Kyoshi Thomas J. Fleming started studying Chito-Ryu karate in 1961 at the age of nine, while living in Ottawa, Ontario. His first karate instructor was Master George Sylvain of Ottawa’s Johnson-Sylvain Karate Club. He received his Shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1968, at the age of 16, from Senseis Andre Langelier, Fern Cleroux, and George Sylvain (Canadian Karate Association Grading Board). With a recommendation from Sensei George Sylvain, he then joined the Cleroux Karate Club, in Hull, Quebec and has remained a student of Master Fern Cleroux to date.
Also, at the age of 16 with the permission of Sensei Fern Cleroux, and under the guidance of the Canadian Karate Association, Kyoshi Fleming started his first dojo in Blossom Park, Ottawa. Two years later, he opened his second dojo in Carlsbad Springs, Ontario. In 1973, when he received his Nidan (2nd degree black belt), and his certificate as Moniteur from the Quebec Karate Association, he opened a third dojo in Winchester, Ontario. In 1977, he received his Sandan, (3rd degree black belt) and opened his 4th dojo in Finch, Ontario. In 1982, he received his Yodan (4th degree black belt), and in 1988 his Godan (5th degree black belt). He opened his 5th dojo in Vernon, Ontario, in 1991, and in 1992 he received his Rokudan (6th degree black belt).
In 1995 Senseis Fern Cleroux, Tom Fleming, Jacques Dubois, Guy Beland, René Girard, Guy Gadbois, Sensei Tremblay, and Andre Blondin voted to change their style name to Chito-Shin-Kai with the permission of the Canadian Karate Association.
In 1997, he received his Shichidan (7th degree black belt) (Chito-Shin-Kai) from Canadian Karate Association Grading Board president Fern Cleroux.
In 2004, he opened his 6th dojo in Howick, Quebec, and in 2008, he was graded to 8th dan Hachidan (8th degree black belt), by Sensei Fern Cleroux.
Tom Fleming was graded to the rank of Kyoshi on December 2, 2012, by O Sensei Masami Tsuruoka and Hanshi Fern Cleroux. Most recently, on May 23, 2015, Tom was graded to 9th dan Kudan (9th degree black belt) by Hanshi Fern Cleroux and Sensei Chuck Merriman.
Canadian Karate Association (current member)
Canadian Karate Association (1971 to present)
Vice-President, Canadian Karate Association (1989 to present)
Director, Grading Board for North America (2000 to present)
About Fernand (Fern) Réal Cléroux
Fernand Réal Cléroux was born August 16, 1938, in a wartime PMQ at Uplands Airport, Ottawa, Canada. He was raised and schooled in the Ottawa area. In 1957, at the age of 19, he began studying Karate with Ari Anestadias and Mike Godard. From there he was introduced to O-Sensei Masami Tsuruoka, who would become his lifelong teacher and friend. In 1967, O-Sensei Masami Tsuruoka recommended Fern for his Shodan to Dr. Chitose, head of the Chito-Ryu style of Karate.
Known as the French connection, André Langelier, George Sylvain, and Fern Cléroux opened their clubs under O-Sensei Masami Tsuruoka in the Ottawa/Hull region. They developed a joint reputation in competition as a force to be dealt with.
Under André Langelier and O-Sensei Masami Tsuruoka, Dr. Chitose graded Fern to his 2nd and 3rd degree black belt. Fern was christened the tough man of the Outaouais in the many articles written about him in regional papers of Ottawa and Montréal.
He received his 4th degree black belt from Sensei Richard Kim and, with a recommendation from Sensei Benny Allen, his 5th and 6th degrees from the Quebec Karate Federation.
In 1987, the Quebec government honoured him when the Lt. Governor General of Quebec, the Honourable Gilles Lamontagne, presented Fern with his 7th Dan in the art of Chito-Ryu Karate. In 1995, he was again honoured by the people of Quebec, for his lifelong dedication to and development of the art of Karate in Quebec and Canada, when the Premier of Quebec, the Right Honourable Jacques Parizeau presented him with his 8th Dan in the art of Chito-Ryu Karate. In 2008, he was awarded his 9th degree black belt, and he was upgraded from Sensei to Hanshi by Osensei Tsuruoka in 2011.
Fern Clérouxs love and devotion to Karate have taken him all over the world: as a competitor, a referee, and, most notably, as Head Coach for Team Canada (Worlds Amateur Kickboxing Organization for one year, and the Canadian Karate Association). Under his leadership, Canada has earned six international team cups (in Holland [twice], Germany, Italy, France, and the USA), along with many individual gold, silver, and bronze medals in North American competitions.
Fern is a perfectionist. For his steadfastness, he has earned the nickname of the Bear. You wouldnt want to cross him or his team because you would meet the Bear, and that is not an experience you would ever choose to endure!
Fern has also made his presence felt on the Karate political scene:
- as VP of the National Karate Association for one year
(He then moved on to benefit his students and teams.);
- as one of the founding members of the Canadian Karate Association,
and as its President since 1971;
- as Founder of the Quebec Karate Federation, and Vice
President from 1973 to 1984;
- as Founder of the Provincial Chito-Ryu Karate Association
from 1976 to 1996;
- and as Founder, in 1996, of the Chito Shin Kai style
and association, and President since its inception.
Fern is recognized as one of the first Canadians to hold International Referee status, which he received in Scotland from Max Viche of the European Karate Union, under President Jacques Dalcourt, so that Canadian teams and Canadian Fighters could have representation at international competitions.
In short, Hanshi Fern Cléroux is Canadian Karate.
A Personal Note from Hanshi Fern Cléroux
I have been in Karate my whole life and could not have achieved all this without the help from so many people, but I would like to personally thank my Senior Black Belts, Kyoshi Tom Fleming (who has been with me 47 years), Sensei Jacques Delbois (30 years), and Sensei Francois Beaulieu (33 Years).
Hanshi Fern Cléroux