Don’t follow in the footsteps of the ancient masters, seek what they sought.Rick Hotton
An innovative Karate instructor, Rick Hotton has been described as an ‘Artist who happens to be Martial‘. He is known as one of the great communicators of Karate. His breakdown and analysis of Karate techniques show much thought and a deep understanding of the art he practices, especially through his use of metaphor. A shy man, his YouTube videos on his Sunday Morning Keiko channel are a must-watch for karateka of any style. His informative teaching style has led to a large following.
Rick Hotton was born in the coastal city of Sarasota, Florida, in 1958.
Hotton began learning Karate at the age of 11, at the West Wind Dojo located in Sarasota. He had lied about his age. Students had to be aged 13 to train at the dojo. The dojo was a traditional Shotokan dojo. His first instructor was strict but also fair.
Hotton has described his instructor as having a great effect on him. He taught him the importance of living half for one’s self and a half for society.
By the age of 14 Hotton has started teaching at the dojo.
While still a teenager, Hotton was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors had told him he would most likely end up in a wheelchair. He changed his diet and lifestyle and eventually began to recover. He believes that his martial arts helped him recover.
By 1976 Hotton’s instructor decided to leave the West Wind Dojo. Hotton inherited the dojo, becoming its owner and Chief Instructor.
Through the 1970s and 1980s Hotton focused on establishing his dojo. This period was a time of learning for him. His dojo was affiliated with the United States Karate Association (USKA). However, in 1989 he aligned himself with the legendary Richard Kim’s group. Kim was one of the most well-respected masters of his generation, known for his techniques as well as for teaching his students the philosophy, history, strategy, and spiritual aspects of martial arts. Hotton remained with the group until Kim’s death in 2001.
In 2000 Hotton started learning Aikido from Matsugi Saotome. He found that his Aikido training had a positive impact on his Karate training. Saotome had been a live-in student (uchi-deshi) of Aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Hotton formed a close relationship with him, with Saotome becoming a father figure to him.
By 2003 Hotton had been a dojo owner for 30 years. However, at the age of 45, he became a math teacher at Manatee Community College, which had a campus in Sarasota. He still continued teaching his Karate classes at his dojo.
It was during his time as a math teacher that Hotton started drawing his Holy Molé character. It started when he would get the student he was tutoring to draw a small doodle before working through tough math problems. While the student worked through the problems, Hotton would complete the doodle and present the custom made cartoon to the student at the end of the lesson.
Word soon got out about Hotton’s cartoons. It was suggested to him that he consider creating a cartoon strip. He eventually took a sample of his work to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The editor liked his work and it was soon a feature in the newspaper.
In 2007 Hotton’s Holy Molé cartoon strip started featuring input in Positive Change Magazine. By 2011 the cartoon strip was featured in 30 newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Hotton drew six new cartoon strips every week.
In 2014 Hotton posted his first YouTube video. One of his long-term students encouraged him to do this. A natural introvert, Hotton was initially against doing this. However, he agreed to have his teaching sessions at the West Wind Dojo filmed. Thus the Sunday Morning Keiko YouTube channel was created. The videos proved to be a great success.
Although primarily a Shotokan instructor, Rick Hotton shows through his teaching the universal nature and principles that are common to all styles of Karate. He is a true thinker in today’s Karate world. He sees Karate as a total package, where it is important to also give time to the spiritual aspects of training.
In keeping with his mentality, rather than being the head of his own association, Hotton established the Sunday Morning Keiko Community. The community does not offer accreditation. Rather it is open to karateka, regardless of style, and provides training events and online training sessions. Hotton firmly believes that each karateka is on their own journey and the community helps provide support for that journey.
Hotton has turned his Florida home, The Sanctuary, into a Karate vacation retreat. His home, which also acts as the Hombu for the Sunday Morning Keiko Community, is a Japanese style home, complete with training facilities, Zen gardens, and a tea house.
In 2015 the 1st Annual Florida Winter Keiko was held in Sarasota. A technical seminar led by Hotton, the event was open to Sunday Morning Keiko members of the general public. Eventually, Spring, Summer, and Fall events were also established.
A popular instructor, Hotton is invited by dojos around the world to conduct training day courses and seminars.