Joe Krystofik, Kyoshi – 8th Dan
Joseph Krystofik began his study of karate in 1970 in Isshin Shorin Ji Ryu Okinawa Te, under the instruction of Shihan Ralph Chirico. This style was formulated in 1968 by Master Robert Murphy, a senior student of Isshin Ryu master, Don Nagel. Isshin Ryu and Shorinji Ryu make up the foundation of the Isshin Shorin Ji system with additional influence coming from Japanese Shotokan, as well as other Asian martial arts, such as Aikido and Jujitsu. Joe studied regularly with Shihan Chirico until he moved away from New Jersey in 1974. After leaving NJ, Joe continued training, returning periodically for instruction from Mr. Chirico, until 1991. Joe was promoted to Shodan in December 1974, and attained the rank of Sandan (third degree black belt) from Mr. Chirico in December 1980.
Joe met and trained with a number of highly skilled martial artists from many diverse styles over the years. His first encounter was in 1974 with a Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioner while in the Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. This gentleman learned the art from his Chinese father. He taught Joe the principles of fluidity, economy of movement, as well as underlying philosophy. Upon moving to Arkansas in 1975 to attend U.A. Monticello, Joe met and trained with practitioners of Taiho Ryu Karate and Jujitsu, a style founded by Master Bo Hardy. Joe established the UAM karate Club in 1977 and taught there until he graduated in 1979, upon which he opened a dojo in town. He taught there until he left for Graduate School in Louisiana in 1981.
Joe continued training in Isshin Shorinji Ryu while in Graduate School at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and taught one fellow grad student. He also trained with the University Karate Club, which taught Shotokan Karate. During this time, Joe also studied Yang Style Tai Chi, learning the long form of that art and practicing their method of push hands.
Joe moved to St. Augustine, Florida, in 1986, and trained with a local practitioner who introduced me to his former teacher, Sensei John Jeffries, an Okinawa Kenpo practitioner. Sensei Jeffries introduced Joe to the Okinawa Kenpo katas and training exercises. In 1989, Joe trained for a time at a Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu Dojo in Tallahassee, FL. Training with these individuals led to greater development of basic karate technique. Joe moved back to Monticello, Arkansas, in 1991, and rekindled relationships and training with Mr. Tim Furneaux, his former Arkansas student who went on to achieve Yudansha rank in Taiho Ryu, as well as his former student from LSU, Mr. Dan Ayers, who went on to and achieve Yudansha rank in Shotokan. Joe reestablished the UAM Karate Club in 1991 and taught there until moving to Little Rock, AR, in 1994.
In 1992, Joe had the extreme good fortune of meeting Taika Seiyu Oyata, Supreme Instructor of the Ryu-Te® Renmei. After attending his annual summer training camp, Joe applied for membership and was accepted into Taika’s Zenkoku Ryukyu Kempo Karate Kobudo Rengo Kai Association. Under Taika Oyata’s tutelage, and with instruction from many of Taika’s senior Black Belts, Joe learned the techniques, principles and philosophy of the Okinawan life protection arts as handed down by Taika’s instructors. Taika Oyata’s art is the “old way” based on the principles of developing good character, service to the community, and proper training to learn the “way of the Ryukyu Hand.”
Joe taught karate at the Downtown YMCA after moving to Little Rock from 1994-1996, when the facility closed. He continued teaching at his home until 1999.
Joe attained the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) in Ryu-Te® in 1998. In 1999, he was invited to test and received the rank of Godan (5th Degree black belt), Renshi, in Oyata Shin Shu Ho®, Mr. Oyata’s family art. Joe moved to Searcy, Arkansas, in December, 1999, and started teaching karate at the Searcy Athletic Club shortly afterwards, where he continues to provide karate instruction to a small number of select students. Joe was invited to test for advanced rank in Oyata Shin Shu Ho by Taika Oyata, and was promoted to Nanadan (7th Dan), Kyoshi, in 2005. This very high honor permits him to carry on Mr. Oyata’s family art. Following Taika Oyata’s death in 2012, Joe continued training within the RyuTe® organization. However, he became disillusioned by the way the organization was being run, and by the disrespect being shown to Tasshi Greg Lindquist, Taika’s senior student. Shortly after Mr. Lindquist resigned from the RyuTe® organization in 2014, Joe started training with him. Joe formally joined Zensekai Karate Kobudo Rengo Kai in 2015 and began studying Kuzhshi Te and Oyata Kobujitsu exclusively from Tasshi Greg Lindquist (now Hanshi), and his senior black belt, Kyoshi Matt Cowan. In July 2018, Joe was promoted to Hachidan (8th Degree black belt), by Hanshi Lindquist.
Joe’s early karate training was very intense and physical, with a strong emphasis on physical conditioning suited more toward the young, athletic type individual. He participated in karate tournaments in New Jersey, Arkansas and Mississippi with a moderate degree of success in both sparring and kata competition. Though participation in karate tournaments was common in those early days, self defense was always the primary focus of the training.
With age and experience, and the instruction from Taika Oyata, Joe’s training, teaching style and emphasis has evolved. That emphasis is on proper training to develop good technique and natural body reaction; however, physical conditioning is still an important aspect of daily training as development of a strong core and overall physical fitness are important for developing a healthy body, as well as the ability to execute effective life protection techniques. Mr. Oyata taught that karate should be useful throughout one’s entire lifetime. Thus, Joe believes that training must be done in a manner that promotes good health because the things we do today will affect our bodies in old age.
Joe continues to study Taika’s art under the direction and watchful eyes of Hanshi Lindquist and Kyoshi Cowan, and learns from all members of the Zensekai Karate Kobujitsu Renmei. He believes that the learning process continues throughout one’s lifetime and is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this legacy. Joe is dedicated to helping preserve and promote Taika’s art both to other sincere protection arts practitioners.