Positioning, patience and introspection is the karate way. The martial art revolves around the individual’s achievements, and an Armstrong instructor has achieved the title of shihan, or “master instructor.”
Larry Robinson, 64, said it was his third time attempting the fifth-degree black belt test and it was a five-year process.
“In Western Canada there’s only six of us (with our fifth degree).”
Traveling to Tokyo was required to take the exam.
“It’s a really physical thing to do. They don’t just give it to anyone,” he said.
He was nervous as the trial entails a one-day test after vigorous training.
The test consists of 20 to 50 fights depending on the participant’s age, each lasting for about a minute and a half.
“You have to forget all your problems… karate is 75 per cent mental and 25 per cent physical,” said Robinson.
He trained for four days for approximately four hours each day and fought 20 men from all over the world.
As a child Robinson wasn’t into fighting or climbing trees. He was somewhat of a loner, drawn to karate because it wasn’t a team sport.
“As a kid I wasn’t into other sports. (Karate) is you against yourself basically.”
As an instructor at Armstrong Kyokushin Dojo and a meat cutter at Askew’s Foods, karate was something he “wanted to do his whole life.”
He trains after work four to six days a week.
The father of three started his karate career after moving to the Okanagan in 1978. His friends influenced him to join the Vernon dojo. He took over the Armstrong dojo in 1981 and has no desire to achieve higher than the fifth-degree belt.
“I’m happy where I am,” he said.
It takes 25 to 30 years to become a shihan and Robinson has been in the field for 38 years.
The “sensei” title is given to teachers with third or fourth-degree black belts, but “shihan” is only gained when the individual receives their fifth degree.
For inspiration, Robinson draws on shihan Bobby Lowe from Hawaii. The pair had trained together numerous times, in Canada and Hawaii.
“He gave off a persona of confidence,” said Robinson. “(He would) never get mad, just understand what people are like.”
He also looks to Canadians Stuart and Don Corrigal whom he trains with frequently, and said they pushed him to achieve.
Travelling is another aspect Robinson experienced with karate. He’s been to places like Australia, Europe and Los Angeles.
It takes dedication to become a karate master. “I believe if you’re going to do something, take one thing and do it well,” said Robinson.
Running a dojo has also inspired him to stick with the sport.
So far, Robinson has helped 20 individuals move up the ranks from white to black belt. “I owe it to them to give them the best experience,” he said.
On June 13, Robinson received his new belt from shihan Stuart Corrigal, a seventh-degree black belt.
For more information about Robinson and the Armstrong dojo visit kyokushin.ca/armstrong/.