Shihan Raul Shelton

Mr. Shelton started in the Martial Arts at a tender age of 8 while in Havana, Cuba practicing Judo. He trained under the supervision of Angel Sanchez, member of the Cuban National Judo Team at that time. Mr. Sanchez’s teacher was a Sensei from Japan named Sensei Nakayama. He traveled from Japan to Cuba for business every now and then. During each trip, master Nakayama always made time during his visits to see Mr. Sanchez to leave him with some new techniques for him to continue learning and teaching others the art of Judo. In time Sensei Nakayama, introduced us to some karate basics and katas as well which we were very avid to learn. Mr. Shelton received his Brown Belt in Judo when he was 12 years old. Later, the same “Judo group” started to learn and practice Jiu-Jitsu together from an older Judo practitioner that had much experience in the art of Jiu-Jitsu for several years. When Mr. Shelton entered the University of Havana in 1972, he was selected for the University Gymnastics Team and his gymnastics coach Ms. Nilda Neyra was the only female at this time practicing karate in Havana. Ms. Neyra introduced Mr. Shelton to Sensei Mirelis when he was teaching at “El Cynodromo” close to the University where Mr. Shelton was attending at this time. Finally Mr. Shelton started to practice with Sensei Mr. Mirelis for around six months until The Cuban Karate Federation “officially” started to accepting applications.

Later that year, Mr. Shelton was able to enter into the selected few that would go through a special training and after the training was completed he was transferred and started training in “Prado” which was the official center “Hombu Dojo” for Karate in Cuba under the direction of Sensei Ramiro Chirino and later Shihan Raul Rizo when he returned from Japan. Mr. Shelton was selected to be an assistant instructor in 1975 when he was a green belt teaching the lower level students. He received his Black Belt 1st Dan in 1979 and continued to teach in “Prado” until he left Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1980.

He also received additional instruction while training at “Prado” with a small group of students that included Special Self Defense. This instruction included different areas such as unarmed and armed defense against different weapons including knives and guns. Mr. Shelton became one of the top group instructors in Cuba teaching Self Defense to special individuals, which he did not know at the time, who were the personal body guards of the highest government officials in Cuba and also from other countries.

After arriving to USA, Mr. Shelton continued his training and opened his first Dojo with another Black Belt in Houston, Texas in 1981. Mr. Manuel Diaz was another Cuban Joshinmon practitioner who arrived to USA about the same time. They established the first commercial Dojo in the State of Texas teaching the art of Karate Do. Many other karate practitioners from Texas started to get together in this Dojo to practice traditional Karate-Do. These classes were directed then by Sensei Ricardo Johns a Shotokan practitioner that lived in Houston, but originally from Panama.

The first official Joshinmon Dojo recognized by Japan and established in the United States was in Houston, Texas on April 1986, by Raul Shelton and Manuel Diaz.

The first visit to Japan from anyone from USA happened in November 1986, when Mr. Raul Shelton visited So-Shihan Ikeda in Tokyo. So-Shihan Ikeda wanted to start evaluating his qualities and karate knowledge and after three (3) long weeks practicing 8 to 10 hours per day, Raul Shelton received a 3rd Degree Black Belt from So-Shihan Ikeda. At this point So-Shihan accepted the invitation to the United States in the near future, which happened few years later.

So-Shihan Ikeda visited the United States in April 1987. He visited Houston for about 10 days where he awarded Black Belts to several students. During this visit Mr. Raul Shelton received his 4th degree Black Belt.

Mr. Shelton received his 5th Degree Black Belt in 1995 during another visit to Houston from So-Shihan Ikeda. Then, in 1999 in Tokyo, Japan, during the 30th Anniversary and World Championship that he received his 6th Degree Black Belt and became a member of the elite group of Japanese instructors “Jikidenkai”. (First Line Instructors from So-Shihan Ikeda)

In a different area of Karate, Mr. Shelton is a high level referee official at the highest level in the World. He holds the highest Karate Referee License that is given to officials from any country at the World Level (WKF) and he is one of only ten officials with that license in USA. Mr. Shelton is a WKF Referee holding a Referee A in Kumite (2016) and a Kata Judge A License (2014). He also holds a PKF Referee A and Judge A as well as a USA-NKF Certified National Referee A and Kata Judge A. He has been refereeing in National and International tournaments since 1978.

Mr. Shelton was a member of the USANKF Technical and Dan Certification Committee from 2012 until 2018. This commission was in charge of promoting karate practitioners, where any candidates from different styles will present there aptitudes to the committee to in order to get a USANKF Black Belt Dan Certification.

Mr. Shelton is a current member of the USANKF Operations Referee Committee which is the group that select the referees that are assigned to the different tournaments and to the different divisions to select the National Team Senior and Junior as well as all the other lower level students.

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