KARATE COLLEGE TRAINING CAMP BEGINS ITS THIRD DECADE
The annual summer gathering of masters and students known as Karate College celebrated its 30th anniversary with something old, something new and its usual cavalcade of more martial artists than you can shake a stick at — although with bunches of kali and kung fu stylists in the house, you can bet there were no small number of sticks being shaken.
Voted “Best Martial Arts Training Camp” by the readers of this magazine, Karate College is the brainchild of Black Belt Hall of Famer Dr. Jerry Beasley, head of the Radford University martial arts program. Beasley organized his first event on the campus of Radford University in Radford, Virginia, back in 1988. It featured the talents of Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace and Jeff Smith, all of whom were world champions in full-contact karate and/or kickboxing.
“At first, the idea was to let students train with the three best karate fighters in the world at the same camp,” Beasley recalled. “As Karate College grew in popularity, we quickly took advantage of the opportunity to offer training in multiple arts with dozens of champions and masters.”
Indeed, even a short list of past Karate College instructors reads like a walk through the Black Belt Hall of Fame: Benny Urquidez, Kathy Long, Jhoon Rhee, Stephen K. Hayes, Fumio Demura, Anthony De Longis, Willie Johnson, Michael DePasquale Jr., Renzo Gracie — and the list goes on.
At Karate College 30, hundreds of students took advantage of the opportunity to train in an array of styles — Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, kickboxing, kali, jeet kune do, sajido, aikijutsu, submission grappling, kuei jiao (Chinese fast wrestling) and Fukien ground boxing — over the course of four action-packed days.
At this year’s Saturday-night graduation ceremony, amid the normal excitement of performances and promotions, as well as the induction of five people into the Karate College Hall of Fame, Beasley introduced an addition to the camp’s prestige: the Joe Lewis Cup. It’s designed to honor the co-founder of Karate College and the man who’s often called the greatest karate fighter of all time. Lewis, of course, passed away in 2012.
“The cup was donated by Barbara Leigh, who is both a highly successful Hollywood actress and a former Mrs. Joe Lewis,” Beasley said. “The cup was originally presented to Joe in 1975 when he was the PKA world heavyweight champion. Barbara had kept the Joe Lewis Cup at her home for some 40-plus years and decided that Karate College would be the best place to gift it where we can use it to remember Joe Lewis and honor the great legacy he left to the martial arts.”
For information about next year’s Karate College event, visit thekaratecollege.com.