Chinese flights being canceled perhaps due to Covid-19, Don Joyner returned to train with Sensei Shintoku Takara, from 11-4-19 to 11-19-19. Also in attendance was Al Bennett sponsored by Sensei Joyner.
Having planned to attend the 10th anniversary celebration of the OkiKuKai Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Association in May 2020, Don Joyner bought two air-line tickets. Due to the Global Pandemic the air-line refunded the tickets. The event was canceled because of the Quarantine in Japan. The May 2020 rank testing was postponed until the next rank testing on Dec. 6, 2020 in Futenma, Okinawa with social distancing and mask wearing.
With the first Covid Vaccination beginning Dec. 8, 2020, Don Joyner had planned to return to Okinawa again to train in April 2021. Unfortunately, Japan had not made enough progress with vaccinating and were planning to be finished by the end of September 2021. Sensei Don Joyner bought tickets for Al Bennett and himself for two weeks in October 2021 to train in Okinawa again. Unfortunately, Japan did not make adequate progress vaccinating and once again the plane tickets were refunded.
After three years since his previous trip to Okinawa, Sensei Don Joyner with Al Bennett traveled to Okinawa and trained with Sensei Shintoku Takara during the fourteen day trip from Nov. 5, 2022 till Nov. 19, 2022. It was during that trip that Sensei Don Joyner saw Sensei Shintoku Takara receive certification from the Japan Minister of Education of the highest Honor for any Japanese Citizen, having been declared by the Okinawa Prefecture, the title of Intangible Living Cultural Asset. This formal process begun with the announcement at the 2022 World Karatedo Championship Tournament where
Sensei Shintoku Takara was introduced as a “Living National Treasure” formally designated Intangible Cultural Property of Okinawa. National recognition involved registering the human “technical artistry” who represent the highest mastery of the techniques concerned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Independent Administrative Institution, and National Institutes for Cultural Heritage within the Japan Minister of Education. Sensei Shintoku Takara had just received it before class on 11-18-2022 and then began reading it before knowing the Japan Minister of Education had sent him. Sensei Don Joyner then got a photo with Sensei Shintoku Takara to commemorate it.
Sensei Donald Joyner plans to return to train with Grand Master Shintoku Takara, Hanshi Judan at his son’s Futenma Dojo in October 2023.
8°dan on 6-6-15 Okinawa Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do certification, in Tokyo, Japan,
& Kyoshi 6-6-15 Okinawa Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do with two Dojo Certifications
8°dan on 11-21-08 Uechi-Ryu Ryukokaku certification #8006, by Hanshi Seiyu Gushi
& Kyoshi 11-21-08 Uechi-Ryu Ryukokaku certification in Buenos Aires, Argentina
7°dan on 1-8-2002 Shohei-Ryu Karate-Do [Oki-Ku-Kai], 7°dan certification # 64,
by Hanshi Shigeru Takamiyagi with Walter Mattson in Quincy, Massachusetts
6°dan on 7-9-1995 Okinawa Karate-Do Association [Oki-Ku-Kai], 6°dan cert’ # 82,
by James Thompson in Kalamazoo, Michigan
5°dan on August 1st, 1989 Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan, Godan certification # 169,
by James Thompson in Kalamazoo, Michigan
4°dan on 5/15/1983 Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan, Yondan certification # 163,
by James Thompson in Kalamazoo, Michigan
3°dan on 6/1/1981 Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan, Sandan cert’ # 260, in Kalamazoo, MI.,
by James Thompson with Shihan Toshiyuki Itokazu on Board of Examiners
2°dan on 4/22/1979 Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan, Nidan certification # 599,
by James Thompson in Kalamazoo, Michigan
1°dan on 4/24/1977 Uechi-Ryu Soke Shubukan, Shodan certification # 1177,
by NAUKA through Walter Mattson in Kalamazoo, Michigan
He began his Okinawan Karate training in 1972