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Tsuruoka O-Sensei

A Short History by Frank Foulkes

Masami Tsuruoka was born in 1929 in Cumberland, British Columbia. At the end of the war, he moved with his family to Kumamoto, Japan. During a trip to Tokyo he chanced to see a karate demonstration; he was so impressed that he resolved to learn this art, and upon his return to Kumamoto began to study Chito-ryu karate with Dr. Chitose.
By 1956, having attained the rank of nidan, he returned to Canada and started working in Toronto. At this time he was holding down two jobs during the daytime, and was not practicing karate at all. However, he also held a shodan in judo, which he was practicing in the evenings and introducing some karate.
Then, in 1957, Tsuruoka began teaching karate in a small gym on Danforth Avenue. Among the original students were Ned Paige, Benny Allen and Doug Harder. Ned Paige, recognizing that Tsuruoka had something valuable to offer Canadians, urged him to open his own karate club.

 

 

 

Accordingly, in 1958, he rented an old bowling alley on Queen Street, near Roncesvales Avenue in the west end of Toronto, where he began teaching karate seven days per week. At this time he was still working full time at his daytime jobs. Thus began Tsuruoka Karate, the first karate dojo in Canada.
Among the first members at the Queen Street dojo were Benny Allen, Qai Wong, John Matsumoto, Jim Imamura, Ned Paige, Shane Higashi and Tsuruoka's son David. His wife, Kei, also began to teach women's classes. The next wave included Al Bourque, Bill Doyle, Lonny Pike, Murray Sutherland and Monty Guest and his brother Nathan. The third wave of students (1963) included Hal Henschel, Fred Boyko, Don Hooper, Mas Takano and Frank Foulkes. The club remained at the Queen Street location until about 1964.

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