the scene

Peterborough’s first karate club still finding success after 40 years

A great article submitted by John MacCallum

Saturday June 2nd marks a special even for Jiyu-Shin Karate School. The Martial Arts club will be celebrating their 40th year in Peterborough this year as they will be hosting their annual Shia (tournament) at the Evinrude centre.  The Shiai will begin at 11:00am and should be completed by 4pm and will be open for anyone who wishes to watch. They will have a short break and then return to the Evinrude Centre at 5:30 for an Anniversary dinner and celebration.  Many past students and black belts will be at the event and a large number of clubs from out of town will be joining them to help celebrate the evening.

Jiyu-Shin was started by Sensei Mark Bell in 1972 as the first karate school in Peterborough. Sensei Mark Bell was born in Ireland in 1938, where he cultivated an early interest in Judo. He then moved to Canada as a teenager where his love of the Martial Arts in general, and Karate in particular, brought him to the Dojo of Master Masami Tsuruoka, the ‘Father of Canadian Karate’. It was here that his training began, and where his initial interest was nurtured into the passion to which he would devote himself completely.

While training under Master Tsuruoka, Sensei Bell met Sensei Monty Guest, another pivotal influence in Sensei Bell’s training and understanding of Karate. Sensei Bell studied with and under both men, as well as with many other notable martial artists across Ontario, including the late Sensei Bob Dalgleish, Sensei Bill Hind and Sensei Walton Edwards (sai techniques), to name a few.

It was this breadth of training that gave Sensei Bell the foundation of knowledge and experience that prompted him to open the Peterborough Jiyu-shin Karate School in 1972. Originally the school was a satellite club of Master Tsuruoka’s school, but before long Sensei Bell navigated the direction of the school into an independent entity and his vision of the martial arts would carry with him through to his retirement from teaching.

Over the course of his career, Sensei Bell led literally thousands of students through the journey of self-discovery that marks the true Martial Artists calling. During his almost 40 year tenure as Head Instructor of Jiyu-shin, he graduated 13 students to Black Belt rank. This number stands in testament, not to the low number of students that crossed the threshold of Jiyu-shin, but to the remarkably high standards that Sensei Bell set, not only for the students he guided, but for himself as well – standards that are seen all too rarely in modern martial arts.

Over the course of his career, Sensei Bell was presented with the Award of Merit by the Mayor and City Council of Peterborough for introducing the Martial Arts to Peterborough and Jiyu-shin Karate School participated as part of the opening ceremonies of the Ontario Summer Games, when they were held in Peterborough. Over the years, Jiyu-Shin hosted a number of demonstrations across the Kawartha Lakes area, as well as conducting numerous girls self defense courses, and high school introduction to martial arts classes. He is one of the most respected Martial Arts instructors and practitioners in Ontario, and this respect was born not only of his ability as a practitioner, but of his dedication and devotion as a teacher.

Jiyu-Shin has moved locations several times over the years, but never has closed its doors.  Many programs have been done through the club like Kick Boxing, Grappling, Weapons, Demo’s and so on.  Our main focus has always been the study and teaching of Chito-Ryu Martial Arts.  Through the years, the students have come and gone and some have come back again.  The black belts at the karate club have given there all to the students over the years and have produced students of various ranks with great skills and control.

The club is also unique in that it is a non-profit club and all of the  teachers volunteer their time and talents to running classes and making events like this Shiai happen. There are many black belts who come from varying backgrounds in Martial Arts which lend to a well rounded karate experience. However, today the club is run by Sensei John MacCallum, one of Sensei Bell’s outstanding students and another well respected black belt among Martial Arts circles in Ontario. Sensei John earned his black belt in 1996 and while he has been heavily involved in the club with volunteering and teaching for many years, it was eight years ago that Sensei Bell handed over the reigns as he retired. Sensei John has since been an influence and mentor to many karate students and has promoted several more blackbelts to the Jiyu-Shin family.

This weekend, will be a momentus occasion for the karate club and there will be many who will be proud to say that they have been a part of the clubs long history in the Peterborough Area. Anyone who is interested in coming out if they have been a part of the club or are interested in coming out for the first time to see what it is all about are welcome to join us at the Evinrude Center on Saturday from 11am-4pm (the cost for spectators will be $5). More information about the Shiai as well as class times and costs, can be found on our website.


About PTBOSportsScene

Husband, Father, Writer, Coach, Maker of Omelettes and Dissector of Couches. After working for over 10 years in sport, I decided to move my focus from calling for media coverage to doing the reporting. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a multitude of sports and loved every minute of it. Now is my chance to give exposure to those sports and activities that don’t always make the front of the sports page. On this blog you’ll find articles that I’ve done on some of Peterborough’s most interesting and lesser know sports in the area. It may even prompt you to try one.


No comments yet.

what's your take?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: