Kiado-Ryu Karate

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Photo of the Week: Color Code of Mental Awareness

Living in today’s world, more than ever before, demands we be constantly vigilant in relation to self-defense on a daily basis. No excuses. This world is not Pollyannaville. If anything, it is a Pandora’s Box full of misfortune.

One of the principle ways to protect ourselves is to be constantly aware of our surroundings. Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Founder and Director of, shares his organization’s “Color Code of Mental Awareness.” It’s valuable information. The Karate Institute of America suggests you check it out. It’s divided into two parts (here and here) and is available through his newsletter. The image below is a brief summation of his color code, the five parts of which are:

  1. white
  2. yellow
  3. orange
  4. red
  5. black

Color Code of Mental Awareness

Photo of the Week: The Road to Success Is Paved With Failure

Within the heart emotions stir.
Failure is not what we prefer;
but yet, the victors all confer –
The Road To Success Is Paved With Failure.

The Road to Success Is Paved With Failure

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Images)

We live in a dual dimension. There is positive; there is negative. There is day; there is night. There is high; there is low; masculine and feminine; hard and soft; hot and cold; on and off; up and down, war and peace and . . . success and failure.

All of the components of these pairs share opposite sides of the same energetic coin. We can’t have one and escape the other. It’s impossible. When we hold a coin in our hand, we hold both sides simultaneously. The key to managing opposites is to find the Golden Mean or balance point between the two sides and not to become imbalanced by focusing on one side to the exclusion of the other. The other is there, and as long as we’re aware of it and work with it we can lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

In the case of success and failure, each is part of the other as reflected in the Yin/Yang symbol of the Chinese Tao. In this ancient pictorial motif there exists a black dot in the white hemisphere and a white dot in the black hemisphere representing the truth of intrinsically connected opposites. Failure does not stand alone. Nor does success. They are two halves of the same whole.

Unfortunately, this concept is overlooked or not understood. Too often, failure is feared, subsequently fatally wounding the aspirant in search of success. In other words, some people quit because they think failure is something bad or to be ashamed of when in reality it is an integral part of the success process. To succeed, we have to expect failure so we can learn from our mistakes and ultimately succeed. It’s just a process, and through it we come to the unambiguous and incontrovertible conclusion that the road to success is paved with failure.

From The Black Belt Book of Life – Secrets of a Martial Arts Master, Principle #14

Kiado-Ryu Grandmaster Richard Andrew King

Available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Photo of the Week: KIA Troubadours - Richard & Richard Circa 1995

KIA Troubadours - Richard & Richard circa 1995

There’s often a lot more to KIA practitioners than martial arts. Last week we featured Steve “Coyote” Vertun and his wonderful song Ghost. This week we take you back to the mid 1990s with troubadours Richard & Richard, a Karate Institute of America singer/songwriter duo who played locally at various venues including the San Juan Capistrano Mission and The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano where they occasionally performed as an opening act for nationally known touring singers and bands.

At the heart of the duo is Richard Wurster, a consummate musician, guitarist, vocalist, song writer, and music director for his church. Richard Wurster’s KIA callsign is “Stringman,” and how he can make those guitar strings sing! He plays lead guitar, doubling up with vocal harmonies. Tagging along is Kiado-Ryu Founder & Grandmaster, Richard Andrew King.

Richard & Richard wrote quite a few songs together, four of which, two by each artist, can be accessed and listened to here: (scroll down below the R & R photo)

King’s CDs (one original music CD and three spoken word CDs) are here:

Photo of the Week: Coyote’s Ghost

In Memoriam

A KIA Black Belt’s Ghost

Coyote's Ghost

Steve “Coyote” Vertun, KIA Black Belt #39, has experienced the most horrific event in a parent’s life—the passing of his son, Alexander. In his son’s memory, Steve has written, sung, performed and produced a music CD whose anchor song is GHOST—a must-see beautiful tribute in word, song and production. It should also be noted that Coyote’s music engineer is the KIA’s own Jerry “Shuto” Alston, the 28th Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu.

Below the various links to Steve’s CD is a full explanation in his own words regarding GHOST, its purpose and backstory. Awesome work, Coyote! Enjoy everyone!

In Steve’s own words . . .

Dear fellow KIA Family,

Whitefire recently became aware of a project that I was working on. He suggested that he wanted to participate by placing it in the next addition of his awesome KIA newsletter. And so, here we are.

Many years ago I lost my son Alexander. It was a very trying time and it took several years for me find a pathway to acceptance. He was 4 ½ years old. It was as indescribable time as you can imagine it would be. He was a wonderful, kind little human being on every imaginable level and I loved him more than I could ever fathom to articulate. As time progressed I developed a different perspective on the matter. For a long while I could only see my own pain and discomfort. As a life long musician, it followed that moving through this would involve music as a natural outlet.

One of the songs, Ghost, (along with the rest of the CD Ghost, Shadow and Sun) was written at a time of transition, when I was starting to see things on a wider plane as while I was starting to transition towards some daylight on the matter and my gaining of a calmer perspective. The Ghost Video concept came few of years later as the CD was finally being mastered. (Jerry “Shuto” Alston engineered the CD. He has been working with me for 20+ years on my Eye Savant musical endeavors and as I transitioned into a solo artist. His work and ear are excellent, he is very kind and patient when it comes to my OCD perfectionist streak and he has been an incredible partner throughout all of this, personally and professionally. Love this guy!

The inspiration and resulting purpose purpose of the video was to provide other people a level of support while considering their own personal tragedy and to let them know that for whatever darkness or pain they are experiencing, at some point there will be light and a more gentle perspective ahead. Only time and distance will be their salvation and hopefully a spiritual path that they consider. Part Of the challenge I have had with this video release is that a percentage of people that see it take it that I am still in this deep grieving mode and that this is simply a tribute Alexander and a cathartic endeavor. It goes well beyond that in that it is primarily intended as message to help others. And additionally a couple of worthy charities (St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Wounded Warriors Project) from any CD sales. What I am hoping to avoid is this misunderstanding. While I very much appreciate these responses and condolences intended to be of comfort, it is really about the message intended for others. I have made my peace to the best extent possible over these many years Indeed this is a pathway for me to Alexander, however the way of honoring him, at this point in time, is through extending a message of hope to other grieving people and supporting organizations that are helping people whom might be grieving. I hope this makes sense to you. That is the message I want to bring forth.

As far as any messaging to our KIA Black Belt and all under-belt Brothers and Sisters… I want you to know that the training, comradery, strengthening of spirit, balance, fortitude and warrior spirit that I had the great opportunity and blessing to develop at the KIA was a significantly large part of what provided me the ability to weather this massive storm in the years when I most needed it… and to this very day, every day in all of the many challenges that life brings. I want you to know that the time and attention that you have devoted to “The Wall”, and the sacrifices you have made or are making to get there were worth every bit of it and if it hasn’t already been required, if you should ever need it because your spirit is being fully tested, call upon it, and it will be there for you.

In closing I want to express my deepest and sincerest thanks to Whitefire who, during the turbulent years and in the aftermath, was always there and had this exquisitely fine tuned prescient sense of when I needed support or an alternative view that would help stabilize my walk at any and many given moments, even if we hadn’t spoken in months. I would find myself in a deep shadow, the phone would ring and I would answer to his voice saying, “I’ve been thinking about you” and we would meet. That is part of the irreplaceable leadership and brotherhood that is the KIA legacy; ever present, ever strong, part of our shared wall DNA.

For additional information, backstory, see the video or participate with the music/charity please visit You can pre-order the CD (or wait until 3 February 2017 for the actual release). 30% of the proceeds are going to the charities mentioned above and the balance will be spent on producing more ways to bring these organizations more money.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Photo of the Week: Tough Dude Attitude vs. Educated Fighter

Billed with high expectations, the Ronda Rousey/Amanda Nunes fight was UFC’s 207th main event showcase. It was held on 30 December 2016, in Las Vegas.

It was Rousey’s first fight since being knocked out via the striking arsenal of Holly Holm on 15 November 2015, when Holm’s left roundhouse kick to the head topped off the final blow to “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey in the second round, leading to her devastating defeat in the octagon during UFC 193 and further leading to her loss of the women’s UFC World Bantamweight Championship title.

So much for titles. Amanda Nunes TKO’d Rousey in the first minute of their fight! The four photo collage reveals at least a minimum of one thousand words as to why Rousey lost.

Tough Dude Attitude vs. Educated Fighter

Holly Holm’s knockout of Rousey in the second round of their fight:

In watching these fights, the teachings of Sun Tzu come to mind. His opening statement in his masterpiece, The Art of War states:

War is a grave concern of the state. It must be thoroughly studied.

Notice the emphasis, not just on studied, but thoroughly studied.

Fighting is not about acting like a tough guy with a foul mouth and bad attitude, as is the modus operandi of so many fighters, including “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

Fighting is based on thinking, first and foremost. An educated fighter of ordinary athleticism will beat an ignorant jock every time. It is not brawn that wins victories. It is brain. Yet, as old as this fact is, some fighters, in fact a lot of them, still think acting like a tough guy with an attitude will be the ticket to triumph. Instead, acting tough alone is a true ticket to the trough of the thoroughly vanquished.

Given this understanding, test your fighting knowledge. After watching the Nunes/Rousey fight video linked above, how many KIA fighting principles did Rousey violate that resulted in her devastating defeat within her “comeback” fight with Nunes?

  1. Violated distance?
  2. Never moved off line? Moved at all? Footwork?
  3. Never escaped when she could have?
  4. Never used an effective guard or cover block when in trouble?
  5. Was too passive?
  6. Let Nunes set the tempo and mood?
  7. Let Nunes control the fight?
  8. Got involved in a slug fest?
  9. No hand checking or attempt to nullify Nunes’ punches?
  10. Death steps? When was there ever not a death step?
  11. Where was Rousey’s strategy? Tactics? Skills? Fight plan?
  12. Where was Sun Tzu?

As far as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is concerned, Sun Tzu was absent, and his vaunted teachings, which have been heralded for 2500 years and taught in major military academies around the world, were conspicuously absent. When will fighters ever learn that war is based on applied knowledge; that knowledge is based on study, study that must be thorough? Going into battle armed with only a tough dude attitude and mean facial expression is nothing more than a guaranteed formula for defeat, and it is the reason why so many so-called tough guys go down in flames, or worse.

A reflection from Dr. Samuel Johnson in his Vanity of Human Wishes warrants memorizing:

Unnumbered suppliants crowd Preferment’s Gate
Athirst for wealth and burning to be great;
Delusive Fortune hears the incessant call –
They rise, they shine, evaporate and fall!

The moral of the story: if you’re going to be a successful fighter, you’d better do your homework and prepare properly. Knowledge is power, and although some people think ignorance is bliss, it is not. Ignorance is the root cause of failure and defeat. Preparation is the key success, and if we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. Bank on it! We must absolutely study fighting thoroughly to be a great fighter. There’s no other option.

The Black Belt Book of Life – Secrets of a Martial Arts Master by Karate Institute of America Founder and Grandmaster, Richard Andrew King, is available at in both paperback and Kindle.

Photo of the Week: Raptor vs. Raptor Dad

What better way to start off 2017 than with a Raptor vs. Raptor Dad tête-à-tête.

Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet (KIA Black Belt #64) mixes it up with his dad, Ed Ligtvoet, in a light sparring duel. Although Mr. Ligtvoet is not an official KIA student, at least not yet, he does have a military background, having served in the Royal Netherlands Army as a younger man.

Raptor’s success as a martial artist was certainly aided by his father, who would always mix in up with his elder son as he was growing up. Ed is one tough dude, and he made sure his son was equally matched.

Although his dad still has the greater physical power, Raptor has the greater martial arts technique.

Yet, as the saying goes, “Old age and trickery will beat youth and skill every time.” It’s a huge mistake to take old guys for granted, as every old guy knows. But, as every loving father also knows, he wants his sons to be better than he is.

Congratulations to the Ligtvoets. They are a wonderful family, and the parents have done an excellent job raising their two sons. Oh, and by the way, if you think these two dudes are tough, you should see the mom, Atousa! She is one formidable mama!

Photo of the Week: Return of the Hawk

The Hawk flew into the Karate Institute of America in the 1980s, developed his martial arts skills, became a champion fighting and forms competitor, and moved deeply into the Brown Belt rankings until his destiny forced him in the 1990s to spread his wings and fly to other regions. However, as destiny would also demand, he returned to his KIA home for an awesome visit and get-together with Mr. King, sharing stories of old and great events of daring-do.

Hawk, of course, is his callsign. His name is Chip Robinson, and he was, at one time, the #1 fighter at the KIA, winning his first fighting competition as an Orange Belt. He went on to garner other championships in both fighting and forms divisions proving, in fact, that relatively tall martial artists can be great forms champions as well as fighters.

Chip’s drive to be the best and maintain a high sense of ethics and standards have led him to become an extremely successful businessman. He is President of The Management Works, Inc., a Newport Beach real estate company employing 44 people. He is also the proud father of four children.

The following photo of Chip was taken in 1990 by photographer and copyright holder Genny “Cougar” Edge. Some old timers may remember the location, which was behind the old studio among the trees.

Here, Chip shares a hug with pal Genny Edge, the 13th Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu.

Chip Robinson was a gifted, technical, courageous, fearsome, daunting fighter—qualities responsible for his many fighting championships. His positive presence is seen in this photo, an intimidating presence to his opponents, to be sure.

All hawks have mothers, of course. Pictured below is Chip’s mother, Mrs. Robinson—a wonderfully gracious and classy woman—with her son and some weird lookin’ dude having a bad hair day.

Pictured with Dan “Basai” Asay during a 1991 KIA showcase, Hawk observes, pondering his upcoming fight and assessing the competition. Friendly event or not, Hawk was always eyeing his prey and calculating how he would triumph over his opponent. (Photo courtesy of Genny Edge).

Ever the gracious gentleman, Hawk congratulates David “Nails” Mooney on his Black Belt coronation in the Fall of 1991.

The following photo was taken after a sparring class in 1988. Surrounding Hawk in the back row are, left to right, Craig Flemming, Dave Chrisman, Genny Edge and Dr. David Shoemaker. Front row, left to right, are Dan Asay, Rose Hoberg (then Guck), Mr. Magluyan and Chris Jenkins.

This is a proud moment. Chip shares his first tournament championship trophy with Mr. King. In fact, Hawk has this photo hanging in his office with other KIA pics!

These next photos are quite interesting. As Chip and Mr. King were having lunch, they decided to take a photo in front of the old studio located at 308 Lambert St. in Lake Forest. The first pic is as the studio frontice was in 1987. The latter two pics are of the same location, currently occupied by a different owner and business.

Bringing this pictorial essay up to date are Hawk and Mr. King at the old KIA location site. These two photos were taken on Tuesday, 12 December 2016.

It is impossible to put into words the immense, almost incalculable, feeling of reconnecting with KIA students and friends throughout these five decades. Such great memories, such great people, such awesome relationships. Thank you, Hawk, for reconnecting with us. You are, truly, a class act and extraordinary human being!


It was a very special night at Steve Vertun’s Segue office party, as four Karate Institute of America Black Belts were reunited for a wonderful Christmas reunion.

Coyote’s business, Segue, is dynamically successful due to his exceptional leadership and managerial skill. Plus, as was evident, his staff reflects qualities of excellence, loyalty, hard work and business acumen, like their boss. It was an inspiring evening to be around such a body of people.

Pictured from left to right are KIA Black Belts Steve “Coyote” Vertun (#39), Richard “Whitefire” King (Founder & Grandmaster), Jerry “Shuto” Alston (#28), and Clark “Flash” Hyman (#16).

The following photo, the better of the two pictures of course, highlights their lovely, gracious, talented and supportive wives.

From left to right are: Laura Vertun (wearing the gold dress), Dawn Alston (wearing the full body gray sweater), and Gwen Hyman (wearing the red blouse).

These moments are extremely special, and getting more special by the day. This life is not forever. Such gatherings are to be beautifully cherished for what they represent—great and loving memories and genuine, substantive, enduring relationships. This evening, thanks to Steve and Laura Vertun, was a true testament to the quality and connection of the KIA Family, its History and Legacy.

Photo of the Week: A Super Stud & Star on the Horizon!

The Karate Institute of America has a new star on the horizon, but it isn’t a martial arts star, at least not yet. Who is it?

Pictured with Mr. King is his eldest grandson, Ciaran, aka Lightning, a hockey stud and star on the horizon! This pic was taken in October at a Saturday morning practice at the local hockey rink in the Boston area.

And is this kid ever a stud! At only six years old he’s skating like a champ already. He’s fast, quick, intense and skilled. How could he not be? His dad, Dan, was a university hockey goalie who was also a semi-pro athlete, playing his hockey in the United States, France and Sweden. His mom, Chandra, not to be out done, was a star forward on her university soccer team. So…Lightning has a great lineage behind him, and it’s showing!

But every star needs fans, right? Pictured with Lightning, are his brother, Rory, aka, Thunder, his sister, Meara, aka, Stormy and Papa King. Early signs show that Ciaran’s siblings are quite talented and tough, too. Should be wonderful watching them grow and succeed. Great fun!

This photo was taken on Lightning’s first day of school. Precious. Great memories!

But, of course, up and coming studs and stars need to hit the books! Education is critical to a well-balanced and productive life.

It won’t be long before the world is hearing shouts of “Lightning strikes again!” in hockey stadiums everywhere. Go Ciaran!

Photo of the Week: In Tribute to Grandpa Shamassian

In Tribute to Grandpa Shamassian

The Karate Institute of America is deeply saddened to share the news that Grandpa Shamassian, Hannah’s paternal grandfather, has passed on.

Our entire KIA family sends its deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all of the Shamassian family, especially Grandma Shamassian and the loss of her cherished husband.

Grandpa Shamassian, pictured in the wheel chair at Hannah’s Purple Belt test in July of 2016, was a loving, kind, gentle, intelligent, supportive, impressive human being—first class all the way.

How many individuals, confined to a wheel chair, would endure the discomfort and challenge of attending their grand daughter’s outdoor karate event? Personal experience teaches that many capable individuals forego supporting others even though they have no infirmities. Yet, Grandpa Shamassian’s grace and love for his family motivated him to be at his grand daughter’s Purple Belt test. Wonderfully admirable.

Grandpa Shamassian’s passing reminds us that life is fleeting and that birth and death are the warp and woof of the circles and cycles of life, a process each of us will experience, no doubt, and one which we will endure with grace if we focus on being balanced and centered in our own lives. And, hopefully, when we pass, we will pass on to our loved ones a legacy they will appreciate, honor and respect, just as Grandpa Shamassian’s family and those of us who knew and loved him, appreciated him for the enduring legacy he created.