Gary Christensen, Rokudan (6th Dan) - Renshi
I started my Karate studies in 1974, training at Wong’s Karate - Kung Fu under Sensei Wong as I could afford it on a part time income. Here, I was promoted to Ikkyu (brown belt). Sensei Vern Tilley as one of Sensei Wong’s senior ranks left to start his own dojo and it was here that I continued my training under him and delved even more into street threat applications and self defence Waza (techniques), whereupon I received my Shodan promotion in 1986.
I moved from Toronto to Whitby years later and was fortunate enough to meet up with and then train with Sensei Peter Phillips for over twenty years, where he imbued a technical aspect to karate I had yet to realize, kata was emphasized and practicality was explored. Here, a love for instructing and an aspiration to become a respectable Teacher was fomented and still resides within me to this day!
Each of my previous Sensei, from Wong, Tilley and Phillips brought different colours to the karate palette for me, from a ‘flowing but artful menace’ (Wong), deceptive but lethal ‘ask questions later’ mode (Tilley), ‘strength and knowledge in a humble’ personna (Phillips) to learning to go ‘within’ via my own solo training.
I have been following Sensei Eihachi Ota (Hanshi) for many years, participating in his many training seminars in Canada and at his home in Gardena, California.
I received my Renshi (Acknowledged Teacher) designation in 2016 and Rokudan (6th degree) from him in June, 2022. Of late, in accord with Sensei Ota's advisory 'to go and exchange ideas with everyone!', Sensei Don Caponigro (Florida) has provided me with invaluable mentoring and guidance and I now am an affiliate of his NAMKA organization.
We never walk alone in this art of ours. I am fortunate!
In an effort to further my understanding of the Art, I have trained and/or taught in Tanzania, Africa, Dublin, Ireland, Florida, New York, Aluquerque, California, USA, Okinawa, Japan, Sydney, Australia, with places yet to visit and learn.
Recently, I was asked to submit to 'Bugeisha Traditional Martial Arts' magazine. My article, "African Lesson' was published April 2022. I continue to correspond and exchange ideas via various communication modes with many martial artists, as well as those in Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu globally.
I strive to be a sharing Teacher that takes the best of what Karate has to offer and try to instil the core values of Respect, honour, good self esteem and confidence.
The mental, spiritual and physical aspects are a given.
I encourage students to live in the ‘Now’, breathing in each moment, letting go of what was, and enjoy what is, within the art of Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate as it relates to everyday life!
Gary Christensen - Renshi