Yas Inaba (1952-2008) was born in Osaka, Japan, where he was encouraged to practice a non-contact martial art by his mother.
In 1980, he moved to Calgary to study more about oil and gas and ended up landing a job at Petro Canada. This job resulted in Inaba Sensei staying in Canada with his wife and son, Yuya.
He began, almost immediately, teaching his martial art in the basement of his sponsor – the Tano family. This eventually grew to a full fledged dojo and then to its present home in the basement of a community church.
Inaba Sensei also became proficient in Japanese and Chinese acupuncture and shiatsu and developed The Japan Shiatsu Clinic.
During his heyday in Calgary, he hosted many international Aikido celebrities, including Moriteru Ueshiba, and several others who ran seminars in the sunny mountains of Banff and Canmore Alberta.
In January 2009, he succumbed to the effects of a massive heart attack he had a few months earlier and the dojo was taken over by his senior students and family.
It is martial artists like Inaba Sensei that are the grass roots of Canadian martial arts and which teach the values of respect, compassion and gratitude.
Martial Arts Pioneer
Edmonton, Alberta's Grand Master Frank Lee began his martial arts training in Hong Kong under the famous White Crane Master Lok Chi Fu in the 1950s.
Frank immigrated to Canada during the early 1960s at the request of the Chinese Free Masons in Canada who were being abused by bigger and stronger European immigrants across western Canada. Frank's job was to even the playing field. He was very successful.
During the 1960s he taught his Chinese White Crane art. He was one of the few Chinese who also believed in adapting what was good to his own training. He used weight training to build himself up so that he was a bodybuilder and then he adapted kickboxing and Muay Thai into his arsenal.
In the 1970s, he decided to test his skills in the ring himself and stepped into the ring against a superstar named Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. When asked if he knew Frank Lee, Benny simply said, "I sure do remember that guy - he was a tough competitor."
Frank continues to teach his own form of fighting, which includes a blend of Kung Fu, Western boxing, Greco Roman wrestling, Jujitsu, and Muay Thai kickboxing.
More important then all this, Frank Lee is a classy martial artist who taught this writer the true essence of martial arts in 1968: that the martial arts is really a brotherhood of like-minded individuals that recognize the value of all martial arts.
Martial Science Pioneer
Born in Chun-ju City, South Korea, Master Lee has earned international recognition during his many years of promoting Tae Kwon-Do around the world.
A holder of a 9th Degree Black Belt, he commenced his study of the martial art at the age of thirteen. He eventually became an instructor in the Korean army. Following his discharge from the army, he was accepted into the Korean Police as an Instructor of the Force. He won the Police Championships and received top honors in the 1967 Korean National Championship. Master Lee was then invited to a charity demonstration in Singapore. As a result of his impressive display, the Singapore Tae Kwon-Do Association asked him to remain in the country and instruct the art.
Two years later, Master Lee left on a world tour of teaching and demonstrating Tae Kwon-Do. He was one of the first Korean masters to introduce the art in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and North America.
By early 1970, Master Lee settled in Calgary, Alberta, pioneering the art of Tae Kwon-Do throughout Western Canada. From there he embarked on a path that has taken him to an understanding far beyond the punching and kicking of Tae Kwon-Do.
Over the last fifty years, Master Lee has developed Tae Kwon-Do from an art form to that of a "martial science". As a result of his intensive study and deep understanding of the connection of the mind and body, he has taken Tae Kwon-Do to its next level of evolution.
In studying the way each technique is performed kinetically, to the regimented practice that is required to master the technique, Master Lee has developed a system of teaching that shows the student how he can utilize both mental and physical training to achieve a totally balanced martial artist – regardless of style.
His senior students include Blaine Gray, Bill Martin and Charlene Everett.
Muay Thai boxer, Coach, Promoter
Muay Thai boxer, coach and promoter, Mike Miles started martial arts in 1967. He credits his knowledge to Muay Thai Master Ajarn Panya Kraitus and several other Thai legends, including Dutch legends Rob Kamen and Ramon Dekkers.
Mike started his training in 1967 with a friend in Edmonton and eventually attained his black belt in both Tae kwon Do and Shorin Ryu Karate. He then went on to attain the title of "Kru" in 1990 and "Ajarn" in 2000 from Ajarn Panya Kraitus.
He was promoted to "Ajarn Yai" in 2009 by the World Muay Thai Council.
Perhaps Mike's biggest martial arts accomplishment so far is his development of youth in Calgary through his Muay Thai Academy. He has developed far too many champions to name, but it is safe to say that if you want to know about Muay Thai in Canada, Mike Miles is one of the very few you should go to.
Mike's fight nights, championship fights and promotions are well known throughout the West and into the East. When Mike Miles puts on an event, you can be guaranteed a night you will remember for a long time. His promotion of martial arts in Canada is second to none, and he always seem to have a packed house.
His senior students are Roy Lilley, Chad Sawyer, Erin Linley, Jesse Miles Lacombe, and Scott Clark.
Hanshi and 9th Dan
In 1965, Pat McCarthy began judo training in Saint John, New Brunswick, under Carl "Dutchie" Schell, after watching the documentary film, "Judoka," featuring Canadian legend Doug Rogers. In 1966, he began his karate training under Adrian Gomes, receiving his Shodan in 1970.
He then moved to Toronto where he studied with a variety of instructors and in a wide variety of styles, ranging from Chito Ryu Karate, Chinese Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu, Goju Ryu Karate and Shorinji Ryu. His instructors are like a 'who's who' of Canada's top instructors: Masami Tsuruoka, Paul Chan, Jimmy Lore, Monty Guest, Tony Chong, Wally Slocki, Tony Facetti and Ron Forrester. McCarthy also trained with Americans Wally Jay and Richard Kim.
When he moved to Japan, McCarthy attained his 9th degree Black Belt and Hanshi-level instructor license. McCarthy is the highest ranked student of Kinjo Hiroshi, and also holds Yudansha ranks in Ju Jitsu, Yamaneryu Kobudo and Japanese swordsmanship.
As a triple crown competitor, McCarthy won numerous municipal, regional, and national tournaments along with two North American championships and a World Title. He started teaching in 1973 in London, Ontario, before establishing his first school in Toronto in 1974.
McCarthy relocated to Vancouver in 1979 and made his way to Japan by 1985, spending nearly a decade in the Far East training in Okinawa, SE Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, Africa, and China, including the famed Shaolin Temple.
McCarthy's groundbreaking efforts helped launch the kata-bunkai trend during the 1980s, making him one of the most sought after instructors around the world.
His writings and translations include The Bubishi, Classical Katas of Okinawan Karate, Okinawa's greatest masters, My Karate, Tanpenshu and a two volume set called Ancient Martial Arts of Okinawa.
Currently, McCarthy oversees the IRKRS with a membership of over 20,000 and travels the world teaching his Master Class Kata series.
His senior students include Richard Ouellette, Dudley Driscoll, Cody Stewart, Brian Sakamoto, and Helen Sakamoto.
Tough Competitor, Tough Instructor
Dwight Scheer, who was born in 1944 in Fort Macleod, Alberta, has been involved in martial arts as a student, international competitor, instructor and promoter for 50 years. "
I'm a firm believer that all people can succeed if they follow their dreams, my dream started as a young child trying to figure out how not to get poked on the nose".
DS Scheer was honoured to join 47 other talented martial arts pioneers, founders, and champions who formed the foundation for martial arts development in Canada today, in the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame.
Scheer started his formal martial arts training at Simon Karate Dojo in Calgary in 1963 when Dr Olaf Simon opened the first karate school in western Canada. At the time, there was only three registered karate schools in Canada.
Scheer went on to achieve black belts in both Karate and Tae Kwon do, and making his mark in the early years as a top competitor by winning three western Canadian, two British Columbia and two northwestern U.S. grand championship titles.
In his first international competition in 1965 in Salt Lake City, Scheer competed in brown belt level along with future champion and star, Chuck Norris and I.C.Sanders. These bare knuckle tournaments in the early years were few and far between and without consistent contact rules, and were not for the meek or timid.
At the encouragement of Dr. Simon, Dwight moved to Saskatoon and opened Scheer Karate Schools in 1967, the only karate school in Saskatchewan (eleven registered in Canada). Making a profession of karate in the '60s was difficult with few people even knowing what it was, so to supplement his income in 1968 Scheer accepted a job as security at the newly opened Red Lion Inn, a trendy Las Vegas style nightclub. Little did he realize this job would effect the way he would teach martial arts for the rest of his life. Working at this establishment for the following three years resulted in his fight skills becoming truly tested and legendary, with over 287 fights that involved everything from standard scuffles, to weapons, football players and bike gangs. The knowledge and experience gained in these altercations was brought back to the school and shared for the benefit of his students.
In reflection, Scheer attributes his luck and success at surviving this time of his life to two things, the fact that he always fought better scared than his opponents could mad, and also his fear that if he ever lost a fight every character would come to try again.
In 1986, Dwight's ongoing efforts to promote martial arts in the province resulted with him co-founding the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association. The first of its kind in Canada, the SMAA is an all style non-profit organization fully recognized by Sask Sport and set up to provide "open" competitive martial arts events, tournaments, and workshops throughout Saskatchewan for the benefit of all stylists.
In 2006, Dwight was honored to be inducted into Saskatoon's Sports Hall of Fame as a Martial Arts Builder.
Recognizing that in today's fast and busy world, people may not feel they have the time to embark on a life long quest yet still want to acquire basic (what works) self protection skills. Dwight created and teaches a highly effective accelerated self defense program called "BoundarySmart™ Protection". This program is designed for adults along with a school friendly version for children.
As a proud Metis, Dwight was honored to be invited to present his program at the 2008 Aboriginal Learning Conference held in Vancouver BC. Several years ago, Dwight turned his business over to his son Troy, a highly accomplished martial artist in his own right.
Today, Dwight enjoys teaching the next generation of martial arts champions in his son's new 27,000 sq ft , Coliseum Athletics, teaching both group and private classes as well as volunteering in community workshops, inner city programs and public schools.
As always he continues to promote the development of positive thinking, confidence and self worth through the practice of martial arts.
Canada's Gentle Giant
Canada's "Gentle Giant", Rudy Timmerman, began his martial arts training at the age of ten in his native Holland, studying Ju Jitsu.
He moved to Canada in 1958 with his parents, and earned his 1st dan rank in 1963. He was eventually was promoted to masters level in Nihon Jiu Jitsu under Hanshi Shinsaku Hogen from Tokyo.
On the tournament circuit during the 1960s and 1970s, Timmerman was known as "Mr. Nice Guy" – except when he stepped into the ring – he changed and became a fearsome and ferocious fighting competitor, winning many titles all over the USA and Canada.
In 1973, he opened his first school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, when he became involved with the late Bob Dalgleish. By this time, he had become involved deeply in the Korean arts, studying Kuk Sool Hap Ki Do and Tae Kwon Do under Grandmasters Pak In Shyuk and Pak Sung Bok.
In 2004, while on a trip to Korea, he was promoted to 9th dan by GM Seo In Sun in Han Min Jok Hap Ki Do, after over 60 years in martial arts.
His senior students include Chief Master Kevin Janisse, Master Doug Custer, Master Dusty Miner, Master Christopher Demanaeus and Master Jeremy Tillman.
Teacher, Healer, Leader
Born in Korea, Ki C Yoon studied under the founder of Hapkido: Choi Yong Sul, who promoted him to Grand Master level. Sul had learned Ju Jitsu from Sokaku Takeda as a boy in Japan.
While in his native Korea, Yoon trained hundreds of paratroopers, commandos and police in the art of hand to hand combat. He was also part of the Korean Presidential bodyguards.
In 1981, he immigrated to Calgary, where he started teaching his martial arts and practised his healing arts of "Kyup Soo", Acupressure, Acupunture and Corrective Exercise, of which he had been certified before leaving Korea.
Today, along with his son, Michael, he continues to teach the essence of martial arts: the development of the students physically, mentally, and spiritually, with balance in mind always.