Don Roe, pictured with a Chinese sabre, has been promoted to the seventh degree black belt, which carries the title of master martial artist. Photo supplied

Don Roe, pictured with a Chinese sabre, has been promoted to the seventh degree black belt, which carries the title of master martial artist. Photo supplied

Comox sensei earns title of master martial artist

The sensei of the Kenpo Karate school in Comox has been promoted to the seventh-degree black belt, which carries the title of master martial artist.

By so doing, Don Roe has achieved the highest-ranking black belt in Canada for the Tracy’s International Studios of Self Defence.

Roe, who started martial arts training in 1993, opened the Comox dojo in 1999.

The discipline of kenpo is an 800-year-old art that originated in China.

“We emphasize self defence,” he said, noting some students compete in tournaments. “The studio has won over 265 medals, 11 grand championship trophies, and (produced) two world champions since 2000.”

Two of his students have attended the World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes (WOMAA) competitions. One of them won two gold medals at Mexico in 2003, the other won two golds at Germany in 2016.

As for Roe himself, he has qualified for the Canadian international martial arts team on six occasions.

Roe got his start in martial arts at age 29 in 1993 when he lived in Victoria. He drew inspiration from the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Lionheart.

“Twenty-nine years later, here I am,” he said. “If I can do this, anybody can do this. I never thought I was going to get my orange belt.”

He teaches students from 10 to 65 years of age, from yellow belt to fifth-degree black belt.

During COVID, Roe can still operate on a one-on-one basis for half an hour at his dojo.

“I’m still picking up new students,” he said. “I lost some due to COVID, (but) it comes full circle. Five people quit, four people sign up.”

The school continues to operate at its original location below Smitty’s restaurant on Comox Avenue.

Visit the website at houseofkenpokarate.com

Comox