J.D. Natan

Natan, Jon David, Sensei


Before we begin, I need to make one thing absolutely clear: as Napoleon Bonaparte said, "History is a set of lies agreed upon". If you keep this firmly in mind, you can approach the "History" of 'Martial Arts' (this term, in and of itself is a lie, as today's so called 'Martial Arts' are nothing of the sort).

We can be sure that, from the beginning, man has been attacking each other. For whatever reasons, some have always taken advantage of the weaker. Thus, to use the modern terms, mankind split up into three groups: the wolves (operating either alone or in packs); the sheep (not comprehending the need to defend themselves): and the sheepdogs (dedicated to defense of the sheep and themselves).

Defensive strategies and tactics have evolved over time. Technology and past experience dictating these changes. Unsuccessful ideas died with their originators; though they were destined to reappear over and over, as the memories of their abject failure receded from memory. Successful ones were incorporated, repeated, modified, and adapted to the current situations involving the participants. This has been the history of mankind all the way to 'Modern' times (just imagine how 'modern' we will appear two hundred years from now!).

The system, Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu, is my system. It is the expression (and culmination) of my studies in the world of human combat and that which I wish to hand down to others. It is not, nor could it possibly be, all inclusive, or perfect. No one system can be, with our current technology or life spans. I am merely a link in a long chain of people, handing down what knowledge they had gained and desired to pass on.

I am the product of a strict military upbringing and training. As such, life and death are realities that I have been up close and personal with in combat. They govern much of how I think and what I do. I have learned much from many people; friends, acquaintances, and enemies. A few stand out, however.

Kyo Sung Chou, taught me Tang Soo Do, Soo Bahk Do, Moo Duk Kwan on Yeouido Island in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul Korea. This system taught the kata similar to Karate-do, self-defense taught was Hapkido due to a lack of sophisticated defense in the Japanese Karate-do, kumite was every class, with contact ranging from 'light' (meaning bruising) to extremely violent bloody matches ("Don't let that chakusaa meegook beat you!"). It was oriented towards high powerful kicking maneuvers; and emphasized aerial along with complicated combinations of power kicks. Some of these kicks became part of our current system.

We do not teach any of the techniques I learned from Jim Harrison at his Bushidokan. What Jim Harrison taught me was, however, probably the most important thing I have learned. He taught me the proper attitude to have when confronted by any violent situation. It is something we try to install in all of our students. He also showed me what a consummate fighting instructor looked like. He inspired me to become the very best I could be; and to look through the facade of what was being presented and see the reality of the situation. (How to spot a fraud or a bad technique)

No one has ever heard of Mike Shelton; yet he, single-handedly, forced me to perfect my technique and overcome my sloppy habits. He elevated my understanding of what I was doing and how to correct it. He created my drive to perfect the movements and understanding of how they worked. He taught me the value of writing down in a notebook everything I had learned in class. He, also, taught me a ton of techniques and kata, and, how to classify and order them.

Ten years of training and experience prepared me for the ultimate influence in my training. Seiyu Oyata brought his Ryukyu Kempo (as spelled by his American students) to Merriam, Kansas. It was the name he gave to what he was teaching. The twelve kata were from Shigeru Nakamura and his Okinawan Kenpo. The self-defense techniques were his interpretation of Seikichi Uehara's Motobu Ryu. The weapons kata were from Master Nakamura and (supposedly) Uhugushuku no Tanmei.

Another ten years of constant, almost daily training with him ended with my relocation to the middle east. Slowly absorbing the lessons and principles he, the military, and many others taught me, I created the system that I teach today.

Seikichi Odo His kata I started learning before Oyata, Sensei arrived in the United States to teach me. I started underneath Bill Marron earning my Shodan, continued with Master Odo and his student 'Butch' Spain. This allowed me to encorporate many (but not all) of his Kata and Kobujutsu into what I teach. Master Odo was the kindest and most humble teacher that I have ever had. I never heard him speak a harsh word against anyone, even those who abused his gentle demeanor.

The Deep Background

Jon David (D'veed) Natan, Shuseki Shihan (納騰 徳維), 10th Dan (十段 - Judan) Red Belt in Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He started his martial arts training while attending Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri, in 1959, when he was eleven years old. Later, as part of the United States Armed Forces (Army) stationed in Seoul, Korea, Kyo Seng Chou was his instructor in Tang Soo Do (唐手道), Soo Bahk Do, Moo Duk Kwan with the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA). The training was three hours a day, six days a week for eighteen months. Speaking of his training in Korea, he states, When I was allowed into regular class, I was in the back of the class. I couldn't see what the front row was doing! Suddenly, everyone turned around, and I was the first row! Everyone was chasing me, passing me, and seemed to be insulted that I was SO bad! We fought every night. It was six months before I finally fought someone to a draw! At the end of a year, however, I was in the number one position; and Mr Chou started taking me to other places to get beat up! 1966, now 18, he received his Shodan (初段) in Shin Shin Jujutsu from Grandmaster Wilson; and Shodan (初段) from the KTA. In 1967, at age 19, he received his 2nd Dan (二段) Black Belts and a license to teach from the KTA.

While a science major (Geology/Biology) attending the University of Missouri Kansas City, J.D. Natan began learning and teaching 'Chinese' Kenpo Karate. Soon, he was employed full time as manager for Traco International, a large international chain of Kenpo schools. In 1975, he opened his own full time professional dojo. In 1976, he was appointed chairman of region 5 for AAU Karate and received a Shodan (初段) in the Okinawan Kenpo weapons system of Seikichi Odo from Master Bill Marron.

In 1976, Oyata, Sensei came to the United States. Jon David was waiting for him when he arrived from the airport. Master Oyata gave Jon David's Dojo the name, Ryukenkan, or Academy of Ryukyu Kempo*. J.D. became Master Oyata's first 'transfer' student. Having successfully made the jump from one system to a radically different one, earlier; J.D. had no trouble adjusting to the instruction of Oyata, Sensei. For ten years, Jon David, daily, learned and practiced Master Oyata's Ryukyu Kempo*. From three times a week to almost daily, he was in contact with Oyata-san. Not a week passed that he didn't learn, personally, from Oyata, Sensei; private lessons, in small group classes, or in personal conversations. In 1977, Master Oyata conferred upon him a Shihan Menjo (師範 免状). J.D. Natan had been participating in open 'point' competitions since 1969; but, he withdrew from 'point' kumite and concentrated, instead, on bogu kumite, which he had been practicing since 1972.

* Ironically, Master Oyata's instructor, Saikou Shihan (最高 師範) Shigeru Nakamura, spelled Kenpo correctly in his English transliterations. An early film taken in 1968, shows Master Oyata doing Kata in Kansas. A makeshift title spells Kenpo correctly at this time. Later, Master Oyata's students spelled the name as it is pronounced; due, to lack of familiarity with Japanese grammar. Master Oyata didn't care to correct it and it has been too long in usage, now, to change.

By 1979, J.D. Natan's style had changed so much that it no longer bore any resemblance to his teachings of just a few years earlier. In August 1979 he captured the Heavyweight Championship in bogu kumite, defending his title until his retirement in 1981. Before retiring, he spent five months teaching in Israel, introducing Ryukyu Kenpo there. Oyata, Sensei promoted J.D. to Renshi and 6th Dan Black Belt in 1984. At this time, he started traveling with Master Oyata across the United States, giving seminars and interviews with him. He represented Master Oyata in Europe and the middle east.

In 1987 he moved to Israel. Keeping with the tradition of Karate masters before him, when circumstances made it impossible to continue training with their teachers, J.D. struck out on his own. There, he combined and modified (over a fifteen year period) what he knew into Ryukyu (Liuqiu)(琉球) Kenpo (Quanfa)(拳法) Kobujutsu (古武術). Saikou Shihan Seikichi Uehara's, ideas and principles, as taught to J.D. through Master Oyata, transformed the old 'Chinese' Kenpo Karate techniques (and understanding of their kata) into something new and totally different. He is one of the last of Oyata's early students and highly respected in the Ryukyu Kenpo world.

Jon D. Natan, Hanshi received his 10th Dan (十段 - Judan) Red Belt in Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu from the Ryukyu Kenpo Karate Kobudo Rengokai in 2006, an 8th Dan (八段 - Hachidan) Red Belt in Ryukyu Kenpo from Midori Yama Budokai in 1996, a 6th Dan (六段 - Rokudan) Black Belt in Shin Shin Jujutsu (新進 柔術) from Grandmaster Leo D. Wilson in 1996, 6th Dan (六段 - Rokudan) Black Belt in Ryukyu Kempo and Kobudo from Taika Seiyu Oyata in 1984; 5th Dan (五段 - Godan) Black Belt in Okinawan Kobudo from 8th Dan Master Bill Marron in 1996; 5th Dan (五段 - Godan) Black Belt in Hapkido from 8th Dan Grandmaster Gunter Bauer. In addition, he is the retired undefeated heavyweight champion of the United States, and former #1 world rated heavyweight fighter in (Full Contact) bogu kumite. He is the Shuseki Shihan (首席 師範) of the Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu Kai (琉球 拳法 古武術 会); and, the Chief Technical Officer of the Ryukyu Kenpo Karate Kobudo Rengokai (琉球 拳法 唐手 古武道 連合会), both internationally recognized organizations with branches in Israel, England, Bulgaria, and the United States. He currently teaches Hóng Cūn (Red Village) Quán (紅村拳) in Private and Semi-private classes (054-686-9228). J.D. Natan attended the Coach's Course (Course Mei'amen) at the Israeli Sports College, Wingate Institute, and is a licensed martial arts instructor [dated 1967] with the Ministry of Education in Israel.

Professional memberships

  1. Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. Seoul, Korea. 1966 – present.
  2. Midori Yama Budokai. Las Vegas, Nevada. USA. 1966 – 2001.
  3. Amateur Athletic Association of the United States of America. Chairman Region Five AAU Karate. 1976 – 1978.
  4. Ryukyu Karate Do Renmei. Okinawa, Japan. 1977 – 1987.
  5. Zenkoku Ryukyu Kenpo Karate Kobudo Rengokai. Renshi. Independence, Missouri. USA. 1984 – 1987.
  6. Ryukyu Kenpo Karate Kobudo Rengokai. Chief Technical Officer. Kfar Adumim, Israel. 1987 – present.
  7. Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu Kai. Headmaster. Kfar Adumim, Israel. 1989 – present.