O'Connell was born in Toronto. He began his Karate training
in 1984 in Burlington, Ontario with Hanshi Wallace Platt,
head of our affiliated organization, Classical Martial Arts
Japanese Karate is the basis of Sensei O'Connell's training
and specifically the Goju style. He has also trained in
and teaches Tai-Chi Chuan and Kobudo (ancient weaponry).
He received his Shodan (Black Belt) in January 1990, and
his Nidan (2nd degree) in 1992, both through the Butoku-Kai
via Sensei Richard Kim. He received his Sandan (3rd degree)
in 1995 through CMAC and subsequently also from Sensei Peter
Urban, head of U.S.A. Goju. In March, 1999 he received his Yondan (4th
degree) in both Karate and Kobudo from Hanshi Platt.
During 2002/03 he received the Level 5 Degree from the Confederation of Canadian Wushu Organizations together with his Godan (5th Degree) from Classical Martial Arts Canada. In March 2009 he earned his Rokudan (6th Degree), followed in October 2014 by his Shichidan (7th Degree), both from Hanshi Platt.
his years of training, Sensei O’Connell has attended
numerous seminars, camps and lectures by many internationally
well-known Martial Arts Instructors. In 1991, Sensei O’Connell
travelled with other instructors to the Far East to observe
and train in the Martial Arts. They visited Tokyo, as well
as the traditional Boy’s Day Martial Arts Festival
centered at the Budo Den in Kyoto, Japan. They also travelled
to Hiroshima and then on to Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand.
He returned to Japan in 1999 with a number of CMAC students
and instructors on a trip centered around Tokyo and Kamakura.
In August, 2002 he accompanied the Canadian International
Kuoshu Wushu Federation to China. They toured through Shenzhen,
Guangzhou (including the Chen Family Ancestral Hall), Beijing
(including climbing the Great Wall and visiting Tia’anemen
Square, The Summer Palace and The Forbidden City) and finally
August 2004 he returned to China with other CMAC and Wushu
instructors and students on an extensive tour that included
a great many highlights, demonstrations and training sessions.
Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai and Guangzhou all provided historical
and cultural opportunities, whereas time spent in Fujian
Province, from where the roots of Goju Ryu may be traced,
provided numerous Martial Arts insights. Demonstrating with
the Chairman of the Fujian Wushu Association in Xiamen,
training in the Shaolin Temple in Quanzhou, touring the
Shaolin temple in Putian, training at the Fujian Military
School and visiting Fuzhou were invaluable experiences.
Hangzhou provided the opportunity to see the Memorial of
Yue Fei, the developer of Suparunpei Kata. Subsequently,
Wuxi, Suzhou, Shanghai and Wuhan provided many more diverse
cultural interactions. Training at the Purple Cloud Temple
on Mount Wudang and the obligatory climb to the top of Wudang
Mountain, to the Golden Palace at Tianzhu Peak, were indescribable
Martial Arts highlights of the trip. They next travelled
to Lou Yang and Deng Feng to the Songshan Shaolin Temple,
and then on to Xi’an to the Terra Cotta Warriors.
The tour finished with a return to the Great Wall, Summer
Palace and Forbidden City. International trips to Japan
and China provide the students at High Park Martial Arts
not only cultural insights but more importantly, Martial
Arts experiences that can only be attained by being there.
During April 2012, Sensei O'Connell and a number of his students travelled to Rwanda on the invitation of the Rwanda Karate Federation. The purpose was to participate in the "Never Again" Karate Tournament in Kigali, in reference to the 1994 genocide. High Park Martial Arts was the first ever "foreign" Dojo to take part. He conducted a number of seminars for their students in addition to the tournament, where one High Park member won first place overall in Women's Kata.
O’Connell has also completed a number of 24-hour training
sessions, demonstrated at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, competed
in the America’s Cup in Mexico and officiated at numerous
tournaments. His students have competed in many tournaments
including New York and Mexico, trained in various Dojos
around the world, toured through China, Okinawa and Japan, demonstrated at the Air Canada Centre for a Toronto Raptors NBA game, appeared in various media such as film, television and documentaries
(including “The Nature Of Things”) and participated
in the Yasuhigashi Peace Cranes Project centered in Hiroshima
complement to his Martial Arts instruction is as a
Teacher of Concept Therapy, a non-profit international health, educational
and philosophical organization based in San Antonio, Texas. He also holds the elected positions of Chairman of the Board (2012) and President (2013) of that Institution. Together, Concept Therapy
and the Martial Arts offer anyone (including you) a very
powerful combination for their life's journey (see our Health & Well Being section).
O'Connell opened his Dojo in March 1992 as a full-time effort
at this same location and continues to train with Hanshi
Platt on a regular basis.