Celebrating 45 years of martial art

Cape Times, Friday, November 28, 2008

KUSHIDO Karate-Do celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, making it the oldest existing school of martial arts in South Africa. Hanshi Denis St John Thomson is the head of the system, ably assisted by chief instructor Renshi Nico Bester, 7th dan.

Many thousands of students have passed through our doors and Kushido Karate-Do has produced many master grades and teachers of the highest order.

Included in the Karate-Do training is the close quarter protection (CQP) and the traditional Okinawan weapons namely the bo (the stave) nunchaku (corn thresher), tonfa (rice grinder) sai (Japanese short sword) and the sickle. Many of the weapons kata were designed by Hanshi Denis and are practiced world wide.

Unlike many sports where there is an age limit for older people, anyone of any age can benefit from training. Martial arts was never designed as a sport but rather as a systematic method of self-defence which incorporates physical, mental and psychological facets. Juniors also benefit from the disciplined training, while gaining self-confidence and increasing learning capacity.

Karate-Do instructors have trained the elite parachute battalion and navy, army and airforce personel both in karate and close combat. Hanshi Denis arranged the first national SADF championships and the first Ryu Kyu Island championships (traditional weapons championship) in Cape Town.


Six teachers of Karate-Do Kushido were inducted into the first South African hall of Fame in 2004. Among them still presently teaching are Hanshi Denis St John Thomson, Renshi Nico Bester, Shihan Lawrence Milward Bridges and Sensei Miles Pattrick.

With four and a half decades of experience in martial arts, Hanshi Denis overseas the classes at Honbu dojo - the headquarters at 12 Buitensingel Street, where besides Karate-Do and Kobudo (traditional Okinawan weapons) Tai Chi classes are given. Hanshi Denis has taught and trained in many countries, including Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, Hawaii, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Portugal. In addition, classes at Honbu dojo now include yoga and capoeira classes.

To celebrate our anniversary an international gashuku (training course) was held in Cape Town in September. There were 60 participants from all over South Africa and teachers and students from Britain, Namibia and Switzerland. Kushido Karate-Do is having a reunion for all old and present Black Belts at Honbu dojo on December 6. Call 021 423 7965 to book.

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