Kalamazoo karate instructor joins exclusive group with 10th-degree black belt

In a squat, wooden building tucked away in Kalamazoo's Southside neighborhood, you'll find one of the country's most decorated martial arts practitioners. It's far from a flashy exterior, but the interior walls hold a set of diplomas shared by just two other karate instructors in the U.S. James Thompson, owner of Kalamazoo's Okinawan Karate Academy, 1837 S. Westnedge Ave., received his 10th-degree black belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate from the All Okinawan Karate Federation in Okinawa, Japan, during a trip abroad this summer.

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