Shelton Butokukan Karate

Shelton Athletic Club
707 S. 1st St., Shelton, WA



My Upline

Class Days

Dojo History

Written by Charles Wasiluasky

The Shelton Butokukan Dojo is the oldest dojo in Butokukan. The Shelton dojo is the only storefront dojo operated by Butokukan Blackbelts. Sensei Keith Geary was highly influential in helping us move to our current location. Following is a history of the Shelton Dojo.

Dave Gunter, while attending Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, received an orange belt in karate studying with Sensei Hill. He returned home to Shelton. Wishing to continue his karate training, he asked Sensei Hill if there were any Butokukan Blackbelts willing to travel to Shelton to teach. Sensei Hill suggested Sensei Victor Faasuamalie, who had recently been promoted to Blackbelt. Sensei Faasuamalie agreed to come and check out the spot that Dave thought would be good for classes. This was the Mason County Fire Hall District 11, the first location of the Shelton Dojo. Sensei Faasuamalie began teaching classes in August of 1971 at the fire hall. Due to a changing situation and growing classes, he moved to the Health Spa on Shelton Springs Rd. near Highway 101 (the spa is now someone’s house). With continuing growth, Sensei Faasuamalie moved the class to the Timber Bowl bowling alley, and from there it moved to 112 Cota St. location in 1973.

Sensei Faasuamalie continued to run the dojo until late 1974. During this time, he promoted two students to Blackbelt level: Mike Sanders and Randy Hunt. Due to a change in occupation, Sensei Faasuamalie turned the dojo over to Sensei Hunt in November 1974. Sadly, four years later, Sensei Faasuamalie passed away. Sensei Mike Sanders, (who was living in Olympia) started a class at the Prosperity Grange on Steamboat Island Road. Only one student from that dojo attained the rank of Shodan: Sensei Russ Fry in 1985. Sensei Sanders moved this class to the Evergreen State College. Then he moved the classes to Take Shape fitness center on Black Lake Blvd. in Olympia. One student would test for their black belt during this time: Steve Kasper. After this, Sensei Sanders turned the class over to Sensei Kasper. Sensei Kasper would promote two people to blackbelt: Tracy Ball in 1988 and Toby Gosney in 1991. Sensei Sanders moved over to Spokane and started a class. One student, Jeremy Wynne earned his blackbelt in 1994.

Despite traveling from Bremerton three times a week, Sensei Randy ran Shelton the dojo from 1974 to 1985.During this time he promoted five students to blackbelt: Dave Gunter in 1980, Morlan Tuller in 1981, Dave Weber in 1982, Rob Castro and Steve Hoosier in 1983, Scott Paul in 1984, Tammi Anderson-Stretch, Bruce Towhey, and Rick Cooper in 1985 and Harold Shriner in 1986.

In 1977, Sensei Randy and the Shelton Dojo students started putting out the Butokukan Newsletter with the first issue having Soke Nakachi’s history in it. Originally, they used a typewriter to publish it, every month. The newsletter is still published and emailed out to the Blackbelts quarterly by the Japan American Butokukan Karate Association. The format has been modified a bit, but still has news from the other dojos, the most recent Black belt who was promoted, and other articles.

In 1979, Sensei Randy and Sensei Dave Gunter were trying to decide on an event in conjunction with the Mason County Forest Festival. They came up with putting on a tournament just for Butokukan students. This became the first annual All Butokukan Tournament and it would be run in Shelton for the next 20 years. The tournament brought students from Washington, California, Colorado, Nevada, and British Columbia together in friendly competition. Sensei Randy Hunt ran the tournament with the help of many people, until he turned it over to Sensei Tim Ford in 1994. In 1999, the tournament moved to Bremerton for several years. It came back to Shelton in 2009-2011 and was run by the Black belts here. In 2012, it started to move to other areas so other Dojos could run it. It moved up to Canada, back to Bremerton, back to Canada, then over to Seattle in 2015. In 2016, we held a Structure seminar in place of the tournament. In 2017, Seattle hosted it again, and it returned to Shelton in 2018.

In 1983, the Shelton Dojo also was the location where they filmed and standardized Butokukan kata to produce what was known as “The Kata Tapes”. These video tapes were useful tools to help keep the Dojos in the Japan-American Butokukan Karate Association (JABKA) on the same page for the kata. The Kata Tapes and the JABKA newsletter were helpful input from the Shelton Dojo.

In 1983, Sensei Dave Gunter took over the dojo checkbook and started helping out more regularly in classes. Sensei Randy would still travel down to Shelton twice a week for his remaining local students. In 1985, Sensei Randy turned the dojo over to Sensei Gunter and went to start The Silverdale Dojo, which was closer to his home.

In 1985 Sensei Gunter started to run the Dojo with Sensei Harold. They started a junior class in 1986, and Sensei Morlan Tuller ran the adults class in 1987. Sensei Dave made many friends from other styles from years of tournament participation. These friends included Robert Edwards (Ishin-Ryu), Mell Cherry (Ishin-Ryu), Mike Shintaku (Tang Soo Do) Dan Anderson (National top ten Karate competitor) and Joe Lewis (World Champion Heavyweight full contact Kick Boxing).

During this period, the most important thing that happened was that several people were promoted to their black belt level: Brian Bunko in 1986, Kieth Visser, Denise Townsend, Tim Ford, and Bill Northrup in 1987.

Between 1987-1989, Sensei Morlan Tuller, Sensei Harold Shriner, and Sensei Tammi Stretch ran the Dojo, each taking turns as the head instructor. In 1989, a group of the Black belts from Shelton met to decide on the future of the Shelton Dojo. They decided that Sensei Dave Gunter would return as the head instructor, teaching on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Sensei Tim Ford would teach a Junior’s class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Sensei Kieth Visser teaching an adult class on those same nights. Sensei Bruce Towhey managed the dojo finances at that time.

In 1990, a student who previously had trained in a kenpo system, Laurie Katzer Bremer was promoted to Shodan. Shortly after this, in 1991, Sensei Dave turned his class over to Sensei Mike Hudnell, who had tested earlier for Shodan the same year. Sensei Laurie started an early class on Mondays and Wednesdays. Sensei Keith needed a break and stepped down from teaching for a while.

In 1992, Sensei Tim added an adult class to his Tuesday Thursday schedule. During this period, Sensei Tim and Sensei Laurie earned the rank of Nidan. Sensei Dave promoted two more people to Black belt around this time: Jan Fox in early 1992 and Travis Adams in 1993.

In 1993, Sensei Gunter needed a break for a while, so he turned the Dojo and its finances over to Sensei Tim Ford. Sensei Tim formed a group of students and instructors that would put on fundraisers to travel to various tournaments in the region together. This group was called the Tournament Club. Sensei Tim also attended various seminars by Kenzo Mabuni (son of Kenwa Mabuni, head of Shitoryu karate) in 1996, and Master Fumio Demuro (one of the leading weapons and kata instructors in the U.S.) in 1997. In this time, Sensei Tim promoted Bob Okada to Blackbelt level. In 1997, Sensei Visser returned to teaching again.

In 1999, Sensei Randy came in and took over the Dojo from Sensei Tim. For a little while, Sensei Hunt would be running two dojos: 1)Silverdale and 2)Shelton, with the help of Sensei Kieth Visser. Towards the end of 2001, Sensei Visser gave up teaching for personal reasons. At the beginning of 2002, Sensei Tim Ford started an introductory class on Sensei Hunt’s nights off. Sensei Randy was able to promote Ryan Spurling, one of Sensei Visser’s former students to Blackbelt.

In 2003, Sensei Dave Gunter returned to run the dojo for a while. During this time, Sensei Tim promoted Toni Wharton, to Shodan. Faith Gaffke tested in the summer of the same year. Sensei Tim ran the test since Sensei Ryan couldn’t do it at the time. Just after Faith tested, the Dojo moved over to the armoury, which is now the Transit Center across from Safeway. During this time, Sensei Tim tested for his Sandan.

In 2004, Sensei Ryan Spurling tested for Nidan. Several of Sensei Dave’s blackbelts started getting more involved with the dojo around this time. Some came down from Puyallup, Tacoma, and possibly further away. 2005 was an eventful year for the Dojo. In January, Sensei Ryan tested Ernie Obermarck for his Shodan. By mid 2005, one long time student, Aaron Espy started working out again. The Dojo was wanting to move. One student, Paul Skipworth, allowed the dojo to move to his house at 1612 Adams St. Shortly after moving here, Aaron Espy tested for his Blackbelt.

In 2006, Sensei Tim tested his brother, Steve Ford to black belt, and a week later, Sensei Dave Gunter promoted Stephanie Hills to blackbelt. Sensei Tim was promoted to his Yondan during this time.

In 2007, Ryan Spurling tested for his Sandan. Sensei Ernie Obermarck and Sensei Dave Weber tested for Nidan. Dan Spiegle tested for his black belt as well. Around this time, the mother to one of the students, Lisa Schlender, volunteered to help the dojo with finances. Though not a Sensei, she was respectfully referred to as Lisa San.

In 2008, the dojo was needing to move again due to growing classes and needing more space. Keith Geary was influential in helping us secure the current storefront location at 2505 Gateway Center Suite 160.

In early 2009, the Shelton Dojo had one of its saddest days when Sensei Dave Gunter passed away due to various health issues. This was a great loss to the Dojo. In mid 2009, Lori Hinds tested for her blackbelt and was successful. Sensei Tim Ford and Sensei Dave Weber started teaching out at the Skokomish Indian Reservation around this time as well. In early 2010, Keith Geary tested for his blackbelt under Sensei Tim Ford. Sensei Brian started a sparring class, and Sensei Tim started a Kata class. Sensei Toni tested for Nidan under Sensei Tim, and Sensei Tim tested for Godan. Sensei Dave Weber tested for his Sandan.

In 2011, several of our blackbelts were promoted to their next degree. These were: Sensei Ryan Spurling to Yondan; Sensei Russ Fry to Sandan. Sensei Bill Olson out of Port Orchard started coming down to work out with the class, followed by one of his students, Sensei Steve Markwith.

2012, classes were going strong, and many different students were working hard. Sensei Tim Ford tested Paul Skipworth for blackbelt successfully in October of this year. Shortly after this, Sensei Lori decided to leave Butokukan and go do her own thing. Around this time, Sensei Mike Hudnell started helping out in the Tuesday classes. Sensei Brian tested for his Sandan as well.

2013 saw another sad event when Sensei Steve Ford, Sensei Tim’s brother, passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was sad for everyone in the dojo who knew him.


2014 saw some sorrow when a young, promising student, Travis Story was struck in the head by a stray mortar-like firework, and he passed away. The Shelton Blackbelts requested to JABKA to have Travis Story promoted to Shodan posthumously. The JABKA board agreed and presented his parents with a black belt for the young student. Sensei Mike Hudnell tested for Nidan around this time. “Lisa San” – Lisa Schlender decided to move on to other things, and “Chandra San- Chandra Perrault stepped in to help with Dojo finances.

2015 started on a positive note when we had a couple seminars, one on the Sao Blocks by Soke Hill, and the other on stick defense by Sensei Bill Olson. Two students were working hard getting ready for their Ikkyu tests a week apart. They were Charles Wasilausky and Mark McGlothlin. Shortly after these tests, the JABKA board updated the policies on blackbelt testing. Some of the Blackbelts decided to move on and start their own system. Those that remained in the dojo worked hard to build up what was torn down. They started working on learning the quality that the JABKA board was looking for. Sensei Keith Geary took over as head instructor, with Sensei Tim and Sensei Russ assisting him. Sensei Steve Markwith took over the junior and regular class on Tuesdays and the regular class on Thursdays. Sensei Bill had a monthly brown and black belt class going too.

2016 saw more people coming into the Dojo. It was a quiet year for the Dojo.

2017 saw some excitement when Mark McGlothlin was approved to test for Shodan. This happened in October and helped our group of Blackbelts to see they were successful in learning the standard that JABKA had set. In this year, Sensei Keith Geary stepped down as director of the Dojo, and Sensei Tim Ford took that role.

2018 saw some excitement as we started working tirelessly to hold the All Butokukan Tournament that Spring. Over the summer, we had a visiting Blackbelt from Seattle, Sensei Don Hunyh, do a weapons workshop. It was very informative. Shortly afterwards, Erica Marbet had a successful Ikkyu test. Sensei Mark took over the Tournament club and was busy getting everything organized. In August, we saw Sensei Steve Markwith step down from teaching full time. It was decided that Erica and Charles would do the juniors on Tuesday, Sensei Tim would do the second class on Tuesdays, and Sensei Mark would do the Thursday

night class.

2019 Started off well with a seminar on kicking presented by Sensei Don Huynh out of Seattle. The Shelton Dojo again hosted the All Butokukan Tournament in April, and it was a success. On May 18th, Charles Wasilausky tested for and earned his Shodan under Sensei Tim Ford. Towards the end of 2019, Sensei James Sullivan came down to work with the higher ranks in the Dojo on improving movement.


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