The following is a piece I wrote about my teacher, Shane Higashi – 9th dan, head of the Canadian Chito-Ryu Karate Association – for the program given out at the celebration of his 50 years of teaching karate, held last April in Toronto.
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To the cheers of 1,500 enthusiastic fans a 24-year-old Torontonian was crowned the new Karate champion of Canada. Shane Higashi, 1st Degree (Shodan), star pupil of Karate master Mas Tsuruoka, kicked and carved a path through some of the best Karateists in North America to capture both the Black Belt and Grand Champion titles during the 2nd Annual Canadian Karate Open Championship held at the YMHA in Toronto last October 19th.
Some 150 contestants representing clubs from such places as Detroit, Toledo, Ottawa, New Haven, Harrisburg, Peoria, Rochester, Erie, Montreal, Warren, and the United States Karate Association, representing 10 states, sent men from as far as California and Hawaii. Also, for the first time in its history, the United States Marine Corps sent out a Karate team for this meet.
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So opened the Black Belt magazine article, written by Kei Tsumura, describing the second annual Canadian Karate Championships, in 1964. The previous year, Tsuruoka-Sensei’s top pupil, a young brown belt named Shane Higashi, won second place in the tournament, losing only to a third-degree black belt named Gary Alexander.
And while the young nisei (second-generation Japanese) karateka’s fighting spirit was undeniable, his life lived in the martial arts is more a story of character and dedication than being the toughest guy on the block.