Bulletin News

Karate Program Marks 35th Year


For 35 years, a unique SUNY Cortland recreational sport program has helped hundreds of students and community members improve their discipline, concentration, physical fitness and self-esteem.

It’s also made each of them the wrong person to attack in a dark alley.

Patricia Roiger, a faculty member at the College, has been a student of the program for four years. “I think that every young woman on campus should learn Washin Ryu. The self defense aspect gave me more confidence,” said Roiger about this form of karate. “It has taught me to better understand my own body and strengths.”

The College’s Washin Ryu program this year is celebrating 35 years of practice on campus. This form of karate ¾ which takes a holistic approach to integrating mind and body, philosophy and self-defense ¾ was originally founded in Japan by martial arts master Hidy Ochiai, who brought it the United States in the 1960s. Ochiai, who has trained with Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee and has been practicing the art for almost 46 years, launched a string of karate schools and programs headquartered in the Binghamton, N.Y. area.

Locally, Washin Ryu is offered to SUNY Cortland students, staff and faculty as well as residents of the surrounding community. Washin Ryu combines physical self-defense training with mental exercises and spiritual awareness.

karate - group observation
Instructor Todd McAdam demonstrates a self-defense technique on brown belt Antonio Triana as Matthew Dearie, Brady Pennock, Michael Dearie and Dave Pennock look on. 

“What got me interested in the Washin Ryu program is my son, who takes the class as well. He was being bullied in middle school, so we started as a family,” Roiger said. “If you had asked me 10 or 20 years ago, I never would have expected myself to be doing this. Now, I have learned so much and I know that I am able to protect myself.”

“In order to succeed at this particular martial art you need focus, concentration, discipline,” said Todd McAdam, the instructor of SUNY Cortland’s Washin Ryu program. “These are things that benefit any student anywhere. I have three college-age students. The discipline and focus they are taught will carry them through not just academically but professionally as well.”

Martial arts training, according to McAdam, is a lifelong pursuit for instructors as well as novices.

sparring match

Dave Pennock, right, works with blue belt Patricia Roiger on a self-defense technique. In the upper left image, instructor Todd McAdam, left, demonstrates a move with brown belt Antonio Triana.

“What I find is like any college professor, in order to teach my students I have to constantly work at it to get better myself,” he said. “I have to answer their questions and demonstrate the techniques effectively.”

SUNY Cortland’s Washin Ryu classes are a major component of the Recreational Sports Department’s non-credit instruction program. They meet twice a week and cost $75 a semester for faculty and students. The program costs $100 a semester for community residents, said Julian Wright, director of recreational sports at the College.

“We keep the cost low to make sure it’s available to any student who wants to participate,” Wright said.

The Washin Ryu class trains from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays in the Park Center dance studios. Registration forms for Washin Ryu Karate are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Recreational Sports office, Park Center, Room 1120.