Shihan Raul Shelton
Mr. Shelton started in the Martial Arts at a tender age of 8 while in Havana, Cuba practicing Judo. He trained under the supervision of Angel Sanchez, member of the Cuban National Judo Team. Mr. Sanchez’s teacher was a Sensei from Japan named Sensei Nakayama. He traveled from Japan to Cuba for business every now and then. During each trip, master Nakayama always made time during his visits to see Mr. Sanchez to leave him with some new techniques for him to continue learning and teaching others the art of Judo. In time Sensei Nakayama, introduced us to some karate basics and katas as well. Mr. Shelton received his Brown Belt in Judo when he was 12 years old. Later, the same “Judo group” started to learn Jiu-Jitsu together from an older Judo practitioner for several years.
When Mr. Shelton entered the University of Havana in 1972, he was selected for the University Gymnastics Team and his gymnastics coach Ms. Nilda Neira was the only female at the time practicing karate in Havana. Ms Neira introduced him to Sensei Mirelis when he was teaching at "El Cinodromo". Finally he started to practice with Sensei Mr. Mirelis for around six months.
Later that year, Mr. Shelton was able to enter into the selected few that would go through a special training and after that was completed he was transfered and started training in “Prado” which was the official center “Hombu Dojo” for Karate in Cuba under the direction of Sensei Ramiro Chirino and later Shihan Raul Rizo when he returned from Japan.
Mr. Shelton was selected to be an assistant instructor in 1975 when he was a green belt teaching the lower level students. He received his Black Belt 1st Dan in 1979 and continued to teach in “Prado” until he left Cuba and emigrated to the United States in 1980.
He also received additional instruction with a small group of students that included Special Self Defense. This instruction included different areas such as unarmed and armed defense against different weapons including knives and guns. Mr. Shelton became one of the top instructors in Cuba teaching Self Defense to special individuals, which he did not know at the time, who were the personal body guards of the highest government officials in Cuba and also from other countries.
After arriving to USA, Mr. Shelton continued his training and opened his first Dojo with another black belt in Houston, Texas in 1981. Mr. Manuel Diaz was another Cuban Joshinmon practitioner who arrived to USA about the same time. They established the first commercial Dojo in the State of Texas teaching the art of Karate Do. Many karate practitioners from Texas started to get together in this Dojo to practice such as: Ramon Veras, Orlando Redwood, Mario Bornes and others. These classes were directed then by Sensei Ricardo Johns a Shotokan practicioner.
The first official Joshinmon Dojo recognized by Japan and established in the United States was in Houston, Texas on April 1986, by Raul Shelton and Manuel Diaz.
The first visit to Japan from anyone from USA happened in November 1986, when Raul Shelton visited So-Shihan Ikeda in Tokyo. So-Shihan wanted to start evaluating his qualities and karate knowledge and after three (3) long weeks practicing 8 to 10 hours per day, Raul Shelton received a 3rd Degree Black Belt from So-Shihan. At this point So-Shihan accepted the invitiation to the United States in the near future, which happened few years later.
So-Shihan Ikeda visited the United States in April 1990. He visited Houston for about 10 days where he gave students several Black Belts. During this visit Mr. Raul Shelton received his 4th degree Black Belt.
Mr. Shelton received his 5th Degree Black Belt in 1995 during another visit to Houston from So-Shihan Ikeda. It is in 1999 in Tokyo, Japan, during the 30th Anniversary and World Championship that he received his 6th Degree Black Belt.
Mr. Shelton holds the highest Karate Referee License that is given to officials from any country at the World Level (WKF) and he is one of only ten officials with that license in USA. Mr. Shelton is a WKF Referee holding a Referee A in Kumite (2016) and a Kata Judge A License (2014). He also holds a PKF Referee A and Judge A as well as a USA-NKF Certified National Referee A. He has been refereeing in National and International tournaments since 1978.
Mr. Shelton has also been a member of the USANKF Technical and Dan Certification Committee since 2012, where any candidates from different styles have to go through in order to get a USANKF Black Belt Dan Certification.