Mr. Joshua Ryer is the President of United Parker's Kenpo Organization and Senior Instructor of the headquarters school located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a direct student of Grandmaster of the Arts, Mr. Richard "Huk" Planas and Senior Professor, Mr. Zach Whitson.
Joshua Ryer was born on April 4th, 1982 in the city of York, Pennsylvania. It was just south of York in the small town of New Freedom that Josh grew up with his parents, James and Colleen, and his older brother Zach.
As a child, Josh always had a love for the martial arts, but it was not until the age of ten that he would have an opportunity to formally train. On his tenth birthday, Josh was enrolled into a martial arts program at the Y.M.C.A. in the neighboring town of Shrewsbury. However, after only one year in the program, Josh's family had decided to relocate to Florida and he had to find another school to continue his training.
Josh found himself training at Mr. Greg Silva's renowned East West Karate in Coral Springs, Florida. It was here that Josh was introduced to the Ed Parker's Kenpo System. At the time Josh enrolled at East West Karate, it was one of the largest martial arts schools in the country with an average of nine hundred students. With that being said, there were also many talented instructors on the floor providing the instruction. Josh had the honor to experience many of these instructors, including; Mr. Greg Silva, Mr. Kai Blackstar, Mr. Chris Russo, Mr. Mark Krahl, Mr. Paul Garcia, and Mr. Jeff Bold. However only reaching the rank of Purple belt, Josh's training was yet again cut short due to his family moving back to Pennsylvania.
In April of 1994 Josh commenced his training in the Ed Parker's Kenpo System under the instruction of Associate Master of the Arts, Mr. Gary Ronemus in York, Pennsylvania. It was through the watchful eye of Mr. Ronemus that Josh would receive a great amount of knowledge in the Kenpo System and be given the rare opportunity to test for the rank of Black belt on June 27th, 1997. Josh passed the test and was promoted the following day at a belt ceremony in front of the school's student body. Josh was one of the youngest individuals promoted to the of Black belt under Mr. Ronemus.
After his promotion, Josh took on the responsibility to assist in managing Mr. Ronemus' East York location along with a fellow Black Belt, Mr. Salvador "Alex" Dorsey. It was this opportunity that sparked a lifelong friendship between Josh and Alex as they were able to train together almost every weekday. Because of their hard work and dedication, it was not long before Josh and Alex found themselves being promoted to their Second Degree Black belt on December 12th, 1998. They continued to run the East End well into the fall of 1999 when Alex was given the opportunity to seek his Master's Degree in Sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Josh took on full responsibility of running the East End when he too sought further education. In the summer of 2000, Josh relocated to western Pennsylvania to attain his Undergraduate Degree in Business at the University of Pittsburgh, not far from where Alex was attending school.
With the understanding of his commitment to the University and the realization that there were no Kenpo schools in the immediate area, Josh founded and certified the United Parker's Kenpo Club at the University of Pittsburgh in September of 2000. This student organization quickly took off and in a short amount of time, Josh and Alex found themselves training over sixty individuals from the University and neighboring communities. They also played host to many well known Kenpo instructors; including, Mr. Richard Planas of Louisiana, Mr. Zach Whitson of Tennessee, Mr. Mike Cappi of Pennsylvania, Mr. John Ward of Ireland, Mr. and Mrs. Bob White of California, and Mrs. Doreen Cogliandro of Massachusetts. It was also during the growth of their program at the University of Pittsburgh, that Josh and Alex were once again recognized. On February 10th, 2002, Mr. Ronemus promoted Josh and Alex to the rank of Third Degree Black belt.
As in the past, Josh and Alex continued to strive for more success within their training and it was in the summer of 2003 that Josh, Alex, and a close group of UPK students would experience the fruits of all their hard work. In July of 2003, they attended the Boston International Karate Championship being hosted by Mrs. Doreen Cogliandro in Boston, Massachusetts. With a record attendance at hand, the UPK walked away with many awards including first place in Team Forms. Josh personally received the honor of Grand Champion in the Self-Defense division being presented with a gold International Flame ring, which today is proudly displayed at the UPK Headquarters school. Along with this honor, Josh was also officially accepted as a direct student under Grandmaster of the Arts, Mr. Richard "Huk" Planas and Senior Professor, Mr. Zach Whitson.
After returning from Boston, Josh and Alex were again sparked to train even harder. With so much success and the apparent potential for their program in the Pittsburgh area, Josh began the initial steps to open his own full-time Kenpo school in late February of 2004. Everything was going as planned. A lease was signed for their location and they began preparing the school for its grand opening in the later part of March when tradegy hit. On Friday, March 5th 2004, Mr. Salvador "Alex" Dorsey suffered a fatal heart attack.
Josh and the UPK Students suffered a heavy loss, but there was no doubt in anyone's mind that they must move on and continue with the opening of the school. On Saturday, March 20th 2004; the United Parker's Kenpo Karate School was opened and dedicated to Salvador "Alex" Dorsey. To this day, a framed program stands above the original front door to the school to commemorate his life.
Almost two years later, Josh continues to be steadfast in his training. He currently holds the rank of Fourth Degree Black belt being promoted on Sunday, October 30th 2005 by Grandmaster Planas and Senior Professor Whitson. As a student and instructor of the Parker/ Planas Lineage, Josh anxiously looks to the future for more opportunities to give back to Kenpo Community, increase his knowledge, and further the growth of his students in the never ending Ed Parker's Kenpo System.