Directions to the Dojo

(My Life for the past 40 years)

September 1, 2014

On September 19th, Alberta Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai celebrates its 35th anniversary.  That was the first date that our style of karate was taught in the Edmonton area in 1979.  I remember it like yesterday, nervous energy coupled with a missionary zeal to impart what little martial arts knowledge I had picked up under Shihan Kei Tsumura in the preceding years.

That first class was taught (in jeans and a T-shirt) to a group of what was to become our first wave of “lifers”.  Mario DiLullo was one (now a 5th Dan Karate).  Not knowing any better, I had found a sponsoring community group (Londonderry Community League) that arranged for us to practice in the brand new Lion’s Senior Citizens Centre in NE Edmonton.  Ads were placed with Edmonton Parks and Recreation and the first batch of Shito-Ryu Karate-ka were launched into the beginnings of what was to become the Alberta Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai Karate and Kobudo Association.

2014 is an auspicious year in many ways, not the least of which saw milestones for many of us that have “grown up” practicing Itosu Ryu.

  • Tony Baller, a 30-plus year fellow instructor attained the exalted rank of 5th Dan (Godan) in Kobudo.  Along with his Godan in Karate his devotion to the traditions and history of Shito Ryu Itosu Kai put him in a rare position of being recognized worldwide in traditional Karate.
  • August 30, 2014 saw the marriage of one of our trio of Molina brothers.  They all started their respective Karate careers at the tender age of 7, spaced one year apart. Juan married the love of his life, Felicia.  His wedding was attended by his brothers, sister, parents, close friends and co-workers.   2013 was also a special year when the youngest of the 3 brothers, Ernesto, married Brittny Wangler, also one of our Black Belts. Both weddings were attended by a strong contingent of fellow instructors and students from the Devon club. Like two proud Uncles, Tony Baller and I were there.
  • September 19 will be the 35th Anniversary of teaching Shito-Ryu Karate in Alberta.  In all that time we have taught literally thousands of students, seen people from every walk of life, and made some life-long friendships that are more like family.  In 35 years we have taught Karate to people who have traveled the world and practiced Shito Ryu Itosu Kai in places as diverse as Ireland, England, South America, Hawaii, Central America, all over North America coast to coast, Japan, and Australia.  There are few hobbies that can say that.

It’s easy to wax a bit profane when you are reflecting on a life-long journey filled with positives.  There were some negatives as well but through it all Karate provided a haven that allowed me to refocus and collect the energy needed to greet the day.  As I enter my 60th year I am thankful for the part Karate has played in my life.  I am grateful for the life-long friendships that have evolved and continue to this day.  I am most grateful for my lifelong relationship with my Sensei, Shihan Kei Tsumura, 8th Dan, and his family.  I am thankful for all of it.  I hope those of you that follow will find Shito Ryu Karate and forge new paths.  Welcome to our family and thank you for almost 40 years of family and friends and yes, fun.

Yours in Karate-Do,

Joe B. Barrau, Rokudan (6th Dan) Karate, Godan(5th Dan) Kobudo

Chief Instructor, Alberta Shitoryu Itosu Kai Karate & Kobudo

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