Signed in as:
Sensei Roberto Curtis, 9th degree, has trained in the martial arts for over 50 years, and is a direct student of Grand Master Seikichi Iha, Hanshi, 10th degree. Sensei Roberto started training with Seikichi Iha in 1979 in the Lansing, Michigan, Hombu Dojo. He is now one of Sensei Iha’s senior students and sits on the testing board of the Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu Association for all of North America. Before beginning his training with Sensei Iha, Sensei Roberto trained in Judo, Shotokan, Shorinkan and Goju Ryu Karate, and Kung Fu.
Over his 50 years of practice, Sensei Roberto has observed that karate is an evolving art. We learn from and observe the teachings of the great masters, but in the end, we must all “make karate our own” both in our practice and in our teaching. In the words of Sensei Roberto,:
"The karate I taught when I first began teaching is nothing like the karate I teach now. A long time ago, when I first started martial arts training, our concern was to hit, kick and block hard. With much pride we’d show off our bruised arms and shins after training, calling them “Okinawan Sunburn”! Now I focus more and more on flow, or Nagashi blocks that are so soft that you can respond to an attack before your opponent even knows their attack was blocked. No more Okinawan sunburn for me! Plus this is better for women and older people who don’t enjoy banging up their arms.
In the last 5 years or so, I have begun focusing even more on teaching the tussling (tuite/Chin Na) applications found in our karate rather than solely percussion. I spent decades learning these effective applications. What is the sense of keeping it to myself and not helping others cut through the learning curve to begin to understand what is in their kata rather than wait two or three decades when they might discover it."
For over 45-years as a Foreign Service Officer and Civil Servant, Sensei Roberto taught effective Self Defense Karate to U.S. Embassy Security Personnel, U.S. Marines, foreign security agents, and people like you. When he settled back in the U.S. and retired from public service, he founded Virginia Okinawan Karate to continue to share his passion for karate, teaching, and self-defense. He strives to create a community of adult learners and karateka, who are committed to the lifelong journey of martial arts.
Daniel K., Franconia, VA
Denise started training in Beikoku Shidokan with Sensei Roberto Curtis in 2011. She began her martial arts training in 1998 and has also studied Koryu Uchinadi and Tae Kwon Do. She's recently started studying aikido, as well as jiu-jitsu with fellow instructor Zac Olson.
For much of her martial arts career, she was one of only a few women at the dojo. As a result, she became passionate about bringing more women into the martial arts because it builds confidence in every aspect of life -- career, home, community, and, of course, in the ability to defend oneself.
Denise currently teaches four classes a week -- two womens classes on Tuesday & Thursday at 6:30 pm, and a fundamentals class for everyone on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm and Friday noon.
Outside the dojo, Denise formerly served as President of Motley Fool Asset Management, where she was also often the “only woman in the room.” Denise has a bachelor’s degree in English and an MBA with a marketing concentration from Mount St. Mary’s University.
Yelena N., Lorton, VA
Self defense is a critical skill and the reason I practice Shidokan Karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The combination of both arts gives me the confidence to handle myself in any situation. One is not better than the other, they are different and of equal importance.
I started training in martial arts in 2002 at Sensei Iha’s Dojo in Lansing, Michigan. I had always been an athlete, and got the recommendation to look into Sensei Iha’s dojo from a friend. As soon as I walked in the door, I was impressed by the level of expertise that I saw as well as the opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and use practical applications.
In 2004 I entered the Army putting my karate career on hold. I deployed twice to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and once to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The lessons I had learned from karate gave me the confidence to handle myself during combat.
When I discovered Sensei Roberto’s dojo in 2016, I was so happy to continue to learn. I appreciate how Sensei Iha and Sensei Roberto have a focus on self-defense. Throughout my career I have always tried to develop my skills to ensure that I was prepared for whatever situation may arise. I am particularly interested in the practical applications that can be discovered within the kata, kumite, and bunkai.
I found Gracie Jiu-Jitsu after I was already a Black Belt in Karate. I attended a jiu-jitsu class in the Pentagon to see what it was all about. I discovered immediately that all the skills I have standing do not translate that well to the ground! This opened my eyes to a whole new world of self defense and I have been hooked ever since. After practicing both arts I am always amazed to discover the amount of connections there are between karate and jiu-jitsu. I love that the martial arts journey never ends, and there is limitless potential to improve and learn.
Laura V., Alexandria, VA
Our dojo is a member of the Beikoku Shidokan Association, and Kyoshi Curtis is a direct student of Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th degree.