A former Whitby man has been promoted to the position of associate professor at a Japanese university while coaching one of the world’s most prestigious university karate clubs.
Richard Heselton left Whitby with one suitcase for Japan at the age of 18 after completing his education at Caedmon College Whitby.
No stranger to martial arts, Richard had practiced judo, boxing and kickboxing since the age of eight, but at 12, when he encountered karate for the first time, he was shocked by the speed and technical ability of the top fighters and became a karate enthusiast starting his karate training at the Whitby Shotokan Karate club with Mike Howard.
Heselton decided to go to Japan before starting university. Initially planning only to stay in Japan for three months, he became fascinated by the profundity of karate.
A Government of Japan website article says to this day, 22 years later, he continues to pursue karate at the highest level in Japan, even at the age of 40.
In his third year of university, Heselton became the first foreign captain of the Takushoku team and he was also the first westerner to ever captain a top tier Japanese university karate club, a role he held consecutively for two years.
Heselton has also represented England on numerous occasions culminating in the England team placing fourth in the team event of the last World Championships held in Tokyo in 2014. He was also a winner in the All Japan Karate Championship in the team category and placed 3rd in the individual event.
Four years ago he began working as a lecturer in the Faculty of International Studies at Takushoku University.
Since then Heselton has also worked as a coach at the karate club under the chief instructor Katsunori Tsuyama and the head coach Takuya Taniyama while teaching at the university.
Karate has been added to the list of official sporting events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Heselton hopes that his students might have the opportunity to compete.