Separting Fact from Fiction
By: Deus H. Marchacos, Yondan
and foremost I want to establish a few facts about Sensei J. Coffman.
He began his Martial Arts training on Okinawa under Grand Master Hohan
Soken in December of 1961 as a new black belt under Sensei fusei Kise,
a Yon-dan rank at the time. Sensei Kise had been an active student of
the Grand Master since the early to mid 50's, Jimmy (as known in Okinawa)
Coffman was one of Sensei Kise's first American students and was his
first American student to be promoted to the rank of Sho-dan (1st degree Black). He continued
to train with both instructors, Sensei Kise on a daily basis and bi
weekly to bi monthly with Master Soken at the Grand Masters' home dojo.
Because Sensei Coffman spoke Japanese to some extent and Kise spoke
English to some extent, Coffman could converse with both of his instructors
in their own language. (Interview with Master Soken during first meeting).
Sensei Coffman, with the help of others, established the first American
run Karate Dojo on Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa in 1960-1961. This
was done without deceiving his instructors and was never in a fighting
Art to establish, or to start his own style or system of Karate at a
later date. This is evident by his own actions for continuing to Honor
the rank of 7th dan awarding him by his teachers, back in 1977. He felt
then as he continues to feel now, that a sytem takes a life time to
learn and master.
Sensei Coffman, continued to train daily until his departure from Okinawa
after completing a 3 1/2 year tour of duty. After leaving Okinawa as
a Yon-dan (4th degree black belt) with a teachers certificate in hand,
he organized his first Karate class at Fort Bragg (Pope AFB) N.C. Durning
this time he continued to stay in contact with both of his teachers.
1972, Grand Master Soken and Master Kise made their first trip to the
States. This was to be the first and only trip for Master Soken; they
came to Philadelphia, for the purpose of forming an American Karate
Association (OKF), and to renew friendships made with many of their American
students. Master Soken became ill and almost immediately both he and
Sensei Kise returned to Okinawa; their stay in the States was to be a month
or two, instead it was only a week or less.