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Caylor Adkins


By Bob McCauley

Any Shotokan Karate student is familiar with the name Caylor Adkins.  A beginning student would find themselves at a martial arts store and there would run into wall maps of Caylor Adkins showing the proper techniques for kata and kumite.  Over 20 years ago, as a white belt, I could only imagine that Caylor was 7 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds.

I never met Caylor Adkins until many years later.  He was anything but a giant.  He was about 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighed about 150 pounds.  This meeting was at an SKA school on Inglewood Avenue in Hawthorne CA. 

Caylor is known for many feats in the martial arts arena, but one of the most remarkable endeavors was his training tour through Japan.  Before he left for the orient, he was accidentally pushed into a shallow pool and hurt his neck.  He left for the tour shortly thereafter, even though the pain subsisted.  After many days of heavy sparring, Caylor's pain did not go away, so he went to a hospital.  In the emergency room, he found out that he had fractured a vertebrae in the pool accident and had been sparring with a broken neck in Japan.

While Caylor is not the giant that I once assumed, when he walked on the floor at the SKA dojo, he transformed into a virtual giant.  His power was still evident as he ran younger students through their drills.

The photos below depict Caylor working out at the Inglewood Avenue dojo..


But that is not the end of the story.  Caylor is a multi-faceted individual:

  • Scholar - A scholar that is a voracious reader -- sometimes going through a book a day.  Caylor's degree was in history and history is a subject that is integrated into his life.  His home could be classified as a small public library and he has a rolodex memory that can instantly recall and discuss any of the books in detail (such as the Education of Henry James, Part I and Part II, books on Napoleon, etc.).

  • Musician - A musician who has played professionally and is a blues aficionado.  This passion is demonstrated by his reluctance to view Ultimate Fighting Challenge events because they conflict with Friday night blues sessions at a local pub.

  • Philosopher - A philosopher with a well organized ontological view of the world.  This view is crisp, well defined.

  • Observer - An eclectic observer of the martial arts world that is unusual for someone that is a leader in a traditional style.  He can talk in depth about the virtues of the Dog Brothers practioners, certain judo players, and other qualified martial artists.

  • Healer - Caylor's vocation involves physical healing - including deep tissue massage and Rolfing.  I saw this first hand as a customer, having experienced pain in a shoulder brought on by excessive grappling. The injury had progressed to the point of being partially frozen, which precluded full movement.  Previous orthopedic remedies, including surgery and many months of expensive physical therapy did nothing for me.  One doctor, an orthopedic surgeon for a National Football Team, stated that I would "just have to learn to live with it". After a few weeks of therapy provided by Caylor, my shoulder loosened up. The most interesting part was the comparison of the approach of Caylor versus the orthopedic specialists and standard therapists.  The latter had cookbook techniques that were the same for all their customers.  Caylor spent weeks going over individual muscle strands, working "oxygen flow" into the damaged areas.  The question that continually surfaced is "how did this karate master know so much more about healing than standard doctors and therapists?" Then I realized that the question was somewhat rhetorical.