The Academy of Okinawan Karate was founded in 1979 by Joseph Walker shihan. At the time the dōjō had 23 students. Because of Walker shihan’s enthusiasm, his knowledge, and his drive to succeed the dōjō doubled enrollment in the first month.
Under Walker shihan’s leadership the AOK has continued to grow and teach Shuri-ryū for over 40 years. The hombu dōjō (headquarters) for the AOK was located on Renwood Rd in Peoria IL, after 10 years the dōjō moved to a larger location in Peoria on Sheridan Ave for 6 years. From here the dōjō moved to its current location on Knoxville Ave. (Renwood: 1979-1989, Sheridan: 1989-1995, Knoxville: 1995-current)
The Academy has added satellite locations in the years since settling in the current location. Currently the dōjō has satellite locations in Eureka IL, Morton IL, and Burelson TX.
The Academy of Okinawan Karate has taught thousand of students the basics of karate and the self-discipline to go with it. Over the years the AOK has produced 50+ black belts, and 18 World Karate Champions.
The Phoenix, according to legend, was a bird that, near the end of its life, would make a nest, lay an egg, and then set fire to the nest. As the old bird and the nest went up in the flames, a new bird rose from the ashes. At any one time, only one phoenix existed.
Like the phoenix, there is only one of you. You are unique with your own strengths and weaknesses. Never try to be a carbon copy of someone else. Do not use others’ weaknesses as an excuse for being weak. And do not be intimidated by other’s strengths.
In your life, there are going to be a certain amount of good days and bad days and then there will be other days which will make the bad days seem good. Do not allow yourself to become negative (angry, depressed, etc.) on the bad days. The phoenix symbolizes man’s desire to rise above adversity.
There are two levels of symbolism in the patch:
In the first level, the phoenix represents Robert Trias ōsensei, who taught in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the first man to teach karate in the United States and was the founder of the Shuri-ryū system. When creating a dōjō patch it is important to honor those who helped teach you.
The fire represents challenges, both the ones we choose and the ones that are chosen for us. They both make us stronger if we rise to meet them.
The green background stands for Shuri-ryū, the karate style we study. It is the most beautiful and strongest karate system. Train hard in it and you will become strong too.
The red circle stands for Joseph Walker shihan. At the time, he developed this patch, his greatest accomplishment in the martial arts was his appointment to Assistant Chief Instructor of Shuri-ryū by Trias ōsensei. As the founder of the AOK he should be represented in the patch.
The second level is the colors of the patch
The red stands for courage. It encircles the patch and, like the patch, we all want to seem courageous on the outside. The orange, which is made of red (the color or courage) and yellow (the color of fear), stands for true courage. True courage is not the absence of fear, but deciding to act, when necessary, in spite of fear. The green stands for tranquility. We want to look courageous on the outside but be calm on the inside. The gold stands for true value. We need to determine what is most important and concentrate our energies there.
The third level.
The patch also represents the students and instructors of the Academy of Okinawan Karate. The phoenix in the third level represents Jesus Christ.