Sensei Ray Nash began his martial arts training at the age of 10 and has trained in over 10 different systems during the last 40 years. In 1971, the martial arts “craze” was just beginning in the United States and young “Raymond,” as he grew up being called by friends and family, became intrigued with the idea of training in karate. He had already read every book he could get his hands on like the Judo in Action series by Kazuzo Kudo and the many marital arts books by Bruce Tegner.
At his insistence, his parents enrolled him at Barkoot’s Karate School in Columbia, SC. His indoctrination into the martial way began with Isshin-ryu Karate under the instruction of Master Ronnie Barkoot and Sensei Andy Seltzer. Although he trained for less than a year, Ray”mond” excelled as a young Orange Belt taking 1st place in two karate tournaments including the Atlantic Coast Karate Championship.
Over the next 10 years, Ray maintained his interest in the martial arts, but did not participate in formal training. In 1982, he met Grandmaster Joe Hess at a Police Nunchaku Training Course when he was a young police officer at the Irmo Police Department and his interest in the martial arts was rekindled. That nunchaku course launched an ongoing training relationship with GM Hess that continues to this day, almost 30 years later.
With GM Hess’ encouragement, Sensei Nash enrolled in Mike Genova’s Karate School in Columbia where, along with some martial arts legends like Joey Shifflett, he trained in American Sport Karate. Training with GM Hess from time to time, Nash knew that street-oriented martial arts existed, but were hard to find. Looking for something less sport-oriented, he turned to the late Hanshi Ridgley Abele at the Columbia School of Karate-do for training in Shuri-ryu Karate.
In 1983, Nash moved to Jacksonville, Florida as a Training Specialist with the Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM). Here he developed the IPTM tactical training courses utilizing GM Joe Hess extensively as an adjunct instructor. The added benefit to him was that he could continue his training in American Tactical Goju, Kobudo, and Police Defensive Tactics whenever they were together.
While in Jacksonville, he pursued yet another system, Olympic Karate, under Master Lee Barden. Still frustrated at the lack of practical applications, he began training in Shotokan Karate under Sensei Terryence (T.J.) Cooper, earning his black belt in 1989. During his time with Sensei Cooper, he continued competing on a limited scale, placing in the top ten in Florida when he won both the Kata and Kobudo events at the Jacksonville Open Tournament.
After moving back to SC as the Police Chief in Summerville, Sensei Nash continued his training in blended martial arts by studying Mukashi Kindai-ryu Karate, Ju-jitsu, and Kobudo under Soke Rick Boyer at the Southeastern School of Self-Defense. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching some neighborhood kids in his garage. Soon the class grew too large for the garage, so at the insistence of his wife, he approached the Summerville YMCA about starting a karate program and they agreed. Around 1990 or 1991, he opened the Pineland Karate Academy at the YMCA Gymnastic Center in Summerville.
During this time, he began training in Modern Vee-jitsu directly under Professor Rob Evans, a relationship that lasted for the next 13 years. Instead of finding street-oriented martial arts, Vee-jitsu had found him!
Around the same time, Sensei Nash moved the dojo from the YMCA to Oakbrook Community Church in Summerville, integrated a Christian philosophy into the training, and became affiliated with the Christian Black Belt Association. After the class grew too large for the church, he founded the Christian Martial Arts Academy at a new location at the Oakbrook Shopping Center.
His students continued to distinguish themselves in competition through the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) karate tournaments with nine S.C. state champions and several multi-state regional champions. It was during this time that Nash trained extensively in the Modern Vee-jitsu system earning his 5th degree Brown Belt. Ultimately, the dojo transitioned from Shotokan to Modern Vee-jitsu and was visited by some of the great Vee-jitsu masters including the late, great Professor Vee.
After winning the election for Dorchester County Sheriff in 1996, Sensei Nash was forced to close the dojo, although he continued to train in Modern Vee-jitsu and American Tactical Goju. In 2005, he was awarded a 3rd degree Black Belt (Sandan) by the American Institute of the Martial Arts. Grandmaster Joe Hess, Hanshi Joe Bonacci, Master Gary Alexander, and Shihan Mike Albenzi participated in the testing board. That same day, his son Jordan was awarded his 1st degree Black Belt (Shodan). Later that year, the Nash senseis opened the Focal Point Martial Arts dojo in Summerville and adopted American Tactical Ju-jitsu as the name of their eclectic art.
Focal Point Martial Arts continued for about two years, then had to close its doors due to financial realities. Sensei Nash continues to develop ATJ and train a group of students at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan where he is currently stationed as a Police Advisor for the US State Department, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.
Here is a short summary of Sensei Nash’ martial arts experience:
- Isshin Ryu Karate under Ronnie Barkoot and Andy Seltzer
- Goju-ryu Karate, American Tactical Goju, and Aiki-jitsu under Grandmaster Joe Hess
- American Sport Karate under Mike Genova
- Shuri-ryu Karate-do under Shihan Ridgely Abele
- Olympic Karate under Lee Barden
- Shotokan Karate under Sensei Terry Cooper, Sensei T. Hayden, and Sensei Sally Hayden
- Mukashi Kindai-ryu Karate under Soke Rick Boyer
- Modern Vee-jitsu under Professor Rob Evans
- Kobudo under Grandmaster Hess, Soke Boyer, and Shihan Abele
- Police Self-defense under Grandmaster Hess
- American Tactical Ju-jitsu
- Founder/Chief Instructor – Police Defense Systems, Pineland Karate Academy, Christian Martial Arts Academy, Focal Point Martial Arts