Canada Shotokan Karate offers affordable lessons to promote resiliency and harmony

The dojos have been a homebase for aspiring community leaders under the guidance of Tsutomu Ohshima Sensei

The Shotokan Karate has dojos in Burnaby, North Delta, Creekside, and at UBC. (Submitted)

The Shotokan Karate has dojos in Burnaby, North Delta, Creekside, and at UBC. (Submitted)

Members of Metro Vancouver’s expanding community and the nearby martial arts community are commemorating the heritage of the Canada Shotokan Karate (CSK) dojos as it approaches 51 years since it first opened its doors.

The dojos are located in Burnaby, North Delta, Creekside, and the University of British Columbia  and started Metro Vancouver’s tradition of Japanese martial arts. They’re currently aiming to provide affordable training sessions, approximately $140 for 25 sessions, to the community with the goal to grow individuals into their full leadership potential. 

The literal translation of the word karate means “empty hand.” The martial art has evolved over centuries, first being offered to higher society before becoming accessible to all. 

Karate developed into a powerful but disciplined fighting style in Okinawa, Japan. Master Gichin Funakoshi was the first specialist to bring Okinawan karate to Japan’s mainland in 1916. 

More than just a form of self-defense, karate has evolved to become a way of life. 

“You learn self defense, but really it’s a way to polish your own character. When we polish our techniques it is a metaphor for polishing our integrity,” says Liny Chan, who completed the fifth degree black belt after 30 years and is now manager of the CSK Burnaby location. 

From its origins in 500 CE, the training of karate developed and heavily spread throughout university clubs in North America. 

Tsutomu Ohshima, a famous Japanese master of Shotokan karate, was chosen to lead the Waseda University Karate Club in 1952. Under the training of his teacher Master Funakoshi, Oshima held the reputation of being determined and unyielding, aligning with the martial arts culture of Japan.

Ohshima’s reputation grew as he competed in karate tournaments and stayed dedicated to the martial art. In 1972, Ohshima Sensei encouraged Norman Welch, Gene Malec, and George Quessy to form CSK with dojos at UBC in Vancouver, Westmount YMCA in Montreal, and Sept-Iles in Upper Quebec.

Long after the 1990s, Ohshima Sensei continued to supervise the different CSK dojos. Over 300 members from all over the world attended the 25th anniversary celebration of Canada Shotokan in 1997. 

Joel Nitikman, manager of the CSK Creekside location, spent 37 years mastering karate to the fifth black belt level, following the guidance of CSK. 

“Even from when I was very young, I read a lot of comic books that had ads for martial arts. I always wanted to do that but it just wasn’t possible for me. So when I turned 25, I thought, ‘Well, now I’m going to do it,’” Nitikman says. 

True to Ohshima Sensei’s value of accessible training, CSK continues to thrive as a community leader that provides authentic karate for the mind, body, and spirit.

“Regardless of our religion, politics, or ethnicity, we try to push each other to be better — to challenge each other. That’s why we all practice together,” Chan says. 

Canada Shotokan Karate hosted their 50th anniversary last summer with tournaments, group practices, and gala celebrations. In addition to outreach events, CSK looks forward to fostering a generation of passionate karate students as they have done for the last 50 years.  

“We hope that students will see the passion that we have and the importance that Karate has had on our lives and hope that 30 years from now, they will be passing it on, and that those students will be passing it on and so forth, like the circle of life,” Nitikman says.