Kyoshi Ed Sumner, 8th Dan
Kyoshi Ed Sumner of Buckeye, Arizona. Kyoshi Sumner has been training for 53 years and at age 72, he still trains harder than most karate practitioners 1/3 of his age. He is an 8th Dan in Goju-Ryu karate and was the student of Teruo Chinen for almost five decades.
Immediately upon graduating high school at age 17 in 1965, Ed Sumner left his home town of Hartford Illinois and joined the US Air Force. After basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio Texas, he was sent to technical school at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo Texas. As soon as he arrived at Goodfellow, he discovered that there was a Judo club on base. He joined right away, and loved it from the start.
After about six months of training, a new student showed up to train. He was exactly the same size and shape as Sumner. 6’2” tall and a slender 170lbs. The new student was partnered with Sumner since they matched up well physically. But the new guy just took him apart every practice. Finally, Sumner asked him, “did you wrestle in high school?” “No.” “Have you done Judo before?” “No”, was the answer. It was puzzling. Then one night Sumner went to class early, and there, wearing a different type of gi top and a black belt, was this new student doing something called “kata.” This “new student” had just come back from a tour of Okinawa with a shodan in Shorin Ryu!
Sumner was mesmerized, and began bugging the heck out of the guy to teach him. Sumner learned some standing basics, moving basics, and one kata (Fukyu kata dai ichi), before receiving his orders to deploy to Asia. Sumner was first sent to the Philippines, and his first priority was to find a dojo. At the dojo he selected, was a guy named Jim Botsford who had just come from a double tour of Okinawa with a black belt in Goju Ryu. Jim “adopted” Sumner like a younger brother, and pushed his training to the hilt. 5 to 6 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. They ate, drank, dreamed karate. Jim introduced Ed to kote kitai…. Arm beating, shin beating, rib and ab beating. Within 12 weeks, Ed had become very tough… not skilled yet, but tough, and strong.
Later, Sumner would travel to Okinawa to train with Katsuyoshi Kanei, Jim’s instructor there. Ed and Jim also deployed to Vietnam within a month of each other, and became the Ton Son Nhut AFB karate instructors for the 18 months they were there. After leaving Vietnam and coming home, Sumner promptly went back to Asia for about a year, just focused on training. When he returned to stay, he was a nidan in Goju Ryu.
Ed began teaching in Walla Walla, Washington, where he’d started school on the GI bill. He took a team to a tournament at Washington State University, and it was there that he met Sensei Teruo Chinen, who would become his teacher for the next 46 years, until Chinen passed in 2015.
Sumner now lives in Buckeye, Arizona, where he is “busily retired.” In addition to teaching four karate classes each week, he also serves as a personal trainer, and conducts “boot camp” fitness classes for seniors in his community. He is the Vice President of the HOA board, and serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning commission. He is married to the love of his life, Irene. They have four sons and four grandkids.
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