The reason I
remember this is because it was the first time Sensei Shimabuku
asked me to read something for him. The other green belt came
a few times to the dojo to workout but soon quit, but Bohan
stayed making black belt before he left Okinawa in 1960.
I never saw or talked to Bohan until about five or six
years ago when one of his students, Mr. Carl Mangione, in North
Carolina called me with a three way conference-call set up for
the three of us to speak to each other. We talked about old
times and about how we met at Tatsuo's dojo. He remembered our
first meeting and continued to call once in a while to ask me
questions about Isshin-ryu. He wasn't afraid to ask when he
didn't know the answer. That was Bohan.
years I heard many good things about Bohan in the martial arts
magazines and through others. In all the years, I never heard
anyone say anything negative about him. That was Bohan! In this
day and age with everyone trying to be top dog and cutting each
other down it says it al1 about this man , for I never ever
heard him say anything negative about anyone. That was Bohan!
On one occasion Bohan
asked me to talk to someone who was trying to interview me.
For a couple of weeks I would not answer my monitored phone
when this person called. I told Bohan that I talked to this
person before and he never believed me then, so I wasn't going
to talk to him again. Bohan asked me to do him a favor explaining
that the person was inexperienced but was trying to do his best
so please try to help him. The next time the person called I
talked to him and he didn't believe me again. So what's the
story you say, the story is Bohan was right, he said at least
try to help him. Bohan always tried to assist anyone who asked.
That was Bohan.
In 1995 we met for the first
time since 1960 in Detroit, Michigan at Willie Adams dojo where
I conducted a seminar for their dojo. Again we reminisced about
our time on Okinawa and Tatsuo Shimabuku. Bohan and Adams both
out rank me and some told me their was some disagreement in
having me teach, but others told me Bohan had no problems and
considered me an equal because we trained together with Tatsuo.
Bohan was also one of only two of Tatsuo's senior Students who
have ever given me credit for my knowledge of Isshin-ryu. He
didn't care what others said. That was Bohan.
Bohan first started learning
karate from Don Nagle in Camp Lejeune, N.C. in 1958. He went
to Okinawa and studied with Isshin-ryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku
in 1959 until he left in 1960. Throughout the years he also
studied Bando from Maung Gyi. His Marine Corps overseas tours
of duties brought him to Okinawa, Cuba and three times to Vietnam.
His own students are friends
can tell you more about him then I can for all I can say is
that he wasn't a talker, he was a doer. Isshin-ryu, our system
means "One heart way" or "wholehearted-way." Wholehearted means
to do with earnest; be sincere; hearty, cordial and this is
the true spirit of Isshin-ryu. In this department he was in
a class of his own. That was Bohan.
For me, this best describes
the Marine or dojo classmate I knew and trained with in the
Agena dojo on Okinawa in 1959 and 1960. Many knew him as "Papa
san," I knew him as Bohan, that is the Marine way, We didn't
talk to each other a lot, but I think we knew each other better
than most. We had a comradeship that only career Marines will
ever know. I'll miss you Bohan, tell Dan Daly, Smedley Butler
and Chesty Puller at Tun Tavern tell them Semper fi, and when
you see Tatsuo you sure won't need a letter of introduction.
My condolences to Bohan, friends