Posthumous Promotion of Renshi Shihan Nadine Oka
Welcome to a special edition Camp Highlight fresh from the 2022 35th Annual IKKU Summer Camp. It’s our pleasure to offer stories of significance when the time presents itself. Stories of such significance don’t come along every day but when they do occur we will capture and encapsulate a message for the friends, family, and members of the IKKU.
It’s hard to stress just how difficult it is to begin forming the words and sentences for a post of this significance. It actually goes beyond significance and makes all of us with a connection stop and reflect as we pray quietly to ourselves. She is almost certainly training, smiling, or even laughing in that memory and for me the feeling is very emotional and overwhelming.
She touched many of our lives in such a rich and warm way as she offered unbiased love to us all. Nadine is forever in our hearts and memories and she will be missed beyond words. As an example within 2 draft sentences of writing this post and as I was replaying my own memories of her, I had to step away as a huge emotional wave hit me like a ton of bricks. I was forced to compose myself as emotions and tears demanded my respect.
On Friday, June 10th Renshi Shihan Nadine was honored with a commemorative memorial including her Gi and Renshi Obi (shown here being displayed as Godan Rank, 5th Dan). Friends visited and gathered throughout the day as a sign of honor and respect. Karateka of all rank quietly approached and then bowed as they reflected on special memories with Nadine that will now be forever treasured.
Shogo System (称号
For those unfamiliar, the Shogo (称号) System is a similar system to ranking used by many Japanese martial arts styles. The word loosely translates to “title” as opposed to “rank” since many martial arts systems have these as independent systems from each other. Shogo titles are only awarded to higher-level dan and many organization use Shogo titles to signify the higher level of understanding, commitment, contribution and sharing from an individual black belt.
A Shogo title is beyond a doubt one of the biggest signs that a Soke, Hanchi, or Kaicho could share with one of their black belts to signify the value and respect they have for the practitioner. Shogo titles are only earned after years of rigorous training, maturity, and character development.
The Shogo system is a progressing system only achieved by contributing, growing, sharing, and excelling in the respective art. Commonly used Shogo titles are Renshi, Shihan, Kyoshi, and Hanshi. The IKKU recognizes the system put in place by Soke Joseph Ruiz that was implemented and developed since the ’70s.
Nadine Oka had tested previously and earned the rank of Godan, 5th Dan and the Shogo title of Renshi Shihan, Master Instructor.
Posthumous Promotion Ceremony
During an unannounced black belt promotion ceremony at the 35th Annual IKKU Summer Camp on Saturday June 11, the executive high-dan board bowed in the camp participants and Soke Ruiz began a promotion ceremony for our beloved and honorable fallen warrior, Renshi Shihan Nadine Oka. In our time honored tradition of promotions and ranking Nadine Oka was awarded the Rank of 6th Dan in Koto-Su Ha Shito-Ryu and the honored Shogo title of Shihan Dai which is equivalent to an Advanced Master Instructor.
Promotions such as this are rare and are almost exclusively used as a sign of deep respect and understanding of the karateka’s talent, commitment, and martial spirit. Godan, 5th Dan represents the end of testing for many martial arts systems. After that point higher levels are achieved by the individual commitment one gives back to the art.
Nadine’s promotion to 6th Dan, Rokudan literally brought on tears across the room. A rush of emotions swept across the floor as Soke Ruiz read out the Rank and Title Certificates for Shihan Dai Nadine Oka. Following Soke’s presentation each karateka approached the memorial and bowed as a sign of respect, love, and celebration to the newly awarded Shihan Dai Nadine Oka.
Following was a circle prayer where everyone held hands together as we celebrated Nadine’s spirit. There was a short break following where karateka was able to recompose themselves after emotions and tears dominated the moment. Shihan Dai Nadine Oka’s influence on our organization will last for years to come through stories and spirit as we relive those magic moments of friendship and bonding on the dojo floor and afterwards during socials.
I will be thinking of you every time I bow in and out of class and until we meet again on the greatest dojo floor of them all.
Memories of Nadine Oka – by Kyoshi-Sei Larry Griffin, 8th Dan
I am compelled to share some fond memories of Nadine. I first met Nadine in 2000 when she joined the IKKU and the Keishin Karate Kai Dojo at Meadowcreek High School. It didn’t take long to know she would be a special student. She was confident and determined. Nadine began her Kotosu-Ha Shito-Ryu training as a white belt. After several years of dedicated training she attained the rank of Godan (5th Black Belt) and the Title of Renshi Shihan (Master Instructor). We could always depend on Nadine to take a group of lower rank students aside and instruct them at the various IKKU seminars and camps.
Nadine was very accomplished with many of the weapons taught in the IKKU. In particular she had a passion for the Tonfa. We could depend on her to keep us straight as we worked Tonfa during seminars and camps. She was affectionally given the name of the “IKKU Tonfa Queen”.
Nadine was a fierce competitor. She was very active in the Georgia Karate League. She achieved her Referee License and won several State Champion Awards during her years of competing. There was a small area in her home where she displayed her rank certificates, medals and trophies. She helped many fellow karateka’s train for their tests in her home dojo. Soke Ruiz named her dojo the “SHODAI”, meaning little dojo.
Nadine warmly opened her home to Soke and Gloria, to fellow travelers from Maine, Florida and Tennessee that would come into town for various camps and seminars. We had many wonderful post event gatherings at the OKA Hotel and Tequila Bar.
Nadine was a wonderful student. She always had my back. But more than anything Nadine was a dear friend. She was like a sister to me. We will miss her dearly.
Larry Griffin, Kyoshi-Sei
Keishin Karate Kai
We have left a comment section opened below so please feel free to share your memories of Nadine or express your respectful sentiment with the group.