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Shihan James Henry is a Master Instructor of Beikoku Wado-ryu, a Japanese style of karate. He has had a passion for teaching karate for over 45 years and has earned the rank of Judan, 10th degree black belt.
He earned his 1st degree black belt at the age of 14 when karate training was still considered more of an adult discipline. Prior to karate training, he was considered shy and quiet. After he started training, his teachers noticed a new confidence level, higher self-esteem and developments in his social interactions. As a young black belt, he managed and led classes of adults with a maturity level that gained him the respect of his older students.
As a competitor, he was ranked in the top 10 of the Northeast region, competing in both kata and kumite (forms and sparring), winning over 300 trophies. Tournament competition was a large part of his early black belt days and he developed a reputation as a strong competitor and was highly respected for his sportsmanship and conduct, win or lose.
His participation in the 2010 USA Open Karate Championship and USA Karate Junior Olympics, held in Las Vegas, NV, earned him bronze medals in kata.
His father, the late Shihan Isaac Henry Jr., was founder and 10th Degree Grandmaster of Beikoku Wado-ryu, the form of karate taught by Shihan James. Beikoku translates to "American", Wado-ryu means "The Way of Peace and Harmony" and Shihan means Grandmaster. His brother, Shihan Fred, also earned the rank of Judan, 10th degree black belt, and is the Chief Instructor at The Headquarters Dojo for Beikoku Karate-do Goyukai (BKG), located in Long Branch, NJ. Their mother, Shihan Katsuko Suzuki Henry (aka Mrs Shihan), can be found still assisting in classes at HQ dojo.
Although karate is a demanding discipline which requires and develops a great deal of discipline, he understands that each student learns differently, and are sometimes challenged by attention deficit or just youthful distraction. His own difficulty in learning the early basics caused him to stop training for a brief period, but now this personal experience serves as a reminder to have patience with his students. He loves teaching karate and the relationship that is built between he and his students, and many of the parents, is a testament to the level of attention given to his student's growth. His students have fun learning and he has fun teaching.
After gaining experience in sales, account and team management, he retired from corporate America after nearly 30 years in the telecommunications industry. His degrees in Drafting & Design Technology, Business Administration and Telecommunications Management, have all helped him to appreciate various aspects of business and the people that make it work. Earning his MBA after nearly 13 years of being away from the classroom gave him confidence and reminded him that it’s never too late to pursue a goal.
Shihan James had hung up his belt for several years while pursuing his career in the corporate world. Conversations with an elder friend, now deceased, made it clear that teaching karate was his passion and the friend didn’t understand why Shihan James was not teaching. Shihan James attended the memorial service of another friend and was struck by the number of people, both kids and adults, that were impacted by the work of his friend. It became clear that he could make a much greater contribution teaching karate than working in the corporate world. Karate was in his blood, and teaching it is his calling. As a result he returned to teaching karate in 2000 and loves what he does.
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Last updated April 25, 2018
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