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Master Robert Safreed, Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do
Robert B. Safreed attended Michigan State University where, in 1960, he began studying Shotokan Karate at Michigan State University. On graduation day, he joined the Marine Corps to become part of the finest fighting force in the world.
Mr. Safreed was commissioned after completing Officers Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia in late 1962. Upon completing OCS, Mister Safreed was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines in Okinawa. While on the way, during a lay-over at Treasure Island California, he met a Special Services Officer who had just left Okinawa. Mr. Safreed, having a strong desire to learn, asked the Special Services Officer who the best karate instructor was on Okinawa. The Special Services Officer suggested Mr. Safreed contact a Corporal Dawson, who was the 3rd Marine Division Special Services Non-commissioned Officer for Karate and Judo. Corporal Dawson recommended Master Shimabuku located in Kin Village.
Master Shimabuku was working for Special Services making $250 per month--more than most Okinawans of the time. He taught at two dojos, one at Kin Village and the other in Agena, alternating between them. The classes at both dojos were two hours long on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday were a light workout. The Agena dojo was also open on Saturday from 1200 to 1600. Master Shimabuku had a few American assistant instructors. They were Bill Blond, Ni-Dan; and John Bartusevics, Ni-Dan; and occasionally A.J. Advincula, San-Dan. Usually, Sensei Bartusevics taught basics, but he was known for his enthusiasm and superb ability at kumite. Sensei Blond usually conducted the warm-ups. On special occasions, such as demonstrations of bunkai or kumite, Sensei A.J. Advincula would participate by request of Master Shimabuku. According to Mr. Safreed, Master Shimabuku referred to Sensei Advincula as his number one student because of his depth of understanding of bunkai. This was demonstrated by the fact that Sensei Advincula would easily and victoriously end kumite in about 10 seconds. The katas Seiunchin, Naihanchi, and Wansu were not taught at that time because Master Shimabuku thought his students were trying to learn too much too quickly. Instead, Master Shimabuku taught the Bo and the Sai. Unlike those previously mentioned, most Americans were in a hurry to participate in kumite without being firmly rooted in the basics. Master Shimabuku's continual stressing of the basics frustrated most Americans who were always in a hurry to practice kumite instead.
(Marine Corps Lieutenant Robert Safreed is standing behind Kikuyama, the Okinawan wearing the black top Gi.)
In November 1963, Mister Safreed was promoted to Sho-Dan by Master Shimabuku. However, he left the island in March of 1964 unknowingly as a Ni-Dan with orders to Camp Pendleton, California. Master Shimabuku occasionally promoted his most devout and capable students to Ni-Dan as they left Okinawa in order for them to qualify as instructors. Such promotions created a degree of controversy. Upon leaving Okinawa, in 1966, Mr. Safreed began working in the security business. Soon after, he completed 4 years of active duty and went back to graduate school at MIU where he obtained a Masters Degree in Police Administration and Public Safety while also staying in the active reserves. He completed a total of eight years active reserves and achieved the rank of Major.
Though Mr. Safreed went to other dojos in the United States, he rarely worked out in them because, in his opinion, so few Americans truly understood karate. While at Camp Pendleton from 1966 to 1968, Mr. Safreed was unable to go to Sensei Advincula's dojo even though it was about a mile away.
(Kensho Tokumura / Arcenio Advincula / Robert Safreed / Sherman Harrill -
all first generation students of Master Tatsuo Shimabuku. Sept 19, 1998 at Tomo No Kai seminar.)
Mr. Safreed remembered the high regard Master Shimabuku and other Americans instructors held for Sensei Advincula and began studying with him in 1981, after relocating to California from Michigan. He stayed because of Sensei Advincula's enthusiasm and motivational ability. Mister Safreed credits Sensei Advincula with helping him through some very tough times because of his very positive and inspirational influence. All of his promotions since Ni-Dan have been granted by Sensei Advincula. Mr. Safreed has written numerous articles for many martial arts magazines to include a January 1986 article in "Inside Karate" and a November 1988 article in "Karate Illustrated" about his current Sensei, Master A.J. Advincula.
July 13, 1991, Robert Safreed was promoted to 7th degree black belt by Sensei Advincula.
"The Bohan's and Family Web Site would like to thank Master Robert Safreed for the use of his biography and the pictures that were used to create this article."