Ken Ota and Miye Ota are a married couple known for teaching martial arts, ballroom dancing, and social graces at their "cultural school" located in Goleta, California.
Kenji Ota (May 14, 1923 – November 10, 2015) was a second-generation Japanese-American, also known as Nisei , raised in Lompoc, California.He and his family were placed in the Japanese internment camps of World War II. There, he met and married his wife, Miye Ota.
In 1948, after his release from the internment camp, Ota settled in Goleta, California, and with his family's help, built a home from bricks on the converted swamplands.
Ota died November 10, 2015, in Goleta, California.
Miye Tachihara Ota (born August 26, 1918), was raised in Guadalupe, California. Like Ken, she is also Nisei and she and her family were placed in the Japanese internment camps of World War II, where she met her future husband at the Gila River Relocation Center.
Following her release from internment camp and a brief stay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miye leveraged her pre-war beauty school training to open her own salon, which the Otas built themselves from bricks attached to their home in Goleta.Miye would go on to be one of the founding members of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and was recognized decades later as "Goleta's Finest Woman of the Year" during the Chamber's 69th year.
The Otas were avid partner-dancers involved with various social dance circles within the Santa Barbara County. Following their mastery of square dancing, they began ballroom dance training at the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio. As they progressed in their dance training they sought out higher levels of instruction, which involved commuting to Los Angeles for lessons from a new group of English instructors teaching International Style.
Alex Moore certified both Ken and Miye in the International Style of ballroom dance. Ken went on to be the first man in the U.S. to get the highest Arthur Murray student credentials, Triple Gold Star and Gold Bar. The Otas were also certified through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).
Ken's most notable instructor was Sheila Webber-Sloan, a national ballroom dance champion; the Webber-Sloan and Ota partnership garnered multiple awards and had several appearances on television, including a broadcast of the California Star Ball.
It was not until chaperoning a school dance for their son, Steve Ota, did they feel compelled to start teaching dance lessons to children; they believed children could learn more tasteful ways of dancing with each other. Having achieved their competitive goals, they founded a junior cotillion, where they could teach their son and his friends lessons in dance, manners, and other social graces. The Otas were also contracted to teach these classes by several schools and organizations over the years, including the Junior League of Santa Barbara.
The popularity of their classes grew such that they built their own "cultural school" adjacent to their Goleta home. The school's brick structure houses a spacious hardwood floor surrounded by white benches and mirrors, and a ceiling that adorns two crystal chandeliers.
For decades, Ken Ota taught ballroom dancing for UC Santa Barbara as a class for physical education credit, along with separate sessions open to the community through the university's leisure arts program. His classes also spawned several student-run social clubs that revolve around swing dancing, ballroom, and competitive ballroom dancing.
Ken Ota originally practiced the grappling arts Sumo and Judo, which he regularly participated in from the time he had been placed in the Japanese internment camps of World War II. It was not until 1963 during his regular commutes to Los Angeles for dance lessons that he came across the art of Aikido. The whole Ota family enrolled in classes under Isao Takahashi. The Otas then moved onto training in Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido under Koichi Tohei.
The Otas built their own "cultural school" next to their Goleta home, which could easily transform into a dojo when fitted with removable tatami mats; the main wall adorns a traditional Japanese shomen, which includes photos of Morihei Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, and a large Ki symbol painted by Tohei himself.
The Otas offered classes to children and adults in Judo and Aikido, and also consulted local law enforcement. Ken was hired to teach martial arts at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he became advisor for several clubs, including a women's Judo team. Ken was also contracted by Panther Productions to produce a series of Aikido instructional videos.
Ken and Miye's son, Steve, returned to Santa Barbara after completing his studies at San Jose State University, where he was a member of the championship Judo team. In the years since Steve's return, many of the adult and high-level classes had transitioned to Steve's direction, as he continued to train and receive recognized ranks in KI Aikido, along with teaching Aikido at UCSB.Steve Ota passed away on November 1, 2020.
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, including Iwama Ryu, Iwama Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai, Shodokan Aikido, Yoshinkan, Aikikai and Ki Aikido. Aikido is now practiced in around 140 countries. It was originally developed by Morihei Ueshiba, as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy and religious beliefs. Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attackers from injury. Aikido is often translated as "the way of unifying (with) life energy" or as "the way of harmonious spirit". According to the founder's philosophy, the primary goal in the practice of aikido is to overcome oneself instead of cultivating violence or aggressiveness. Morihei Ueshiba used the phrase masakatsu agatsu katsuhayabi" to refer to this principle.
Isla Vista is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Barbara County, California in the United States. As of 2018, the community had a population of 27,690. The majority of residents are college students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara or at Santa Barbara City College. The beachside community of Isla Vista lies on a flat plateau about 30 feet (9 m) in elevation, separated from the beach by a bluff.
The University of California, Santa Barbara is a public land-grant research university in Isla Vista, California. It is part of the University of California system. Tracing its roots back to 1891 as an independent teachers' college, UCSB joined the University of California system in 1944, and is the third-oldest undergraduate campus in the system, after UC Berkeley and UCLA.
Gloria Stivic is a fictional character played by Sally Struthers on the American situation comedy All in the Family and the spin-off series Gloria. The only child of Archie and Edith Bunker, Gloria is married to—and eventually divorced from—Michael Stivic. She was born 11 months after Archie and Edith were married, according to the fifth season episode “The Longest Kiss”.
Koichi Tohei was a 10th Dan aikidoka and founder of the Ki Society and its style of aikido, officially Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, but commonly known as Ki-Aikido.
Kazuo Chiba was a Japanese aikido teacher and founder of Birankai International. He served for seven years as uchideshi at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo before being dispatched abroad to help develop Aikido internationally. He held an 8th dan in Aikido, issued by Aikikai world headquarters in Tokyo, Japan and was active in Aikido for over 50 years.
The Gila River War Relocation Center was an American concentration camp in Arizona, one of several built by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) during the Second World War for the incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. It was located within the Gila River Indian Reservation near the town of Sacaton, about 30 mi (48.3 km) southeast of Phoenix. With a peak population of 13,348, it became the fourth-largest city in the state, operating from May 1942 to November 16, 1945.
Thor Nis Christiansen was a Danish-American serial killer from Solvang, California. He committed his first three murders in late 1976 and early 1977, killing young women of similar appearance from nearby Isla Vista. His crimes motivated large demonstrations opposed to violence against women, and in favor of better transportation for the young people residing in Isla Vista. In 1979, he killed a young woman from Los Angeles. A fifth intended victim escaped with a bullet in her head, and later identified him in a Los Angeles bar.
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the intercollegiate athletic teams who represent the University of California, Santa Barbara. Referred to in athletic competition as UC Santa Barbara or UCSB, the Gauchos participate in 19 NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports with the majority competing in the Big West Conference. UCSB currently fields varsity teams in 10 men's sports and 9 women's sports.
The Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) is a research center under the Office of Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) whose mission is to preserve regional biodiversity and restore ecosystems on campus lands. CCBER has three main functions: curation and preservation of natural history collections, native coastal ecosystem and habitat restoration on campus lands, and education and outreach for both UCSB students and local community schools.
Robert Wallace Webb was a professor of geology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and during World War II was Coordinator of Veterans Affairs for the University of California system. After World War II, Santa Barbara State College became a branch of the University of California and he transferred there in 1948 where he was one of the original professors of earth science at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) traces its roots back to the 19th century, when it emerged from the Santa Barbara School District, which was formed in 1866 and celebrated its 145th anniversary in 2011. UCSB's earliest predecessor was the Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School, named after Anna S. C. Blake, a sloyd-school which was established in 1891. From there, the school underwent several transformations, most notably its takeover by the University of California system in 1944.
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus is located around 10 miles west of downtown Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County, California.
Alan Ruddock was an Irish Martial Arts pioneer, teacher and writer. He introduced both Aikido & Karate to Ireland and was the founder of the Aiki no Michi and its interpretation of Aikido. Ruddock was one of the few western Aikido practitioners and only Irish national who studied directly under the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba ("O-Sensei").
Ryland King is the founder and executive director of Sprout Up, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to bring supplementary youth-to-youth environmental education programs to the public school system completely free of charge, building more sustainable communities from the youngest members of society up.
Harry Kiyoshi Ishisaka was a leading sensei, or master of the Japanese martial art of aikido. Founder and chief instructor of the Orange County Aiki Kai for much of his life, he did much to popularize aikido in southern California. His obituary in Black Belt magazine described him as "one of the foremost practitioners of aikido in America."
Pamela Lopker is the founder, chairman of the board, and president of the software company QAD Inc.
George Hoshida was a Japanese American artist known for his drawings made during World War II, when he was incarcerated in three US internment camps and two Justice Department camps between 1942 and 1945. Nearly 300 of his works form the George Hoshida Collection, held and displayed by the Japanese American National Museum, founded in 1992 in Los Angeles, California.
Stanley Pranin was an American martial artist, founding publisher, and editor-in-chief of Aikido Journal. Pranin, a researcher and archivist of aikido, has written and published several books and many articles about aikido, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, and Morihei Ueshiba and was an influential figure in the aikido world.
The Cultural School of Goleta is a multi-purpose venue built by Ken and Miye Ota. The facility consists of a large ballroom with a sprung hardwood floor, two crystal chandeliers, a raised stage and is surrounded by built-in benches for seating. There is also an attached industrial kitchen, audio system, changing room, and storage for the additional chairs and tables. Also present, are removable tatami mats, which when applied to the entire ballroom floor, convert the space into a martial arts dojo, with a shomen at the main wall.