On June 22nd, myself, along with 19 other members of the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation (including Senseis Ron Mattie, Brad Cosby and Neil Prime) all drove down together and participated in an event better known as Karate College, which has taken place down in Radford, Virginia for the past 30 years. This year’s anniversary reunion was dedicated specifically to the memory of Grand Master Joe Lewis (1944-2012), who was also one of the many co-founders of the College back in 1988.
[FUN FACT: Karate College was originally founded by Dr. Jerry Beasley, along with GM Joe Lewis, GM Jeff Smith, and GM Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.]
With so many wonderful opportunities to participate in multiple disciplines (not just karate), ranging from jiu-jitsu to krav maga to sambo to arnis to kickboxing to muay thai, as well as multiple other styles, the Karate College environment offered a fantastic opportunity to meet with many other like-minded individuals from all over the globe. And when I say “like-minded” individuals, I mean people who genuinely have an open-mind to learning (at least at an introductory level) about the many other styles of martial arts that are out there today.
[FUN FACT: The SWKKF has been represented at this event since 1992, thanks in large part to Senseis Walt Fast, Henry Bergen, Martin Boerma, Mitch Orr and Neil Prime.]
For me personally, what made this year’s event so incredibly special, was not only that Sensei Prime (who I currently train under in St. Catharines) was teaching multiple seminars on Shintani Wado Kai karate (he did an absolutely amazing job btw), but that as an organization, we were also asked by the College to demonstrate our katas during the closing ceremonies. Special thanks need to go out to Senseis Ron Mattie, Lauren Pankratz, Kris Reynolds, Craig McCleary, Brodie Hicks, Darren Marshall and Mike Rust. Thank you all for representing the rest of our organization (and our group) so incredibly well.
[FUN FACT: I have never been prouder to be a member of the SWKKF. Being at an event such as this really makes you appreciate how fortunate we all are to have the level of instructors that we currently have throughout our entire organization.]
Then, to top off what was already an incredibly awesome weekend with an equally incredible group of people (not sure if my ribs were sore from sparring so much or from laughing so hard), we were all pleasantly caught off-guard to learn that Sensei Prime was also being honoured as an inductee into the Karate College Hall of Fame. As a direct student of Sensei Prime, I would just like to say on behalf of our entire organization, congratulations Neil! You are an incredible ambassador of our sport, and I for one am thankful for your commitment and dedication to the Shintani organization. Thank you.
[FUN FACT: Sensei Prime was also recently inducted (April 2017) into the Sport Karate Museum in Cleveland, Ohio after being nominated by GM Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.]
To finish, I’d just like to offer one last HUGE congratulations to Sensei Neil Prime, but I’d also like to thank my fellow karateka for helping to turn this event into one that I will remember for the rest of my life. We love, we laugh, we fight, and we genuinely help each other, just like a real family does. Thank you all.
Sensei James Ryan
St. Catharines, Ontario
SWKKF Archive Committee Member