Norman Welch has been the president of Canada Shotokan since its inception in 1972. It is largely through his hard work and dedication that the group has grown to be what it is today. Norman began practicing in 1964 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with Mr. Tsuruoka. He moved to St. Catherines, Ontario, in 1969, the same year that he married Sharon. It was in 1969 that Norman had an experience that would change his understanding of karate practice forever — he met Mr. Yasunori Ono, one of Ohshima Sensei’s juniors from Waseda University in Tokyo. Through meeting Ono, Norman eventually was able to meet Ohshima Sensei, whom Norman only knew as a legendary karate figure living in Los Angeles.
Norman and Sharon moved to Vancouver in 1970 with their son, Seizo. Norman and Sharon also have a daughter, Miki, who became a shodan in 1996. After Mr. Ono’s visit to Vancouver in 1971, Norman was convinced that he should visit Ohshima Sensei. Norman believed that he was merely going to “talk” to Sensei, but instead he found himself experiencing the most difficult karate practice he could remember — special training at Ojai, California. Only his earlier time with Ono had prepared him for such an experience. Mr. Ohshima invited Norman to join Shotokan Karate of America after completing special training. That fall Norman resigned from Mr. Tsuruoka’s group and joined Shotokan Karate of America. The other members of the U.B.C. dojo decided to follow Norman, and thus, at the end of 1971, the UBC Karate Club became part of Shotokan Karate of Amercia. In 1972, they formed Canada Shotokan with Gene Malec and George Quessy of Canada East.
In 1972 Norman visited Japan and trained with the Waseda Karate Club and he returned again in 1974 to practice a second time.
As the first godan in Canada, Norman has maintained a strong connection with Ohshima Sensei visiting Waseda with him on several occasions and regularly traveling to Los Angeles to practice. Norman has been instrumental to the growth of the Canada West group, both through starting several dojos, and through inspiring many juniors to progress through the ranks. At the opening of Ohshima Shotokan Dojo in August, two of Norman’s juniors, Donald Gee and Robert Powers, were awarded the rank of Godan.
Each Friday, Norman leads a senior practice for brown belt and black belt members in Vancouver.