NORTH ATTLEBORO - A North Attleboro karate dojo owner has become one of about 35 people worldwide to achieve the second-highest rank in his style of martial arts.
Ed DeCosta, 73, traveled to Okinawa, Japan, in October, where he passed a series of tests to become a ninth dan, essentially a ninth-degree black belt, in the Shohei Ryu/Uechi Ryu style of karate.
DeCosta, who, along with his wife Jean, owns the Okinawan Karate Dojo in downtown North Attleboro has been studying karate for most of his adult life, starting in the 1960s. He established his own martial arts school, now the oldest in North Attleboro, in 1974.
"Our school is very traditional," DeCosta said. "We teach that respect is a way of life."
Shohei Ryu is a style of karate that has its origins in Chinese Temple Fighting, and was later refined by Kanban Uechi in Okinawa.
The style uses a combination of soft blocks to redirect the force of an attack and powerful strikes to an opponent's vulnerable target areas. It uses the movements of the tiger, crane and dragon to train students in speed, balance and proper breathing techniques.
DeCosta spent about 17 days in Okinawa, staying in a condominium on the East China Sea, along with his wife Jean and three of their long-time students, to prepare for the test.
Leading up to the test, DeCosta trained two to four times per day in two-hour sessions.
To attain his new rank, DeCosta had to write an essay, receive a recommendation from his sensei and have at least three 10th dans review his skills.
It will take another eight to nine years of study and practice before DeCosta is eligible to test for the style's highest rank - 10th dan.
Other students who went on the trip were Mike Maitland of North Attleboro, who was promoted to eighth dan, and Mike Bacon of Dighton, who was promoted to sixth dan.
Jean DeCosta and Mike Kostyshak also traveled with the group as its support team.
Jean DeCosta was the first woman to be promoted to eighth dan on a prior trip to Okinawa, while Kostyshak is a seventh dan.
The group also had the opportunity to perform a group kata in the All Okinawan Tournament while they were abroad.
Ed DeCosta said he particularly enjoyed meeting new friends while on the trip, including people from Brazil, Russia and Serbia.
The DeCostas are preparing to celebrate next year's 40th anniversary of the dojo, where students from ages 5 to 80 train in karate. As part of their anniversary plans, four Okinawans will travel to the dojo to take part in the celebration.