It was karate that first brought Sensei Ivan DeToro to the North Island, and now more than 30 years later, he still is offering world-class karate training at his Bushido Shotokan Karate-do Academy, along with his blackbelt wife Jennifer.
DeToro was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, and in 1984 decided to take three months off work to take a seminar in Vancouver with a karate master named Masatoshi Nakayama.
He then went to Port Hardy to visit a friend, where he stopped by a local gym to train.
The owner of the gym “asked me if I wanted to teach and I said I can’t teach because I don’t know the language, and he said ‘don’t worry about it people will follow you’ – he had forty students, and that’s how I started,” explained DeToro.
Five months later, he started teaching his own classes, which he continues to do today.
DeToro estimates that 5,000 people have been through his school since it first began. “I have built many black belts, some are out of the country and are still training, some are in Vancouver, some are around the island,” he said.
At one point, he had classes in Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice, Sointula, and Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, but had to scale back when he and Jennifer opened their locksmith business Lockz 2 Fit.
His classes are open to anyone. His youngest student is seven-years-old and his oldest student is 82-years-old, a gentleman who attends classes alongside his great-granddaughter. After doing some locksmith work for the Port Hardy Senior Centre, DeToro was asked if he would like to also host a class for the Hardy Bay Senior’s Centre.
“I think it is the greatest contribution as a citizen. Nobody worries about them and over the years we lost the respect of our seniors and they are very important to me,” said De Toro.
Bushido Shotokan Karate-do Academy is a member of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) which is a non-profit organization that seeks to promulgate traditional Japanese karate-do throughout the world.
The Academy has also hosted ISFK Master Okazaki for a visit to Port Hardy in the 1990s, who is a tenth-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate, and is the founder and chief instructor of the ISKF.
They planted a planted a tree in Carrot Park and installed a plaque to commemorate the visit.
“That’s what excites me the most, the appreciation of life and the development of confidence and the increase of life activity,” said DeToro. “Seeing an 82-year-old man that is walking, training – how many 82-year-olds are sitting in the hospital and can’t move?”
DeToro explained that karate “works with your joints, spines, shoulders, and strengthens your ligaments so it keeps you active for a longer time so when you are 80 you will be able to go anywhere, anytime, like when you were 30 – that is increasing life activity.”
For DeToro, karate is more than just a physical activity.
“How karate views life is very important,” he explained, adding “but the real meaning of martial arts is the sense of life, a peaceful mind, a peaceful soul.”
DeToro’s classes take place at the Port Hardy Civic Centre Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
He also offers classes in Sointula and will begin teaching at the Port Hardy Seniors Centre every Thursday.