Copyright © Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame, 2006
Father, Fire Fighter, Champion Instructor
Benny Allen started his Martial arts in Chito Ryu Karate in 1961, training under the instruction of Masami Tsuroka. He attained his Black Belt from him and eventually earned his 8th Dan. His wide interest in the Martial Arts also led him to study several other Martial Arts such as Hungar Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Paq Qua which he learned in the back alley kitchens of Toronto's Chinatown, during the mid- to late-1960s. There he studied with names like Sammy Wong and many other masters of Chinese Kung Fu.
He competed at a tournament in New York City where he knocked out his competitor's teeth with a Kung Fu technique during the late 1960s. He never competed again after that. One of the best fighting instructors in Canada, if not the world in his time, Sensei Allen was definitely from the old school of teaching. To him, teaching someone how to fight well was more important than the money that the membership brought in. Even though he was a fighter, he appreciated the value of kata. Benny rarely wore a traditional white karate gi, but rather would wear white running shoes, black t-shirt and black kung fu pants. He was not impressed with what you wore but rather with what you did on the floor and how hard you trained.
Some of his top students were Wally Slocki, Teddy Martin, Tony Faceti, Don Warrener, Frank Wishart, Greg Mellor, Bill Hinds, Gary Legacy, Mike McRudden, just to name a few. The classes were 2 hours long, and a minimum of 3 days a week.
His school is where boys became men - whether they wanted to, or not. With branch schools in both Hamilton and Toronto, Benny partnered up with Billy Melborne in Hamilton, and at the Chinese Cultural Centre on Haggerman with Quoi Wong.
Sensei Allen's dear friend, Sensei Bob Dagleish would often share classes. Bob teaching Kata and Benny teaching fighting. It was through Bob Dalgliesh that he was introduced to Sensei Peter Urban and Sensei Richard Kim. In 1968 he became the President of the Canadian Branch of the Butoku Kai, a Richard Kim Organization.
Sensei Allen's classes consisted of at least one hour of calisthenics and half an hour of basics, and then sparring or kata for the last part of the class. The training also consisted of the use of heavy bags and weights. Benny was the first person I ever met that could bench-press 400 pounds and had a massive chest and extremely powerful hands that were as fast as lightning. The training in Benny Allen's dojo was nothing short of brutal and as the movie says, "only the strong survived". He didn't care if you quit. But perhaps his greatest legacy is that it was Benny who was the first one to implement a 'no-nonsense approach' to martial arts philosophy. One of his greatest quotes was "get up off the floor you Pantywaist and fight or go home". It was tough but it sure did make you better.
Even with this tough training regime, Benny's favorite dojo was a park, anywhere. Benny Allen was a father, a firefighter, a champion instructor, a sensei and a master of innovation. He loved the Martial arts so much that, even until the time of his death, he was constantly in search of the secrets of the martial arts.
Little Dave & Big Dave Chong
Cousins and Martial Arts Collaborators
Little Dave and Big Dave Chong were cousins who, together with Big Dave's brother, Tony Chong, formed the Canadian Karate Kung Fu Club (CKKC).
'Little Dave' was the karate connection, having received his karate black belt from Sensei Masami Tsuroka. Big Dave was responsible for bringing the Five Animal forms (or Ng Ying Kune) to Canada in the 1950s.
Together, they developed some of Canada's top instructors in Canada names like Ken Hayashi, Ron Yamanaka, Alex Atkinson, Humberto Mederios and Pel Capone to name but a few of them. The Canadian Karate and Kung Fu Club was changed later to be the Canadian Karate and Kung Fu Association (CKKA), as so many of their students had branched out to form their own schools, but wanted to stay involved with their teachers.
Big Dave Chong grew up in a small fishing village a couple of hundred miles south of Hong Kong. It was here that he learned his kung fu in the lineage of the famous Lam Sai Wing. He and his family fled China after the Communist take over and they eventually settled in Toronto.
The karate history in the CKKA varies depending on the style of karate whether it is Shotokan or Goju as there are both being taught within the CKKA.
Schools within the CKKA now are spread all over world with schools across Canada as well as United States and England.
Tony Chong passed away a few years ago and now Big Dave carries on his work and has recently come out of retirement to teach workshops and seminars around the country, as he introduces more Kung Fu forms.
Si Gung Dave is still training and is one of the most respected names in Canadian martial arts, as he and his cousin developed some of the very best technicians, fighters and forms competitors Canada has ever seen. We are very proud to induct both Dave Chong and his cousin Dave Chong into the Canadian Black Belt Hall Of Fame.
Mentor, Second Father, Sensei and Friend
Sensei Quai Wong began his martial arts training while in rural China and continued when he left the mainland for Hong Kong in 1950. His strong ties to Hong Kong later led him to train under Sifu Wong Hon Fan, famous for his Northern Praying Mantis system.
He emigrated to join his adoptive father in Western Canada. His father died soon after he arrived and once again struggled to survive in a new environment. In the mid-1950s, he became a student at the Manitoba Judo Institute and studied under Sensei Tommy Mitani.
After a short visit to Toronto, Sensei Wong left for New York to study photography at the New York Institute of Photography. It was an incredible experience that he reflects upon fondly. Upon his return to Toronto he was introduced to Mas Tsuroka and began training under Sensei Tsuroka in 1959. In the early 1960s, SenseiÕs Quai Wong and Benny Allen opened the Chinatown Dojo on Hagerman St. behind TorontoÕs City Hall. The dojo was 5,000 sq. ft.
In 1962 Sensei Wong moved to the east end of Toronto and opened a school at Gerrard and Main. Word spread like wildfire and the dojo was filled to capacity in no time.
In 1964, he was invited by his friend Ed Parker to compete in the Tournament at Long Beach. Bruce Lee, Mike Stone, Tak Kubota and Dan Inosanto were just a few of the many talented martial artists brought together under one roof.
In the mid-1960s, Sensei Wong departed for Japan. There, he visited various dojos from Tokyo to Okinawa, to gain a better understanding of Japanese karate. In Okinawa he was introduced to Shoshin Nagamine, a leading martial arts practitioner on the tiny island. On July 4, 1967 Sensei Nagamine presented Mr.Wong with his teaching certificate and a rank of 4th in Matubayashi Shorin Ryu. Their affiliation would last the remainder of Mr. NagamineÕs life.
For three decades Sensei Wong integrated elements of Kung-Fu and Okinawan karate into a unique system of practical combat. His techniques became instantly recognizable. The fluid circular flow of kung fu combined with the devastating striking of karate produced generations of able and impressive fighters. His legacy is in the more than 40,000 students both domestically and internationally he has personally instructed in his career as a teacher. Second and third generations of families have trained with him. To these students he is mentor, second father, sensei and friend.
Canadian Karate Pioneer
Shane Higashi was born on October 14, 1940, in Chemainus, British Columbia. His family moved to Japan in 1946 and then later returned in 1956. In 1961, he began studying Karate at 21 yrs of age under the instruction of Masami Tsuroka. He became his star pupil and later became the Grand Champion of the 1st Canadian Open Karate Tournament. This was also the first tournament ever in North America.
His interest in karate was prompted by a deep interest in the philosophy of the Oriental martial arts. Kyoshi Higashi returned to Japan in 1966 and received personal training from Dr. Chitose - the founder of Chito Ryu Karate. Years later he received his 8th dan from Chitose Soke, the son of the founder of Chito Ryu.
Becoming involved in the many aspects of the Martial Arts, he officiated at the first Canadian Black Belt Championships in Alberta. In 1975 he was designated as the leading authority in Canada for Kobujutsu of the Ryu Kyu Hozonshin Ko Kai by its founder Inoue Sensei.
He formed the Canadian Society for the promotion and preservation of RyuKyu Classical Martial Arts to coordinate the development of Kobujutsu and Kobudo in Canada. In 1979 he was designated as the leading authority in Canada for Chito Ryu Karate by its founder, Dr. Tsyuoshi Chitose.
He is the chief instructor for over 80 Chito Ryu karate schools across North America and Europe, of which 11 are in Southern Ontario. A member of the Technical Committee of the International Chito Ryu Karate-do Federation, he is also technical advisor for the National Karate Association (the Karate governing body of Canada).
Higashi has been instrumental in spreading Chito Ryu Karate around the world. He has assisted various instructors from all over the world to help them establish schools in their own countries.
Currently, he spends his time traveling around the world conducting gradings and clinics. He still runs and operates his own dojo, Higashi School of Karate in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Olympic Silver Medalist
Doug Rogers was born on January 26, 1941 in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Throughout his childhood, he was very athletic, participating in hockey and, eventually, Judo.
At age 15, Doug joined the Montreal Judo Club at the YMCA and then went on to train with Fred Okimura at the Montreal Seidokwan dojo. All through high school he continued training and studying Judo. In 1958, he earned his brown belt title and then, the following year, he earned his black belt title.
In 1960, Doug applied to the Kodokan, was accepted and headed for Japan. There his training was informal, training in the main dojo and some foreign ones. The quality of practice depended mostly on who was there. The best Judo of the time was coming out of the Police Academy and the University. These groups would come to the Kodokan for weekly practice. Doug trained with the Judoka from the Policy Academy and Takudai University every week. Here he met Kimura who was Takushoku University's Judo coach. Competing regularly, Doug became a strong competitor. He won the attention of the Canadian Olympic Committee which was looking for strong medal contenders to compete in the upcoming Olympics. They were pleased with the idea they had a hopeful located in Japan. Doug returned to Canada and competed in the Nationals and on to the Olympics. In 1964, after some hard fought matches and keeping Canada on the edge of their seats, Doug Rogers became Canada's 1st Judoka to win the silver medal in Judo at the Olympics - the first year in which Judo was included.
After the Olympics, Doug trained full time with Kimura and became very close to him. As a member of the Takushoku University Judo team, he joined the All Japan University Championships. He was the first non-Asian to take part in this event and was also named the best fighter in the tournament. At 24yrs old, Doug returned to Canada to pursue his life long desire to be a professional pilot. He continued to compete and eventually went on to win gold at two Pan American Games, then he placed 4th at the 1972 Olympics. Doug Rogers achieved his life long goal of becoming a Professional Airline Pilot and enjoyed a full career. He eventually married and raised 4 children. His passion for the sport still exists today as Doug still frequents Judo Tournaments as an invited guest and coach.
Born in 1927 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Masaru Shintani went on to develop one of the largest karate organizations in North America, spreading his positive teachings for more than five decades to literally thousands of students.
Master Shintani was first exposed to martial arts during World War II, when his family was sent to an internment camp in New Denver, BC. While there, he learned judo, aikido and kendo under his first teacher Akira Kitagawa. He remained devoted to Sensei Kitagawa until his death in 1956. At that time, Master Shintani had attained the level of Rokudan (sixth) in Shorin Ryu Karate.
In 1947, the Shintani family moved to Beamsville, Ontario, to work for a local farmer. In just a few years, he began teaching judo and karate from a shed on the farm. Master Shintani opened his first formal karate club at the Hamilton YMCA. During the mid-1950s, he travelled to Tokyo to compete in, and eventually win, a large All-Japan Karate Federation tournament. It was during that trip that he met Sensei Hironori Otsuka, a teacher who would hugely impact Shintani's life. Over the following years, he trained in Sensei Otsuka's style: Wado-Ryu. In 1970, Sensei Otsuka asked Shintani to represent the art in Canada. This was an honour that Master Shintani accepted, becoming head of all Wado Karate-do in North America and receiving the title of Supreme Instructor. By 1979, Otsuka awarded Shintani an 8th-degree Black Belt, along with a 9th-degree Black Belt Certificate for the future.
Following a dream, Master Shintani developed Shindo: "the straight or pure way". This fighting system used a three-foot long stick as an extension of the hands. It applies all the principles of Wado Karate, blending the ancient weapon with modern techniques.
Throughout his later life, Master Shintani taught the Shintani Wado Kai Karate system and built up a circuit of Ontario schools, in addition to teaching seminars across the country. He also served as a member of the IKKF Executive Board and was one of the Founding Members of the World Union of Martial Arts Federations. Master Shintani passed on May 7, 2000 in Kapuskasing, Ontario (Hospital).