History of the UBC Shotokan dojo

The UBC dojo was formed through the Recreation UBC program in 1966. At that time it was part of Mr. Tsuruoka's Chito-ryu group. When Norman Welch moved to Vancouver in 1970 and joined the dojo, it was led by Al Fukushima, Don Gee, and Don Jurchuk. In the spring of 1971, Mr. Ono came to Vancouver for a month, and led many practices at UBC. After attending special training with Ohshima Sensei that summer, Norman Welch resigned from Mr. Tsuruoka's group and decided to follow Ohshima Sensei. Although it was a difficult decision, the members of the UBC dojo decided to follow Norman Welch's example and follow Ohshima Sensei, as well. Thus the UBC dojo became the first SKA dojo in Canada. In the fall of 1971, Ohshima Sensei visited Vancouver for the first time and led a practice for this new dojo. Canada Shotokan was formed in 1972 and the UBC dojo became a part of Canada Shotokan.

The first special training was held at UBC in 1974. Because of the dojo's affiliation with UBC REC, the enrollment was high in the 1970's, and sometimes as many as 200 students would begin the class each fall. Under the leadership of Norman Welch, Don Gee, and Don Jurchuk, there were many intense practices, and the dojo continued to grow. It was typical of Saturday practices to begin with a four or five mile run (sometimes in the snow!), followed by calisthenics, pushups and sit-ups. The seniors admit that they were probably a bit crazy at that time, but their intense spirit stayed with many of those who moved through the ranks of UBC and became black belts.

The early 1970's were formative years for the UBC dojo. The founding members of Canada Shotokan in the West bonded through a common interest and goal, and over many practices, pizzas, and parties, they would become not only fellow karateka, but life-long friends.

In addition to Don Gee, Don Jurchuk and Norman Welch, Alan Kazuta also helped with the instruction of the dojo until he opened the North Delta dojo in 1984. Don Gee was the official leader of the UBC dojo through the 1980's and 1990's, with assistance from junior black belts, especially Ryan Hill and Joel Nitikman.

UBC has been the site of countless exchange practices, demonstrations, and fundraisers. In 1987, the UBC and the University of Washington dojos began a tournament known as the Goodwill Cup, which was developed in order to give people from Canada West and the Northwest the opportunity to face a wide variety of opponents. Each year, both university dojos choose a team to compete for the Goodwill Cup. Many seniors from California and elsewhere have come to lead exchange practices during these events.

It was somehow fitting that the 25th anniversary of Canada Shotokan was held at UBC. Because of the affiliation with Rec UBC, hundreds of people have walked through the doors of the dojo, and some of these people have gone on to become prominent seniors in the region with dojos and juniors of their own. Don Gee, Don Jurchuk, Rob Powers, Alan Kazuta, Gurmail Gill, Bernie and Jim Doyle, Joel Nitikman, Curt Wvong, and Bill Low are just some of UBC's well-known black belts.

In 1998, Ohshima Sensei honoured the UBC dojo by recognizing it as the SKA National Dojo of the Year. This award recognizes the many years of service provided by the dojo and particularly by Don Gee to the practice of karate.