Martial Arts legend, Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro, founder of Shaolin Kenpo, passed away peacefully at age 87 on Monday, February 25, 2019, in Antioch, California. He was the last surviving Master of his era which included martial art icons such as; Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, James Lee, Wally Jay and Jhoon Rhee.
Born in 1931 in Honolulu, Hawaii, he was of Hawaiian-Spanish descent and one of eight children. His martial arts training began as a young boy learning the fundamentals of boxing from his father, a well-known boxer on the island, who earned the nickname, "Boss."
After serving in the military during the Korean War, Ralph Castro learned Kenpo Karate under the legendary, Professor William "Thunderbolt" Chow at the renowned Honolulu Self-Defense Club.
Several years later, he relocated to the mainland and in 1958 Ralph Castro opened the first Kenpo Karate school in Northern California. He made the decision to start his first location in San Francisco with the encouragement and support from his good friend, also a local boy from Hawaii, Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo.
Close friends included famed Jiu Jitsu instructor, Master Wally Jay and Kung Fu Master James Lee, who introduced Ralph Castro to Bruce Lee. Good friends and martial arts colleagues for many years, Bruce Lee credits Ralph Castro as the only person to have ever blocked his back fist.
Through the years, Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro has taught tens of thousands of students, promoted hundreds of Black Belts and inspired generations. His martial Arts career spanned over five decades and within that time he was featured in many martial arts publications including numerous magazine covers.
In 1998 Ralph Castro was a Black Belt Hall of Fame inductee and Co-Instructor of the Year. He was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2017 he received the prestigious Martial Arts History Museum Lifetime Achievement Award.
Although Ralph Castro was a pioneer, a warrior and a charismatic martial arts legend, he was first and foremost a devoted husband, a loving father and a true family man. He is survived by his wife, Pat, of 65 years and his Magnificent Seven; April Castro Herschend, May Castro Manner, R. Robert Castro, June Castro Michalowski, Rafael Boss Castro III, July Castro Steinhorn, Mia Castro Havens, 22 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
Family, friends and students are invited to Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro's Celebration of Life at Bayside Church - Adventure Campus, 6401 Stanford Ranch Road, Roseville, CA (near Sacramento) at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2019.