John and Cindy Ingram
John Ingram Ku Dan
Cindy Ingram Hachi Dan
Sensei John was introduced to the martial arts through studying Aiki-JuJutsu (Daito-Ryu) as a pre-teen in Texas. When his family moved back to Florida, Sensei John discovered Isshinryu and began studying this art in 1974. His wife Cindy began studying Isshinryu in 1977.
Their first Sensei was Jim Canter who was a student of Willie Adams. These Senseis were under Steve Armstrong and the American Okinawan Karate Association (A.O.K.A). During this period, Sensei John attended two A.O.K.A. functions led by Sensei Armstrong and competed in their tournaments. Sensei Cindy attended one and competed also.
Sensei John first met Master Harold Mitchum at the time he was being promoted to Nidan, Sensei Canter took Sensei John and Oscar Wheeler (his top two students) to Georgia to meet Sensei Mitchum and have him observe their kata. Sensei Mitchum was widely recognized as the leading American Isshinryu practitioner and was the first president of the A.O.K.A. appointed by Grandmaster Tatsuo Shimabuku. In more recent years, Sensei Mitchum left the A.O.K.A. to form the United Isshinryu Karate Association (U.I.K.A.).
Sensei John began teaching Isshinryu when Sensei Canter retired and left his school to Sensei John to run. One of his and Sensei Cindy's top students is their daughter, Sheri, who started Isshinryu as a small child. Sensei Sheri is now a Roku Dan and runs Ingram's Karate Centers in New Port Richey and Carrollwood.
Over the years the Ingrams and their students have been involved in open karate tournaments all over the country winning many state championships and national rankings.
During the '80's John decided that he wanted to try kickboxing. He hooked up with world rated fighter Mike Hollobaugh along with world-class trainer Bill Slinker. He loved the challenge and competed and trained students to compete for the next 10 years or so. During that time he trained with the sport's best, such as world champions Jerry Clarke, Richard Hill, and Jim Graden. He did exhibition bouts with two World Champions: Bill "Superfoot" Wallace and Jerry "Sting" Clarke. He also fought a Professional Boxing Champion who wanted to try kickboxing. After the fight, the boxer decided to stick with boxing.
While John was pursuing a career in kickboxing, Cindy was making her mark as a National caliber point fighter. In 1989 she won the Diamond Nationals and the U.S. Open and finished second at the Battle of Atlanta. For her efforts, she was named N.A.S.K.A. Rookie of the Year.
Something happened in 1986 that changed their direction. They heard about an Isshinryu Seminar being held in Cartersville, Georgia. It was a U.I.K.A. seminar led by Harold Mitchum. Since Sensei John had been on his own for many years he decided to see what the seminar had to offer. He participated in the seminar and saw Sensei Mitchum perform kata, and even more importantly, bunkai, and came back to Florida with a whole different attitude about kata. Sensei John described the experience as follows: "I had in all my tournament experience never seen anyone do kata like Harold Mitchum. I was impressed by the deep understanding this man had for kata application and karate in general. I came back with the knowledge that I was doing a lot of things wrong. Having no guidance for many years even though we worked out very hard, caused us to deviate from tradition. We never realized it. We always thought we were traditional. Compared to the other open tournament practitioners we were. "
For many years to come, they learned from Sensei Harold Mitchum and went back and taught their students. Not only did their kata and understanding of Isshinryu improve, but the students also started winning the open tournaments in kata - not just fighting. Sensei Cindy, who had only been top-rated in fighting, went on to become the State Champion in kata and in weapons. In both of these divisions, she competed against men - She was the only woman.
John and Cindy have resigned their positions on the Florida open tournament circuit and train their students to do good traditional karate. They train them to participate in AAU tournaments. These tournaments use international rules and work hard to stay with traditional values and techniques.
Several students came home with gold medals in 1999 at both the Junior Olympics and the National Championships.
However, the highlight of 1999 was when seven of our students made the U.S. team and competed at the Jr. World Cup in Budapest, Hungary. Since then Ingram's students have excelled in State, National and World Competition in the A.A.U.