1936 - 2019

1936 - 2019

Stan Schmidt Shihan, the first non-Japanese to be invited to join the “Instructors Training”, at the original headquarters in Yotsuya, Tokyo.

He was awarded his 8th dan by JKA Japan in 2015, the first non-Japanese to receive this honour.

Karate Master Stanley Owen Schmidt was born October 6th 1936 in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. As a young child his parents moved to Johannesburg, where he attended King Edward School (KES). His father died when he was ten years of age. His mother Anne took in boarders to support them.

Still in his pre-teens, Stan built his own makeshift gym in the coal shed of his mother's backyard, where he and his friends pushed weights, boxed and wrestled.

The art of Karate was unheard of in those days. After finishing school he worked as a bank clerk for eleven years. He recalled those early times with a little smile on his face:

“My days were full on: training in the morning; banking during the day; weight-training during my lunch break; Judo in the early evening plus training and teaching at my small Judo club every other night. And then playing trumpet in a band on most weekends. Banking increasingly became a ‘hobby.’

Jimmy White, my judo instructor, gave me a karate book and I took to it like a duck to water. In 1962 I met Judy Ruehl. Then in 1963 the bank granted me three months paid leave.xt

Judy and I got married and we headed for Japan where I studied karate at the JKA headquarters in Tokyo.


Since then I have visited JKA more times than I can count. I trained in the ‘Hornets nest’ – my pet name for the JKA instructors class; and on a few occasions I participated in their tournaments until the Japanese Government banned me from entering tournaments or appearing in the media, because of my country’s apartheid system.

On returning from Japan, I began teaching professionally at my own two dojos – no more working in the bank. During this time I also founded the SA JKA Karate Association and served as Chief Instructor for over forty years.

At one stage SA JKA had about ten thousand registered members and more than two hundred affiliated dojos. Many champions and a number of famous karate masters came out of this melting pot.


My wife, family and I now live and work in Melbourne, Australia. I enjoy teaching a chosen number of
students at my private house dojo. On Wednesdays I go to Sensei Keith Geyer’s Caulfield dojo to instruct
the black belt squad. The spirit and standard of these black belts is world class.

My son in law Keith is doing a fantastic job. He never expects his students to just listen and do what he says.
He does it with them – always with full commitment and with their best interests at heart.

“The greatest masters are at the same time the greatest students.”

- Stan Sensei

A number of years ago I founded the College of the Openhand. The college aims to connect martial artists and sports scientists for the purpose of researching and developing methods; which focus on the relevant self-defense and health needs that our fast-paced way of life challenges us with.

I aim to continue operating in the creative spirit, reaching out, giving and taking; and to never stop training."

Written by the the late Stan Schmidt Shihan
1936 - 2019