Teacher – Mr. Gessner

Studying martial arts is a lifelong quest for self-improvement.

My journey began as a high school student, when I enrolled in a Chito-ryu karate school. There, I gained an understanding of the fundamentals of martial arts for self-defense as well as for competition.

After entering university, my passion for the arts grew and changing circumstances led me to the Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy. Studying Shaolin 5-animal Kung-Fu under the late Sigung Bob Schneider helped teach me the discipline and self-confidence necessary for success in both my studies and my personal life.

Photograph of Oliver Gessner with sensei Mitsuhiro Nakano in 1996.After graduation from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1993, I was accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. This opportunity allowed me to fulfill my dream of studying martial arts in Asia, and further my teaching career. Living just outside of metropolitan Osaka provided unlimited martial arts training opportunities. I had the honour of studying Shorinji and Senchin Kempo under sensei Mitsuhiro Nakano, achieving Black Belt rank in 1996. While in Japan I also studied Kobudo (ancient samurai arts), and Sil Lum Fut Ga Kung Fu.

Photograph of Oliver Gessner competing at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships.After returning to Canada, my personal martial arts journey continued at the KW Jiu-Jitsu Academy, studying with shihan Terry Yanke under whom I achieved my Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 2003. While a member of the Canadian Jiu-Jitsu Association (CJA), I competed successfully, winning a silver medal at the 2002 Nationals and the gold medal at the 2004 Nationals.

In 2004, I had the privilege of representing Canada at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. I also served as a judge in various national and international competitions as a member of the CJA.

My passion for learning martial arts soon turned to a passion for teaching it. In 1997, I began teaching at Centre Wellington High School and immediately formed a martial arts club after school. Then, in 2003, I saw a golden opportunity: to teach martial arts as a credit course under the Arts designation by modifying a course called “Pacific Rim/Asian Dance”. As many Asian cultures have disguised martial arts techniques in dances to avoid persecution from oppressive regimes, focusing on martial arts within this curriculum was a natural fit.

Today, seventeen years of running this exciting program at CWDHS have passed. My quest for self-improvement through martial arts is far from complete; I look forward to helping you begin yours.