World-class karate practitioner to help instruct at upcoming karate camp

By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter

Golden Triangle Shotokan Karate Club will host their third annual Rocky Mountain Camp on July 24 through 27 in Augusta at Montana Wilderness School of the Bible. The events on July 25 will be open to the public, and you do not have to know any karate to attend. If you’re interested in attending and learning something new, contact Conrad’s Karate Club Sensei, Claude Smith, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 406-868-9474, or contact Golden Triangle Gymnastics at 406-271-2066 to learn more.

In attendance will be guest instructors Paul Lopresti, Taylor Smith, Jerry Lupkes, and Joe Stifter.

Lopresti is one of C. Smith’s instructors and is a world-class karate practitioner who ranks as one of the top 10 in America. He is a Godan (fifth degree black belt) who has been studying since he was seven, and is also a fifth degree black belt in Aiki Kenpo Jujutsu. He has obtained the rank of Yudansha in Koryu Uchinadi and will bring, all the way from Philadelphia, new drills and instruction. 

He and fellow guest instructor T. Smith are both excellent ground fighters and will be teaching those skills to everyone at camp. Nidan (second degree black belt) T. Smith is a U.S. Army Combatives Instructor and combat grappling expert and will teach some self-defense with his father, C. Smith.

Attendees will also learn from Lupkes, a yodan (fourth degree black belt); and Stifter, a yodan and former international karate competitor.

This annual event was born out of a wish to maintain the tradition of gassuku (meaning “camp” or “camp event”) after Sensei C. Smith and fellow instructors decided to form a Midwest branch of the UKAI (United Karate Associations Internationl) in 2009. Smith later relocated to Montana and began Conrad’s Shotokan Karate Club, after which he volunteered to host the gassuku event so that everyone could enjoy the beauty of Montana’s wilderness. 

In traditional Japanese martial arts, gassuku campers get to enjoy the beauty of nature while learning new and seldom-covered topics, or a certain instructor’s specialty that doesn’t ordinarily get taught in regular classes.

Those attending the Rocky Mountain Camp gassuku can expect to learn some real world self-defense, new and different drills, and ground work from the variety of instructors attending.

There will be fun activities as well, including bonfires and tug-of-war.  “A gassuku should be a time of fellowship, not just hard training,” said Sensei Smith, “But the ancient Japanese would train in freezing cold water in the winter in the mountains, or barefoot in the snow. We are not doing that.”

He went on to add, “We will train outdoors as much as possible, just to make sure the experience is unique and enjoyable.”


If anyone is interesting in attending the camp or the “open to the public” day on July 25, be sure to contact Claude Smith or Golden Triangle Gymnastics. Camp fees will include eight meals and three nights lodging.