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Arigato Gozaimashita



Testimonials

 

Here is what some of our members have to say about West Island Karate...

 

In the first week of 2016, Sensei John received an email out of the blue from a former student, Anna Iankovitch.  Sensei is always happy to hear from old students and catch up with them.  As you'll read below, Anna recently achieved some big milestones in her life and she wanted to share the news with Sensei.  In doing so, she emphasized how many of the lessons she learned at the dojo helped her achieve those goals (Anna was quite the karateka...click here to see one of her first fights when she was just an orange belt).  It looks like she has a very bright future ahead of her.  Congratulations Anna...everyone at West Island Karate/Karaté de L'Île is very happy for you and proud of you!  Osu!  Anna gave us her kind permission to share her letter below.

Good evening Sensei!

First and foremost:  Happy New Year!  I hope that you enjoyed your holidays!

I have been wanting to write to you for a while but things have been busy on my side. It's been a while, hasn't it?

I've seen that you guys got a new place on Ile Perrot, congrats!  It looks great!

Things have been busy since I left the dojo.  I've graduated John Abbott last spring, got my private pilot license (yes, I fly single engine planes), got accepted into med school, but signed a contract with the army to become a fighter pilot.  Right now, I'm studying in Kingston at the Royal military college of Canada whereas my parents moved to Toronto.  I've also met my soulmate, and got engaged in October.  Yea, you see what I mean?

During basic training training last summer, I had a lot of time to think about the past few years, as we were confined to base for over a month.  I thought about it, and I realized that I owe you and your instructors so much in terms of education and upbringing.  Although I've only been in the dojo for roughly 3 years, you taught me determination and hard-work.  You taught me to go above and beyond my limits and that's helping so much right now.

Maybe you remember one of those Fridays of combat training when you told our little group something along the lines of "one day you'll come across an opponent and you'll want to win the fight, and that opponent is training right now, but he's training harder because he wants to win too, if you want to beat him, you'll have to try harder".  Well, these words stayed with me and helped me through hard times.  The lessons that I learned at the dojo (remember how hard you made my blue belt promotion?) are priceless and I am so grateful that you teach the way you do.

I am so glad that our paths crossed and that I had the opportunity to be a student of your teachings and those of Mas Oyama.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Anna Iankovitch

 

In mid-October of 2014, just before one of our very popular Parents Night Out events at the dojo, Sensei received a quick e-mail from a father whose daughter had just started training at West Island Karate/Karaté De L'Île.  He wanted to express his appreciation for our teaching methodology and philosophy at WIK/KDL.  As it turns out, he himself had studied Shotokan Karate (one of the styles from which Kyokushin Karate was derived) so his opinion was well-informed and meant a lot to Sensei.  Many thanks to Chris Foroglou for allowing us to publish his kind words here.

Hi John,

Just a quick word to say that my daughter Jordana Foroglou is very enthusiastic about starting karate.  I can see that she is serious about it!

I also very much like the teaching style used by yourself and the other instructors (teaching respect for the dojo, the instructor and others, and the emphasis on fundamentals).  I am biased towards this though; it’s similar to my experience practicing Shotokan many years ago.

Jordana is looking forward to the movie night.

Thanks!

Chris

 

In late November of 2010, Sensei received this very nice e-mail from a father whose 4(!) kids all train at the dojo.  After watching them study karate for about a year, he decided to join them and subsequently discovered the benefits of training at West Island Karate firsthand.

Good Morning Sensei,

First I want to thank you for providing me and my family such a wonderful program.  From the youngest member of our family (5) to the oldest (?) we are all enjoying participating in your classes.  I believe the Kyokushin way has shown us a path  to a healthier and more active lifestyle and has given our family a fun way to release some of the daily stresses of life.

It is also showing the younger ones the path to success is through hard work and determination.  Jackie and Josie have been working so hard to get their Orange Belts they would practice each morning and afternoon.  I think the glow of achieving their goal will not fade soon.  So once again, thank you Sensei and thanks also to your team of dedicated Sempais. 

Osu!

J Lopez

 

A couple of days after the 2009 Matsushima Canadian Championships (our annual tournament), Sensei received an e-mail from a mom who trains at our dojo with her three boys.  It's often said that there's a special sense of family, camaraderie and community at West Island Karate.  Her e-mail speaks directly to that fact.

Dear Sensei John,

Thanks for hosting yet another great tournament.  My boys look forward to this yearly event with great fondness.  They have started to discover what it means to be part of a "community", not just a dojo.  They were very proud to have helped with the setup on Friday night and whatever jobs they could be useful at doing on Saturday before and after their events.  It makes me feel very proud of them when I hear the back seat chatter all about the "whole event" and the fun they had in participating in the organization of it, as well as the rallying support of the whole dojo... rather than being focused on their personal performances.  They have developed a sense of belonging and this is such a good thing for kids to experience.  Thank you for making WI dojo more than a place to practice karate.

I have attached the photos I took this morning after the morning seminar.  Please forward them to Hanshi John Taylor as well.  It was such a pleasure and an honour to train with him today.  His kind personality and wealth of experience truly came through both with the young children this morning and with the adult group at noon.  Philippe and Alexandre said that their training at 2 pm was "awesome"!

Sincerely,

Christine :)

 

In November of 2008, something extraordinary happened during one of our kids classes which spoke volumes about the life lessons our students learn at West Island Karate and in particular from Sensei John.  The mother of the student involved wrote Sensei to express her appreciation and requested that her e-mail be published here.

Sensei John,

I want to take the opportunity to thank you, Isaiah and Philippe once more for what proved to be one of the most memorable moments in Stella’s 7 years at the dojo.

Stella was scheduled to be graded for her 3 kyu on November 24th along with her two classmates Isaiah and Philippe.  Unfortunately, that morning Stella injured her left wrist in gym class and was not able to get graded since she was unable to properly execute her katas let alone spar.  Needless to say the pain she felt in her wrist was minor compared to the disappointment she felt, since she had been anticipating her grading with much excitement.  Stella was crushed at the thought of not being graded but decided to attend the class anyways, to support Isaiah and Philippe as they pursued their brown stripe.  During the class Stella and I shot curious glances at each other wondering why, as the end of the class approached, Isaiah and Philippe had not been graded.  I did however see Stella thanking both of them profusely during the class and wondered what was going on.  I cannot express the feeling of gratitude and pride that I felt for Isaiah and Philippe as I heard you announce that they had decided to not get graded on that particular night, but rather to wait for Stella's wrist to heal and for your return from Japan in two weeks, so that they could all get graded together.  I know that these two boys had anticipated and worked as hard to prepare for this grading as Stella had, therefore to witness such a selfless act and true show of camaraderie was overwhelming.

Stella has been one of your students since she was four years old, and we have witnessed her grow up to become a disciplined and respectful young lady.  We don’t doubt that karate has played a major role in the person that she has become.  We have always praised your teaching methods and your ability to bring out the very best in your students while teaching them respect and sportsmanship.  Last night was just another confirmation of the true spirit of karate that you have instilled in your students.

Thank you,

Georgia Markakis

 

Sensei recently received a heartfelt letter from a mother who studies karate here with her entire family.  She graciously allowed us to share this with you.  

Osu Sensei,

I wanted to let you know about Isaiah's performance at school.  In fact, he is an "A" student both in French and English.  We received a preliminary report card last week and for the first time, there was nothing but positive comments from his teachers.  I spend a lot of time at school as the library coordinator and his teachers stop me in the hallways all the time to tell me what a great kid and student he is. 
 
I am sharing this with you because I truly believe that your infinite patience and persistence with him has been a huge contribution to his success!!!  You never gave up on him even when I was ready to throw in the towel.  You said to me, "Just keep bringing him - he is doing fine".  I hope you realize how important your work is in this community.  To see a kid like Isaiah now, one would never realize what a struggle it was for him to concentrate and focus on anything for any length of time.  I truly believe that karate was a huge factor, and for that, Jim and I are forever grateful to you and your wonderful school.  
 
We were told at one point to put Isaiah on medication, but decided against it and we are so glad we did.  We decided to read as much as we could on ADHD and try to find other ways to help him .  It has been a lot of hard work for all of us here, but we feel that we have crossed over to the other side finally.  He still has to work harder than most kids to stay on track, but he is getting there.  He is a great example of what karate can do.  Of course his hard work, love and dedication for karate are also major factors in his success!!!  He truly deserves all the good things that are coming his way these days.  He had some really difficult years both at home and at school.  It is nice to see him do so well.  If you have a chance, it would be great if you could say a few words to him about his schoolwork.  Most kids are given lectures when they get in trouble.  I think it is equally important to let them know when they are doing a great job.
 
Thank you so much for your incredible ability to teach all of us your great passion for karate...
 
Michelle Martel

 

My sons, Kevin and Alan, have been training at the West Island Dojo since the year 2000, through their teens.  I chose the dojo carefully (as everyone who contemplates martial arts training should), appreciating Sensei John’s leadership style and his ability to bring out the best in kids with a range of temperaments.  I have seen my sons increase in confidence and self-knowledge as well as athletic skills, through their training.  In 2002, as other parents had, I joined them as a student in the dojo.  I like it as a fitness venue for the variety and opportunity to progress – it never gets boring as so many other forms of regular exercise do.  I also enjoy exploring the philosophy behind Kyokushin karate, which offers important life skills for all ages.  And the dojo is an active social community, with many events – for both volunteer involvement and fun – through the year.

Hilary Williamson

 

When Sensei John opened his school we had no idea who he was or his style of teaching, only that it was the closest school to our house.  We soon discovered that we had found a school that not only taught karate, but had also found a sensei that gives of himself to the school and its students.  Sensei John leads by example and demonstrates, what I believe, to be the true spirit of the martial arts.  He educates and demonstrates with both passion and compassion, teaching not only students, but also future teachers of the art.  My wife and I have been with West Island Karate and Sensei John for over 4 years, first as parents of two of his students and most recently as students ourselves.  The West Island Karate School is more than just a school for us.  It has become a community and an important part of our family life.

Rick Katigbak

 

I have been practicing various martial arts off and on for the past 28 years and have achieved a black belt 2nd Dan in Kyokushin Karate.  I know what a karate school looks like.  I had been looking for a good school for my children for some time, and after a few bad experiences, I happened onto West Island Karate.  I met Sensei John and was immediately impressed with his teaching philosophy.  It not only included techniques, but also philosophy, language and culture.  I witnessed his success with students he has brought up through the ranks from the very young to the advanced teaching of international caliber competitors.  He teaches along with his very qualified staff, and with his well-developed contacts he will often bring in some of the highest-ranking masters for unparalleled seminars.  He has managed to cultivate a community spirit at the school that my kids can’t even find at the elementary school.  As a result, my kids and I have reaped the benefits that true Kyokushin can offer including confidence and determination, focus and concentration, skill, and respect for others.  I recommend this school.

Richard Garvis

 

I was astounded when my daughter Emily expressed an interest in studying karate after seeing an ad for the West Island Dojo in a local newspaper!  Prior to that, Em had dabbled in soccer, ballet, jazz dance and piano.  Nothing really stuck.  As a responsible parent, I felt compelled to explain to her that karate involved punching and kicking...and that she might occasionally be on the receiving end.  She was undeterred, so off we went for the free introductory lesson with Sensei John.  EM LOVED IT FROM THE FIRST MOMENT SHE STEPPED ONTO THE DOJO FLOOR!  That was 5 years ago and I'm proud to say that she recently earned her brown belt.  It's a testament to Sensei John that her interest in karate has only increased instead of wavering like it did in her past endeavours.  Parents know that it takes a special kind of teacher to be able to connect with kids these days.  Sensei John does this with aplomb, keeping his younger students engaged without the aid of iPods or gaming consoles.  Instead he employs "old-school" methods of teaching karate - very refreshing in this day and age.  He motivates his students with a wry sense of humour while firmly guiding them through the very demanding challenges that Kyokushin karate presents.  And he does so at just the right pace so that students are neither overwhelmed or bored.  Although the study of karate is obviously a serious undertaking, the smiles that the students display at the West Island Dojo say it all.  Sensei John makes it a LOT of fun!  That's an impressive balancing act for any teacher regardless of the subject matter (given his incredible patience I've often thought Sensei should teach math).  I've seen first-hand how all the kids respond very positively to this.  It's amazing to watch the more advanced students "pay it forward" by helping out the novices...something Sensei constantly encourages.  The benefits to my daughter's self-esteem and confidence have translated into other parts of her life as well, especially school.  Em used to be a nervous wreck the night before a class presentation.  By overcoming the formidable challenges presented to her by Sensei as well as by all the Sempais, and in particular by participating in Sensei's annual karate tournament for kids, she struggles much less with this now.  I also have to give a lot of credit to all the Sempais who are extremely knowledgeable and qualified.  They take their cues from Sensei as I have found their teaching styles to be no less fun and challenging.  Finally, the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere at our dojo is the icing on the cake.  I've actually discussed this with parents from other dojos at tournaments or common events because they seem to notice this camaraderie for themselves.  It is something which is truly unique to the West Island Dojo.  Once again, I have to attribute this to Sensei John because he fosters this sense of community by hosting many family-oriented events throughout the year.  In essence, the West Island Dojo is very much a reflecton of its Sensei.  As a result, all the parents support not only their own kids, but each other's kids as well.  We are literally one big family.  That's something special and a very rare commodity in this modern, competitive world.  I highly recommend the West Island Dojo without reservation to anyone thinking of signing up their child or studying karate themselves.  In fact, it was Em's turn to be astounded when I recently signed up myself after 5 years of watching her!

Mike Woo

 

The year is late 2001...an old  50+ male.  I am overweight...with high blood pressure...stressed out...high cholesterol count and other various ailments such as low back pain...tendinitus in both elbows...sciatica...etc.  Well I was not a prime cut shall we say.  My doctor was on my case big time as well as my family.  Fast forward to the year  2007...under the constant  kind vigilant attention of our sensei and our sempais who put me through gruelling hours of training physically, mentally  and spiritually.  West Island Kyokushin Karate has enabled and empowered me to attain better health  all around and to keep up with the younger crowd at our dojo.  It helped me attain professional success and achievements....thank you again West Island Karate for all that you have done for me.

Alex Mocella

 

My 3 children and I have been training for 4 years now at West Island Dojo with Sensei John Kalaidopoulos.  I have trained at gyms and various fitness centers over the years and can honestly say that there is no better workout than karate, for the body from head to toe and also for the soul.  I cannot even mention all the ways that being a part of this dojo has enriched our lives.  Each one of my children has benefitted in different ways aside of course from the obvious, physical fitness.  My children ages 16, 13 and 10 are able to focus better in school and  their grades have improved dramatically. They  have learned to be respectful of themselves, others and their environment.   Since starting karate they have better self esteem and feel proud of their achievements both in karate and in school.  Karate has made their bodies stronger thus, they have become stronger and more capable in other sports.  Sensei sets the bar high for his students and also on himself.  This teaches his students if you want something you need to strive hard and earn it.  Sensei John has made his dojo environment a meeting place and a home where friends have become family.  We are honoured to be a part of his school.

Elizabeth Maisonneuve

 

When our son Matthew took interest in a karate demonstration that the West Island Dojo put on one summer, we asked him if he would be interested in trying it.  My wife and I were both concerned that Matthew wouldn't respond well to an aggressive, "fighting-focused" teacher.  To our great pleasure, Sensei John was fantastic.  In both adult and youth classes there is always a fantastic balance of hard work and enjoyment.  As I am sure others will attest, Sensei John's greatest talent is to recognize what method of teaching will work with each student.  He intuitively sees what each student will respond best to and pushes them to do their best - the essence of all great teachers.  Matthew is now in year three of karate and has earned his blue belt (yellow stripe).  I on the other hand am working through my orange belt... no fault to the teacher.  Keep up the great work Sensei, thanks.

Joe O'Connor

 

Joining the West Island Dojo has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.  I can go on and on about how great the atmosphere is, how dedicated and genuine Sensei is, and how the classes will teach you a time-honored fighting art while at the same time get and keep you in great physical shape. But this is all to be expected from a good Karate school.  Believe it or not, The West Island Dojo actually goes farther than these tangible factors.  It actually has that certain something you cannot put your finger on.  You can call it a soul.  You can call it a spirit.  You can call it a profound sense of self.  But whatever you call it, it's here, and it's as tangible as a powerful punch, or a swift kick.  At the West Island Dojo, it's not about how many pushups you can do – for we all have our limit – it's about how many more you can do.  It's not about how easily you can win a fight, it's about how to fight when you're being dominated, and you're on your last legs.  It is, in the best sense, a multifaceted environment, where one moment you're laughing, and the next moment you're questioning whether you have the stamina or skill to finish the class.  At the West Island Dojo, it's not about being the best, it's about learning how to do your best.  The West Island Dojo brings to you an opportunity to develop not only your body, but everything that is not of the body.  Everything that can help you push forward, even when all you want to do is stop.

Victor Cicchino

 

I've been a student at West Island Dojo since 2002.  I joined karate, not really understanding what it was.  I just figured it would be a fun thing to do.  But once I joined, I immediately fell in love with it.  The atmosphere at the dojo is one of a very large, very friendly family.  Everybody gets to know one another from attending class together or just from sitting and watching classes together.  I met a lot of really great people at the dojo and made friends that I know I'll keep for a very long time.  There are a lot of really great people at the dojo.  There is a great sense of community.  Another really great thing about West Island Dojo is the Sensei.  He is able to adjust his teaching style to every student to make sure that they understand to the best of their abilities and the classes are never formulaic, so they never get boring.  He has so much to teach us and is always willing to teach more.  He will answer any question you have about karate or anything to do with it, no matter how stupid you may think it is.  He is very encouraging and knows how to push you so that you always do the best that you can.  All of the Sempais at the dojo are great as well, and they all have their own teaching styles and different things to teach us.  West Island Dojo is just a great place.  My seven year old sister goes to class with my parents even when she doesn't have to just because it's one of her favourite places to be.  I happen to agree with her.  It's a great place.  I have never enjoyed anything as much as I now enjoy being a part of this dojo.

Alexandra K

 

Here's a special testimonial from a mother of four.  Although her family (the Habrich family) is large enough to start their own dojo :-), all of them choose to train at West Island Karate:

One day my seven year old son came home from school and told me that he’d like to do karate like his friend from school.  Sure, why not I thought, a physical activity to keep my boys out of trouble.  Subsequently, I called his friend’s mother and she spoke so highly of Sensei John.  Even though I live in Pierrefonds and drive by several other karate schools on the way to the Beaconsfield dojo, I thought we’d give it a try there.

My three sons, ages 11, 7 and 5 started karate in May 2004.  The next day I started my training as well.  Having three active boys at home, they like to wrestle, but since they started karate, they’ve been doing karate moves on each other, so now they are beating each other up with good “technique”.  I guess that’s a good thing, right Sensei?  When I started, my motivation was to get in shape.  Having been at home with four kids, I finally took time for myself.  Yes, I was frustrated and confused, not knowing my right from my left, but I stuck with it.  At one point, I had told Sensei that I wanted to stay a white belt forever.  In other words, I wanted no pressure, that I would just come to class to do my “thing” and then go home without any long-term goal of training towards higher belts.  He just laughed.

Since we enjoyed the karate so much I asked my daughter Trina who was thirteen at the time to join us.  In her words, in no uncertain terms she avowed, “It’s not my thing and you can’t make me.”  Knowing my headstrong teenager (I wonder where she gets that from?) I decided not to fight this one.  The boys and I continued with our hectic karate schedule.  Trina and her best friend decided to give karate a trial run after the school year was over in June 2005.  The only reason she finally gave in to the karate mania was because these two girls were going to learn it together.  Her best friend’s mother was present at the first class and was opposed to the aggressiveness of karate and therefore wouldn’t allow her daughter to continue.  I had thought that this was the end of it.  Despite her best friend backing out, Trina enjoyed it so much she wanted to continue on her own.  That certainly surprised me!  She has now become such a karate “maniac” going five times a week, sometimes more.  Karate classes were always on the condition that if her school marks suffered, she wouldn’t be allowed to participate.  Through determination, Trina is managing her homework, her karate schedule and even has time to socialize!  In confirmation of my motherly wisdom, a short while after starting she had remarked, “It’s a good thing that you didn’t make me go to karate because I would have made sure to hate it”.

As for the last member of the Habrich family, my husband Alex decided to start karate in November 2006.  One day at a dojo friend’s party, out of nowhere, Alex asked Sensei if he had dogis his size.  My mouth dropped.  I never thought he would join.  Well, he did and is going as often as his work schedule permits.  Unfortunately for him, Sensei John expects more from him due to the precedent set by the other family members.  <Hey Sensei John – this is Alex speaking – I’m happy to just stay as a white belt too.>   Recently, as I drag my food-laden Costco cart towards my car through the snow and getting stuck several times along the way, I thought, now I know the real reason why I started karate, that I’d be strong enough to carry all the groceries for my ever-hungry family of six!

Sensei John’s passion for karate emanates in his teaching and it is contagious.  He also has an astute knack for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each of his karatekas - kids, teens and adults - and helps them to train to the best of their abilities.  Because of having spent so much time at the dojo, training and watching my kids, I’ve met some great new friends.  The West Island Karate family-oriented dojo has been such a positive influence in our lives.  So just as my friend highly recommended the dojo, I too have no hesitation endorsing it to someone who wants to learn karate, even if I don’t live in Beaconsfield.

Susie Gow and family