While in the Philippines, Russ Smith began his formal training in Goju-Ryu under Sensei Iyan Mackenzie, who trained in Japanese Goju-Ryu under Yamaguchi Goshi.
Upon his return to the USA, he sought out instruction in Okinawan Goju-Ryu from Sensei Tony Madamba of the IOGKF. Years of training under Sensei Madamba helped developed his core karate skills. He trained under Sensei Madamba until his separation from the IOGKF, at which time Russ withdrew from dojo and organization politics to train and practice independently.
Ultimately desiring to learn more about traditional Goju-Ryu led Russ to begin hosting and training with Sensei Kimo Wall, and visiting Okinawa to train at the Shodokan Hombu dojo, and with senior Shodokan instructors such as Sensei Kiyuna Choyu, Kurashita Eiki, Oshiro Yusuru, and Gibo Seiki.
Now a member of the Kokonden community of practice, Russ continues to preserve, promote, and research Okinawan Goju-Ryu at the Burinkan dojo with the assistance of senior advisors.
In addition to his three primary Goju-Ryu instructors, over the past 30 years, Russ has had the opportunity to also learn, if briefly, from the following instructors (in rough chronological order):
- Mr. Neil Postlethwait - Hawaiian Kenpo
- Sensei Richard Stamper - GKK Goju-Ryu
- Kyosanim Michael Meredith - Soo Bak Do
- Kyosanim Robert Christmas - Soo Bak Do
- Sensei Ken Washington - Uechi-Ryu
- Coach Ron Beer - Qinna, Koryu Uchinadi, etc
- Sensei David Overstreet - Goju-Ryu, Kobudo
- Sensei Higaonna Morio - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Frank Gorman - Uechi-Ryu
- Sensei Marcus Davila - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Chuck Merriman - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Marvin Labatte - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei John Roseberry - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Oshiro Yusuru - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Kiyuna Choyu - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Kurashita Eiki - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Gibo Seiki - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Yogi Jyosei - Pangai-noon
- Sensei Fred Lohse - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Phillip Koeppel - Shorin-Ryu
- Sensei William Steigner - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Michael (Charles) Boyett - Goju-Ryu, Tang Soo Do
- Sensei Taira Masaji - Goju-Ryu
- Sensei Wade Chroninger - Goju-Ryu