Ralph Passero began his Isshin-Ryu training on April Fools Day, 1968, at the Bayonne Dojo under the leadership of senior instructor Joel Buchholtz. At that time, it was under the name American Okinawan Karate Association and was under the supervision of Master Don Nagle.
Ralph's main motivation for starting karate was his desire to fight Mark Wzorek, Sensei Buchholtz's assistant. Mark was a 5th Dan, and a fighter known for his wildness. Ralph recalls, "I started with the intentions of just giving this guy a beating, and had no real intentions of learning karate". As time past, Ralph and his instructor became good friends and never got around to that fight that brought him to karate class. When Ralph made Sho-Dan, Mark awarded him his personal Obi, and left the dojo, never to return.
During his early years, Ralph fought full contact karate under the tutelage of Sensei Gary Alexander. Later, he continued with the National Karate League, and the World Professional Karate Organization. He won the Harlem Heavy Weight crown two years in a row. After twenty years, he retired (not really) at the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame tournament in Tennessee.
Today, Ralph trains full contact fighters and manages one of the best Super Heavy Weights in the world, Larry "Thunderfoot" Cureton. He is Chief Instructor and President of Master Don Nagle’s A.O.K.A., Inc. Karate is a major part of his life as he still trains hard everyday.