TORRANCE — Sensei William Christopher Ford, owner and chief instructor of Kaizen Dojo martial arts studio in Torrance and an ambassador for the Masters Hall of Fame, celebrated his 40 years in martial arts last month by sparring with 40 opponents.
To make the celebration of this milestone of his career more meaningful, he used the event as an opportunity to raise more than $15,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“It was a fantastic way to commemorate 40 years of study because we came together as a community to raise funds for a great cause,” Ford said at the July 20 event.
Along-time black belt in Okinawan Shorin Ryu karate, Ford began his instruction at the urging of his Japanese mother. Following in his mentors’ footsteps in both the martial arts and film, Ford appeared in “The Karate Kid Part III” with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, and several other film, television, and stage productions.
Ford’s inspiration for the challenge was the story of Sensei Fariborz Azhakh, who commemorated his 50th birthday by sparring with 50 opponents.
Among the fighters who joined Ford were Cameron Rico, Steve Cantilado, Russell Anamizu, Jayson Mancia, Rich Cancino, Anthony Tran, Elaine Yamano, Vicki Ingle, Milo Cudanes, Larry Fouts, Chris Quilisch, Alvin Catacutan, Prince Loeffler, Janet Goliger and Victor Castellanos.
Ford was also supported by martial arts icon and actor Gerald Okamura, who has appeared in such films as “Big Trouble in Little China” and currently plays a recurring role as Master Po on Disney XD’s show “Kickin’ It.” Last year, Ford interviewed series star Leo Howard when the young actor visited Kaizen Dojo.
The final opponent of the day was Sensei Darryl Vidal, who appeared as one of the tournament fighters in the original “Karate Kid.” Vidal was also the originator of the “crane kick” as Morita’s stunt double. It was a battle of “Karate Kid” veterans as the two squared off to complete the event, and Vidal ended the round by demonstrating that he could still perform the crane kick.
“This event is truly the highlight of my martial arts career,” said a grateful Ford. “Nothing so far comes close. It was a fantastic way to commemorate 40 years of study because we came together as a community to raise funds for a great cause. I am so very grateful to all who supported this event in some way.”
In addition to sparring with 40 skilled opponents, Sensei Ford also allowed some of his young students to participate in the day. Prior to the actual event, he held a kids’ warm-up round that allowed 40 of his students to spar for one minute each. The day was a resounding success, with St. Jude’s being the ultimate winner.
For more information about Kaizen Dojo, visit the website at http://kaizendojo.com.