James Casey (2005)

Inducted into the A.M.A.H.O.F.(Inc) for 2005
Instructor of the Year – Kyokushin (Queensland)

Inducted into the W.K.U.H.O.F. for 2005
Instructor of the Year – Kyokushin (Queensland)

Like the masters of the past, Shihan James Casey had to overcome many obstacles in his life, including leaving school at 14 years of age to help provide for his family of two brothers and six sisters as his father was seriously injured.

At 18 years of age he began his training with Sensei Frank Everret, who at that time was Branch Chief of Kyokushin Karate Queensland, and was responsible for training some of Australia’s best Kyokushin Full Contact Fighters in the 70’s. Shihan Casey says Sensei Frank was blessed with the ability to make everyone feel they were important. Kyokushin is renowned for its hard style of training and building strength and character in its students. As a student under Sensei Frank Everret, Shihan Casey trained seven days a week and moved slowly through the ranks. Every night they were pushed to the limits of their ability and learnt the true meaning of perseverance.

There was not a night that students did not go home with a lump or a bruise. However, no one seemed to complain about it – it was the way. Shihan Casey began assisting Sensei Frank Everret as an instructor in the beginners’ classes. By the time he reached 4th Kyu he was running his own Dojo with 50 students under Sensei Frank. He attempted to go for his Shodan (Black Belt) in 1974, and recalls it was a marathon that never seemed to end due to repetitious movements up and down the dojo and hundreds of kicks and punches. “When it seemed there was nothing left in you, you had to complete the ’40 Man Kumite’ with just a sip of water every now and then,” says Shihan Casey.

Just the thought of it gave students nightmares for weeks before they attempted this grading. Around the 30th fight Shihan Casey received a kick to the head and was knocked down breaking his jaw, which ended his hopes of obtaining his shodan. He remembers wanting to quit, but after talking with Sensei Frank he continued training and obtained his shodan six months later under the Head of Australian Kyokushin Shihan John Taylor. Through the years, he went on to obtain his 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dan with Sensei Frank.

Shihan Casey competed in the first Kyokushin Inter-Club Tournament on the Gold Coast run by Sensei Frank where he came second in his weight division due to disqualification and also competed in tournaments in Brisbane under the Fako system. His tournament career ended when he shattered his right hand in three places which required three major operations. When Sensei Frank left the Gold Coast and moved to Noosa, Shihan Casey was honoured that the honbu was left to him. Shihan Casey says “today this dojo is still my dojo after 33 years of training in martial arts”. On a personal note Shihan Casey thanked Sensei Frank for his friendship and everything he has taught him and others over the years. “You inspired the true meaning of OSU in everyone, Arigato Gozaimashita.” Shihan Casey goes onto say that in 1989 he obtained his 5th Dan under Kyoshi Terupe, South Pacific Chief Instructor for International I.K.A who attended his Dojo for the grading which took over five hours. He completed the 40 Man Kumite

In 1990 he met the Chairman of Seidokai Kan Karate, Kancho Kazuyoshi Ishii. Kancho Ishii was in Australia holding seminars and Shihan’s school was invited to train with the Seido system which was very similar to Kyokushin Karate. Kancho was impressed with the way he trained and also with the spirit of his students. He invited Shihan and his family to train at Honbu Osaka and also was invited to attend as an International Referee for the K-1. He continued to travel back and forward to Japan with his family to train at Honbu, also officiating as an International Referee on five occasions for the K-1 and World Seido Titles. Shihan said one of the many highlights was refereeing Shihan Kakuda and the late Andy Hug in an international bout in front of 20,000 screaming fans in Tokyo. Refereeing and training with some of the world’s most revered fighters including the likes of Shihan Kakuda, Masaaki Satake, Adam Watt, Michael Thompson, Stan the Man, Sam Greco and many others also ranks among his finest memories.
Shihan Casey was graded in the Seidokai Kan system and appointed Chairman of Australia for Seidokai Kan Karate to build Seido in this country. All of his family were personally graded by Kancho Ishii and Shihan Kakuda.

At 31, he was ranked San Dan, ran two dojos, heavily involved in athletics. Tragically he lost the use of both of his legs through a disease that nearly took his life. Shihan was unable to walk let alone run due to the disease. When all seemed hopeless and after seeing countless specialists, he met a Yogi from India, who helped change his life to what it is today. Through practising yoga and meditation daily he regained the use of his legs and competed in many half and full marathons also went on to obtain his degree in Shiatsu and deep tissue massaging. Today Shihan Casey trains and teaches six days a week at the Honbu. Shihan passes two beliefs onto his students and they are “enjoy life and believe in yourself”.