Australia’s Sensei Joe Roses Celebrates his 60th Birthday in fine form

By: David Lambert – IOGKF Australia

Australian Joint Chief Instructor, Sensei Joe Roses brought in his 60th birthday in true IOGKF style with a party that Aussies will be talking about for years. From one of the greatest birthday cakes ever, to a party DJ playing in the living room, Sensei Roses is showing no signs of letting up anytime soon...

I travelled down to Canberra, ACT on March 3rd for a very special event and to once again show my enormous respect for Sensei Joe Roses who has reached the big six - zero!

After seeing Sensei Joe at demonstrations, when I have asked my friends how old do think he is, most come back with early 40’s and nearly fall over when they learn he is now 60 years of age! However, the fountain of youth hasn’t just looked after his appearance but also his Karate. At 60 years of age and having trained for over 40 years, I can say without a doubt Sensei Joe Roses is moving better, hitting stronger and doing the best Karate of his life.

Both he and Sensei Chris Larken have been following Higaonna Sensei since 1975 - this was the pre-IOGKF era, commonly known to many as ‘the old days’. Sensei Joe and Sensei Chris both sat their 6th Dan’s in Okinawa eight years ago, in 2004; the same grading Sensei Bakkies Laubscher undertook the 8th Dan test.

As much as Sensei Joe’s 60th Birthday celebrations were about uniting good Karate friends together, it was also about making new ones with a party that we will be talking about for many years to come!

Sensei Joe originally comes for Spain and if there is one thing the Spanish know how to do its party!

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The Roses family home is almost like a palace! It is a beautiful place with a lovely Japanese garden that Sensei Joe has made and he has also converted his garage into a dojo where we have done some quality training together. He lives in the beautiful south side of Canberra deep in the Tuggeranong valley. With a picturesque lake, stunning mountain scenery and beautiful bush land, if he is not training at his dojo (that has been in the area for over 35 years) he is out training amongst the nature of this area.

Sensei Roses, who has been a mechanic for many years, recalled returning home from work one day to find my father and Higaonna Sensei sitting on his front door step waiting for him to get home. Higaonna Sense was in his element, relaxing on the front porch enjoying the view of the mountains.

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Sensei Joe’s wife Mehri did the most incredible effort pulling the night together! There were drinks a plenty, the food was world class, there were lights everywhere and even a DJ playing all night in the living room!

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But what ‘took the cake’ was the efforts Merhi went to for Sensei Joe’s Birthday cake. When speech time came, a beautiful cake was presented, a perfect replica of Sensei Joe’s own Gi, right down to the Gi brand patch! It was absolutely stunning! There were also four beautiful smaller cakes one of which has the IOGKF Kenkon over it.

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(Sensei Joe Roses and his family)

Following great shows of affection from his children, Sensei Joe spoke about his beliefs on life which summed up Karate training for many of us. He has never changed his beliefs and has always pushed into me three key values: Honest, Loyalty and Respect in everything you do in life.

 At the end of his speech he called out to Sensei Chris & I and the rest of the Karate folk gathered on his living room floor, placed his Kenkon cup cake over his heart and gave us a wink and smile!

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(Sensei Chris congratulating Sensei Joe while surrounded by the IOGKF group.)

As I mentioned, Sensei Roses has had his Dojo in the Tuggernong area for over 35. I have known Sensei Joe and have been travelling to Canberra for IOGKF events my whole life. During this time Sensei Joe has managed to keep a really strong core base of students. Sensei Kevin Nash, who recently obtained his 5th Dan has trained with Sensei Joe for over 25 years, Sensei John ‘Sam’ Steggall has also followed him for many years; and both these instructors have gone on to start their own clubs around Canberra. Sensei Joe’s closest personal students show no sign of letting up anytime soon either.

With the formalities out of the way, about 90 people danced the night away in Sensei Joe’s living room to the pumping music of the DJ. In one night there were so many different cultures, so much happiness and of course a great deal love shared between all involved with Sensei Joe.

Karate-ka travelled from far and abroad to see Sensei Joe on his special day. Especially Sensei Chris and Kerri Larken who drove 5 hours from Newcastle to share in the festivities! Sensei Joe’s cousin Ray also travelled all the way from America to be there!

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(Sensei Joe with Co-Chief Instructor, Sensei Chris Larken & his wife Kerri)

Higaonna Sensei and Nakamura Sensei also sent lovely birthday messages to Sensei Roses and he was really taken back by their kind words. Thank you to both very kind Sensei’s for making Sensei Joe’s day even more special with your efforts.

Finally a big thank you to Merhi for her efforts on the night (words cannot say describe!) and a big happy birthday to Sensei Joe Roses for all IOGKF members! We hope the next 60 years are just as wonderful!