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My first encounter with the art of karate in any form was through a neighborhood friend who I saw on his way to class one day.  I stopped him and asked if I could come along with him.  His immediate reply was "NO".  This was because at the time I was actually trying hard to become gang related, (at age 7).  

I wasn't in the gang (you could say I was "around" the gang).  Today it seems that my neighborhood friend must have forseen my hidden agenda.  "My secret intent was to learn karate, come back and show the older members of the gang that I could fight and hopefully they would accept me".  The gang on my block would often break into two groups and fight each other for practice,

(THE AVENGERS VS THE HURCULOIDS) and sometimes it would get serious.  A few weeks later I approached my friend again (maybe at this time my hidden agenda, was hidden), this time he allowed me to accompany him to class for whatever reason.  When we arrived at the "Towne House" students were already dressed for class. I sat in the stands and waited for class to begin. 




A very large man walked from the office area out front already dressed in full Gi.  Somehow, I knew this was the instructor,
(Fred Hamilton)
 and it wasn't because of the black belt he was wearing. There was another instructor there also
(Thomas "Lapuppet" Carroll).
  To me (being small all the days of my life), this guy was huge, even bigger than my neighborhood friend.  They all lined up and this huge man (who was later introduced to me as "Sensei " Fred Hamilton), started speaking in a language that in all my 7years on earth was totally new to me.  I learned later after class that the language was Japanese.  Before the class ended, I was already home and was asking my mother to please enroll me in the karate class at the towne house.  Mom in turn took this information to my father who then agreed it was o.k. for me to be enrolled. (All things approved or disapproved went through him).  My father actually liked the idea (seemed macho to him), so the very next day he took me to enroll.  On the way to class I was sure to inform Dad that I would be needing a pair of those pajamas that we often see my friend carrying.  I received my uniform (Gi ) the same day.  I hurried to the dressing area to change, when I emerged I found my father gone!  Sensei ushered me onto the training area and personally gave me (as he did others) the basic stances, how to enter and leave the dojo and all other necessities that a newborn student would need. 

The class had gone through the normal routine; it was now time for sparring. 

Sensei bellowed, "everyone have a seat, it's time for kumite".  These were words I found, I would always hear.  At the time I didn't know what the word "kumite" meant so when he made the statement, I was thinking "man, I really gonna learn a lot on my first day".  The two most senior students were first.  They stood in front of one another and bowed. They were instructed to take fighting stances, then the command of "hajime" was given.  The instant after the command, a well-placed gyaku mai geri chudan was execuited.  My adrenaline skyrocketed, and my insides were like a tuning fork just smashed against the edge of a table.  I was positive that because it was my first day, I wouldn't have to participate, how wrong I was!  I was the very last match of the class, pitted against another beginner (more training than me however).  We bowed, took fighting stances and Sensei said, "ok. Raymond, let's see what you got". 

When the session was over I knew I had nothing.  The pure fact of someone banging on me for the betterment of myself just didn't appeal to me.  This having nothing (kumite) session went on for around two months until one day I promised myself, "I'm going to hit somebody today".  By this time I was being banged on with regularity but for some unknown reason I wouldn't quit.  This one particular day, class went on as usual all the way to kumite session.  My match came up.  I bowed to my opponent and we took our stances.  The command to begin was given.  "We both literally inched toward one another and I remember closing my eyes".  I let loose with gyaku tsuki and almost at the same time I was hit with a technique squarely in the chudan area.  "I opened my eyes and to my surprise, I found that I wasn't dead".  I recall Sensei yelling "now you'll start learning McRinna, now you'll start learning!  That was the day I started to feel like a real member of the Dojo.  From then onward, karate-do started to grow on me so to speak. I never missed a class and I could no longer be found on the street. 


At the same time however, the gang noticed that I wasn't trying to associate with them anymore.   I was approached by a few of the members (gang) and asked to hang out with them, I refused.  This in turn got back to the leader who wanted to know why I suddenly didn't care for them anymore.  Needless to say I became a target and at times had to take alternate route to get to class or home.  This sometimes put me in territory belonging to other gangs.  On Sundays when sensei was home I would borrow the keys to the dojo and go practice alone.  After a while the other students were wondering how I progressed so quickly.  One Sunday after church I was on my way to sensei's house when I was cornered by "wild bunch" members, jumped and beaten, and then taken to "The Pit" where I was left there for 5 hours.  When I was released and made it home my brother asked, "why are you so bruised"?  I promptly lied and told him "it happened in class".  When my mother saw the bruises I was almost pulled from karate.  I didn't mind the bruises because I knew this was my "freedom initiation" from the wild bunch. 

They wouldn't be bothering me anymore.  Although I progressed, rank was still hard to come by.  When I received my yellow belt along with a few others I was on top of the world.  Then came some words of wisdom from Sensei.  "BE CAREFUL, THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS RANK".  All the yellow and brown belts were pulled aside and further divided into two groups respectively. My group (yellow) was lectured about the dangers of our rank: "this is a rank when students (new) feel that they know something (how to fight), in reality you still know nothing!  We were also told that this is the step where most people quit, so you must make it past here.  I wondered what the brown belts were told?

Tomosaburo Okano


A while after my promotion to blue belt (long time between yellow and blue) two Japanese (1967-?????) gentlemen showed up at our dojo one day.  Sensei stopped the class and we all paid respect to them.  They moved to the dressing area and emerged in full karate GI,

complete with speckles of blood here and there.  Their appearance shook me! 

Sensei then introduced them.  They had just recently arrived from Japan.


Up to this point I had never seen a living Japanese person, much less train with one (two).   Sensei led the class while the two gentlemen walked through the group making corrections.  We then moved on to kata where the primary focus was on (Heian) fine-tuning.  I remember both Japanese gentlemen demonstrating (what was to me) perfect Heian kata.   That (I remember saying to myself) is how I want my kata to be. 




Years down the road I would often see Miyazaki Sensei at tournaments winning both kata and kumite and, (even in the face of being outright cheated) always remaining a gentleman while the other (I thought) had returned to Japan.  Via the Internet, (surfing)  I found that Okano Sensei had been residing in California.  However the brief teachings we as a group and myself personally received from them lasts me to this current day and time. 


We were issued
 new certificates
 (and I stlll have mine with no expiration date)
 that reads: 

Nippon Karate-Do Kenkojuku of the United States and Japan. 

There's no way I could possibly forget these gentlemen!  Sensei was pleased with the impression that the dojo made however, he was quick to add: "we should always strive to impress ourselves at all times".  These were the days of the "Five Young Tigers".  This was a group that consisted of five of us that lived on the same block in Harlem:

Vincent Vanderhorse******Bubba 'D'

Raymond McRinna, Shihan*******Angel

Duke Ebron*************Blade

Anthony Lloyd***********Clown

Keith Heatley, Sensei************Lockup   

During the time of this team there were always hot times in the Dojo and at tournaments as well.  A single sparring match could last 5 - 8 minutes with no rest.  I remember vividly looking over at Sensei, praying to hear "yame" but the only word he would bellow  was "CONTINUE". If you fell or got knocked down and didn't get up in time, you were stomped until the "yame" command was given (normal class routine at Harlem Kenkojuku). 


One weekend out of many over the years Sensei invited (Master George Cofield) a friend of his from "TONG DOJO" of Brooklyn, NY) over for a dual class workout.  Both schools were Shotokan but Tong wore black Gi.  We had no idea we were going to have visitors so when they walked in the air was as thick as a brick wall.  Our training area looked as if someone had broken open a salt and pepper shaker set.  Every movement made by anyone in the dojo was intense because both dojo were waiting for kumite time. There was real effort made for one dojo to out do the other.  On this day kumite didn't seem like tournament, it seemed like the street. To heighten things further, at what we thought was the end the instructors threw in an extra-added attraction.  Both dojo were put on the floor, Sensei yelled ("Gangfight, team white against team black") as the other Sensei turned off the lights.  When the lights were turned back on everyone was in pain holding some part of their body, then the lights went off again.  The lights flickered four times.  If I remember correctly, a few people didn't return to class after that session. 


A short time later some friends and I were playing football in the Neighborhood Park (136th St between Fifth and Lenox aves.), when I saw a gentleman executing what looked like kata.  His movements were smooth as silk, and then suddenly his movements were as fierce as Shotokan (tripped me out).  I quit the football game so that I could get a closer look.  After watching for a while the gentleman asked if I would like to join him, I did!  At the end of the session he invited me to join his school.  I informed him that I was a member of a Dojo, he informed me that he and my Sensei knew each other.  When I returned to class I told sensei about the gentleman that I met, this is when sensei told me the gentleman was a Goju Sensei (Leon Wallace).

  At this time most people (who didn't know) looked at this man in the park as a bit eccentric, he was just a man who loved his art.  

He would often invite me to his dojo and regrettably I never visited.  Long before I met him we had been instructed not to visit other dojo without Sensei or another black belt.  Whenever I saw Sensei in the park he always had words of advice.  I had the honor of attending his funeral and it was great to see the legacy that he left behind (may peace be upon him).


Tournament times were well looked forward to by the kenkojuku dojo.  We would often have large groups traveling to the different events.  We were once again reminded to keep our manners up front (unless otherwise instructed), if you "act like Princes and Princesses and you'll be treated as such" Sensei would say.    







We were in Washington, DC for competition. I had progressed to brown belt just a few months before so I was on a high (cocky).  When the divisions were divided it was found that I was the only brown belt in my division so needless to say, I had to fight up (black belt division).  Of course being the only brown belt in the division my match was first.  We lined up bowed in and took our stances.

The Hajime command was given and I remember throwing a feint. My opponent executed a perfect jump-spinning heel kick and I actually saw my front four teeth in the air as I left my feet (airborne).  I remember seeing lighting (or what looked like lighting), blacking out, waking up and blacking out again (all before I hit the floor). When I came to again, the front of my GI was red with my blood and sensei was standing over me pointing and with a frustrated face saying "NEXT TIME---DUCK", then he simply turned and walked away.  The match was over (due to disqualification--junior black belt div--no facial) and I had won, but I felt totally incompetent.  I rested and fought two twice more (winning) until finally losing.  I remember wanting to quit after the incident but quitting simply wasn't allowed.  Upon returning to the dojo I immediately started taking the loss out on my classmates.  At that very moment the class was stopped and I was made to line up in front of Sensei himself.  Rite then and there I knew I  had problems.  I'm happy to say that sensei didn't hurt me physically however, through humiliation I was hurt.   




I learned then that with the rank of brown belt (as with all rank and regardless of age) comes responsibility.  At age 14 I was teaching class on my own sometimes (but always under the eyes of Sensei.  In the beginning and for a long while it was exciting. After a while however (in my mind) the thought and feeling came upon me that I was doing a lot of teaching and not learning anything (I didn't realize I was learning how to teach).  One particular day Sensei instructed me to lead the class.  I murmured that "I didn't want to teach".   "What did you say", sensei yelled.  I said in a louder voice (but with no more confidence), "I don't want to teach".  Sensei then spoke in the mildest voice I ever heard him speak in: "McRinna, go lead the class".  My response was, "I QUIT", and Im tired of teaching and not learning anymore.  These feelings were compiled with the fact that something was still missing something (my teeth), and was still mis-directing the anger that I had.  I headed for the dressing area, changed and went home.  An hour later there was a knock at our apartment door and my mom attended to it. 

I could hear her and sensei talking.  My immediate thought was: I don't care if he begs me, I'm not goin back!   He didn't beg, instead, he snatched me up- placed me over his shoulder- and headed out the door down the three flights of stairs of our tenement building and back to the dojo.  All along the way I was cursing sensei while kneeing him in the chest and pounding him in his back, (and even pulling his hair) but nothing worked.  When we made it back to the dojo (some 7 blocks away and three flights up in a converted loft) Sensei literally threw me across the room, when I hit the floor, I realized that the whole class had remained until our return, and at the same time I immediately came to all my senses.  Sensei's only words were "everybody, kick his ass". 

This lasted nearly a full minute (until I started fighting back), then the yame command was given. The following words were:  "never tell me you quit, just don't come back".  Everyone went to get dressed and I was left in the middle of the dojo floor to ponder the situation-------I returned to class.  For the next few months I lived under the microscopic eyes of the whole dojo. 

My attitude changed over time and I fell back into the groove of training. 

Our dojo was growing stronger and stronger, in the neighborhood we were known for our hard training, in fact during dojo time I really dont recall being matched against many kids my age (sometimes it did happen) ----always older by a few years (a motivational training tactic I use in my classes today). 



McRinna Sensei







Mr. Raymond McRinna is a direct student of the past
 Frederick J. Hamilton,
 "A.K.A. Baba."
Sensei McRinna has been training,teaching, and competing in Shotokan Karate-do since 1964.  When many of his friends were hitting the discos in the late 60's he would be training, often ringing his sensei doorbell on saturday and sunday mornings asking for the door keys to the downstairs dojo.  The dojo also served as a recrecation room for the project building where sensei lived.  Sensei McRinna remembers often being kicked under, (and sometimes over) the pool tables of the rec room.  In those days that was the training.  And just like today, back then we would often hear that, "this is easy training, you people don't know what hard training is." 
Sensei McRinna is currently the Founder of the
South Carolina Original Karate Dojo Assocation , (S.C.O.K.D.A.), member of the USANKF. 


Some of Mr. McRinna's past martial achievements




World Karate Union Hall Of Fame (WKUHOF)




Atlanta Cup Championships

Tournament Grand Champion

Gold medal--Kata  Silver medal--Kumite


AAU South Carolina State Championships

Gold medal—Kumite  Gold medal—Kata



United States of America Karate Federation National Championship       USAKF

Gold medal—Kata  Gold medal—Kumite


Atlanta Cup Championships

Gold medal—Kata


United States of America-National Karate-do Federation NCQualifier    USA-NKF

Silver medal—Kata  Silver medal—Kumite


Myrtle Beach Open/Beach Battle XIII

1st Place Kata   3rd Place Weapons



Traditional Okinawan Rengokai World Championships

Silver medal—Kata


United States of America-National Karate-do Federation NCQualifier    USA-NKF

Silver medal—Kata  Bronze medal—Kumite


Myrtle Beach Open/Beach Battle XIII

3rd Place Kata   3rd Place Weapons


North Carolina Nationals

1st Place--Weapons   2nd Place--Kata


Charleston Classic

1st Place--Weapons  2nd Place--Kata  2nd Place-- Kumite



AAU South Carolina State Championships

Silver medal—Kata  Bronze medal—Kumite



Southern National Open Karate Championships

1st Place—Kata  2nd Place—Kumite 2nd Place—Weapons


South Carolina State Championships

1st Place—Kata  2nd Place—Weapons


Ryu Renshi Dan 16th National Tournament---Dobbs Ferry, NY

Grand Champion Weapons Dvision   2nd Place—Kata


Charleston Classic

1st PlaceKata  1st Place—Weapons  2nd Place—Kumite


Union County Classic

3rd Place—Kata  4th Place—Weapons



9th Annual Southern Open National Karate Championships

1st PlaceKata  3rd Place—Kumite


Myrtle Beach Open

1st Place—Kata  3rd Place—Weapons



Twin Towers Classic---New york, NY

2nd Place—Kata



Ryu Renshi Dan 13th National Tournament---Dobbs Ferry, NY

Grand Champion



I warmly recall my beginnings in Jukido Jujitsu with Master Jones.  We met through an associate / co-worker at New Rochelle Hospital.  I had no formal exposure to JuJitsu prior to being invited to attend a session or two.  After my first class, I was hooked.  I informed Professor Jones that I would like to further my training and we agreed (although at the time I was 3rd in Shotokan) that I would benefit most by starting in the basics. To my suprise I was assigned a  young man 12-13 years of age to learn these basics from.  Needless to say what my thoughts were, however they were soon changed. 



Shihan McRinnas' skills include a bit of acting. these photos are from the set of a 1996 released film titled 'Sweet Nothing' starring Mira Sorvino and Michael Imperioli.  The geltleman to the right of Shihan McRinna is Gary Winick, Director of the 'Sweet Nothing' project.