Kiado-Ryu Karate

Welcome to the Karate Institute of America

Photo of the Week: A Walk Down Goldilocks Lane

Nicole “Goldilocks” Hackler has been a staunch KIA family member since the 1980s when her husband, Warren, a United States Marine, was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. Times have changed a bit, but here is a photo of them at a U.S. Marine Corps function looking beautiful and handsome. Such a power couple!

Time marches on. The following photo of four lovely and talented KIA women was taken in the 1990s. Behind a kneeling Goldilocks are (left to right: Heather Corn (now Riggs), Liz Eckes (now Avrams), and Christa King (now Jacob).

Oftentimes, great friendships were forged at the Karate Institute of America. These next photos are of the “Three Amigas”—Nicole and her twin buddies—Jenny and Lori Brown.

And a luncheon date with Whitefire on one of Goldilock’s visits to SoCal.

Nicole “Goldilocks” Hackler is a high-level engineer living on the East Coast with her retired Marine Corps hubby, Warren, who, having served multiple deployments in the Middle East, returned safely, thank God.

Goldilocks was close to being a Black Belt when Warren was reassigned from the West Coast to the East Coast. There is absolutely no doubt she would have become a KIA Black Belt had she remained in SoCal. She is a remarkable woman, highly intelligent, tough (she manages road crews awash in men and male energy), talented, lovely, and just an all-around first class lady. We greatly miss her at the KIA, but her effusive and radiant energy will always be a viable part of the legacy and history of the Karate Institute of America.

Photo of the Week: Beautiful KIA Smiles but … Beware!

Two of the Karate Institute of America’s loveliest students are Zemia “Barracuda” Garrett (photo right) and Hannah “Hannibal” Shamassian (photo left). They are dedicated, driven, talented ladies with great smiles, as we can see from the following photo.

Hannah and Zemia

However, let it be known, they are developing their martial arts skills to the point where anyone—man or woman—would be woefully unwise, i.e., foolish, to assault them. Those beautiful smiles are real, no doubt, but so, too, are the looks they can manifest to ward off any assailant, smiles which clearly send the message, “Don’t tread on me!” And believe this, those more serious looks are a harbinger of the mayhem these women can inflict on anyone seeking to harm them. So . . . beautiful smiles, absolutely, but beware. These women can absolutely bring down the thunder!

Hannah and Zemia

Photo of the Week: The Near Abduction That Failed

Beware of This Tactic!

The Near Abduction That Failed

This story was aired on NBC on 29 April 2007. In Saratoga Springs, New York, a high school Senior female track star named Lindsey Ferguson was going to her car in the school parking lot. Adjacent to her car on the driver side was a van. She saw it and thought it was a parent’s car. As she opened her car door, the van door slid open and a man exited. He grabbed her around the waist with one arm and attempted to cover her mouth with the other.

Miraculously, a teacher named Ray, who just happened to be in the parking lot, saw everything, screamed out to the assailant who jumped back in his van and drove away. Ray, using his cell phone (thank God for cell phones) called the police as he ran after the van, giving the police the license number. He then jumped in his car and followed the van. When the police stopped the van, the assailant claimed he was only making phone calls and all he did was startle the girl, nothing more.

Upon inspection, the suspect’s van was filled with a tarp, a saw, pre-tied slip knots on a rope, a syringe pre-filled with anti-histamine to knock out the girl and a camera. His name was John “Rocky” Regan who had a history of stalking and abduction. He was, in fact, a predator. Interestingly, neighbors said this ‘family man’ was a great guy! In other words, predators don’t walk around the neighborhood wearing a red suit with pointed ears, a long tail, carrying a pitch fork and announcing their intentions. They can be perceived as nice guys. John Regan was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

How lucky, though, was Lindsey Ferguson? The hand of God was certainly on her head that day. Had it not been for Ray, she might not be alive today. What could she have done? First, not make the assumption that a vehicle, any vehicle, belongs to a parent. Second, and this is key, she should never have approached her car seeing that a van was parked next to her car, a van whose sliding door was just a couple feet from her drivers-side door – a common kidnapping strategy. The best choice would have been to return to a safe place, call school security or the police.

Photo of the Week: On Being Stalked

Richard Andrew King

Grandmaster—Kiado-Ryu Martial Arts

On Being Stalked

As one of the seemingly endless and escalating scenarios of stalking, assault, abduction, rape, and possibly murder, a woman in the San Diego area was walking innocently along a sidewalk when an older model black sedan began following her. The driver asked for her phone number and repeatedly asked her to get into the car. If this were to happen to you, what would you do? Here are some positive actions:

First, this thought: Never, ever, ever get into a vehicle with anyone whom you don’t know. Remember the Natalee Holloway incident. She got into a car with several young men she didn’t know and never came back. Underlying her tragic demise was the news report that she had been indulging in alcohol, possibly drugs, and was “partying”—all behaviors which drastically inhibit a person’s discriminatory faculties. Even though she was a Straight A student, these substances so clouded her judgment that she made a fatal mistake. Please remember that life doesn’t always give second chances and that this is a predatory world. Natalee Holloway never got a second chance because, under the influence of intoxicants and a desire to party, her judgment was egregiously flawed, which cost her her life and untold misery and suffering to her family, friends, and loved ones. Yet, she did have choices. She could have chosen not to drink and party and not to get into a car with young men she didn’t know. She chose otherwise. She lost . . . her life. This is why one of the major principles of the Karate Institute of America is, “Your Life; Your Responsibility.” Don’t neglect this simple and powerful truth.

Keep your distance! The first principle of security in defending yourself is to stay away or get away from potential danger. Trust your instincts, eyes, and mind. An unknown car following you is a danger! A person whom you don’t know asking for your personal information is a potential danger. Certainly anyone asking or demanding you get into their vehicle is danger incarnate. Get away . . . as fast as you can! If a car pulls up along side you, turn around and go the other way. Find a crowd of people if possible. Make noise. Draw attention to yourself. Do something but keep your distance.

If you feel you are being stalked, begin moving away, call 911 immediately and leave your cell phone on so authorities can locate you via its GPS (global positioning system) feature.

If you have time and presence, get the license number of the vehicle. Memorize it, write it down, take a cell phone picture of it, scream it out loud, call your home and leave it on your answering machine, call a friend and leave it with them.

Don’t beware of everything, just be aware of everything.


The Black Belt Book of Life—Secrets of a Martial Arts Master

The Black Belt Book of Life—Secrets of a Martial Arts Master

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!