New Hanshi on the Block | News

NEWPORT — Brent Baker, owner and operator of Rising Sun Dojo in Newport, has been awarded the title of Hanshi, or Chief Grand Master Instructor.

The promotion came during the 40th annual Shidokan USA Invitational Tournament in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He received the award from his teacher, Kaicho Richie Bernard, and Mr. Bernard’s teacher, Hanshi-Sei Ron Martin.

Baker began his training in 1984, at the age of 10, under the tutelage of Richard Bernard, president of the Shidokan International Karate-do/Kobu-do Training and Research Federation.

As a shy young man he began to karate after his parents insisted he try for at least one month, if he didn’t like it he could quit. “I was the shy scrawny kid at school, and I got pushed around. Karate gave me self confidence and discipline,” said Baker.

Almost four decades later, Baker has taught classes in high school, started a student club teaching karate, accepted a job teaching in Sunapee, and opened his own dojo. Rising Sun Dojo offers classes Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday to different age ranges and experience levels. At the dojo the focus is on traditional Okinawan karate.

Baker has a passion for teaching, when he’s not at the dojo, he’s also a middle school teacher. He received his black belt and began teaching karate in high school, before becoming a Sensei after the prerequisite years of apprentice and assistant. Not everyone that learns karate goes on to teach and as a result belt rankings are different for instructors. As an instructor, Baker’s belt rankings are based on what he has done to pass the knowledge on and ensure the future of the art.

“You test for a 6th degree black belt. After that there aren’t anymore belt tests, It’s about what you’re giving back, about your teaching. My instructor and his instructor have observed me for years and it comes down to am I passing on the techniques and philosophies of karate. How am I helping the view of martial artists and representing us all?,” said Baker on receiving his promotion.

Receiving the ranking of Hanshi signifies the level of quality Baker exemplifies, and that example shines through in many of his students. Baker has trained many champions throughout the years at Rising Sun Dojo, in particular Amelia Gallup. In 2018, Gallup became the Black Belt Forms Grand Champion at the USAMA Grand Internationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Winning this title made Gallup the first woman in twenty years to achieve the accomplishment.

Baker did take the time when he spoke to the Eagle Times to highlight another student’s recent accomplishments under his tutelage. A child he has been instructing, who is currently in the 7th grade, had gotten injured after riding his bicycle and required the use of a sling. The student had intended to compete in an upcoming competition and wasn’t sure that he would be able to. The student asked Baker if there was anything they could do so that he could compete. So Baker, along with the student, created their own “busted wing” form. The student took third place in the competition.

“His mom brought him to the dojo and said he was kind of shy but when he comes out of the dojo, he’s beaming. He found his thing,” said Baker.

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