Sensei 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 Canada.
Traditional 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.
Throughout 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 Shanghai.
In 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.
Sensei 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 Japan.
A 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).
Sensei 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.