Dr. James Ronald Cherry
10th Degree Black Belt
Grand Master of the Shorinji Toraken-ryu Arts
James Ronald Cherry was born on 19 May 1947 in Mooresville, N.C. His first involvement with the martial arts came in 1957 when he joined a YMCA Judo class. He studied Judo for approximately three years. About 1960 he became interested in Karate after seeing a demonstration. He sought out James Clements who was a Black Belt in Shotokan karate, and also taught boxing. Cherry studied with Sensei Clements in Statesville, N.C. twice weekly. Sensei Clements also came to Mooresville weekly to give Cherry private lessons. Cherry also trained with Sensei Clements almost every weekend. Sensei Clements was trained in the Orient and was an excellent instructor.
Sensei Clements did not train students for tournaments; his training was strictly for self-defense. Cherry excelled under Sensei Clements and became the first Brown Belt he promoted in Shotokan Karate and eventually received his Black Belt from Sensei Clements.
In 1965, Cherry enrolled in Oak Ridge Military Institute in Oak Ridge, N.C. He adapted well and became the only person in the history of the school to attain the rank of Battalion Sergeant Major in two years. Since the school was located about 150 mils away from his martial arts instructor, Cherry sought to further his martial arts instruction. He located a 6th degree Black Belt in Chi Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do by the e name of Tae In Yun. They organized a class at Oak Ridge and Master Yun taught twice a week.
Cherry also joined the American Karate Association with Master Instructor Chung Koo Kim, a 7th degree Black Belt and a guest instructor for Master Yun from New York. Cherry graduated from high school in 1967.
Cherry studied Pre-Pharmacy at Wingate College in Wingate, N.C., from 1967-1969. During this time he continued this training and served as an assistant instructor under Masters Yun and Kim in Charlotte, N.C. There Cherry met Takio Yamura, a master of many Oriental weapons and other martial arts. Cherry became a private and the only student of Master Yanura in the United States for Kobudo or Weapons Arts for two years, studying two hours a day, six days a week.
In 1969, Cherry transferred to the Medical University of South Carolina, College of Pharmacy at Charleston, S.C. Cherry continued to work out with area martial artists and go to Pharmacy school for two years. In 1971, Cherry entered the Army and went through Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C. His orders sent him to Fort Devens, Mass. The stateside home base for 10th Special Forces. There he met and trained with many excellent martial artists. Many were with 10th Special Forces. Also at Fort Devens, Cherry met Al Hawksford, a superior martial artist in Taw Kwon Do. Cherry and Hawksford started a school off-post.
Cherry was discharged from the Army in 1973, and returned to Pharmacy school in Charleston, S.C. Cherry graduated from Pharmacy school and was licensed to practice Pharmacy in 1975. He was presented Doctor of Pharmacy in 1982.
In Charleston, Cherry met Professor Albert C. Church., Jr., Grand Master of a comprehensive martial arts system that he inherited from an oriental, Kim C. Whang. Cherry soon became Professor Church's personal student, and from 1975 he became to Chief Examiner for the Nippon Kobudo Rengo-Kai (NKR) and American Hapkido Karate Federation (AHKF). During this time period, Professor Church became ill and was limited to teaching a few people private lessons. Cherry was delegated authority as Chief Instructor and Examiner and acting Technical Advisor for all NKR and AHKF dojos in the field during Church's period of illness. During his time with Professor Church, Cherry taught all facets of the system Church inherited from Master Wang. Professor Church apparently recovered from his years of illness and began to teach again.
To the dismay of all concerned, Professor Church died 23 June, 1980. Following the unfortunate death of Professor Church, Cherry formed the American Kempo Karate Association so he could continue to improve and pass on the knowledge he was given by his many instructors.
In 1982-85 Cherry was a civilian contractor and taught counter-terrorism and SWAT training at Fort Gordon, Ga., and Berneau Public Service Institute where law enforcement and military tactical teams came for training from all over the world. He has trained numerous government and law enforcement personnel in Unconventional Personal Combat (UPC) and weapons, executive protection and counter-terrorism techniques. His UPC course for high risk personnel is currently being offered to other martial artists on a seminar basis through AKKA.
His ranks include: 10th degree black belt in Shorinji Toraken-ryu Kempo-Karate, Karate Do, Kempo, Ju-jutsu and Kobudo; 7th degree black belt in Ken Jutsu; 7th degree black belt in Goju JuJitsu; 7th degree black belt in Goju Karate Do; 5th degree black belt in Motobu-Ha-Shito-ryu Karate Do, So Rim Sa Churl Kwon Do, Hapkido-Tang Soo Do, Nippon Kaishin-ryu Karate Do.
Cherry is a lifetime member of the American Society of Black Belts and the U.S. representative of the Italian Goju Federation and the International Black Belt Federation.
Cherry has named Kyoshi Ray Ferrell his successor or Ni-Dai Soke in the Toraken Do Arts. Ferrell has been Cherry's personal student since 1983 and holds a 9th degree black belt in the Shorinji Toraken Do Arts, and has earned his Black Belt in Arnis under Remy Presas. Kyoshi Ferrell is the President and current Head of AKKA.