Master James Thompson began his training at the Hombu (main) Dojo in Futenma, Okinawa in February of 1962, and until his return to the United States in, 1966 studied directly under Master Uechi Kanei.
After his return to Fort Bragg, N.C. he worked with fellow students who had studied in Okinawa, until December 1968 when he was alerted for movement to the Republic of Vietnam.
Upon successful completion of his tour in "RVN" in January 1970, Master Thompson once again returned to Okinawa.
His second tour lasted from March 1970 to September 1973, during which time he again studied at the Hombu Dojo in Futenma. Master Thompson has worked with the top students of Uechi Ryu including Shinyu Gushi, the Shinjo Family, the Uechi Family, and the Tomoyose Family, and received his black belt diplomas from Master Kanei Uechi.
Mr. Thompson also studied Okinawan Kubudo (Weaponry) and Aikido with the Japanese self defense forces while on Okinawa and worked with several Judo and Tae Kwon Do instructors at Fort Bragg, N.C..
Master Thompson is the founder and president of the Kokusai Kyokai branch of Uechi Ryu Karate-Do, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He created the Kokusai Kyokai branch starting in 2000. Master Thompson received his black belt ranks up to 7th dan through Kanei Uechi, and was given the status of Kyoshi. Master Thompson received his 8th degree, Hachidan, from both Kanmei Uechi and Shintoku Takara. Master Thompson's present rank of 9th degree (kyudan) was awarded by Yoshistune Senaga of the Okinawan Karate-do Federation. Uechi Ryu Kokusai Kyokai includes various dojos across North America as well as one in Germany.
Upon creating the Kokusai Kyokai branch of Uechi Ryu, Master Thompson included Aikido training along side the Uechi Ryu system in hopes of regaining the grappling aspects of Okinawan Karate. The form of Aikido Master Thompson has integrated into the Uechi Ryu system is known as Seidokan Aikido. Master Thompson has studied various forms of aikido including Aikikai and Yoshinkai, but finally settled on the Seidokan system. In Uechi Ryu Kokusai Kyokai, students can receive black belt ranks in both Uechi Ryu and Seidokan Aikido.
Master James Thompson received his 10th degree black belt while visiting Okinawa in August 2016. 10th degree black belt is the highest black belt rank you can get in any Japanese martial arts form. He received his diploma from sensei Senaga, and the Zen Okinawan Karate Association. Very few karate practitioners have received a 10th degree black belt outside of Okinawa and Japan, and even less have gone to Okinawa to test for one.