Our Instructors

Robert Van Der Volgen,

9th-Dan, Hanshi

Robert S. “Robb” Van Der Volgen Jr. began his karate training in Uechi Ryu and Seibukan Shorin Ryu with Johnny Author in the Spring of 1974.  He received the rank of Shodan from Mr. Author in October, 1975.  When Mr. Author accepted a work assignment in Saudi Arabia, Robb sought out a teacher closer to home and through series of fortunate events became a student of Charles C. Earle III in the late 1970s.  He remained Mr. Earle’s student until Mr. Earle’s untimely passing in February, 2006.  Robb is presently a member of the Okikukai Uechi Ryu Karate Association (OUKA) headquartered in Okinawa.  Robb trains with Mr. Earle’s last teacher, Shintoku Tarkara, while maintaining close ties to Mr. Earle’s family and the senior students of the North American Uechi Karate Association (NAUKA) who carry on Mr. Earle’s legacy.

Robb was promoted by Master Takara in May of 2019 to the rank of 9th Dan and awarded the title of Hanshi.  Robb also holds a Shihan teaching certificate from OUKA. 

In addition to Uechi Ryu and Seibukan, Robb also studied Shotokan with Roger Warner.  Through a fortuitous meeting in the mid 80s, Robb has also had the honor of studying kobudo with Steve Harrington. Robb is a nidan in Aikido from his study both with the Aikido Center in Sacramento, and with Francis Takahashi in Southern California. 

Robb graduated from CSU, Sacramento with a BA in 1972, and from UOP, McGeorge School of Law with a JD in 1991.  He is admitted to practice in California.  Married to Margo since February 1974 Robb is the proud father of three and grandfather of two.

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Joan Neide,

9th-Dan, Hanshi

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Joan Neide began her training in Uechi-Ryu Karate in 1969 at the University of Vermont.  Under the tutelage of Howard Flynn in Vermont and David Finkelstein in New York City she received her Shodan rank in 1972.  In 1973 she moved to Okinawa where Shinjo Seiyu became her main instructor. During her extensive stay on Okinawa she trained daily at the Futenma dojo with Uechi Kanei.  Joan returned to the United States in 1974. Since her initial stay in Okinawa she has returned periodically to continue her training with the Shinjo family.

Joan Neide began her training in Uechi-Ryu Karate in 1969 at the University of Vermont.  Under the tutelage of Howard Flynn in Vermont and David Finkelstein in New York City she received her Shodan rank in 1972.  In 1973 she moved to Okinawa where Shinjo Seiyu became her main instructor. During her extensive stay on Okinawa she trained daily at the Futenma dojo with Uechi Kanei.  Joan returned to the United States in 1974. Since her initial stay in Okinawa she has returned periodically to continue her training with the Shinjo family.

 

Joan’s academic endeavors have always focused on Asian culture. She received a Master’s degree in the history and philosophy of physical education. The title of her M.S. thesis was “Karate and its relationship to Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.” Her second Master’s degree was in Asian Studies, with the required M.A. thesis entitled, “Physical education and its relationship to the martial arts and Meiji Nationalism.” Her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts produced the dissertation title, “A study in the short term sojourn of Japanese foreign students.”  

 

In 1991 after being hired at California State University, Sacramento, Joan was asked to develop a course specifically focusing on the historical and philosophical foundations of Asian martial arts. She continues to teach this course to this day. Her research agenda includes papers on the relationship of martial arts breathing patterns and the generation of power and embracing multi-ethnic complexities in Okinawa through physical education and martial arts, to name just a few.

 

Joan explains her love of Uechi Ryu karate as follows:

 

“Spirit, according to Chinese medicine, is the fundamental texture that is unique to human life. It is this quality that allows me to have an experience that is not restricted to physical or temporal contact. Through this definition of spirit, I can appreciate the beauty of movement for movement’s sake. I can feel energy that is not defined. I am allowed to forge a compelling and special bond to Uechi Ryu. I have the ability to be awed by the history and culture of the martial arts. I can be devoted, but I can also self reflect. I can be transformed by Uechi Ryu, without knowing the outcome. Spirit allows me to shape my destiny. I am never content; always seeking and becoming.”

 

Joan also has benefitted from the rare gift of being trained by a master, Shinjo Seiyu, and, to his memory, she passes on his legacy. She has the complete gratitude for her mentor Dave Finkelstein.

Henry Carino,

5th-Dan, Shihan

Sensei Henry has over 20 years experience in Uechi Ryu Karate.  He was given his 5th degree black belt under Kazuya Takara. He recently returned from Japan after 7 years of training. 

Sensei Henry was interim karate instructor at Sacramento State,  and was head instructor at Zushi Dojo and Kamakura Dojo in Japan. His goal is to fulfill his promise to Takara Sensei to continue spreading Uechi-Ryu Karate. 

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Som Sivongxay,

5th-Dan, Shihan

Sensei Som has spent his lifetime searching for the ultimate truth by going to Okinawa. Training under Sensei Robert Van Der Volgen, he was taught to search for perfection in his technique and character. Karate has taught him to overcome life challenges, and he continues to teach his students to never give up.

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Andrew Cruz,

1st-Dan

Sensei Andrew has studied Karate since the age of 13 under Sensei Leo de Mesa in the Philippines.  His goal in karate is to find perfection in not only the execution of technique, but in timing as well. 

Outside of Uechi-Ryu, he is also a 3rd-Dan in Goju-Ryu Karate.

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