DR. RAY CASTILONIA (continued)

Ray CastiloniaCastilonia, Kyoshi and founder of Aoinagi-ha Shito Ryu under O’Sensei Kim, was a true artist of life. He was a physician, earned an MD and PhD, was an avid mountaineer, a scuba diver, a certified mountain rescue team member, a college professor on environmental issues and a loyal son. But he considered himself, first and foremost, a martial artist.

His initial introduction to traditional Martial Arts began in the art of Judo in 1957 thanks to his father who took him to a YMCA class.

In 1964, Castilonia’s formal karate training began, learning Okinawan karate under the Genck brothers in Southern California.

In 1969, he trained under Del Saito in the Goshin Jitsu School in San Bernardino. The school was headquartered in Hawaii with Sensei Al Kahalekulu as chief instructor and Del Saito as the California representative. Because of the rigorous schedule imposed on Castilonia by his medical training, he would go to the dojo at 5:30 in the morning, where a bedraggled Sensei Saito would put him through the paces, sometimes falling asleep while Castilonia practiced.

Sensei Kahalekulu was Castilonia’s first Shugyo Sensei and taught him many kata and lessons of life.

When Al Kahalekulu decided to stop actively teaching Martial Arts, Castilonia, along with Del Saito joined up with Chuzo Kotaka’s organization(also based in Hawaii) and embraced the Shito-ryu style of karate.

On March 8, 1972, Castilonia received his first-degree black belt and the title of Sensei. He became assistant instructor at Saito’s school and also began shito-ryu karate instruction at LLU.

In 1974, when Chuzo Kotaka would not renew his certification, Castilonia had no choice but to leave Del Saito and Kotaka’s organization. He traveled to Hawaii once again and trained with Sensei James Miyaji. From 1974 until the early ’90s, Castilonia returned to Hawaii and trained with Sensei Miyaji twice a year, often taking along several of his students to experience Sensei Miyaji’s “moving Zen”.

In 1975, through Sensei Miyaji, Castilonia was introduced to Richard Kim. Kim became Castilonia’s primary instructor and Miyaji remained as his representative to the Zen Bei Bu Toku Kai.

This introduction sparked a 27-year relationship with Richard Kim that ended only at the death of Castilonia.

After a whole year of wearing a white belt, a series of challenging tests and tasks to evaluate his desire to learn, as well as his capability as a martial artist and student – including completing a research paper comparing Master Funakoshi with Master Itosu – Castilonia obtained the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Kim.

In Kim’s words, “Castilonia was the first Bu Toku Kai member to break the barrier and beat the JKA in national competition!” He won first place in kata at the National Karate Championships, paving the way for many future Bu Toku Kai national and world champions, including several of Castilonia’s own students.

His achievements in competition include a second place finish at the Pan American Karate Championships that brought international fame, glory and recognition to Mr. Kim’s organization. Castilonia didn’t care much for the “tournament scene” but because it was important to his Sensei he accepted the charge and took it all the way to the top.

In 1978, Castilonia established Aoinagi Karate-do at the Redlands Community Center, in Redlands California. In 1980 the organization blossomed into Willow Enterprises, a commercial school that was established in Redlands on Alabama Street and in its heyday had well over a hundred students.

Castilonia felt that teaching was his highest calling, and education a critical piece in one’s personal development.

Dr. Castilonia's senior students include Paul Billimoria, Neville Billimoria, Cecil Cheung, Lee Carmean, Paul Schwartz, and Barbara Sedgwick-Billimoria.

(Thanks to Neville Billimoria for this information.)



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