The Beaver Valley-Rossland Chito-Ryu Karate Club welcomed a very special guest to its dojo for a tournament and clinic on the weekend at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall.
Kyoshi Sensei Chris Taneda was the very honoured guest of Beaver Valley sensei Scott Hutchinson. A seventh degree black belt and seven-time National Kumite champion, Taneda lives in West Kelowna and is head of Chito-Ryu style of karate in Canada – and one of the most respected men in martial arts.
“He is a very significant individual in Canadian Karate history, still living, and also of very important family heritage,” said Hutchinson. “If you’ve ever seen ‘The Last Samurai’ then you know his family history, Taneda Sensei is a Satsuma clan family member. They unified Japan, they oversaw Okinawa and karate evolution.”
Over 20 Karate practitioners from Fruitvale, Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, and Salmo participated in the two-day event to compete and learn from Sensei Taneda, but also to enhance their relationship in the Kootenay karate community.
“We are getting to know each other better,” said Taneda. “And even though there is three different styles here, we’re together and I see a bond starting to happen. Even though we’re not close to each other and there’s different styles, there’s a good fellowship between them to try to build that martial arts culture here.”
As Sensei Taneda led the karate kas through various exercises at the clinic Sunday, his movements were fluid and precise, instilled with calmness and control, his instructions brief and to the point, but accompanied by a sense of humour and encouragement for the young karate students.
“No one is like Taneda Sensei and for our students to have the opportunity to meet him and train with him, even if it’s just basics, the opportunity for them to have the chance to train with sensei is incredible and a privilege,” said Hutchinson.
The special form of Chito-Ryu karate is steeped in tradition, and Sensei Taneda’s task is to ensure it maintains its collective integrity across the country, from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where he visited in December, to Victoria.
“My position across Canada is to try, for ourselves, to make most of the techniques very similar,” said Taneda.
“In many martial arts what happens is, it gets passed down from one instructor to the next, and you find that people’s likes or dislikes kind of will evolve in different ways . . . I’m trying to follow what they are doing in Japan as close as I can, and disperse it out.”
The Kelowna resident has been teaching karate since 1981, and has developed exceptional skills as both a karate master and an educator. Taneda readily admits, he likes to think “outside the box,” so many of his exercises and workouts involve unconventional games that improve reaction time, fitness, and intelligence.
“We develop games that gives them skills.We throw them (balls) at the kids, and the kids are really good at getting out of the way, but they love it because they’re playing a game . . . and they’re running so they don’t think they’re actually exercising.”
More importantly, Taneda expects that the confidence and discipline built in the dojo will be applied in everyday life.
“You are giving them a work ethic, so when you do that it translates into everything else in their life,” says Taneda. “So when they look at something they say, ‘That’s not an obstacle, that’s easy.’”
Chito-Ryu Karate is a very old style of martial arts that combines traditional aspects of discipline, respect, wisdom, and hard work with more contemporary elements of sport and healthy competition, something that Chito-Ryu students practiced on Saturday at the tournament.
“There’s a lot to do with character and about building that character and you can see they’re learning how to behave in respectful ways,” says the 59-year-old father of two. “You see the development of the kids, and how they work through their lives and how it helps them in all other aspects of their life and sports.”
Fruitvale native Meagan Campsall is a Beaver Valley karate student, and was awarded the top female athlete, after capturing three gold and a bronze in Saturday’s tournament.
“I learned a lot from Sensei Taneda,” said the 12-year-old Fruitvale Elementary School student. “He teaches us to work on our technique and once he leaves, our sensei (Hutchinson) does it with us in our dojo.”
Similarly, Dawson Stemmler, who took home the boys top athlete award with two gold, one silver and a bronze medal, was happy with his results and the unique opportunity.
“It’s just so cool,” said Dawson. “You know everyone here, and when you get to know Sensei Taneda, I just find I learned how to improve on a lot of stuff.”
For Hutchinson and all the West Kootenay Karate clubs, the visit was indeed an honour and one they’ll look forward to again next year.
“For me, the most important thing is just to have the privilege of seeing, and not just learning . . . I have to spend more time with Sensei Taneda because whatever it is I think I know, I don’t know a darn thing when you stand beside someone like that.”
In the Kumite skills competition Morgain Watts of Rossland won gold, Silver – Jessa Buckland, Bronze – Emilio Ruiz, Johnathan Gardner, Oliver Best.
Little Kata: gold – Emilio Ruiz , silver – Sam Richardson, bronze – Jessa Buckland.
Beginners Kata gold went to Saskia Rabone of Rossland, silver- Nate Taylor, bronze – Lachlan Rabone, Johnathan Gardner.
Intermediate Kata gold went to Fruitvale’s Dawson Stemmler, silver- Findlay Smith, bronze – Lohan Buckland, Emily Gardner, Cristobal Ruiz.
Advanced Kata, Meagan Campsall earned gold, silver went to Salmo’s Kobi Stephenson, bronze to Tyson Nelson and Andrea buckland.
Kobudo Weapons, gold went to Meagan Campsall, silver- Tyson Nelson, bronze – Dawson Stemmler.
Beginners Kumite, gold – Emily Gardner, silver – Dawson Stemmler, bronze – Lohan Buckland.
Advanced Kumite gold – Meagan Campsall, silver- Tyson Nelson, bronze- Kobi Stephenson.