A Brief History of Karate and its Link to Canada

Karate is a martial art developed from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts in the Ryukyu Kingdom. This martial art is predominantly considered a “striking” art that includes punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, as well as “open-hand” techniques such as knife hands, spear hands, and palm-heel strikes, and is strongly influenced by Chinese Kung Fu. Both historical and modern styles also include teaching techniques such as grappling, throws, restraints and striking vital points of the body. A person who practices the art of karate is called a karateka.

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Karate began in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s, as Japanese people began immigrating to the country. During World War II, many Japanese-Canadian families were moved to the interior of British Columbia so karate was originally practiced without much organization. A Japanese-Canadian named Masaru Shintani began to study karate in a Japanese internment camp when he was only thirteen years old. After training for nine years, Shintani travelled to Japan and met Hironori Otsuka who invited him to join his organization in 1958. Otsuka officially asked Shintani to call his style of karate ‘Wado’ in 1969.

Shintani eventually moved to Ontario and began teaching karate and judo at the Japanese Cultural Center in Hamilton. With the endorsement of Otsuka, he opened the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation. Shintani was appointed the Supreme Instructor of Wado Kai in North America and in 1979, Otsuka publicly promoted Shintani to hachidan (also called the 8th dan) and privately gave him a kudan certificate (9th dan), which was only revealed by Shintani in 1995. The men visited each other in Japan and Canada numerous times, prior to Otsuka’s death in the 1980s. Masaru Shintani passed away in May of 2000, leaving his legacy of helping bring karate to Canada.

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Leslie Griesdorf: Why Learn Karate?

Leslie Griesdorf retired from his career as a dentist in 2004. Leslie Griesdorf maintains an active, healthy lifestyle and has exercised four times weekly since high school. Mr. Griesdorf also participates in karate classes and, through diligent practice, has earned his brown belt.

Learning karate is a childhood dream for many, but adults join the ranks of martial artists like Leslie Griesdorf every day, and they’re happier because of it. Benefits like those below might convince you to sign up for a local class:

  • You’ll Stay Active

Karate is an active hobby. Every time you show up for class, you’ll get your body moving, you’ll improve your flexibility, and your muscles will get stronger. You will also learn stretches, exercises and kata to do at home so you can keep moving even when you’re not in class.

  • You’ll Learn to Focus and Still Your Mind

In a plugged-in society, focus and a quiet mind are hard to find. Karate will teach you to find stillness, to focus on the task at hand and to look within to overcome challenges. Martial arts show you your weaknesses, confront you with them, and then give you the tools to conquer them, and it all starts from within.

  • You’ll Take Hits

Learning karate will teach you to take hits, both mentally and physically. The acceptance that you will not always be perfect, some things will stump you and others will best you comes from repeated practice. It also translates into daily life.

When you join a karate class, you’ll have the opportunity to socialize with people like Dr. Leslie Griesdorf on a regular basis. Use this as a chance to make friends, learn from someone with more experience and find accountability for your practice.

Leslie Griesdorf Shared 3 Tips for Expanding Your Karate Practice

Leslie Griesdorf is a retired dentist, a loving husband and an active investor. Leslie Griesdorf  is also a martial artist and a brown belt in karate. Through consistent practice in karate, he has learned much abou

t himself and those around him.