Header image: Grand Masters Dr. Woodrow Fairbanks (mentor) and Ray Russell (student)
During a seminar at a Cincinnati-based YMCA, Fort Wayne’s own Grand Master Ray Russell, owner of Russell’s Paradise Karate Academy, at 3025 Oxford Avenue, was promoted to 9th Degree Black Belt. Russell was promoted to the second highest rank for the Shuri-ryu karate style by his sensei of 28 years, 10th Degree Black Belt Dr. Woodrow Fairbanks, the Midwest head of the Shuri-ryu organization and the master of 17 different styles of karate.
As a 9th Degree Black Belt (Shuri-ryu), Russell now has the power to promote a student to higher ranks, just as his mentor Grand Master Fairbanks has promoted him up the ranks over the years.
Other karate masters and students were promoted at the ceremony, including attendees from Chicago and other big regional cities, but Russell was the only Grand Master from Fort Wayne and is one of only three African-American Grand Masters in the Midwest.
Russell’s students, Hakim Muhammad and Quincy Sanders, were promoted to 1st and 2nd Degree Brown Belts respectively.
The 9th Degree promotion is pretty good for someone who only intended to study two years under Grand Master Fairbanks. “It became my passion,” Russell said, whose karate tutelage has taken him all over the country and just outside of it (Mexico). He credited how Grand Master Fairbanks treated him--with respect, always--for his perseverance, even after a severe car accident that injured his spinal cord.
Russell is still learning, driving to Cincinnati once every two months to learn from Fairbanks who is teaching his student Tai chi; the newly christened 9th Degree Black Belt wants to teach it to elderly students.
To watch a short documentary, Ray Russell GOT WORDS, on the life and career of Master Ray Russell, hit up our website at FWInkSpot.com