Kieth Hargitt Shihan

Shorei-Kan -In the eyes of Keith Hargitt
By Keith Hargitt Shihan

Well I have been asked to write some history about myself in Shorei-Kan. Where does one begin except for at the beginning.
It all started when I was thirteen years old. As active as I was with my friends, mom and dad got tired of me coming home and watching TV. It seemed as though I was coming home, plunking myself in front of the television and that was it until bedtime. So mom and dad handed me the local leisure services booklet and said "FIND SOMETHING TO DO." Needless to say I never did find anything that I wanted to try. The only thing that I could think of was maybe trying guitar. Then the possibility of starting karate came about. Previous to this I had almost joined Tae Kwon Do. The one class I had attended really did not appeal to me, although it was sort of interesting.
Now it was time for my first class of Shorei-kan. I was very nervous and was not quite sure what to expect. Although going with a family friend helped out. After my first class, I found that I could really enjoy karate and maybe learn some self defense. On my second night there were not enough teachers to go around and I had to teach my own group because I had picked up the kata the first night. Now if that was not a nerve racking experience for a 13yr old, I don't know what is.
I think one of the best things that ever happened to me, was when dad joined in just after I had started. It was great! The two of us would train constantly. I would come home from school, he would come home from work and the two of us would put on our gi's and practice until dinner time. As soon as we finished dinner, we were right back at it again. It made for a very good father and son bonding. At least that is what I believe. He may have his own thoughts on that one though. (ha, ha!).
Now let us jump to green belt stage, in which we had a wonderful experience taking our first trip to Japan. For me, it all started the night before we left. All of the black belts got together and were planning out the next day to set off. All of a sudden I have this horrible pain in my lower abdomen. Everyone tells me it is just my nerves. Who am I to disagree, I am a fifteen year old kid hanging out with all of these adults. So, I agree. Needless to say I suffered with acute appendicitis for the three week tour. Do not get me wrong, I did enjoy myself most of the time we were there. The scariest part for me was the demonstration we did. Some of you have probably seen the video tape of it. I had never had to do something in front of that many people before in my life, but it was one of the greatest memories I still have today. It sure opened up my eyes as a young teenager.

Shorei-kan and the black belt board had a lot of ideas and dreams they wanted to pursue, but unfortunately that was all that they seemed to be, until a new president was elected to the board of directors. Shihan Vic became president at this time, and the dreams became reality. All of the black belts wanted to have a full time training location, and Shihan made it happen, The opening of Surrey dojo was one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Shorei-Kan in Canada. We had actually achieved one of the main goals of having a training facility that could be used twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and became very successful. When Shihan and myself were the chief instructors there, we were running training nights Monday thru Thursday. We were also giving extra training to the senior belts and running self defense courses, and private lessons. There was such a demand that we had a waiting list of people who wanted to join. There was no more room on the dojo floor for anymore students, it was packed. You could not even find room at the back of the dojo to do your own warm up if you happened to have come early for your class.

Now it was time for Shihan to move on and open up Guilford dojo. As this became such a success as well, I was required to leave Surrey dojo and help out in Guilford. I was more than happy to transfer as I have always felt that Shihan Vic and myself seem to teach very well together as we both have our own teaching styles. I feel it makes for a very well rounded student.
Now it was time for myself to take a break from Shorei-Kan as I had a spinal injury that was progressively getting worse. So, as per doctors order, I took a leave of absence for about a year or so. After taking this time off, I realized that the time away from the dojo was not making me feel any better, so against doctors orders I returned to teaching. So after numerous tests and years of pain, the doctors finally decided in 1994 that it was time for surgery. This again took away from my training and teaching time. I was home bound for four months.
Well, now my four months of recovery are over and the opportunity to go to Japan comes up again for the world pre-tournament. Of course just barely recovered from surgery and still in pain, I just have to try. I have never been so impressed with the organization of a tournament as I was in Okinawa. For a karate tournament, you would have thought you were at the world Olympics. It can be a very scary experience entering a tournament to compete against the worlds best, or at least that is my opinion. One of the biggest highlights of the trip was the end to each day. After returning to our quarters and the end of each day, we would all sit together and talk, all different martial artists from around the world. If any of you have the opportunity to do this, take full advantage of it. It will be one of the greatest experiences you will ever have.

As we all know, testing is one of the most frightening thins. No matter how much we train, or how confident we are in how we perform, test night is always the worst. Well, my last trip to Japan was for my Godan exam. After training in the different dojos and working with the instructors over there for a week, it was now time for my test. After twenty some odd years with Shorei-Kan I can honestly say that the fear and nervousness never go away. Standing up in front of the black belt board in my opinion is the worst. Of course we all know how we feel on test night when we make a mistake, right? Well, try starting out with your first subject, being kata, and blowing the very first move! I thought my test was over for sure, or at least I thought they were going to stop it, but we are only human. After the test, all of the black belts just started training. We went over the subjects that I was tested on, plus a few others in great detail. We were being given the opportunity to ask any questions we had at all on any subject and we would go over it in great detail. Shortly there after I was awarded my Certificate and we had a celebration dinner.

Shorei-Kan has really opened my eyes to the world. I hope it can do the same for everyone. It is not just a style of karate, but a way of life as well. If you follow the right path you will find it.

Shihan Keith Hargitt

Shorei-Kan Canada Technical Advisor