Bancroft Martial Arts : THE EARLY YEARS

BY:                Sensei RICK  DODD


When I moved my family to Bancroft in June of 1979, it had been six years since I’d set foot in a dojo. While posted in Ottawa at the beginning of my career as a conservation officer with the Ontario government, I had expressed the need to have some form of self defense training to my employer. They unfortunately disagreed and so I sought out the training on my own. I ended up choosing karate and trained at the Takahashi dojo for two and a half years, earning a blue belt in shotakan style.


One day I ventured down to the Bancroft Fish & Game club to do some shooting, I observed a young man practicing some karate techniques all by himself. I introduced myself to Brian Schutt and he informed me that he and three other Bancroft men were presently studying kempo karate in Peterborough. Brian stated that he and his associates, Al Murack, Rick Grant and Dr. Doug Calder, were hoping to open a dojo in Bancroft, if there was enough interest. I told Brian that I’d keep in touch and was anxious to resume my training.


And so it was that an ad was placed in the Bancroft Times inviting interested parties to a preliminary class to be held on February 10, 1983. According to Al Murack,  our unofficial historian, twenty-five people showed up that first night.


Benny Rudolph, the sensei from Peterborough, with whom the four men had trained, was there for the opening night and would return for future gradings.


I really liked the atmosphere of the new dojo and the soft  and very flowing techniques being taught; blocking a stick attack for instance, involved a parry as opposed to the hard blocs more common to Shotokan. At the end of every class, a group of us would stay behind and get into some serious sparring. The man to beat was Brian Schutt . Brian would emit the same vocal sounds that Bruce Lee used in his movies and it would always cause me to chuckle. Brian had powerful kicks, one of which resulted in me sustaining a broken wrist when I attempted to bloc a rising mae geri.

I was very fortunate to train with some phenomenal karatekas including Brian & Al (see attached photo)



 as well as Joe Carr and Vaughn Lloyd, who both went on to become black belts. Paul Devitt was a great  sparring partner and would  earn several gold medals in later years when we competed in Snow Tigers tourneys. Terry Reid and the Doney brothers, Mark, Sean & Dale were fun to train with as well.

 Brown-Blue Grading 1991

( see attached photo of me as a blue belt with Joe Carr on my left and Paul Devitt behind me….the caption says it was taken during a “grading”; it was likely more an informal test which I believe Sensei Walther conducted ).

 When I think of the many organizations that have fallen by the wayside, I’m always amazed that we are still functioning after 30 years. That’s a credit to those individuals who took on the dojo’s leadership role including senseis Vaughn Lloyd and Dave Dalley.

 Another factor, I believe, is the spirit of the dojo. I recalled one lady who had three foster children enrolled in the dojo, all of whom suffered one form of learning disability or another. She told me that the dojo was the one place where the three boys were accepted as equals by all the students.

I’ve seen a lot of students come and go over the past 30 years at our Bancroft dojo and so many are overly concerned about making it to the next belt level. With this in mind, I’d like to close this article by reiterating the words that appear elsewhere on this website and bears repeating:


it’s not the color of your belt that defines you as

a martial artist, it is your journey through the training”.


Sensei Rick Dodd

Nidan Chito-ryu karate

Nidan Jiu-Jitsu


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