Marvin Fankhauser III
Marvin A. Fankhauser III was born May 5, 1957, and passed away peacefully at home on May 25, 2023 after an illness with glioblastoma.
Marvin began training in martial arts many years before we all met him in this art. He studied primarily Tae Kwon Do at Yu's Academy of Martial Arts in St. Joseph, MO. Sometime after obtaining his black belt in that style he ventured further into the arts, seeking something closer to the root of the art and found the style of Ryukyu Kempo about an hour and a half south of his home. There, an original instructor from the Ryukyu Islands had immigrated a little over a decade earlier. Around 1989 he made the conversion to Ryukyu Kempo which of course later changed to RyuTe Ren Mei. He attained rankings in both and later, twice tested into Taika Seiyu Oyata's Shin Shu Ho with a final ranking just shortly before Taika's death of 7th Dan.
Marvin was selected by Taika approximately 8-9 years prior to Taika's death (approximately 2003) to be the recipient of a Manji Sai kata that had never been revealed previously to any other student. Taika worked secretly with Marvin for several years in his basement and backyard perfecting Marvin's technique with the Manji Sai and teaching him this rare kata. Taika taught several rare weapons kata in his final years and six were taught specifically to what would become OyataTe founders. Taika began having Marvin teach portions of this new Manji Sai kata in 2011 but prior to that Marvin was not allowed to reveal that he was even learning it. This was the third Manji Sai kata known in Oyata's system and thus some people call it Manji Sai III. When asked the name of the kata as well as other newly revealed kata, Taika would be somewhat comical and state something like, "I don't know, maybe Mabin no Manji." He did this same thing with Lisa Ohmes and her second and third chizi kun kata.
After Taika passed away, Marvin and others that trained with him at his dojo in Independence, MO as well as privately at his home formed the OyataTe International organization. Marvin was one of the original five founders of OyataTe, all of which trained personally at his dojo and home. Marvin was probably the most regular, unfaltering to attend shihan dai classes with the group of black belts that originally trained at Taika's headquarters after his passing. The core group of 'regulars' continued training at the church Taika used as his headquarters for his last 14 years and then it moved to Ryushinkan Kenshukai. During those ten years, Marvin only missed a training session if he was traveling out of town. He was diligent in his training until his battle with a brain tumor began in 2022.
Though Marvin was mostly known for his Manji Sai, he was a very skilled open-hand warrior as well. He was proficient with all joint locks as well as vital strikes. He was a very powerful training partner. At the Shihan Dai training sessions, he would usually spend about one hour on open hand and then switch to various weapons. He also ran a small, private home dojo for many years in St. Joseph, MO though the number of students dwindled just prior to his death due to covid.
In addition to being a great martial artist and true representative of Taika Seiyu Oyata's art, Marvin was a great friend. His skill as a warrior, wit and friendship are dearly missed.
Marvin and peers Lisa Ohmes and Lee Richards, shedding by ceremony all rank and titles in order to move forward with Taika's ideal of training over ego.
Though serious about the art, Marvin was always quick with wit and always ready to share a joke or just have fun with his friends.