Grandmaster Stanford McNeal, Sr. Ph.D.\Soke
Grandmaster McNeal was born December 5., 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 12, Master McNeal began studying the Martial Arts (judo) under Sensei Beech at a local community center, and boxing from his father who was a noted pugilist having fought and beat such fighters as the old Mongoose Archie Moore. From ages 12 to 18, he received exposure to other Martial Art forms such as Ju jitsu, Aikido and Atemi waza. After graduating high school, Master McNeal entered the United States Marine Corps and while stationed at Camp Pendleton Calif. Was introduced to karate by one of the old marine cooks. Master McNeal was eventually assigned to Marine Barracks Military Police as a top secret security guard at Lake Mead base in Las Vegas Nevada. While at Lake Mead Base, Master McNeal spent many hours studying the Shoto Kan style of Karate . After discharge from the Marine Corps in 1963, Master McNeal returned to his home town of St. Louis Mo. Where he met Grandmaster Donald Baker through Eugene Gorden, one of Master McNeal’s fathers friends. McNeal began to study under Master Baker and subsequently became Grandmaster Baker’s understudy. Master Baker taught Dr. McNeal the Martial Arts of Kong Soo Do, Combat Judo and Goju-Shorei Karate. Dr. McNeal Also got the opportunity on a few occasions to work out with Grandmaster Bakers instructor, Robert Huggins. Masters Baker and Huggins stressed good basics and discipline, both were perfectionist. The classes were three to four hours long, no air conditioning no fans and no complaining.
To train today as in the old days the students would pass out Dr. McNeal said, most students want the belt and rank but few there are who are really and willing ready to put forth the effort to achieve the rank. Dr. McNeal remembers how Master Baker would put the students in the back stance and Master Baker would Go down to the Basement to get a drink of water, but the students would not move from the stance until they heard the call from the basement by Master Baker to move. Today says Dr. McNeal, there is too much slop, not enough intensity and mental realization that this training might be called upon one day to save a life. Dr. McNeal remembers that as a brown belt he would travel to various dojos in the city to train with the different instructors such as Sam Brock who taught the shuri itosu style under the banner of Shudo Kan, and Bob Yarnell who taught Shorin Ryu. These were just some of the many instructors in the St. Louis area. There was also another instructor named Porter who taught Go No Sen. Dr. McNeal at the age of 16 went to the local YWCA to train in judo with his cousin Edward (tubby) Blair, after attending two classes, the instructor turned the class over to McNeal and Blair due to their knowledge. Edward currently lives in Calif. And trains in Tai Chi. In November of 1966, Dr. McNeal and his family moved to Henderson, Nevada, and Dr. McNeal began instructing karate at the Henderson Boys, There he began to refine his art and increase his knowledge and expertise in other styles. and systems such as Mobutu Kempo, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, and tanto-Jitsu. Dr. McNeal studied the art of tanto jitsu under the late Master Henry Yoda. McNeal also further studied the art of Aikido under Master Carl DuDuiot, and another style of Shoto-Kan from Master Manual B. Jose who was from the Philippines and had set up training in Las Vegas. On one occasion while training his students at the Henderson Boys club, a Japanese gentleman came in and watched Dr. McNeal instruct class. After the class was over the man contacted Dr. McNeal and complimented him on his instruction. The man said that he would come to the boys club to teach Dr. McNeal’s students if Dr. McNeal would come to his dojo and teach in exchange. This Japanese gentleman and Dr. McNeal became very good friends up until his death in 1998, the man was Osamu Ozawa the highest ranked Shoto Kan karate master in the western hemisphere. Master Ozawa was an original student of Gichin Funakoshi. Dr. McNeal spent many hours with Master Ozawa at the restaurant next to the dojo talking about the old times and doing skull sessions. Master Ozawa would later attend Dr. McNeal’s wedding and write a special good luck calligraphy and present it to the McNeal family at the wedding.
Dr. McNeal began cross-training with Master Donnie Williams and Grandmaster Steve Muhammad in the Kempo style known as B.K.F.. Dr. McNeal had already began to create the style which is now known as Kifaru, and found that there were great similarities between Kifaru and the B.K.F. system in that they were both very explosive and technical.
In 1968, Master McNeal became the first Black Man to be employed as a police officer with the Henderson Police Department and was the only Black officer on the department for eight years. In 1972, after testing he was promoted to the Detective bureau. Dr. McNeal became the first person on the Henderson police department to receive the medal of Valor and the only officer from the department to be inducted into the Police Hall of Fame for an act of bravery. In 1984 Dr. McNeal attended a defensive tactics course which was held in Carson City, Nevada and received recognition as a certified defensive tactics instructor for Nevada POST. He then created his own defensive tactics course which was accepted by POST and was instructed to Henderson Police officers. Dr. McNeal also instructed college accredited courses at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (U.N.L.V.) . The Nevada National Guard. The Hughes Summa Corporation were also instructed in self defense and baton training by Dr. McNeal as well as the Salem , Mo Police department.. While in Nevada, Dr. McNeal participated in numerous tournaments in the competitive level in the southwest area and assisted other tournament promoters. Dr. McNeal became the First Black man to become Grandchampion of the Las Vegas National Invitational , and retired after three years as Grandchampion undefeated. While a police officer, he also competed in the Police Olympics and was gold medal winner each year until he retired from competition. During his years of competition, Master McNeal traveled throughout the United States competing, assisting and promoting the art of Karate. He was the founder and served as past president of the Nevada Martial Arts Federation.
Master McNeal’s skills came to good use in February of 1982, while as a police officer as Master McNeal had to call upon his skills to save the life of his partner and two citizens from an armed bank robber who had taken the citizens hostage and attempted to shoot his partner. The actions used by Master McNeal to end the crisis situation prompted the Nevada police officers association to award Master McNeal the medal of Valor, and he was also place in the American Police hall of Fame. In April, 1990, Grandmaster McNeal received a Ph.D. in the Martial Arts and Physical Education from Union University of California. He actively travels, conducting seminars and visiting his franchise schools which are located in the states of Illinois, Missouri, California, Arizona and Nevada. Master McNeal is the Midwest representative of the Christian Karate Association and B.K.F.. In April, 1990, after serving 22 ˝ years, Master McNeal retired from the Henderson Police Department and moved to Salem, Missouri where he established the National Headquarters for the Kifaru Academy of Martial Arts. In June of 1993 Master McNeal was promoted to the rank of (ku-dan) 9th. Degree Black Belt by his instructor, senior Grandmaster Donald Baker who is in retirement. Master McNeal is currently operating his Martial Arts schools in Salem, Houston and Rolla, Missouri. Dr. McNeal still teaches at the dojos that are directly under him in the Salem ,Rolla and Houston Missouri area . Dr. McNeal stated that he has not finished learning this art and that the only way to perfection if there is any in the martial arts, is to continually teach and train. Dr. McNeal advises that even a butcher hones his knives after each cutting session. There are so many new things that are being discovered about the arts and their application that only those that are too proud to learn or too stubborn to admit that there is more will just sit back and deny the student the most precious gift that a sensei can give, “ proper training. And inward and understanding knowledge of the tool that the student possesses and how to bring those tools into action if and when the there is a need. On March 27, 1999 Dr. McNeal was issued Sokeship, promoted to the rank of 10th Dan , inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame and placed on the executive board. On June 18, 2005 in Las Vegas Dr. McNeal was inducted into the USA World Championship Hall of Fame. In November of 2005, Dr. McNeal was accepted as a member of the Black Ryu Organization. The Black Ryu Organization was founded by martial arts legend Grand Master Jerry Bell. Dr. McNeal was placed on numerous boards within the Black Ryu Org. One of those boards being in the technical division. Dr. McNeal acknowledges that only way he could have attained the knowledge and been expose to the various arts and Masters that have touched his life was through the divine intervention of God who has so richly blessed him through the people that have impacted his life.