Upstate Karate, Inc. BBB Business Review


Welcome to Ray Thompson's Upstate Karate Martial Arts Center, serving the upstate since 1983. Our Black Belt Martial Arts School is dedicated to helping our students develop confidence through self-defense skills.

Safety is always our greatest concern.

Classes we offer


Kempo Karate is our combined fist art. Kempo Karate is composed of hard fist Karate-Do, soft fist Ju-Jitsu, and Kobudo. Kempo Karate is the first art a student begins to study.

Kempo Karate teaches sparring and sparring drills to help the student learn basic movement and application of punching and kicking combinations. This part of our curriculum would be classified as Karate-Do (Hard Fist).

Kempo Karate teaches Kempo Defenses which train the student to apply the Jiu-Jitsu (Soft Fist) techniques combined with the hard fist techniques in practical self-defense situations Some examples of this are defenses against grabs, pushes, punches, holds, kicks, and weapons defenses. Control techniques and take-downs are also included. Proper rolling and falling techniques are also included in Kempo Karate training.

Kempo Karate teaches the use of weapons or Kobudo. Both the defense against weapons and the use of weapons round out the student’s training to Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt).


Karate-Do is our hard fist art that uses punching, kicking, striking, and blocking together with sweeping techniques. Karate-Do stresses long range kicking techniques to disable an opponent, as well as knee and elbow strikes for close range defense. Karate-Do uses very little grappling techniques.


Kobudo is the formal training of a student in the use of weapons in a defensive and offensive situation. Weapons are an extension of the body. If you cannot use your hands or feet, then weapons training will be almost impossible to master. Some of the weapons of Tetsu Shin Ryu Kempo are: Bo/Staff, Keibos, Sais, Kamas, Tonfas, and Nunchakus. These are considered traditional Okinawan weapons.

• Bo/Staff

• Kama

• Keibo

• Tonfa

• Sais

• Nunchakus


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

(BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting with the goal of gaining a dominant position and using joint-locks and chokeholds to force an opponent to submit. The art was based on early 20th century Kodokan Judo, which was itself then a recently-developed system (founded in 1882), based on multiple schools (or Ryu) of Japanese Jujutsu.

BJJ promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person using leverage and proper technique can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant. BJJ can be trained for self defense, sport grappling tournaments, and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. Sparring (commonly referred to as 'rolling') and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition.

Little Dragons

Are you looking for something that will improve your 3-4 year old's concentration, balance, motor skills, and their ability to follow instructions? Would you like an outlet for your child's boundless energy? Then the Little Dragons program is for you! This specially designed children's class is taught by Ray Thompson.

It takes a minimum of four months for a Little Dragon to advance to the next rank. They must attend at least 10 classes per stripe (these are EARNED during pre-test week). They must have three stripes plus attend classes for an additional month before testing for their new belt.

If a Lil' Dragon doesn't receive a stripe when another one does, it might be simply because he/she doesn't have enough classes or they might not have performed at the level the teacher expects of them. Please encourage them to persevere - rise above any setbacks.

Our Instructors

Ray Thompson

Mr. T

Stephen Thompson


Tony Thompson

The Young Son


These are just some of the clients we work with. Click through to see our entire portfolio.


  • We decided to put our son here when he turned 4 in July. In just a few short months this place has became an extension of our home and we are thankful for the instructors and all they do and their hig...

    We decided to put our son here when he turned 4 in July. In just a few short months this place has became an extension of our home and we are thankful for the instructors and all they do and their high level of expectation.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Stacie Thompson

Stay Connected

Find us on social media and see what's trending.

Our Location

Upstate Karate

129 N Main St,

Simpsonville, SC 29681

Phone. 864-967-3930

Contact Us