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Prior to his discharge from the Navy in June of 1957, and his return home to Tennessee from Japan the same year, Cecil Patterson's life began to change dramatically. Commencing his career in law enforcement, he quickly found himself rising through the ranks of multiple local and state agencies, achieving the professional success he'd always known he would achieve -- a success he knew was due greatly to the experience he'd undergone while in Japan as a  student of Wado Ryu Karate. The skills and philosophies he'd learned and acquired while studying under his Sensei, Kazuo Sakura (left) had not only saved his life while enforcing the law on more than one occasion, but more importantly, had given him an insight into the spiritual path he found himself contemplating more and more as his life and career progressed.

Training daily, and maintaining constant communication with Sakura Sensei across the ocean, Patterson Sensei's reputation as a warrior among his fellow officers grew. Then, in 1958, concurrent with his promotion to the rank of Sho Dan (1st Degree Black Belt) he received permission to teach the art of Wado Ryu selectively -- a  rare grant, virtually unheard of outside of Japan at that time. But Cecil Patterson was not an ordinary karateka...a fact that was slowly becoming apparent even among those closest to Ohtsuka Sensei himself.

And so, late in 1958, in a converted YMCA in East Tennessee with two carefully chosen students, Cecil Patterson became the first officially recognized Wado Ryu karate instructor in Tennessee, and the first such teacher in the United States. In 1959, following his move to the Nashville area (where he has resided since) Sensei Patterson continued to teach, conveying his knowledge to a small, but dedicated group of students -- while continuing his work in law enforcement.

Then, in 1966, Sensei Patterson received a transoceanic telephone call from his teacher across the water -- a telephone call that would once again change his life dramatically; Ohtsuka Sensei was departing on a demonstration tour of Europe and America, with plans that included a visit to Tennessee. During that first visit, Patterson Sensei underwent one of the most grueling training periods he'd experienced since leaving Japan nine years earlier; spending eight straight days with the Master himself -- one on one -- from the first light of dawn until the late hours of the evening, practicing, practicing and practicing. "I still remember those eight days seeming to stretch into eight years", Patterson Sensei recalled recently. "It was one of the most intense experiences of my life".

Two years later, in 1968, Ohtsuka Sensei made his second visit to Tennessee, accompanied by his son, Jiro (Current Grand Master of Wado-Ryu). Once again, Patterson Sensei found himself undergoing daily rigorous training with the Master himself; accompanied intermittently by two of Patterson Sensei's earliest students, Sensei David Deaton and Sensei Taylor Hayden. But this time, there was a change in Ohtsuka Sensei's demeanor; the training was even more arduous than before; and more than once, Patterson Sensei felt distinctly that he was being tested. As on many occasions before, his instincts proved to be right. On the eve of his departure for Japan, Ohtsuka Sensei ceremonially presented Patterson Sensei with the rank of Go-Dan (5th Degree Black Belt) certifying him as the highest ranking Occidental Instructor of Wado Ryu karate in the western world. But with that honor would come a responsibility that Patterson Sensei would not be given until the following day, January 16, 1968.

That day, while awaiting the arrival of Ohtsuka Sensei's flight at the Nashville International Airport, Patterson Sensei expressed a growing concern regarding the certification of kyu ranks (students under the rank of Black Belt) in America, particularly of his own growing number of students in Tennessee. To his dismay, Ohtsuka Sensei (through his interpreter) replied that certification of kyu ranks by the International Federation in Japan was simply an impossibility; given the hundreds of students training in Wado Ryu the world over. "I want you to change that", he said. And with that, the Master himself instructed Patterson Sensei to establish a Federation, assuming Senior Instructorship of all Wado Ryu karate for the entire Eastern half of the United States. "You must comply in all respects with all governances from our Honbu Dojo in Japan", he continued. "You will be responsible directly to me, entrusted by me to carry on the true teachings of Wado Ryu here in America."

And so, on that auspicious day in mid-January forty years now in the past, our family of karateka was born; a family that continues to grow in strength, numbers, spirit and togetherness -- now more than 17,000 members strong, making us one of the largest branches of the International Wado Ryu Karate Do Renmei in the world.

Our Family -- The United States Eastern Wado Ryu Karate Federation!

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