The Shotokan Karate Association was founded in 1968 by Sensei William Hodgkiss in Bucks County, PA. We are one of the country's oldest independent martial arts organizations dedicated to the practice of traditional Japanese karate-dō.
Sensei Hodgkiss began his training in 1964 at the Trenton (NJ) YMCA under Sensei Preston Carter. While in the military, Sensei Carter had trained in Japan with the JKA under Master Nakayama and Sensei Hajime Yokota, as well as with Mas Oyama, a student of Gichin Funakoshi who later founded the Kyokushinkai style of karate. Sensei Hodgkiss received his Shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1967 with Sensei Carter.
The late 60’s were an exciting time for Shotokan practitioners in our area. Sensei Teruyuki Okazaki, Sensei Yokota, and Sensei Katsuya Kisaka had arrived in the area and Sensei Hodgkiss, along with fellow student Ed Goodrich, had begun training with their groups as well. In 1967, Sensei Kisaka and Sensei Okazaki had a falling out and demanded that students choose one or the other to continue with. Dismayed with the politics and infighting, Sensei Hodgkiss chose to remain neutral and, with a small group of fellow students, formed an independent group at the Fairless Hills YMCA under the name Bucks County Karate Association to continue practicing on their own.
Through the late 60’s into the early 70’s Sensei Hodgkiss’s group thrived, producing a second generation of students who went on to form their own karate clubs throughout the area, expanding outside of Bucks County and into New Jersey and Maryland. By the early 80’s, our organization had over 25 active clubs and our name was officially changed to the Shotokan Karate Association to reflect our geographic diversity.
Nearly 200,000 people have trained with the Shotokan Karate Association since 1968. Today, SKA clubs are run by 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th generation students of Sensei Hodgkiss.
Sensei Hodgkiss passed away on July 29, 2010, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. His legacy lives on in the lives he touched and lessons he taught about humility, loyalty, perseverance, and service. In 1993, on the occasion of our group’s 25th anniversary, Sensei Hodgkiss shared the following:
What’s the best thing that has evolved from the past 25 years from my involvement with karate? Two come to mind immediately. First is watching individuals in our organization reach levels of skill in techniques and ability that I could never attain. It’s similar to having children; you always want them to do better than you possibly could. Second, I feel, is giving people the courage to stand up to people who would try to physically or mentally intimidate or harm them. Bullies not only attempt to take your material possessions, they also rob you of your self-respect and your dignity. When you lose those things you have nothing.
Over our 50 year history, our organization has been guided by many dedicated leaders and teachers. The first generation of instructors assisting Sensei Hodgkiss included Sensei Joe Krushnowski, Sensei Ray Lindsey, Sensei Jim Hodgkiss, Sensei Rick Mace, and Sensei Andy Jones. Sensei Al Shea served as our organization’s Assistant Director and "second-in-command" for over 40 years until his retirement, assisting with every aspect of the SKA’s growth and producing some of the SKA’s strongest students. Sensei Tim Kerry, Sensei John Lovett, and Sensei Gary Campbell served as the original members of the SKA Board of Directors; later board members included Sensei John Lisziewski, Sensei Rick Sorensen, and Sensei Nancy Cain.
In 2010, Sensei Hodgkiss appointed Sensei Kevin Hawley, Director of the ACSKC, to take over the role of SKA Executive Director.
Following Sensei Hodgkiss’s death, the senior members of our organization unanimously appointed Sensei Gary Campbell, Director of the LBCKC, to serve as our organization’s Chief Instructor.
Sensei Judith Kranetz serves as the SKA’s Assistant Director, coordinating our group’s efforts to serve the needs of our member clubs and their students.
Today, the SKA operates as a group of peers – every Club Director, from the most senior member to the newest, has a seat at the table and a vote on all decisions that impact the future of the SKA.
How We Operate
In contrast to many martial arts organizations, our model is rooted in the authority, independence, and rights of each instructor who runs a club (Club Director). In the SKA, the needs of the Club Director come first and the organization exists only to support their needs to the best our ability – not the other way around. We’re basically a group of lifelong friends who’ve all got a connection to Sensei Hodgkiss and who’ve all stuck around to help each other continue training and teaching.
We’re not an aspiring Fortune 500 company and we don’t operate that way. No mandatory dues or fees of any kind are paid to the SKA. There are no membership fees, no testing fees, no charges for certificates, no mandatory camps or seminars, no “advanced certifications” to pay for. Clubs may charge what they wish to cover their own costs, but nothing is due to the organization. We even do our best to obtain sponsorships for our annual fundraising tournament to keep the entry fees low or even free!
The SKA does not “mandate” anything at the club level. Club Directors are free to choose what works best for the needs of their students, whatever that may be. We provide models for teaching and testing that clubs are free to adapt to their needs. We provide advice on starting and growing a club for individuals who want to teach and provide mentoring as needed.
The organization’s role is to advise when asked, help when needed, and provide a forum for communication between Sensei Hodgkiss’s students. We strongly encourage everyone to visit and train with other organizations and share what they’ve learned with the group. SKA students and instructors have visited and practiced with the JKA, ISKF, ITKF, Shotokan Karate of America, TKIC, SKIF, Shotokai and many other groups both inside and outside of Shotokan, giving us a broad and varied perspective on the many current incarnations of Funakoshi's karate-dō.
By keeping organizational politics, ego, and money out of the SKA, we're confident that our group can continue sharing our deep appreciation of karate-dō with others for many years to come.
Can My Club Join the SKA?
You probably don’t need to.
If you’re close to an SKA club, you’re welcome to contact them directly and arrange visits and practice with each other.
If you’re having a tournament and would like to invite us to participate, drop us a note and we’ll let everyone know about it here on our site.
If you’re starting a club and are looking for ideas and guidance on how to organize your group, contact us and we’ll share whatever experience and advice we can with you.
If you’re outside of our area and are looking to continue your own training as an instructor, you’re welcome to come visit and train with one of our clubs, pick our brain, and take everything we can offer back to your own students.
If you’re interested in an independent assessment of your skill level and want to test for rank, contact us and we’ll discuss what you’re looking for and what we might be able to offer. We don’t charge for testing or certification, but we don’t just offer it to everyone either.
If you’re determined to be part of the SKA, the only path to membership is to train with one of our clubs for a while. All SKA clubs are led by individuals who have earned a black-belt level rank with us and who we’ve gotten to know over time. Becoming part of the SKA is more like “marrying into the family” than signing up for Netflix.