“Body goes down; mind must go up.” — Don DePree
- The rich history of the CSULB Shotokan Karate Club can be traced back to one man, Mr. Donald DePree. Mr. DePree was one of the founding fathers of the CSULB Shotokan Karate Club whose vision was to spread the traditions of Shotokan Karate to the world. Through his strong leadership and committed dedication, Don set the foundation for the CSULB Shotokan Karate Club and helped make it to be one of the most successful dojos in Shotokan Karate of America (SKA). As a scholar in the arts, he became a revered and well-respected martial arts practitioner in the karate community.
Don DePree was born on April 17, 1942 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mr. DePree started his first martial arts training when he moved from Michigan to California while attending Long Beach Community College in 1965 and learned karate under the direction of Bob Lopez. In 1968, Don DePree, along with Caylor Adkins, established the Shotokan Karate Club at California State University, Long Beach. It was the second university karate club to be founded in the United States. Caylor was the club leader and Don was his assistant instructor.
- In 1970, Caylor Adkins entrusted the club over to Don DePree. Don carried on his serious martial arts training and won many competitions and tournaments worldwide including the Japan Exposition Karate Championship and the 1972 Nisei Week Tournament. He was also selected for the 1970 US Team to compete in the first World Karate-Do Championship in Japan. In 1972, Mr. DePree was hired as a CSULB faculty member to teach Self-Defense and Karate PE classes. Through his strong leadership and commitment, Mr. DePree continued to build and strengthen the club by producing many new black belt students. His dedication and active involvement with karate has earned him the 1975 SKA Man of the Year. In 1984, he was promoted to godan (fifth degree black belt), the highest rank achieved in SKA. For more than 20 years, Mr. DePree continued to take the club to new heights by making the club a respected dojo. He went on to produce other local dojos including California State University, Dominguez Hills, Paramount, and Garden Grove dojos.
- In 1992, Don DePree passed the leadership of the CSULB Shotokan Karate Club to Mr. Samir Abboud in order to head the Shotokan Ohshima Dojo building project for SKA. Don dedicated his life to overseeing the construction of the Shotokan Ohshima Dojo to its grand opening in 2000 as the Dojo became the new national headquarters for the organization in Santa Barbara. Since then, Mr. DePree was chosen to be the executive vice-president for Shotokan Karate of America and became the central pillar to the Shotokan Ohshima Dojo and the organization. He continued to teach karate on a national level spreading his wisdom and knowledge to all martial artists. Tragically at the peak of his career in martial arts, Mr. DePree was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 2011 which eventually took his life on January 22, 2012.
- Don DePree was a great influence to the martial arts world touching many lives. His commitment and diligent leadership to spread Shotokan Karate was not only limited to California State University, Long Beach but also expanded beyond the Southern California region and across the nation. Known for his “strong spirit,” Don’s ultimate hope was to “plant the seeds of martial arts mentality in each student so that they can become more successful in their lives, and for them to contribute to the betterment of humanity and bring justice and peace in the world.” Mr. DePree left an imprint in the hearts of many people. A glimpse into Mr. Don DePree’s mentality and wisdom can be found in his published notes titled “The Relevance of Karate to Everyday Life.” The CSULB Shotokan Karate Club will continue to keep Don DePree’s “strong spirit” and legacy alive by continuing to spread traditional Shotokan Karate and passing on his teachings to future generations of students.