Keith Smith Promoted to Grand Master

Keith Smith Promoted to Grand Master

On Nov. 8, Master Keith Smith, 8th Dan, became Grandmaster Keith Smith, 9th Dan, with a surprise promotion that took place at the Midwest School of Isshinryu Aurora. His sensei and head of the American Okinawan Karate Association, Grandmaster Steve Young, presented Smith with his new belt and promotion certificate during the break between youth and adult classes.

The promotion was in honor of Smith’s lifetime commitment to Isshinryu Karate.

Smith started Isshinryu Karate Isshinryu, in 1972. He had a brother and sister who weren’t doing as well as they could in school and Smith had read an article that said kids who took karate did better in school. So, knowing his sibs wouldn’t take the class unless he did, Smith started studying under Sensei Patrick Buckley. (Continued after gallery.)

Smith often refers to Karate as an addiction that started in those early years with Sensei Buckley. He spent every moment he could at the dojo and brags he was the only green belt that was given a key. Buckley’s school closed in 1974, while Smith was an ik-kyu. His training continued with Buckley and his black belt classmates Terry McDonald, Chuck Nadelhoffter, Vince Carter and John Vos, until his promotion to Sho-Dan in 1975.

Smith opened his dojo through a state grant that funded a variety of youth summer programs offered by the Aurora YWCA at the Aurora Housing Authorities Eastwood Center. When the summer ended and the state funds were gone, the YWCA asked Smith to continue the successful Eastwood Karate Club program and he stayed on as a volunteer instructor.

While he was running his own program, Smith continued his training. Reaching out first to the AOKA and Grandmaster Steve Armstrong. Smith and Armstrong shared a strong belief that the films of Shimabuku performing kata should be used as a standard to which Isshinryu kata should be taught and the two corresponded frequently regarding that topic.

Smith met Grandmaster Steve Young through a co-worker, who was also a student of Isshinryu. Smith was impressed that Young’s performance held closely to the Shimabuku films and, after meeting Young in person, immediately became a student. In addition to his formal studies with Young, Smith also took seminars taught by Isshinryu notables Steve Armstrong, Louis Lizotte, Ron Boucher, Sherman Harrell, Nick Adler, Angi Uezu, Kichiro Shimabuku, Willie Adams and  A. J. Advincula.

Combative Seminars: Bringing Martial Artists Together

Combative Seminars: Bringing Martial Artists Together

“Oh, they’re just fighting,” I said with a sigh of relief.

It was day two of the Hand-Stick-Knife-Gun Close Quarter Combatives Seminar the Romeoville Isshin-Ryu Karate Club was hosting. You have to see the flyer to understand my trepidation. The words “combat” or “combative” appeared at least four times and it had the stencil font that makes you think of the military.

As the love child of a beatnik and a hippie, things that have overt military themes make me nervous. I had visions of black military fatigues and attendees who had bugout locations hidden somewhere. But, as it turns out, I was worried about nothing.

“There’s different ‘types’ of martial arts,” explained seminar attendee Steve Zorn, Warsaw, IN. “There’s sport, art, traditional. And then there’s defensive or ‘combative’ – stuff for survival.”

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Hanging at AKA Grand Nationals

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I have no idea why it looks like he’s “flipping off” the judges’ table at the Grand Nationals. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, but  this photo cracked me up and I’m using it.

This past weekend was the 47th Annual AKA Grand Nationals. BFF Teri is getting over  bronchitis. So, the I went solo to hang out with and photograph some awesome martial artists.

I was planning on doing some “real” event coverage, since I wasn’t competing. You know, write about the actual AKA Grand National results. I was going to put my background in journalism to some practical use, but no responded to my request for press passes.  So, it’s back to Circuit Gossip and blatant name dropping. (And I’m really, really bad at names. So, there probably won’t be a lot of that either.)

If you were looking for pictures from the tournament, you can head straight over to the AKA Grand Nationals album on our Facebook page. Don’t forget to tag people you know.

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An Overweight Martial Artist Asks for Advice

A couple of days ago, I received a comment on an old blog post “Karate? Really?!” I’m sure you don’t obsess over every single comment the way I do, but I wanted to make sure you saw this one in particular.

I am currently 130# overweight, and am re-starting martial arts after a serious injury several years ago took me out of commission. I can understand people’s confusion about someone my size practicing martial arts, but what really gets me is when people IN MY OWN CLASS giggle at my unbalanced, jiggling attempts. It is at that point I get really angry–and really, really hurt.

I know I look ridiculous, but I feel proud of the fact that at least I am not running from their ridicule. After all, hiding inside my house isn’t going to help me lose weight.

Any stories or advice you can offer would be MUCH appreciated.
- Heather315

Well, my fellow karate-ka, what advice do you have to share?

Meeting Tokumura Kensho

Teri and I were at the IHOF after party, scoping out people to interview for the blog, handing out T-shirts, talking trash with the sensei — just being ourselves. In the lobby, we spotted an Asian gentleman.

“Is that Tokumura Kensho?” Teri asked.

“I’m not sure,” I said squinting at the man in question. “I think so.”

Teri grabbed a passer-by, got a positive ID and we rushed forward hoping to snag an interview. Before we could introduce ourselves, however, Tokumura Sensei recognized Teri from the tournament and engaged her in conversation about sparring.
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