American Martial Arts Inc.



Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate team

Takes  State, National, International and World titles


see YouTube video action:
Hefington Martial Arts Escondido 2011.avi 

Grandmaster Phillip M. Skornia Ph.D., Oriental philosophy and Zen priest, Chief Instructor, teacher and coach for 50 years and World Champion, Rod Hefington, led the  Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate team to dozens of first-place and grand championships coming to his golden anniversary of professional teaching the traditional martial art of Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate.  First, second and third places were won by both the adults and childrens divisions in both kumite and kata.  Often, they had to fight each other for 1st,   2nd, and 3rd places.

Heading the team was the inspiring Master Instructor and World Champion, Rod Hefington, of the Inland Empire Headquarters School.  Master Rod Hefington has trained with Prof. Skornia for four decades.  He came out of retirement for the third time to lead his Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate team.  He is in his 50’s and leads by example by going out for three years and winning first places in regional, state, national, and international (three first places) and world titles.  He has won four World 1st Places and Grand Champions. 

He is the world record holder of karate championships in history in open competitions against various styles of Japanese and Okinawan Karate, Korean Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and Chinese forms using his inner strength, physically  perfect techniques, meditation and spiritual Zen and Taoism training taught in Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate.  He still trains with Prof. Skornia, who is in his 70’s, as many of his advanced students also do.  Most of Master Rod’s Black Belts have trained personally with Grandmaster Skornia. 

Master Hefington personally won national, international and world TKD titles.  He trained under Grandmaster Young Min You, 9thDan.  Master Rod is also a 7th Dan in Taekwondo, having taken special advanced instructors training in Korea.  Originally, he learned most of his kicking in Taekwondo from Prof. Skornia, who first earned his Master’s certificate in Ohdokwan Taekwondo (5thDan) in 1974 and now is a 9th Dan. 

Prof. Skornia, 9th Dan, has trained since 1948 under Grandmasters, style founders, and their direct disciples such as:

1.  Eizo Shimabuku, 10th Dan, the direct descendent of Chotuku Kyan and President of of the Okinawa branch of the All Japan Karate Association.

2.  Kanken Toyama, 10th Dan, trained in Shorinji Karate in Okinawa and was later authorized by the Japanese government Department of Education to found the All Japan Karate Association in 1946, making it the first karate association in the world.  His dojo was the Shudokan (place to study the Zen Way, and was open to all styles of karate.  Prof. Skornia has all his original textbooks from Japan (in Japanese, of course).   His 1st Degree Black Belt certificate was signed by Toyama Sensei and Shimabuku Sensei.

3.  Hidetaka Nishiyama, 10th Dan, Shotokanfounder of the All American Karate Federation, President of the International Traditional Karate Federation.  For many years, Prof. Skornia was the highest ranking Black Belt member of the AAKF promotion board.  He was granted the first lifetime membership to AAKF, 30 years ago, #CA,001.

4.  Richard Kim, Ph.D., 10th Dan, Shorinji Karate.  He was the U.S.A. president of Butokugakai of Japan.  He mentored Mr. Skornia for 30 years until death.  He was a historian and philosopher with 70 years of karate experience.  He was the author of dozens of magazine articles, as well as the well-received book, The Weaponless Warrior.  This first edition book was personally autographed for Mr. Skornia by Richard Kim.

5.  General Choi Hong Hi, 10th Dan, founder of TaeKwondo, 1955.  After training in Karate in Japan, the original Taekwondo was similar to Japanese karate.  Originally, it taught more hand techniques and emphasized more self-defense than the sport Taekwondo of today.  Prof. Skornia first visited and trained in Seoul, Korea in 1961.  In 1968, he met Choi Hong Hi in Singapore.  Later, he trained with many Taekwondo instructors, but particularly noted help from Master Il Sang Han, Song Il Choi,Duk Sung Son (see text book Korean Karate, first edition, 1968)  and Young  Ik Suh.

6.  Master Moon, 5th Dan, Tang Soo Do, 1962.  At this time, Master Moon was the highest ranked Tang Soo Do master in the United States.  Mr. Skornia was one of only  two Americans who earned Black Belts from him before he moved back to Korea.  Many masters of Tang Soo Do would be invited to teach at our headquarters, including Terry Updike, 5th Dan and Chuck Norris. Interesting note:  Mr. Skornia was invited to sit on the Tang Soo Do promotion board at Chuck Norris’ dojo.  Years later, Mr. Skornia was introduced to the founder, Grandmaster Hwang Kee (Moo Duk Kwan) when special training and a tournament was held in South Bay (Los Angeles, California) by Master Al Johnson.  Master Skornia has known and respected Master Johnson for over thirty years and has been to his dojo.  Interesting note:  Master Al Johnson is also a published poet.

Highlights of First Place and Grand Championships won by Master Rod Hefington

2010 – 2011 – 2012

All won when over 50 years of age


First, we’d like to mention Rod’s first world championship record in 1983.  Over 30 years ago, 2000 people competed in the “All Star Karate World  Championships.”  Black Belts only were eligible, no weight divisions (old days), same as it was in Okinawa, Japan, 1961, when Mr. Skornia won.

Go to:  and for details and training history plus more masters that Prof. Skornia trained with.

1.  Fight for Freedom, Open Karate Championship, Banning, Ca.  1st place senior/Masters Division, Forms.  Grand Champion, all ages and styles overall, 2010.

2.  Pacheco’s International Championship, West Covina, Ca., Feb. 2011, 1st Place, Technical Form.

3.  United States National Championships, Huntington Beach, Ca., April 2, 2011, 1st Place; competitors  from across the United States.

4.  Way of the Warrior Karate Championships, California, May 7, 2011, 1st Place Forms and Grand Champion against all styles including Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Filipino and Chinese stylists, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 24,25,26.  Three World 1st place wins in Forms - All Ages, Forms – Masters, and Self –Defense Fighting.  Here, Rod used many of our aikijujitsu techniques combined with his Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate.  Another student of Rod’s took 1st Place, World Title in Fighting Kumite.  They walked out with 4 World Titles, using Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate and Aikijujitsu.  For additional information, go .

6.  Fight for Freedom, Banning, Ca., July 7, 2011.  Rod had to fight his own Black Belt younger students for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, place.  Rod won 1st Place, Forms, 2nd Place, Fighting, and Grand Champion, Against all Division Winners Forms. 

7.  Next, the 40 year-old legendary (where Mr. Skornia met Bruce Lee) Long Beach International Karate Championships.  Thousands of martial artists have competed here from around the world, July 23, 2011.  1st Place Forms plus Grand Championship against All-Style winners.

8.  Aguilla Invitational Taekwondo Championships, Orange County, Ca., July 30, 2011,

1st Place Forms, 1st Place, Overall.  Note:  In the 1990’s Rod won three dozen Taekwondo championships, including state, national and international,  plus he won matches in Korea against Koreans only.

9.  Disneyland Karate Nationals, Anaheim, Ca., August 28, 2011.  Big tournament with many Black belts from Florida (Disneyworld) and the east coast.  Rod got calls and threats not to show up.  Really!?  Shame on those so-called champions who had won before.  Rod took 1st place in Karate Forms and then entered a Tang Soo Do division and also won 1st Place.  Well…..I guess they know their place.  Rod is now being called to give seminars on his winning techniques, using, of course, Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate and Aikijujitsu. 

10.  The AKA American Open Martial Arts Championships, September 3, 2011, lst Place, Karate, 1st Place, Taekwondo.

11.  Shikara Ashi Te-ryu Battle of Warriors Karate Tournament, September 18, 2011, 1st Place Forms, Grand Champion, 1st Place plus World Champion Title Belt.

In many of these tournaments, Rod fought or competed technically in forms against many great champions of many good styles of karate.  Many times he competed against quality, top-notch Black belts who had taken 1st place many times before.  Some were up to thirty years younger.  A real tribute to his heart and indomitable spirit and techniques of all the great masters in history that passed their knowledge down to Mr. Skornia and then on to Rod of Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate and Aikijujitsu.

Rod and our Shorinji Zendo-ryu karate students continued to win more first places through the year.  One highlight was in December 2011 at the last main tournament, the North San Diego County Karate Championships.  Rod won First Place Senior Division; John won  Sparring and Showmanship kata. 

We were all interviewed on a local T.V. cable station. Later, Prof. Skornia was singled out for a more in-depth interview.   At the end of the tournament, special awards were given out:  Rod and John received huge trophies for "Competitors of the Year."   I was awarded the "Master of the Year" award for training all the champions through our Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate special mind-body technique. 

2012:  Too many wins to list!  It just goes on and on.  The World Karate Champion Organization held a special awards dinner in Las Vegas.  Rod was awarded their highest honor at the time.  

Later in 2012, Rod was also promoted to 8th Dan in Taekwondo.  Very few Americans have ever in history reached that level from the World Taekwondo Federation.  Prof. Skornia is a 9th Dan, with 50 years of experience in Taekwondo, having trained with the founder and his disciples.  

April 28, 2012, Grand International Martial Arts Championships with 2000 participants.  Master Rod Hefington again wins, not one, but two,  international first place awards - one in his Senior Master Division and a second first place in the Open Division against excellent, younger (up to 30 years younger) Black Belt champions
.  Congratulations to all!

Summer 2012:  

Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate and Aikijujitsu Instructor and Grandmaster of Honor

Team Captain, Master Rod Hefington of the Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate Team.  He has won over thirty First Place  and Grand Championships in a row.  Using his high-level skills and forty years of training with Prof. Skornia in the special mind-body techniques of Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate and Aikijujitsu, Master Hefington  has been able to win in national, international and world championships.  Congratulations !!!

If you would like to train with this great master, Prof. Skornia, or our South Bay dojo, call the Academy of Aikijujitsu and Shorinji Zendo-ryu Karate at (310) 379-3136 or go to .  We accept all styles with an open mind and an open hand.  
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