World Black Belt Living Legends

Hidy Ochiai

Hidy Ochiai

"My true role is that of a 'teacher.' My subject is human development, as it allows people to live together harmoniously."

Hidy Ochiai, a native of Japan and an U.S. citizen, came to the United States in 1962 with the mission of teaching the martial arts. In 1966, after receiving his B.A. from Albright College, Master Ochiai moved to Binghamton, NY and established Washin-ryu (wa–harmony, shin–truth) Karate-do in the United States. Washin-ryu now includes 25 branch schools across the United States.

From 1967-1980, Master Ochiai established himself as one of the world's premier martial artists. He was rated the number one kata (form) competitor by the PKA (Professional Karate Association), having won the United States Grand National Karate Championship for five consecutive years, an unduplicated record. He has been inducted twice to the Black Belt Magazine's Hall of Fame in 1979 as “Instructor of the Year” and in 1980 as “Man of the Year.” In 2004, Hidy Ochiai was inducted to the Martial Arts History Museum's Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. He received a record number of votes.

In 2001 Hidy Ochiai founded the Hidy Ochiai Foundation, which encompasses his philosophy and life-long teachings, the basis of which is expressed in the dynamic relationship between the mind and the body. With training, the mind and the body become unified in such a way that the individual becomes the true master of the self. Dedicated to promoting the principles of non-violence, the Foundation especially focuses on helping children and young adults learn and practice a positive and peaceful way of life – based on respect, self-discipline, self-confidence and mental and physical health, so they become constructive citizens, living in harmony with others.

Hidy Ochiai is the author of five books, including two comprehensive texts on self-defense, The Complete Book of Self-Defense and Hidy Ochiai's Self-Defense for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. His book, A Way to Victory: Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings is an English translation and commentary of Musashi's ancient text and represents a seven-year effort to render the wisdom and spirit of Musashi's timeless teachings. First released in Japan, A Way to Victory has been republished in the United States by the Overlook Press.

Additionally, he created two permanent college course offerings for the State University of New York first, "Zen and the Martial Arts of Japan" in the Anthropology Department at Binghamton University and secondly, “Self-defense in the Martial Arts” for the School of Professional Studies at SUNY-Cortland. His accomplishments have been praised by the media both nationally and internationally, including Black Belt Magazine, and ABC's Wide World of Sports, You Asked For It, and ESPN.

In 1994, Hidy Ochiai founded the non-profit organization called the Educational Karate Program (EKP), which was validated by the NYS Education Department as a program suitable for all public schools in New York State. EKP teaches students of all ages an attitude of anti-drugs and anti-violence. EKP is currently taught in several hundred schools by over 800 certified teachers.

Hidy Ochiai's humanitarian efforts have been recognized worldwide. He has been named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International, is the recipient of the Albright College's 1999 “Distinguished Alumnus Award” and SERTOMA's 2001 “Service to Mankind Award.” On November 1, 2002, the Japanese Government honored Master Hidy Ochiai as “an ambassador” of traditional Japanese culture and art. His Excellency, Ryozo Kato, the Ambassador of Japan, recognized Hidy Ochiai during the Embassy's celebration of Japan's Culture Day, which was held at the Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. Master Ochiai, was one of twelve traditional martial arts masters chosen by the Japanese government to receive this honor and recognition.

In the pursuit and expression of his art, Hidy Ochiai's fundamental aim has been to help individuals walk the path of self-development with dignity.

"To become a master of an art is a fine thing, and to become an expert of a craft is a great achievement in any person's life. But it is more important to become a master of the self – to exert control over oneself in life."

Hidy Ochiai is perhaps best known for his spectacular demonstrations. He is considered to be one of the world's premier karate performers. His unique exhibitions have thrilled audiences from coast to coast at the nation's major tournaments, and the showman seldom fails to gain wild and enthusiastic ovations wherever he appears. The finale of his unusual demonstration occurs when he lies on a sharp bed of nails and permits an assistant to smash with a sledgehammer, several concrete slabs supported on Ochiai's stomach. He performed internationally in 1974 when he toured Europe as a member of the U.S. Professional All-Star Team along with Mike Anderson, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, Al and Malia Dacascos, Jeff Smith, Fumio Demura, Takayui Mikami, Howard Jackson, and Jim Harrison. One highlight of the star-studded tour came about when Ochiai performed before 7500 spectators at the Deutchlandhalle in West Berlin, one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe at the time. Ochiai's demo in the World Professional Karate Championships in Los Angeles took place before more than 10,000 spectators and was later televised twice nationwide on ABC's Wide World of Sports.

As a form competitor, Ochiai was rated five consecutive times as the number one kata performer in the U.S. by Professional Karate Magazine. And though he slipped to the number two position in May of 1975, his impressive record is yet to be duplicated. Even before the kata ratings were conceived in late 1974, Ochiai had won top honors at the U.S. Pro/Am in Maryland, the Top 10 Nationals in Missouri and the USKA Grand Nationals in Wisconsin, an annual event.

Known also as an excellent judge, Ochiai has collected awards at both the USKA Grand Nationals ('71 to '75) and AKA Nationals ('73 to '75). The veteran instructor/competitor operates 25 schools in New York and surrounding states, branching out from one location in 1970. Ochiai's headquarters in Vestal is said to be the single largest facility dedicated to the study of Martial Arts in existence today.

To learn more about Hidy Ochiai visit his website

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