The Kosho School of Karate is home to multiple world-class martial arts instructors, who can always be found at the school during business hours (and often beyond!).

Kosho Instructors (L to R): R.Volz, E.Jones, J.Spurlock, J.Thompson, D.Hamann, K.Kirchmayer, D.Swingley, & N.England

Those currently teaching and training include:

David Hamann, Sensei

     David Hamann began his karate training on October 31, 1973 at the age of 20 under Sensei Phillip Koeppel, Shuri-Ryu Chief Instructor. Hamann enrolled in the newly opened Pekin, Illinois dojo, one of several schools Sensei Koeppel operated across the central United States.  For the next six years Hamann studied karate under Master Koeppel and his black belt students. Soon after his promotion to yellow belt, Hamann began business management training with plans of some day operating one of Sensei Koeppel’s schools. Before long he was teaching and ultimately operated several of Sensei Koeppel’s dojos in Peoria, Pekin, Champaign, Cleveland, and Dayton.

     During this time, Hamann traveled the United States Karate Association (USKA) tournament circuit, competing in national and international competitions; taking first place 22 times, second place 11 times and third place 6 times. Hamann competed within other organizations including the PKC and AAU, and in numerous Phil Koeppel Schools of Karate inter-dojo tournaments.

     Hamann left the karate business in May 1980 to pursue a design degree at the University of Cincinnati (U.C.). Upon arriving in Cincinnati, he introduced himself to Shuri-Ryu Chief Instructor Michael Awad, requesting permission to train at his dojo with his brothers and students. Hamann was welcomed as a standing member and instructor at Sensei Awad’s Kosho School Karate School.

     While attending U.C., Hamann completed design internships in Columbus, Ohio where he organized a karate club and taught for nine months; and in Winchester, Virginia where he taught advanced students at the Tom Glass Karate Club for six months.

     Hamann graduated from U.C. in June 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design. Upon graduation, he took a position with Index Design Associates in Cincinnati. For the following nine years, Hamann continued to train with Michael Awad and students. He also maintained a dojo at the design office for personal training and occasional employee lessons.

     In June 1993 Hamann started his own product design business, David Hamann Design. In January 1994, along with a small group of students, he opened the Northside Karate Club in the historic Northside district of Cincinnati. During this time, Hamann continued to train with Master Koeppel and with the Awads, which he continues to do to this day.

     In 2013, Sensei Awad retired from running the school and publicly teaching martial arts. At that time, Sensei Hamamm, along with Robert Volz and Nate England, took over ownership and management of the dojo.  Since then, the dojo has continued to grow  under his leadership.  In June of 2021, Sensei Awad awarded Hamann the position of “Chief Instructor of Shuri Ryu Karate”, the highest title awarded in this style. 

     Over the years, David Hamann taught and influenced thousands of students in many locations. He continues to teach at seminars and compete in tournaments across the country.

Listen to more about Sensei Hamann’s story here:

David Hamann holds the following rank, honors and positions:

  •  President of the United States Karate-Do Kai
  • 8th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  •  Chief Instructor of Shuri-Ryu Karate – Appointed by Sensei Michael Awad
  •  Style Head of Shuri Ryu Karate for the United States Karate Do Kai (USKK)
  •  Large Double-Axe Award recipient – Distinguished Student of Master Phillip Koeppel
  •  Bushido International Society member – Outstanding Competitor Award, USKK
  •  Ohio State Representative – USKK
  •  President of the Life Membership Society – USKK
  •  Member, United States Karate-do Kai association (USKK)

Richard Awad 

  • 7th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  • Assistant Chief Instructor of Shuri-Ryu Karate – “Battlefield Promotion” by Grand Master Robert Trias
  •  Chief Instructor of Shuri-Ryu Karate – Appointed by Sensei Michael Awad

Listen to more about Richard Awad’s story here:

Marcos Sastre 

  • 6th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Marcos Sastre been practicing martial arts in 1973, under Chester Richardson in the Shuri Open System where he was introduced to basic karate knowledge, procedure and technique.

In 1975, he met Sensei Michael Awad and began training with him in Shuri Ryu at his home dojo.  As one of Sensei Awad’s original students, Sastre has been with the school since the beginning and has seen all of its many changes: The original Elm Street Dojo in the basement of Sensei Awad’s family home, the founding of the small Kosho School of Karate on Sherman Avenue, the relocation of the school to Beechmont Avenue, and the current version of the school headed by Sensei Hamann.

The principles he learned in karate became a guide to conducting himself in business, society, family, and every aspect of life.  According to Sastre, “Karate is like a friend. It is with you when crisis occurs in life.  The influence of Karate-Do (physical, mental, and spiritual) becomes a part of you, as Karate-Do is life long.”

In addition to being a lifelong martial artist, Sastre is also a professional musician, and can be seen with his band, the Bluebirds, throughout Cincinnati.

Robert Volz

  • 6th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Though Robert Volz had heard about karate during  school in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Karate had not yet become commercialized and there were not many dojos in the Cincinnati area.  In 1976 he finally got his chance to study. He started with Sensei Michael Awad at the dojo in his Elm Street family home. This dojo was in a large two car garage, a wood deck for the workout area, weights, and canvas heavy bags.

During this early period of his training, Volz was able to meet many famous karate masters who visited the dojo,  including Robert Trias, Jerry Narlock, Ross Scott. After 9 months of intense training, James McLain visited to help review him, and the other students, for yellow belt. Sensei Awad was in the prime of his competition career at this time, meaning that the training was always intense.

The year 1981 was one to remember, Sensei Awad found a new location for the dojo. It was a lot of work for the main members of the school, but after four or five months of work, they had the Grand Opening. The new school was open to the public, and much larger than the old home dojo. This was a very fine facility, with an expanded workout area, a larger weight-lifting area,  locker room and showers.  There were many students at this Dojo and Volz was assigned to teach a class once a week, which was a great experience for him.

Sensei Awad frequently invited other schools from the area to come workout with at the group, however they would only come once. They always had a hard time making it through the workout. At the end of the session, everyone would kumite. Sensei Awad would always pick out the toughest or the highest rank visitor to spar first, and would knock the wind out of them or knock them down within 30 seconds. In Volz’ words, “I do give those schools credit for coming, most of the schools in our area will never workout with us if they have been invited by Sensei Awad.”

After only a few years, Sensei Awad purchased a new Dojo at 2121 Beechmont Avenue, the current location of the school. No more rent, this Dojo was theirs!  It was in the heart of town and had a lot of potential, however it was much larger and needed a lot of work.  For many months, Volz and the other members worked until the school was finally ready. The Grand Opening for the new school was in June of 1983, but it was to be much larger affair than the previous opening, as Master Robert A. Trias was in attendance. There was a closing ceremony of the old Dojo, with a procession from the old Dojo to the new one led by the Cincinnati Police Department.  This was a very fine ceremony, following was a seminar and a banquet. It was a nice experience for all those involved.

The new Dojo was considered to be one of the finest in the world. Many more students joined and the main core of our Dojo grew. Sensei David Hamann was now living in the area and training at the school regularly.  Some of the best Karate men in the country visited the school, and Mr. Volz was there for all of them. This includes additional visits by Grandmaster Robert Trias, Master Phillip Koeppel, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Takayoshi Nagamine, John Pachivas, John Jelks, James McLain, Tex Cobb, and many more.

The Dojo is not far from Mr. Robert Bowles’ Dojo in Ft. Wayne, Indiana allowing Mr. Volz and the other members to easily compete in his tournaments.  Volz was in attendance when Sensei Awad won the Grand Champion of Mr. Bowles’ tournament of 1985.

In Volz’ words, “I want to thank Master Robert A. Trias for spreading such a complete system of karate in the United States. Shuri Ryu is a system that may be studied for a life time. Also, I would like to thank Sensei Michael Awad for his knowledge and the time he has given me over the years. Also his brothers Mr. Richard Awad and Mr. Thomas Awad and my fellow karateka.”

In 2013, Sensei Awad retired from actively teaching the martial arts and running the school. In February of 2014, Robert Volz, Sensei David Hamann, and Nate England took over ownership and management of the school.  Volz continues to teach weekly at the school, passing on his knowledge and experience to the next generation.

Listen to more about Bob Volz’s story here:

Nate England

     Nate England began studying traditional Okinawan and Japanese martial arts in October of 1995 at the Academy of Okinawan Karate in Peoria, IL under I.S.A Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor, Shihan Joseph Walker. He began teaching a weekly class as a purple belt, and as a brown belt started joining staff meetings, becoming the school’s student manager.  England studied the many martial arts taught at the school including Karate, Kobudo, Judo, and sword. He was first promoted to black belt in August 2000.

     That year, England entered the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, IL to pursue a degree in architecture. Finding no martial arts groups to train with, he founded the University of Illinois Shuri Ryu Karate Club. He remained the head instructor of this club until 2007. In 2003 he entered Miami University in Oxford, OH to pursue a Masters Degree in Architecture. From 2003-2005 he ran the Miami University Shuri Ryu Karate Organization. Both of these University clubs produced many excellent karate practitioners. During his time at Miami University,  England would occasionally make the trip from Oxford to Cincinnati to train at the Kosho School of Karate.

     In order to further his training and understanding of traditional martial arts, England lived in Okinawa, Japan (the birthplace of karate) from July 2007 to May 2010. During that time, he was able to train with many of the top Martial Artists in Japan and Okinawa. He spent the most time studying Kishaba Juku Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu with Katsuhiko Shinzato, Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo at the Mei Sui Kan Dojo with Chosho Fukuhara, Iaido with the Okinawan Iaido Club with Tadashi Takeda and Kenji Nakaima, and Shidokan Shorin Ryu at the Shidokan Honbu Dojo with the senior students of Katsuya Miyahira  (Including: Meiyu Takara, Morinobu Maeshiro, Minoru Makishi, Seiyu Nakamura, and many others!). England regularly visits Japan for training and certification.

     In 2010 England returned to the United States, landing in Cincinnati, OH and began training regularly at the Kosho School of Karate under Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor, Sensei Michael Awad, Sensei David Hamann, Tom Awad, and the other senior instructors. In 2012 he became the de-facto manager of the school, organizing the schedule and signing up new students.  In 2013, Sensei Awad retired from actively teaching the martial arts. In February of 2014, Sensei David Hamann, Robert Volz, and Nate England took over ownership and management of the school.  In June of 2021, Sensei Awad awarded England the position of “Assistant Chief Instructor of Shuri Ryu Karate”, the 2nd highest title awarded in this style. 

     Nate England has traveled extensively throughout the United States to train with top instructors. He has also traveled internationally including multiple trips to Canada, 7 trips to Japan and Okinawa (living in Okinawa for 3 years), and in 2012 he toured South Africa with Yoshio Kuba, Imtiaz Abdulla, and Miwa Kanazawa to help promote traditional karate in the country.

     Nate England also hosts a weekly martial arts podcast, Chop Talk which focuses on Karate, traditional martial arts, and Japanese culture.  Guests include Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor Michael Awad, head of the Okinawan Kenpokai and Goju Ryu Instructor Yoshio Kuba, and karate legend James McLain.

Nate England holds the following ranks in the martial arts:

  •  6th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  •  Assistant Chief Instructor of Shuri-Ryu Karate – Appointed by Sensei Michael Awad
  •  5th Degree Black Belt in Shindo Muso Ryu Jo-Do (Short Staff)
  •  4th Degree Black Belt (Tachi) in Okinawan Kobudo (Weapons)
  •  3rd Degree Black Belt in Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate
  •  Black Belt (Degrees not awarded) in Kishaba Juku Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu Karate
  •  2nd Degree Black Belt in Iai Do (Japanese Sword)
  •  1st Degree Brown Belt in Judo (Japanese Grappling)

Ken Kirchmayer

Ken Kirchmayer and his son began their karate training together in 1996 at the Rawlings Karate School in the Blue Ash neighborhood of Cincinnati, OH.  Sensei Oliver Rawlings, 6th Dan (USKA) taught Shuri Ryu karate, and was a student of Sensei John Jelks and Sensei Victor Moore.

Kirchmayer was awarded his 1st Degree Black Belt (Sho Dan) by Sensei Rawlings on November 26, 2004. Following the retirement of Sensei Oliver Rawlings, Kirchmayer began training under Sensei Robert Bowles in Ft. Wayne, IN in 2008. The remainder of his Karate promotions were presided by Sensei Robert Bowles, 10th Dan (ISA) in Ft. Wayne.

Sensei Rawlings stepped back from actively teaching in 2002, and he passed responsibility for the school to Kirchmayer, which was subsequently renamed Cincinnati Shuri Ryu.  During this period as school head and instructor, he earned several awards at the national level including: The Leadership Award for Instruction (ISA) in 2005, Sensei of Merit Award (International Shurite Yudansha-Kai) in 2009, and Excellence Award in Martial Arts (ISA) in 2013.   Kirchmayer continued teaching and training in Blue Ash until 2017.   In that same year, he began training and instructing at the Kosho School of Karate in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Cincinnati, OH.

Ken Kirchmayer holds the following ranks in the martial arts:

  •   6th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  •   4th Degree Black Belt (Tachi) in Okinawan Kobudo
  •   3rd Degree Black Belt in Jo-Do (Short Staff)
  •   Gold Level in White Crane Fist Style

Dennis Swingley

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Gerry Sexton

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Seeking adventure, Gerald Sexton signed up at the dojo 1981 and began training under the instruction of Mike Davis and Bob Volz, until he received his black dot and could attend courses held by Sensei Michael Awad. Sexton would later begin assisting classes as a yellow belt and grew his knowledge as a karate ka by attending seminars held by Sensei Awad and Grandmaster Trias in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. This included the grand opening seminar of the dojo, where he memorably received a promotion at the banquet and participated in a ceremony, led by Master Trias, to cleanse the school of negative spirits and attract good spirits to the new kamiza.

Evan Jones

  • 3rd Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  • 3nd Degree Black Belt in Jo-Do (Short Staff)

Jason Spurlock

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Jason Spurlock began attending classes at the Kosho School of KArate in the fall of 1985.  By 1988 he had earned the rank of ikkyu (1st Degree Brown Belt), before leaving Cincinnati to join the US Air Force.   His time at the school was at the height of its competitive phase and was a regular training partner for Michael and Tom Awad.  His own tournament record was impressive as well, placing 1st or 2nd in Kata and Kumite in every tournament he entered, with the exception of the 1987 Grand Nationals (due to a disqualification).

During his service, he was able to continue his martial arts training in Kempo, Aikedo, Goju Ryu Karate, Shotokan Karate, US Army MCAPS, and various Korean Styles. Following his retirement from the military, he returned to Cincinnati and the Kosho School of Karate in 2016 to work towards expanding his knowledge of Karate-Do.  In September 2019, he was promoted to Black Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate.

Joseph Thompson

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Joseph Thompson had an interest in martial arts since he was kid.  However, while he was always physically active in sports and regularly  worked out in the gym he had never given it a try. One day in 2011 While visiting family in Mt. Washington, the Kosho School of Karate caught his eye.  Signing up for classes that week, he has been a regular fixture at the school ever since.

At blue belt he became an assistant in the Kids and Family class, and has helped many of our young students develop their skills and passion for karate.  He is also known as an excellent kata instructor by the adult students for his ability to break down complicated movements.    In September 2019, he was promoted to Black Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate.

Dr. Andy Wells

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Jodo (Short Staff)

Dr. Drew Kurtzman

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Akhmed Aoushev

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Selema Aousheva

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Paul Tarvin

  • 3nd Degree Black Belt in Jo-Do (Short Staff)
  • 2nd Degree Brown Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate

Paul Tarvin began training in Jodo in early 2015,  and soon after joined karate. He is the senior Jodo student at the Kosho School of Karate.  In 2019 he toured Okinawa and Japan, training with many top Jodo and Karate instructors. 

ASSISTANT INSTRUCTORS – Members currently assisting classes include:

Than-Nha Buchholz: 1st Degree Brown Belt

Than-Tu Buchholz: 1st Degree Brown Belt

Andrew Clark: 1st Degree Brown Belt

Michael Aoushev: 2nd Degree Brown Belt

Chalice Hacker: 2nd Degree Brown Belt

Daniel Mills: 3rd Degree Brown Belt

Rahul Veldurthi: 3rd Degree Brown Belt

PAST INSTRUCTORS   (Shown in alphabetical order per rank)

Kosho School of Karate instructors that have relocated, retired, are not currently teaching, or are deceased include:

Sensei Michael Awad (1948-2023)

Sensei Michael Awad, along with his brothers Richard and Thomas, began their karate training in 1966 in Cincinnati, Ohio under Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor Sensei Victor Moore, who had opened the very first karate school in Cincinnati several years before.  Before starting lessons, the brothers visited all other schools in the area before deciding that Moore was, “Tougher than any of them!”, and signing up at his dojo.  

Moore’s network of karate schools continued to grow, eventually leading him to relocate from his hometown of Cincinnati. At the same time, Awad was forced to take a year off of college due to a severe illness.  Once recovered, and with plenty of free time on his hands, he saw an opportunity to make some extra money and took a took a job with AT&T in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Fortunately, this was the home of another one of the era’s great karate men, Sensei James McLain.  Awad rented the apartment above the dojo, and began training during all non-work hours.  On occasion, he would even call in sick so that he would not miss a class!  During school holidays and summer break, both of his younger brothers would move into the small apartment and join in the training.

With his time in Grand Rapids coming to an end, the brothers needed a way to continue their training.  On Thanksgiving weekend, they made their first trip to Peoria, Illinois to train with McLain’s teacher, Master Phillip Koeppel.  Koeppel welcomed them into the dojo and into his home, inviting the three young brothers to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner. To this day, the Awad brothers continue to study under Koeppel and are involved in his organization, the United Stakes Karate-Do Kai (USKK).

Mr. Awad’s intense dedication to karate and his impressive tournament record began to get noticed around the country.  Soon he began regular trips to Phoenix, Arizona to train with Mr. Koeppel’s instructor, Grand Master Robert Trias.  Mr. Trias opened the first karate school in the United States in 1946, was the highest ranking karate practitioner in the U.S., and also head off the largest karate organization in the world, the United States Karate Association (USKA).  Mr. Awad quickly became one of his most dedicated students, living in Phoenix for several extended periods to further his training.  Due to his dedication and skill, Mr. Trias awarded Mr. Awad the position of Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor.

In 1976, thanks to his outstanding tournament record, Mr. Awad was earned a chance to join Grandmaster Trias on a trip to Japan, Okinawa, China, and the Philippines.  During this trip, Mr. Awad trained and competed in the most highly accredited schools in Asia.

In 1979, after training students at their home dojo for approximately 5 years, Mr. Awad and his brothers Richard and Thomas opened the Kosho School of Karate in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. In June of 1983 this dojo was moved to its present, more spacious location. Grand Master Trias, and many more karate dignitaries, were in attendance at this event.  The Cincinnati Police Department led a procession from the old dojo during the opening ceremony. Under Mr. Awad’s leadership, this school became regarded as one the finest facilities and group of instructors to be found anywhere. 

In July of 1983, Mr. Awad and his brothers returned to Okinawa, Japan, and China with their teacher, Grand Master Robert Trias. While in Japan, they paid their respects to the family of Master Yasuhiro Konishi, who had passed away shortly before the trip.   Mr. Konishi was Robert Trias’ last teacher, as wells as a major contributor to the development of karate in Japan, the United States, and around the world. During this trip, the Awad brothers met and studied with most of the living authentic Grand Masters of Karate.

The highlights of Awad’s competition career are too numerous to list.  They include multiple World Championships, as well as victories in International, National, Regional, State, and Local competitions.

In 2013, Sensei Awad retired from actively teaching the martial arts and running the school. In February of 2014, Sensei David Hamann,  Robert Volz, and Nate England took over ownership and management of the school.

Michael Awad holds the following rank, honors and positions:

  • Founder of the Kosho School of Karate
  • Shuri Ryu Chief Instructor, appointed by Grand Master Robert Trias.
  • 9th Degree Black Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate
  • 6th Degree Black Belt (Renshi) in Okinawan Kobudo
  • Member of Trias International Society– outstanding competitor award, USKA
  • Previous Style Head for Shuri Ryu Karate in the United States Karate-Do Kai (USKK)
  • Member of Bushido International Society – outstanding competitor award, USKK
  • Double-Axe Award recipient – distinguished student of Master Phillip Koeppel
  • 1974 USKA National Champion
  • 1976 USKA National Champion
  • 1986 USKA National Champion in Kata
  • Additional tournament wins are too numerous to list

Thomas Awad Sr (1957-2017)

Note: This Bio, with minor edits,  is an excerpt from the USKK Bushido International Society Newsletter written by Eugene Talbott

Thomas Awad, along with his brothers Richard and Michael, started training in karate in the summer of 1966 under Sensei Victor Moore in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Tom was 11 years old at the time – the youngest of the trio who would stay with Sensei Moore for over a year and a half.  Woodrow Fairbanks, John Jelks, and George Davies were all students of Moore at that time, with Jelks teaching Tom and the other brothers their first lesson in karate.

At Moore’s school, the brothers met William Heard who was a student of Master Phillip Koeppel in Peoria, IL.  Heard took the brothers on their first pilgrimage to Peoria in the summer of 1967, where they stayed at the dojo.

Tom Awad’s first tournament was in Knoxville, TN in February of 1967.  At that time, there was no junior division, and needless to say, he took a beating! But he vowed that would never happen again.  His second tournament was in Covington, KY in the summer of 1967 at William Dometrich’s Shiai where he fared much better. In the fall of 1967, the Awad brothers met up with Sensei James McLain in Grand Rapids, MI and subsequently followed hi to Cleveland, OH and Bedford, OH.  During this time period, the Awad brothers fought and won in dozens of tournaments.

During this period, the Awads created a training area in the basement of their mother and father’s home in Cincinnati, OH, where they painted Mr. Koeppel’s symbol, a large Double-Bladed Axe, on the floor. This dojo was the first incarnation of what would eventually become the Kosho School of Karate.  Many great karate men visited this private dojo including Robert Trias, Phillip Koeppel, John Pachivas, Bob Dagliech, Wally Slocki, James McLain, and many others.  At one point Milt Calender  lived at the dojo. One of the most regular visitors was heavyweight kickboxing champion, Ross Scott, who became Tom’s best friend.

During these early years the Awad brothers regularly trekked back and forth to Peoria and around the Midwest to train with Koeppel and McLain.  The training lasted for days on end, while they slept in the dojo.  True dojo bums. In the summer of 1972, Tom and older brother Mike, along with Milt Calander and Justin Howard traveled to Phoenix, AZ to train under Grandmaster Robert Trias.

Tom Awad was  was promoted to 1st Degree Black Belt in the summer of 1973, and shortly after journeyed back to Phoenix where he trained and taught classes for Grandmaster Trias.  The 70s and 80s flew by, as the Awad brothers went back and forth to Peoria and out West, while Grandmaster Trias and Master Koeppel made numerous trips to Cincinnati. In 1983 he joined his brothers Richard and Michael, along with Grandmaster Trias, on a tour of Okinawa, Japan, and China. At the 1987 Internationals, held in California, Tom won a bronze medal and fought alongside his Brother on the Koshiki Team.

In 1993 Tom Awad returned to Okinawa along with Robert Bowles, and in 1994  visited Ireland with Master Koeppel, Eugene Talbotte, and others in the USKK group. He had a blast training during this period, and still gained 20 pounds from the food! In 1992 he won the USKK’s “Trias Cup” Championship, the highest award given in this organization for kata competition.

Tom continued to actively compete in karate for over 30 years, and this tournament record was submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for recognition of the longest continuous karate competition career.  While he had the credentials, unfortunately the category was not added to the book.  During his long career he was fortunate enough to sit at ringside during fights between the all-time karate greats including Glenn Keeney, Bill Wallace, Parker Shelton, Mel Wise, Ross Scott, Mike Awad, Joe Lewis, Victor Moore, Chuck Norris, and Artis Simmins, and was also there to watch demonstrations by Bruce Lee.

Sadly, Mr. Tom Awad passed away in the winter of 2017 due to complications with Parkinson’s Disease.  The disease progressed quickly, as only a few years before he was still training, teaching, and sparring full-force at the Kosho School of Karate.  At the time of his passing, Mr. Awad was a 7th Degree Black Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate, a recipient of the Large Double Bladed Axe, Mr. Melvin Wise Award, Mr. Phil Koeppel Award, and an inductee into the Bushido International Society in 1997.

Thomas Awad holds the following rank, honors and positions:

  • 7th Degree Black Belt in Shuri Ryu
  • Large Double-Axe award recipient – distinguished student of Master Phillip Koeppel
  • Recipient of the Dr. Melvin Wise Award
  • Recipient of the Mr. Phil Koeppel Award
  • Bushido International Society member – outstanding competitor award, USKK
  • 1992 USKK “Trias Cup” Champion, the USKK’s highest award for Kata
  • Winner of countless tournaments across the country

Tony Awad

  • 5th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Bill Gangloff

  • 5th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Richard Berwanger

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  • 1992-93 USKK Heavy Weight Kumite National Champion

Richard Berwanger grew up engaging in fisticuffs and other antics of sibling rivalry, so it is no surprise that when a friend mentioned joining the Kosho School of Karate, it would spark his interest. He attended a demonstration in 1982 held by Sensei Michael Awad, and thus joined the dojo, training under Bob Volz, Tony Awad, Mike Davis and Sensei Awad. Berwanger would later aid in the opening of the dojo’s Beechmont location, alongside other dedicated members of the school. Through his journey as a karate ka, he would attend seminars held by Grandmaster Trias and perform in tournaments, including his first tournament at NKU where he received 1st place in kumite, and the Heart of Illinois Championships where he would earn 1st place in kumite as a brown belt. As a black belt he was the 1992 & 1993 USKK Heavy Weight National Champion.  He was awarded Shodan in March of 1988 and later earned his ranking as Nidan in July of 1990. In addition to his training and competition,  Berwanger was the school manager for 8 years.

Mike Davis(Deceased)

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

 Searching for a karate school during his last year of college, Mike Davis struggled to find a place to call home, until hearing word of a USKA dojo run by the Awad brothers. Accompanied by Mark Sastre, he began his journey in karate at the Elm location of the dojo. The dignity and order of the school was exactly what Davis had been searching for, and as time passed, karate had become a highly significant focus of his life. He credited the practice as being like a father to him, as well as having lead him to meet his wife. His karate adventures found him training in Arizona, learning from fellow karate-ka including James McLain, and receiving a belt promotion from Master Trias at the banquet celebration for the Beechmont dojo opening.  The group of Mike Davis, Bob Volz, Tony Awad, and Marcos Sastre were the first people promoted to black belt at the Kosho School of Karate.

Allyn Raifstanger

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

 Allyn Raifstanger was brought up with a well-rounded lifestyle, having been involved in choir, marching band, theater, Boy Scouts, and various athletics. His interest in karate began after finishing his degree and relocating to Atlanta, as he had passed a dojo while out for a run. As his career moved him to various cities, it became difficult to find a place to train, until a new opportunity brought him to Cincinnati. His search for an Okinawan style dojo, similar to schools he had joined in the past, led him and his father to the Kosho School of Karate. In 1991, Allyn was inspired to seek his own business endeavor, Allyn’s Cafe, and returned to the dojo to complete his training for black belt.

Jim Simmons

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

David Swingley

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

David Swingley grew up with an affinity for martial arts and began his adventure as a karate ka after joining the United States Army, upon graduating high school. His first experience in karate began where he was stationed Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in 1980, under the instruction of Fred Campbell. He would later be stationed in Germany in 1981 and as Swingley was nearing the end of his tour in Germany, he received a letter from his brother, Dennis, who had joined Kosho School of Karate. After only two days upon returning to the United States, he joined the dojo. Through his journey, he worked and attended school full time, served the dojo by performing maintenance and followed his dream of achieving Shodan as his motivation. Swingley received mulitple trophies  in kumite and kata while performing in tournaments, including 1st place in kumite in Indianapolis as a 4th Kyu and 1st place in kata at the Cincinnati Tri State National Karate Championship as a 3rd Kyu brown belt.

In 2022, Swingley and his family relocated to Southern California. He began training with Shuri-Ryu Chief Instructor Pete Rabino, who awarded him his 4th Degree Black Belt.

Randy Alley (1945-2016)

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Diane Books

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Shawn Lenhart

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

John VanFossen

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Monica Andre 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Adrian Awad 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Tom Awad, Jr. 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Barry Ehrnchwender

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Jim Gruen 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Kim Hagerty (Deceased)

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Kim Hagerty had a background of athletics in high school and pursued life as a musician, moving to New York with his siblings and performing as a guitar player. Returning to Cincinnati to marry his wife would lead him to begin his journey in karate, through the influence of his brother in law. He joined Kosho in 1988, attending his first tournament in 1989, where he earned 3rd place in kumite. He would continue training, and also attended seminars and tournaments held by Master Koeppel, Bill Wallace and Sensei James McClain. He earned 1st place in kumite in the USKK Grand Nationals in 1993 as a 2nd Kyu, and was promoted to 1st Kyu in 1994, awarded by Koeppel. In addition to family and fatherhood, Hagerty revered karate as a way to enrich his life, and attributed God and karate as a beacon of light through life’s hardships.

Debbie Heinlen 

Deborah Heinlen began studying karate-do under the instruction of Sensei Awad in 1986, having made the decision after witnessing a friend in a domestic violence situation. Heinlen was determined to learn how to protect herself. She found that karate was a humbling experience that aided her growth as a person. It became more than mere punching and kicking to her–it became a philosophy. She attributes karate for growing her morals, values, and confidence, as well as her faith in her own abilities. Deborah trained and attended seminars with Master Trias, O Sensei Bowles, Master Koeppel, Bill Wallace, Sensei McLain, and many other inspiring names in karate. Heinlen also competed in tournaments throughout Cincinnati and the Midwest, winning awards including:  

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate
  • 1991 USKK National Champion in Kata and Kumite
  • 1991 Professional Karate Commission National Champion
  • 1991 Professional Karate Commission National Champion
  • 1990 USKK Grand Nationals 1st Place for Kata and Kumite
  • 1990 PKC Nationals 1st Place for Kumite

Christopher Hiles 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Barry Kirby 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Eric Linton

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

 Eric Linton began his story as a karate ka in 1986, after a fight his brother had previously gotten into planted a seed of curiosity and inspiration in him. As he progressed on this journey, he had the opportunity to meet and was greatly influenced by Master Koeppel. Throughout his experience as a karate ka, he participated in various tournaments and events, including a 1989 Karate Clinic for kata, kumite, self defense and weapons where Master Koeppel was present. As a brown belt, he achieved his first trophy at the 1994 Seven Star Dragons Youth Tourney, receiving first place.

Tom Nerswick

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Grant Numrich

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Tom Pagnelli 

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Glen Smith

  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate

Note: We are continuing to compile and update the Instructors List.  If you, or someone you know, received a black belt at the Kosho School of Karate but do not appear on this list, please send an e-mail containing your name, rank, photo, and a short karate bio to Thank you.

The Kosho School of Karate is a division of Pine Tree Group LLC, and is owned and operated by David Hamann, Bob Volz, and Nate England.