Cezar Borkowski

I truly believe it’s important to honour tradition, but never be limited by it. We are not medieval re-enactors but thoughtful practitioners adapting to modern conditions and needs! Thus to remain relevant, Karate and all Budo training should be an organic, expanding – and thriving – experience.

Cezar Borkowski

Known for his encylopedic mind on martial arts and its history, Cezar Borkowski has dedicated his life to the study and teaching of martial arts. He has been one of the faces of Canadian martial arts for a long time.

Cezar Borkowski was born on 18 March 1956, in Warsaw, Poland. He was the youngest of two boys. His father, Jan Borkowski, was a self-employed businessman in communist Poland. He had been a member of the 4th Infantry division of the Polish army during World War II.

The Borkowski family immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1966.

One week after arriving in Canada, Cezar Borkowski enrolled on a self-defence course run at a local YMCA. At the time he spoke very little English.

The self-defence class at the YMCA was run by a young lady. Borkowski trained with her for around three months, before she was replaced by another teacher, who was a black belt under Mas Tsuroka.

In 1967 Borkowski began learning Chito-Ryu Karate under Dave Usher, Monty Guest, and Mas Tsuroka. He trained at the main dojo of Tsuroka.

Borkowski has describe his Karate training at the time like being a religion to him. He trained every day.

In 1971 Borkowski began learning Goju-Ryu Karate from Robert Dalgleish. He trained with him until Dalgleish’s death in 1978.

In December 1971, Borkowski was promoted to a 1st Dan in Chito-Ryu Karate by Mas Tsuroka.

Borkowski’s father had wanted him to become a lawyer or doctor. He was not impressed when Borkowski began teaching Karate part-time at a local YMCA in 1972. Borkowski started teaching a group of unruly teenagers in an after-school program.

In 1972 Borkowski was promoted to a Goju-Ryu 1st Dan by Robert Dalgleish.

In September 1972 Borkowski opened his first full-time dojo at a rented storefront. That year he also established that NKS (Northern Karate Schools). The NKS was an organisation that focused on martial arts and personal development.

Borkowski’s school focused on entering tournaments at the time. He became a top competitor in the North American tournament scene.

By 1980 Borkowski had been competing for several years. That year he won the first of his six National Canadian titles.

On 13 December 1983, Borkowski married Marion Manzo. She was also a very successful competitor. He had been introduced to her by his good friend, Chuck Merriman.

In 1984 Borkowski was named the Coach of the Year, by Martial Arts Magazine. The following year he was named Instructor of the Year by the Ontario Karate Circuit.

By 1986 Borkowski was ranked the number one competitor in Canada by the NASKA (North American Sport Karate Association) and the Professional Karate League.

Borkowski retired from actively competing in 1986.

In 1988 Borkowski was named the Instructor of the Year, by the National Black Belt League.

After retiring from competitive Karate, Borkowski searched for something to replace the thrill of competing. He travelled around Asia, looking at various martial arts. During this time, he and his wife, Marion, visited Hong Kong, where they attended the World Koshu Championships in 1988.

In the early 1990s Borkowski traveled to Okinawa. He received a letter of introduction from Frank Baehr, a Matsubayashi-Karate practitioner, to train at the dojo Shoshin Nagamine.

Borkowski became good friends with Takayoshi Nagamine, who introduced him to other Okinawan Masters.

In Okinawa Borkowski had the opportunity to train with Shoshin Nagamine, Matayoshi Shinpo , Jyoen Nakasone, Hokama Tetsuhiro, Shiroma Kiyanori, Kinjo Masakazu, Kishaba Choji, and Tomimoto Yohei. He had a chance to learn Kobudo and Karate from many of these masters.

In 1994 Borkowski’s book, Modern Shotokan Karate, was published. It was republished in 2012.

Borkowski was invited to the World Kobudo convention in 1994.

In 1995 Borkowski returned to Okinawa to attend the 88th birthday celebrations of Shoshin Nagamine. He performed kata and kumite during the celebrations.

Borkowski invited Wado-Ryu master, Tatsuo Suzuki, to be a guest instructor at the NKS in 1995.

In 1998 Borkowski’s book, The Complete Idiots Guide to Martial Arts, was published. He wrote the book with his wife.

Always looking to expand his martial arts knowledge, Borkowski met Mohamed Kamin in 2001. He would become Borkowski’s Silat Tipinang teacher.

Borkowski was has made frequent visits to Okinawa and other countries in the region to improve his knowledge, and also to conduct seminars. On 2 January 2010 he taught in Singapore for the first time. He also made his 15th visit to Okinawa.

On 8 October 2010, Borkowski was promoted to 7th Dan in Okinawan Kobudo. The following month he was promoted to 7th Dan in Bojutsu by Choji Kishaba.

Borkowski was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame in 2011.

Between 25-26 September 2011, Borkowski organised The Legends of Okinawan Martial Arts. He invited Tetsuhiro Hokama and Saihan Shiroma to be guest instructors. They had given a series of seminars in Canada. Student trained over the two days. Mas Tsuroka was a special guest.

Borkowski i made his annual visit to Asia in 2012. He spent three weeks visiting Kyoto, Japan, Laos, and Beijing, China. He was conducted research into the roots of Karate.

2012 also saw Borkowski promoted to 10th Dan by Tetsuhiro Hokama and the International Karate-do Organisation. He was one of the few westerners to receive the rank.

Marion Borkowski was inducted into the World Registry of Black Belts Hall of Fame in 2012.

The NKS marked its 40th anniversary in 2012. That year over 300 NKS students were promoted to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dan. To mark the anniversary a gala was held for 300 instructors and their families. Some of the invited instructors gave a kata and kumite demo.

In 2022 the NKS marked its 50th Anniversary.

Borkowski and his wife, Marion, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2023. They traveled to Asia, where they visited Japan and China.

Cezar Borkowski is currently ranked as a 9th Dan by Japan’s All Okinawan Karate-do Federation. He also holds a 9th Dan in Kobudo. His wealth of knowledge means he is frequently invited to give courses and seminars. He teaches an an eclectic style of Karate that combines traditional Okinawan styles, combined with boxing, grappling, and Silat.

Borkowski’s NKS has grown to 15 dojos in the Toronto area, with affiliates worldwide. It is estimated that the NKS has several thousand active members. Many top instructors including Patrick McCarthy, Chuck Merriman, and Tatsuo Suzuki have been guest instructors at the NKS. His dojo also tries to give back to the community by organising charitable events.

Like Patrick McCarthy, Borkowski is a keen student of martial arts history. He has visited Asia over 50 times. He has done much research which has led to him writing many articles for many martial arts publications.

Away from martial arts, Borkowski is passionate about cooking.

Permanent link to this article: http://findingkarate.com/wordpress/cezar-borkowski/


    • Anonymous on June 11, 2024 at 9:16 am
    • Reply

    Absolutely true thanks !!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.