Students at the Kyokushin Karate Dojo had the chance to learn from a true master this week.
Don Corrigal, a sixth-dan black belt in the Kyokushin style, was in town for a couple days to instruct at the club, based at the Columbus Community Centre in College Heights. The 57-year-old Corrigal passed along fighting tips and words of wisdom to about 40 students, ranging from kids to adults.
Worldwide, only about two dozen people hold sixth- to eighth-dan black belts in Kyokushin karate so Corrigal's visit provided a unique opportunity for the members of the local dojo.
"It was amazing because he's got 45 years of Kyokushin karate experience," said P.G. sensei Jarvis Thompson, himself a third-dan black belt. "Everyone got something out of it -- the beginners, all the way up to myself, and I've been training 16 years. There was just so much information you had to write it down. It was pretty special, and he actually offered to come out. He just e-mailed me one day and said, 'Hey, how about I make a trip up?' so that shows the level of commitment he has for the students."
Corrigal is originally from Richmond but now lives in Cranbrook. Prior to his stop in Prince George, he led a training camp in Stony Plain, Alta. He and his brother, 59-year-old Stuart, head the Western Canadian branch of the international Kyokushin organization so they regularly instruct at clubs throughout their region.
Kyokushin karate is a "hard" style of the sport. It involves striking, takedowns, holds and submissions. Self-discipline and self-defence are also key elements.
Corrigal spent time assessing the skills of the local Kyokushin students and gave training suggestions to Thompson. As well, he demonstrated fighting techniques and strategies and put the more experienced club members through some intense workouts.
"Everybody trained extremely hard and I was pleased with what I saw," Corrigal said. "Certainly when you come into a new structure and setting there are always going to be things that have to be modified or worked on to bring them up to the standards that the organization sets, and our particular organization has one of the highest grading standards in the world right now. Kyokushin is hugely popular all over the world and over the last 30 years we've developed a very rigourous process so that's one of the reasons I came -- to look at those things and make sure that they can start making those adjustments."
Corrigal said the Kyokushin style is popular because of the self discipline it both encourages and requires, and also because of its self-defence component.
"The training is directed toward a very practical outcome," he said. "As people become concerned about bullying and all of these kinds of social issues, they will come in because of the functionality of what we teach."
Corrigal will likely be back in Prince George next April.
n For anyone interested in joining the Kyokushin Karate Dojo, classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Columbus Community Centre (7 p.m. for children, 8 p.m. for adults).