A Short History of Goju Ryu Karate in Western Canada

My personal research of Goju Ryu Karate in Canada has brought me in contact with Sensei Tony Wilson Shihan a senior student of Tomoaki Koyabu Shihan of Canada Shorei Kan. Sensei Tony has been with Koyabu since 1975.

Sensei Tony has provided me with some very useful information but has stressed to me that he wishes it to be known that this is not meant to be the only information that should be used in providing a history of Goju Ryu on the West Coast

Sensei Tony told me: “I know that there were other instructors that probably taught Goju Ryu, many of those were “store front” type operations which may or may not have been officially recognised by International Karate Organisations. I can only provide that information with which I am familiar and of which I have certain knowledge.”

It is my opinion based on my personal research that Sensei Tony is extremely knowledgeable and accurate when it comes to the history of Goju Ryu on the west coast of Canada.

A small village called Steveston in Richmond, has been an established Japanese Canadian fishing community since the 19th century. During the late 1960’s the community lobbied the provincial government for a community centre, one that would reflect the character of the community and which could provide training in various Japanese traditional martial arts such as Judo, Aikido, Kendo and Karate which are all still taught there. The monies collected by the community and a grant from the provincial government enabled this wish to be realized. The community wanted to find a Karate instructor to teach and approached Tomoaki Koyabu Shihan to teach. He was unable to accept that offer and so the community then approached Uchiagi Sensei of Goju Kai who became the instructor at the community centre. Uchiage Sensei, Koyabu Shihan, Yabunaka Sensei and others started an organization called the “All Canada Karate Association” and held regular tournaments at the community centre. Those participating as member dojo were the only internationally recognised official dojo for Goju Ryu on the West Coast at that time.

Koyabu Tomoaki Shihan was directed to promote and supervise Shorei Kan in Canada as the official representative for Toguchi Seikichi Kaicho in 1971 and arrived in Vancouver BC in 1972. He began to teach a small core of students in a dojo on Knight Street in Vancouver. He taught there and at various other locations in Vancouver until 1979 when he bought a house and his student renovated a garage at the property and established the Canada Honbu Dojo, where Black Belt practises and testing took place. There have been only a relatively few Black Belt rankings awarded by Koyabu Shihan since his arrival in Canada. Koyabu Shihan teaches and has further developed the Okinawa Goju Ryu Shorei Kan style in Canada with the full approval of Toguchi Kaicho, who used to visit Vancouver regularly.

LINK FOR MORE ON Tomoaki Koyabu Shihan & Sensei Tony Wilson Shihan shoreikan.com

LINK FOR MORE ON Uchiage Sensei uchiagekai.com

One of the most popular and successful Karate Sensei’s in the province of British Columbia is SENSEI FRANK CLAYTON. Frank Clayton runs the Canadian Martial Arts Academy at 33211 N. Railway, Mission, B.C. V4S 1E3 and also has 2 other locations. Clayton has been practicing karate and kobudo since the 1970’s, his dojo web page is located at www.cmaakarate.com