My History in Shorei-Kan Training
I began my training due to my son Keith. We had been looking for an activity for him to do and I had a friend recommend the karate class he was taking his son to. We went along one night to watch the class and Keith participated. This was late 1980 I believe. Keith seemed to enjoy the class and as my friend and I watched from the back I was impressed by the workout they did and at how well the class was run. This all took place at Delview High School and the class was run by Tomoaki Koyabu Shihan. After a few nights of watching my friend and I decided to try it out. This was just after the Christmas break and we started in January of 1981. I was hooked after a couple of classes. It was exciting to me as there was something new each night. The classes were very large at that time. The focus was on Kata for the most part.
During the 1982 visit of Master Toguchi to Canada I tested for Green belt and in 1983 Keith and I joined the Black Belts for a journey to Okinawa for the 30th Anniversary of the passing of Master Miyagi. Though we had not trained at all for any kind of a demonstration, Mr. Laurie Pierce, Keith and myself were told we were to be a part of the celebration. We were all so nervous that we could hardly move. Team kata #2 sounds easy but not when so many high ranking Black Belts are watching!
September of 1984 brought about our Shodan test. Also late that year I was elected as President of Shorei-Kan Canada at the wishes of my Sensei at the time, Tony Wilson. The idea of this was that we would build a full time dojo. With a lot of hard work from everyone and many good donations of time and material, a dojo was built. It was finished in the spring of 1985. It was a great dojo and was filled with students for five classes per week, almost immediately. It was almost too successful as it took so much time to run, and we all had our regular jobs too. When Toguchi Kaicho visited later that year he was very happy with the new dojo. That year Keith and I tested for Nidan while Toguchi Kaicho was here.
Summer of 1987 I went to Japan with three others to be a part of the celebration of the Masters 70th birthday. This supposedly was to give me “experience”” I have since been told. Sandan test was later that year.
1989 I decided to leave the Surrey dojo to start one nearer my home. That was the start of Guildford Dojo. It was very difficult to find a school gym that was not in use in the evenings that we could rent. I was afraid that I had made a mistake and I would not get any students. The first night the Van Dusen family walked in and we were off and running. Rick, Brad, And Jamie were my first students there.
1990 I tested for Yondan during the Masters visit to Canada. I was not too happy with that one. I did not want to test but Koyabu Shihan insisted and during the test I was asked to do Kaisai. Never heard of it. Did try it with not great results. Never wanted to test ever again!!!
During the Summer of 1994 I visited Ikihara Sensei in Okinawa to try and get a student exchange going with Canada After discussion with the Mayor of Kin City we put together a plan to begin the next year. The parents visited here December of 1994, and some of them saw frozen ground for the first time in their lives. Mr. Okuma and Mr. Iwama of the Okinawan Society in Vancouver were very helpful in putting the exchange to together The main reason that I wanted this to happen was during the 1983 visit to Okinawa I saw the profound effect visiting a different country had on our son Keith. There had also been talk of doing an exchange for many years but with a non-karate group.
1995 I was privileged to be in Okinawa for the Pre-World Tournament and this was the same time as our student exchange. The same happened for the next several years. During the exchanges we met many great you Okinawan teenagers, and took many nice kids to Okinawa.
June, 1997 I was invited to attend the Masters 80th Birthday and during the visit, there was a Shorei-Kai board meeting which I attended. At that meeting, much to my surprise I was recommended for testing to Godan by the entire Board I had no idea this would happen. It was one heck of a week as I had not seen one of the subjects I was expected to know. Thanks to Masaru Nose Shihan and the staff at Hombu Tokyo, who worked with me late into the night I was able to pass the examination.
At the 1997 World Tournament I was honored to lead a Go-ju group through their demonstration. This included Shorei-Kan Hombu and Okinawa groups plus a few other schools. 1997 also saw Master Toguchi take ill. He never recovered from this illness. I only hope that he knew of how many lives he had changed with the teachings of his Shorei-Kan. During the following several summers the student exchanges involved a Junior Tournament sponsored by the Okinawa Shimbun newspaper.
January 2000 I was made Hombu-cho Shorei-Kan Canada by Haruko Toguchi Kaicho and the members of the Shorei-Kai. Later that year Sensei Harry Bergeest, Keith Hargitt Sensei and I visited Hombu. Keith was invited to examine but was told he had not been properly registered as Yondan, however they did test him and awarded him Godan. I am sure he never had a harder more stressful exam and as Harry was his partner he got the brunt of it.
That brings us up to the present. I have recently moved away from the Vancouver area with the consent of Hombu Tokyo and plan to start a dojo in the Okanagan area where I now live. I have been fortunate to train with many good Karate people in the past few years and feel honored to call them my friends. They include my friend Hidiki Ikihara from Okinawa, with whom the student exchanges were held, and of course my present Sensei, Masaru Nose Shihan of Chiba Dojo. Also Darrell Brewer Sense who is the Chief Instructor of our newest dojo, Lake Wales Florida.
I hope that with good health I will be able to teach Shorei-Kan for the rest of my days.
Vic Hargitt Shihan,
Shorei-Kan Canada Hombu-cho