Sensei – Tom Mah
– Owner & Chief Instructor –
Sensei Tom Mah was born in Canton, China in 1954. Soon after that he and his parents, along with his older sister, moved to Hong Kong. Four more siblings came during his time in that city.
Tom was first introduced to the martial arts by a family friend. This friend practiced Tai Chi Chuan and had demonstrated his art several times to the family. He was an avid reader of martial arts novels in his childhood days and frequented cinemas where kung fu movies were in abundance. But interestingly, even with his huge attraction to the martial arts, Tom had never contemplated on taking kung fu during his early years.
In June 1964, Tom and his family immigrated to Canada and resided in the town of Smithers. The following year the family moved west to a coastal fishing town call Prince Rupert, with a population of several thousand. Although very shy in conversation due to language differences, the school years still found Tom very involved in athletic programs in which he excelled: volleyball, track and field, tumbling, badminton, table tennis, and wrestling.
Tom completed his high school in Prince Rupert then attempted higher education at the University of British Columbia in 1975 with the ambition of pursuing a career as an architect. It was while attending university in 1976 that he was introduced to karate by two friends. The dojo was of a Shotokan style under the direction of Sensei Norman Welsh, a sandan at the time. It was love at first try. Something clicked with him the first day, though he is not sure what it was. Perhaps it was the rigorous and intense workout, it may have been the speed and power of the movements demonstrated by the instructor or the graceful movements of the katas, or it could have been the combination of all these things. Regardless Tom found himself drawn to this discipline like a bee to honey. Little did he realize that this was the beginning of a whole new way of life totally different than what he had set out to accomplish in university.
After 1½ years in UBC he left university for a position with a supermarket chain in Vancouver. Karate also took a back seat for about a year. In 1978 Tom moved back to Prince Rupert and there he joined a local Chito-Ryu dojo under Sensei Bill Pitcher, who was a student of Sensei David Akutagawa, the vice-counselor for the Canadian Chito-Kai Association at that time. That same year Sensei Pitcher left for an RCMP position in Vernon and Sensei Mah found himself studying directly under Sensei D. Akutagawa from that time on.
Sensei Mah’s Karate History
- Began karate training in 1976.
- 1st degree (Dan) black belt in 1979 – promoted by Akutagawa Sensei.
- 2nd degree black belt in 1981 – promoted by Chitose Sensei (Chito-Ryu founder).
- 3rd degree black belt in 1983 – promoted by Sensei S. Higashi – Head of Canadian Chito-Kai.
- Opened the TOM MAH SCHOOL OF KARATE in 1986.
- Became a member of the BC Karate Team in 1986.
- Silver medalist in individual and team kata at the 1987 Canadian National Black Belt Championships in Halifax
- Awarded the Karate BC Sportsmanship award at the 1987 Fall Provincial Championships as well as the 1988 Karate BC Spring Provincial Championships.
- 1st place in kata at the World Chito-Ryu Championships in Vancouver in August, 1989.
- Promoted to 4th degree black belt and certified as a Shidoin (instructor) in 1989 by Chitose Sensei (Son).
- 2nd in kata at the 1992 World Chito-Ryu Championships in Newcastle, Australia.
- Gold medallist in lightweight division kumite and weapons at the 1993 Karate BC Fall Provincial Championships in Kelowna, BC.
- Certified as a National ‘A’ class referee in 1994.
- Joined Renshikan Karate-Do International in 1997 under the leadership of Akutagawa Sensei. The karate style changed from Chito-Ryu to Shito-Ryu
- Gold medallist in Masters kata at the 1997 KBC Spring Provincial Championships.
- Bronze medallist in Masters kata at the 1998 KBC Spring Provincial Championships.
- Bronze medallist in lightweight kumite at the 1998 KBC Fall Provincial Championships.
- Began teaching at the newly built Kelowna Traditional Martial Arts and Fitness Center in Kelowna, BC, Canada, on September 1, 2001.
- Promoted to Shihan (Master Instuctor) in November, 2001 by Akutagawa Sensei, 6th Dan.
- Promoted to 5th Degree Black Belt on August 23, 2002. Assisting Akutagawa Sensei, 7th dan at the examination was Sofue Sensei, 8th Dan Japan Karate-Do Shito-Ryu.
- Promoted to 6th degree black belt on July 19th, 2009 by Nishida Sensei, 8th Dan, Shihan, World Shito-Ryu Karatedo Federation.
– 4th degree black belt –
Gary Crawford is the most senior of the assistant instructors at TMSK. Sempai Gary joined TMSK in 1996 but his training spans over 30 years. His training took him through a journey of Shotokan and Chito-ryu and several instructors prior to settling in with TMSK. Since then Sempai Gary has become an ardent supporter of TMSK with an unwavering commitment to study, practice, and teach. He has seldom missed a day of training and always there assisting the adult classes. He consistently made time to attend seminars and summer camps and any other opportunities to promote his martial arts development. Sempai Gary also has years of competition experience. Today he is a very skilled and solid fighter and he shares his skills and insight with joy and openness. Sempai Gary is a tremendous asset to TMSK and we are very grateful that he is such an integral part of our school.
Sempai – Peter Plimmer
– 3rd degree black belt-
- Instructor for adult classes
- Began training at TMSK in 1999
- Promoted to 1st degree black belt in the summer of 2001
- 2nd degree black belt in Feb. 2005
- 3rd degree black belt in July 2009
- Very analytical with good insights on how and why techniques work.
- Loves martial arts and all they have to offer
Sempai – Sally Plimmer
– 2nd degree black belt-
I started doing karate when I was 23 years old. Like many young women, I wanted to feel like I could defend myself if I ever got into a bad situation. When my husband and I moved to Canada, we were introduced to Sensei Mah and started taking lessons with him within one month of moving here. We were lucky enough to be able to attend the regularly scheduled classes, but were also afforded the opportunity to attend many private, one on one lessons with Sensei Mah which we benefited from greatly.
In April 2000 I became pregnant with my first daughter and tested for my blue belt at 6 months pregnant. I took some time off from training to spend time with our new family, but got back into karate about 2 months after Bethany was born. She was a regular spectator at many karate classes, crawling and eventually toddling around the dojo during class.
By the time I became pregnant with our second daughter I was at brown belt level and found it very difficult to train through this pregnancy. I took about 3 years off from karate and struggled to come back. But once I made up my mind to do it, I was determined and made myself attend classes regularly again.
– 2nd degree black belt-
Instructor in the morning adult class
Began training in 2002
Promoted to 1st degree black belt in 2009
“I have always been interested in Martial Arts but it wasn’t until I met Sensei Mah and the other black belts at TMSK that I took the plunge. I immediately had a great feeling about the school and I’ve been training ever since. Karate has become a very important part of my life. Not only has Karate given me invaluable skills and confidence, it has given me a great group of friends to train and learn with.”
– 2nd degree black belt-
Instructor – children classes
Martial arts student since 1991
Earned her 1st degree black belt in 2011
“Stephanie Appleby started training with Sensei Mah in 1991. Karate began as a fun activity for the whole family, but has developed into a part of her. Karate has had a large influence in many aspects of her life, including helping her become the person she is. For Stephanie, karate is about challenging herself and learning new skills. Because there’s always more to learn, Stephanie continues to strive to improve her skills.
Due to her schooling, traveling, and work Stephanie found it difficult for many years to maintain her training long enough to test for her black belt. But perseverance finally paid off in June of 2011 when she was finally able to settle back in Kelowna to pursue her martial arts training.
Teaching the kids classes are also an important part of her karate training. Along with the challenges it brings, seeing the children develop as karatekas and as people is incredibly rewarding.
Stephanie also trains in Kobudo (Bo, Sai, Nunchaku, Tonfa) and Iaido (a sword martial art).”
Wrestling (35 years) – Submission; Greco; Freestyle
Brazilian Jujitsu (17 years)
Background in Hapkido; Taekwondo; Estella escrima; Judo; Boxing;
George St. Pierre
Gracie Baja Richmond – Head instructor
Next Generation Richmond MMA – Head Instructor
Family Athletics MMA – Head Instructor
Iron Dragon MMA – Head Instructor
Gracie Humata – 1 year
Grapplers Quest – Men’s open champion & 2nd place
Naga – Men’s open champion x2
No Gi Worlds – Men’s 2nd
Cali Open – Men’s open champion
Vegas Open – Men’s open champion
12 Man Extreem Tournament – Champion x2
(c) 2019 Tom Mah School of Karate - Kelowna, British Columbia All rights reserved.