Whittal, to the rank of yondan, or 4th degree black belt. Whittal was promoted to this rank by his instructor, Gary Legacy, in London on Saturday. The rank of yondan is the first level that is considered to be a master level.
Whittal, a local lawyer, has been a student of karate for over two decades, and has been working toward his latest achievement for over four years. A native of Wallaceburg, he began taking karate with Michael Dymond, who remained his instructor until Whittal was awarded his first degree black belt at age 18. Since that time, Whittal has trained at the karate club at Western University in London, at the judo and Brazilian jujitsu clubs at Laval University in Quebec City, and at the Seido karate headquarters during his time in New York City. He has successfully competed in tournaments in Canada, the
United States, the Dominican Republic and Panama.
“It’s important to expand your horizons by training in other disciplines,” explained Whittal, “but for me, I am at home when I am learning from my teacher, Gary Legacy.”
Legacy is Canada’s first judan, or 10th degree black belt, and is recognized internationally as a top- level martial arts practitioner. He resides in St. Thomas, Ontario, where he operates his own karate club and is the director of Legacy Shorin Ryu Karate Jutsu, a national karate association with hundreds of students and over eighty active black belts. Whittal returned to Chatham from New York City in 2010, and began teaching karate at the YMCA of Chatham-Kent. Due to the popularity of his classes, Whittal started his own karate school, Zanshin Dojo, which has a growing membership, currently at over 25 students. Several students of Zanshin Dojo, all from Chatham-Kent, were also recently promoted to their next belt level by Mr. Legacy.
Cameron Sterling and Kyle Sterling were awarded their green belts; and Connor Sterling, Matthew Sterling, Zachary Huff, Rebecca Fry and Sofia Knowles were awarded their yellow belts.
“I am grateful for the recognition of my achievements,” explained Whittal, “but I can truly feel pride when I see my students succeed. Nothing makes me happier.”
Zanshin Dojo meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the gym at Sprucedale United Church at 493 Victoria Avenue in Chatham, with training available for age 4 to adult. It is holding a Demo Night, open to the public, at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 13.
For more information and to register for classes, visit the Zanshin Dojo website at www.zanshindojo.ca.