Hanshi Dennis H. Fink
Mr. Dennis Fink began training in the martial arts in jujutsu, karate, and judo in 1963. He studied in Okinawa, directly under Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, 10th degree black belt and founder of Isshin-ryu Karate-do. He also studied jujutsu, aikido (under the founder of Shin Aikido Master Morikatsu Fujii) and judo at the Sekiryukan located in Fukuoka City, Kyushu, Japan. He is formerly the international director of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu, headquartered in Fukuoka City under the direction of Master Manzo Shitama, 16th Dai Shihan (headmaster) of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu. Mr. Fink holds the grade of Menkyo (the equivalent to Menkyo Kaiden – “license of total transmission” in other classical systems) (May 2006) from the old Menkyo (license) system of grading. This is the highest grade possible to be achieved in Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu. Mr. Fink also holds a 9th degree black belt (Kudan) (February 2004) and the title of Hanshi (commonly referred to as “teacher of teachers”) in Okinawan Isshin-ryu Karate-do, a 5th degree black belt (Godan) (December 1990) and the title of Shihan in aikido, and a 5th degree black belt (Godan) (January 1990) in Kodokan Judo (all certified in Japan).
He is certified by the Sekiryukan, Fukuoka, Japan; Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu Kai, Fukuoka, Japan; Isshin-ryu World Karate Association, Okinawa, Japan; Okinawan Isshin-ryu Karate and Kobudo Association, Okinawa, Japan; Nihon Seibukan, Kyoto, Japan; All Japan Budo Federation, Kyoto, Japan; All Japan Koshiki Karate-do Federation, Kyoto, Japan; Shin Aikido Association, Fukuoka, Japan; International Judo Federation; USA Judo and the United States Judo Association.
In 1976, he directed the first Isshin-ryu World Karate Championships at Sunnyside Gardens Arena, Queens, New York entitled “A Tribute To A Master” (in honor of Tatsuo Shimabuku, who passed away in 1975). Master Kichiro Shimabuku, eldest son of Tatsuo came from Okinawa to serve as chief referee. He was also the host of the 1997 Isshin-ryu World Karate Championship, “A Tribute to a Master, Two Decades Later.”
In 1980, seventy British Commandos (Special Air Service), Britain’s elite, came to the United States. Mr. Fink, a member of the U. S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) at the time (he served in Vietnam in the U. S. Marine Corps) was sent to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, to train them in hand to hand combat.
In 1987, Mr. Fink had a bronze bust made of his sensei (teacher), Tatsuo Shimabuku (12 years after his death). This bust was sent to Okinawa to be displayed at a suitable location.
In 1988, Kichiro Shimabuku (10th degree black belt and head of the Isshin-ryu World Karate Association) came to New York and presented Mr. Fink with a plaque, which read, “Mr. Dennis Fink, in appreciation for your efforts in the promotion and expansion of Isshin-ryu Karate and the magnificent bust you created of my father.”
In 1995-96, Mr. Fink served in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a field grade commander in the U.S. Army. While there he taught martial art classes to the NATO forces at Tuzla Air Base.
In 1998, Mr. Fink was appointed to the Tokubetsu Kaiin (Special Members) of the Sekiryukan (oldest dojo in Japan) in Fukuoka City, Japan, headquarters of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu. The Tokubetsu Kaiin is comprised of the most senior members of the Sekiryukan to include Master Manzo Shitama, 16th headmaster of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu. It is equivalent to a “Board of Directors,” as it sets policy for the dojo as well as elects the dojo kancho (manager). He is the first non-Japanese to receive this honor in this dojo with roots going back over 360 years.
In May of 1999, Master Angi Uezu, Hanshi, chief instructor of the Okinawan Isshin-ryu Karate-do and Kobudo Association and son-in-law of Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, founder of Isshin-ryu Karate-do, presented Fink Sensei with a “Certificate of Achievement” commemorating 36 years (at the time) of study as well as mastering the Isshin-ryu system of karate-do.
Also in 1999, Mr. Fink retired with over twenty years of honorable service to New York City, as a firefighter and police officer.
A former Marine and enlisted soldier with the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6) before being commissioned as an officer, he retired as an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Army with over 32 years of service. In 2017, he was inducted into the New York State Senate Hall of Fame. See 2017 Veteran Hall of Fame Award
In May 2000, he was inducted into the Okinawan Isshin-ryu Karate-do and Kobudo Associations Hall of Fame.
In October 2003, at the 350th Anniversary Banquet in Fukuoka, Japan, Fink Sensei was presented with a certificate recognizing the many years that he has contributed to the preservation of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu in the United States.
In February 2004, while in Okinawa, Master Angi Uezu, president of the Okinawan Isshin-ryu Karate and Kobudo Association promoted Fink Sensei to 9th degree black belt (Kudan) and bestowed upon him the Shogo (teaching title) of Hanshi (model warrior or scholar).
In March 2004, Fink Sensei hosted the first senbondori (test or challenge of 1000 points) outside of the Sekiryukan. Senbondori has only been conducted at the Sekiryukan Dojo (headquarters of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu) in Fukuoka, Japan since Shingo Munetsugu Shitama, 12th inheritor of Sosuishi-ryu began this event in 1868. In 1877 he was killed in the famous battle; sienan-no-eki (battle of the southeast) portrayed in the Tom Cruise movie “The Last Samurai.” This battle was part of the Satsuma Rebellion, which was led by General Saigo of the Satsuma Clan of Samurai.
A group of sixteen members from the Sekiryukan attended and sanctioned this event led by Manzo Shitama, 16th headmaster of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu, which has been passed down from father to son since 1650. Three of Fink Sensei’s students completed the senbondori after a six-hour grueling test of physical stamina, will power, and spirit.
In May 2006, Fink Sensei was promoted to Menkyo (the equivalent to Menkyo Kaiden – “license of complete transmission” in other classical systems) by Sosuishi-ryu’s 16th headmaster, Manzo Shitama. He is the first and only non-Japanese in the more than 360-year history of Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu to achieve this grade. The only other living Menkyo is Master Manzo Shitama. There is no equivalent to this grade in the modern grading system; however, at the very least it would be equivalent to 10th degree black belt.
Mr. Fink, who was a stuntman in major motion pictures, including Crazy Joe and Dog Day Afternoon, is internationally known in the martial arts and has been host to many visitors from around the world. He has been a certified police instructor since 1973.
He is certified by the FBI, the New York State Municipal Police Training Council, the New Jersey State Police Training Commission and the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council as a Defensive Tactics and Firearms Instructor for Police Officers. He has taught Defensive Tactics Instructor Courses for the FBI, in which Police Instructors are certified as instructors.
Fink Sensei has made numerous trips to Japan to continue his study of the martial arts. On one of his return visits, in 1985, he received authorization from the Japan Seibukan, in Kyoto (headquarters of the “All Japan Budo Federation”) to establish the New York Seibukan. Mr. Fink believes you never reach your full potential until the day you die. Therefore, everyone is a student and must continue to strive to reach their full potential. He began teaching in Queens, New York in 1967.
In 2017, Mr. Fink, upon having a stroke, designated William Kinkel as his heir apparent. Kinkel Sensei has assumed the role of Chief Instructor at the New York Seibukan.