Sensei Masaru Shintani (Kudan)

The impression of a great man, by Sensei Neil Prime

When I was 14 years old I was very impressionable, as any young teenager would be. I remember one particular experience like it was yesterday. The meeting of a man that was more than impressionable. It was an experience that set the direction of my path for the rest of my life. I met the man who people call Sensei Shintani.

It was the fall of 1977 when some of my friends were interested in joining karate. To be quite honest, I could have cared less at that particular time about joining myself but since my friends wanted to do it I tagged along anyway. We went to the basement banquet room of the Fairview mall restaurant and sheepishly peered through the doors not knowing what to expect. Instantaneously the calming smile and soft-spoken voice of a middle-aged Sensei Shintani greeted us. He suggested that we watch the class in progress and if we wanted to we could join in at anytime. I was immediately transfixed with what I saw. Even though I was young and totally inexperienced with the martial arts, I knew that there was certainly something special here. We watched only for a few minutes and told Sensei that we would be back the following week. Returning was the best thing I have ever done.

As time went by I got to know more and more about our Sensei. He told remarkable stories of how the martial arts has evolved over the years and of the great people whom he had the pleasure of meeting and of the great people whom he had the pleasure of teaching. You knew right away that the stories were about them and not of himself, as he never tried to up-play his role. You could ask Sensei about anything and he always had a well thought out answer. At the other end of the spectrum Sensei made everyone feel special. He was always interested in your opinions and wanted to know about you as a person. You knew his listening was intent and sincere.

Sensei was a leader by example. His humility was unmatched. His devotion, his dedication, his love for karate and the people within his organization was second to none. Sensei always talked about leading an honest life in ever aspect of your life. He spoke of purity of heart and purity of mind, but these weren't just words. It is how he lived. He said many times "if you never tell a lie, you will never have to remember anything to defend yourself by".

Sensei Shintani created a legacy through the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation. He was the founder of one of the largest Martial Arts organizations under one style in North America. Sensei was the highest ranked (9th Dan) traditional Black Belt in North America. He was a direct student of the founder of Wado Ryu, Hironori Ohtsuka (10th Dan). He trained and taught Wado karate for over 50 years. Sensei's contributions to the martial arts also included the Shindo, a self-defense tool that can be used for peace keeping by law enforcement personnel. At the time of his death he was doing what he enjoyed the most in life, teaching karate.

In the memory of Sensei Masaru Shintani, we are dedicated to teach Wado Kai Karate as he has taught it to us.

Sensei Masaru Shintani, Kudan.
Born in Vancouver B.C. on February 3rd, 1927.
Died in Kapuskasing Ont. on Sunday May 7th, 2000.

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