Robert A. Trias
"The Father of American Karate"
Robert A. Trias was born on March 18,1922. At the beginning of World War II Robert A. Trias
was called upon to serve his country in the United States Navy. In 1942 he was stationed in the
Solomon Islands. While he was training for the South Pacific middleweight boxing championship,
he met a man who would set him on the path to a remarkable life of monumental accomplishments.
This man was T'ung Gee Hsing. Hsing had traveled to the Solomn Islands from Okinawa in 1940,
where he had trained with Choki Motobu.
Hsing was fascinated with American boxing and he began to frequent the gym where Master Trias was
training. He pestered Trias day after day to spar with him, until one day Trias agreed. In an interview
for Black Belt Magazine Master Trias recounts the event. "He was just a tiny little guy, said Trias, and
I didn't want to spar with him, but he kept on persisting until I said yes. I called all my friends to see me
kill this little man and I asked him if he wanted to spar with gloves and he said it really didn't matter.
Well, before you know it, he was giving me the biggest thrashing of my life and I was really embarrassed.
He kept pointing out how he could easily kill me if he wanted and right there and then, I asked him to teach
me." Master Trias began training with T'ung Gee Hsing, and was awarded his first degree black belt on
July 10, 1943.
Later in 1944, he was also able to train with Hoy Yuan Ping in Singapore. In 1945 he returned to the United
States and introduced karate to America. In 1946 Master Trias opened the first karate school in America in
Phoenix, Arizona. In 1948 he founded the United States Karate Association which became the largest karate
organization in the world. He was also responsible for the following first accomplishments in America.
1955 - Wrote the first rules for karate competition.
1955 - Conducted the first karate tournament.
1958 - Wrote the first textbook.
1959 - Made the first instructional film.
1963 - Conducted the first world karate championships.
1968 - Conducted the first professional karate tournament.
His literary works are: "The Hand is My Sword", "Karate is My Life", "The Methods of Shuri-ryu",
"The Pinnacle of Karate", and "The Supreme Way".
Master Trias was promoted to 9th degree black belt on July 16, 1964 by Grand Master Yasuhiro Konishi, the
Chief Instructor for Choki Motobu. Grand Master Konishi also appointed Master Trias as the International Style
Head of the Shuri-ryu system. He was promoted to 10th degree black belt in 1983, by Grand Master Makoto
Gima, the Chief Instructor for Gichin Funakoshi.
Yasuhiro Konishi, Robert Trias, Makato Gima
On July 11, 1989 Master Trias succumbed to bone cancer after a three-year battle. His passing marked the
end of an era in the martial arts, that will never be seen again.
South Pacific Islands 1942 - 1945
Tong Gee Hsing and Robert Trias, 1942
Arizona State Highway Patrol, 1946-1961
The First Trias Dojo, 1946
The second USKA Headquarters, Pheonix AZ, 1963
The Trias International Society is composed of the most elite Karate-ka in the world. The Trias International award was first conceived in 1946 as a school patch to the most dedicated students of Master Robert A. Trias. Only Brown and Black Belt students who had won state and/or national championships in Judo or Karate were considered for the award. In 1948, in conjunction with the founding of the United States Karate Association, all previous awards were rescinded. The award from that time on became a national award presented to only the best U. S. Karate Association Karate-ka from throughout the country, and thereby was formed the Trias International Society.
The first member of the new society was inducted in 1961, and from that time on until 1973 society members were selected personally by Master Trias, based upon outstanding achievement, competitive spirit, knowledge, ability and true unselfish perpetuation of the art. In 1973 Mr. Trias appointed Parker Shelton of Indiana to be the first president of the Society, and since then deserving Karate-ka have been presented the coveted award by the majority vote of the society members. All U. S. Karate Association Black Belt national champions are eligible for acceptance, subject to 50% of the majority vote of the membership. At times, as many as five individuals have been recommended or been eligible for admittance to the Society, but for a span of three years no one was accepted. A potential candidate may be nominated for several years before finally being accepted.
Candidates for the Award are examined yearly at the USKA Grand National World Karate Championships and are subject to an extended background examination and verbal hearing before the entire membership of the Society. Applicants are considered without regard to race, creed, color, sex or specific style. Society members are equal in the brotherhood regardless of rank, longevity or position, exemplifying the humanity of the art.
The majority of the Society members are past national champions, and the elite group contains two world full-contact fighting champions. The Trias International patch worn by all its members signifies the spreading of the knowledge and spirit of the art from its inception in Arizona, into Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and throughout the entire nation as a light with its ever-encompassing warmth and penetration.