Ryu Shin Karate Dojo Grand Opening & Seminar in Toronto, ON

We just returned from a weekend in Toronto to celebrate the opening of Tony Gibson-sensei’s new dojo, Ryu Shin Karate Dojo, and participate in the accompanying seminar featuring WMKA President Yoshitaka Taira-sensei, who’d traveled from Okinawa, and Shigehide Akamine-sensei of Argentina. Also in attendance were Matsubayashi-ryu practitioners from New York, Ohio, and Florida, as well as many seniors including Frank Baehr-sensei, who introduced Matsubayashi-ryu to Canada nearly fifty years ago.

WMKA President Yoshitaka Taira-sensei leads the group through warm-ups.

WMKA President Yoshitaka Taira-sensei leads the group through warm-ups.

The last we saw Taira-sensei and Akamine-sensei was in 2000, at the WMKA World Seminar hosted by our parent dojo, Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu of Little Tokyo. At that time they accompanied the second Matsubayashi-ryu headmaster, Takayoshi Nagamine-sensei, as well as Yasuharu Makishi-sensei, both of whom have since passed on.

Staging for the Nisei Week Parade at 308 Crocker Street in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, during the 2000 WMKA World Seminar. Makishi-sensei, Akamine-sensei, and Taira-sensei stand front row, center, as Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple looms in the background.

Staging for the Nisei Week Parade at 308 Crocker Street in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, during the 2000 WMKA World Seminar. Taira-sensei, Akamine-sensei, and the late Makishi-sensei stand front row, center, as Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple looms in the background.

During the closing dinner, we were all treated to an extra-special surprise as Taira-sensei presented Akamine-sensei with a certificate pronouncing him 9th Dan, Hanshi, thus making Akamine-sensei the highest ranked Matsubayashi-ryu practitioner in the Americas and Europe. It was a rare and moving experience to witness such an honor bestowed upon a true gentleman and exemplar of our art.

Taira-sensei presenting Akamine-sensei a promotion to 9th Dan, Hanshi.

Taira-sensei presenting Akamine-sensei a promotion to 9th Dan, Hanshi.

In all, it was a memorable weekend of training and camaraderie, and a true celebration of the spirit of Matsubayashi-ryu. Congratulations to Tony Gibson-sensei and all the best for the future success of Ryu Shin Karate Dojo. Thank you for sharing the occasion with us. Ganbatte!

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