After more than 40 years practising karate, 82-year-old Michael Sherman achieved his black belt last weekend.
While thrilled by the achievement, Sherman (whose very proud wife tipped off the Coast Reporter) also has a modest perspective. “As a karate student, you're not really working towards a particular belt, you're just trying to understand what karate is, and to serve its basic tenets – honour, respect and achieving what you can within your own limits.” Sherman said. “It's not really that I was always working for a black belt. It was just a matter of staying with it and progressing.”
Sherman started karate back when he and his family were living in North Hollywood, in Los Angeles. “I was 37, out of shape and smoked,” he remembers. Their babysitter showed up one day all excited as she and her boyfriend were going to take karate lessons and convinced Sherman and his daughter to sign up too. While the babysitter dropped out, Sherman and his daughter stuck with it. “For the first three or four or five months, I literally crawled home from the dojo,” said Sherman. “I don't know where I found it within me to stay with it, but I came to love it.”
When Sherman and his wife moved to the Sunshine Coast in 1990, he found a dojo in Sechelt. That one closed and some years later, Sherman found Shihan (Master) Takashi Ogawa. Now, the Ogawa Dojo practices Kenkojuku Shotokan karate out of the Waldorf School of Dance on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
There had been talk around the dojo for months that Sherman should get his black belt, and Sensei Wade Meisinger had encouraged Sherman in practicing his black belt kata. But, the belt was still a surprise.
“This past Saturday, I went to class and Master Takashi called [fellow karate practitioner Laurent Wiese] forward. And I thought, Oh, that's great. Laurent’s going to make his black belt or something. And then he calls my name.”
“I was floored and incredibly overwhelmed with the honour,” said Sherman. “It was achieving something that I wasn't looking for, particularly, which is kind of the best way for things to happen.”