Tom Heriaud, local instructor, promoter and supporter of the martial arts was promoted to a 10th-degree grand master in Sandwich.
Heriaud has been in the martial arts since 1964 and was a student of the late Master James Chapman. He instructed for many years at the Aurora YMCA and the Plano YMCA and later taught at his own school in Naperville with his partner and longtime friend, the late Tom Letuli.
Heriaud came to Dojo Dynamics in Sandwich that evening to promote Nick Spies to a first-degree black belt, known as a sensei. Spies is a student of Shihan (master instructor) Scott Francis, a sixth-degree black belt and owner of Dojo Dynamics Martial Arts Studio.
The promotions started, as they have many times before, with the new sensei being awarded his black belt. Immediately following his promotion, Shihan Jim White of Aurora, was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his many years of dedication. After the certificates and honors were awarded, each instructor and student from both Dojo Dynamics and visiting schools approached Sensei Spies for their own personal congratulations. The students were lined up thinking they were getting ready for the formal bow out when the introductions began.
Introduced as they entered the room were Master Rico Paone, Master Mike McNamara, Grand Master Bob Zange, Grand Master Ron Troutman, Grand Master Joe Gangi, Grand Master Tom Saviano, Grand Master Fred Degerberg, Grand Master Preston Baker and Grand Master Otis Baker. They all entered to honor Heriaud, their longtime friend in the martial arts. Some brought certificates from their own organizations or schools to present and others said some special words about their years of experiences with Heriaud.
A certificate from the Isshin Shorinji Ryu martial arts system signed by all grand masters, masters and shihans in attendance was read by Francis, and a special grand master red belt was awarded and presented by his daughters, Kim Brown and Jennifer Delaney.
In attendance that evening were nine masters and grand masters from the Midwest, more than 60 black belts and more than 70 students from various systems, his wife Pat Heriaud and many members of the Heriaud and extended family, some coming in from as far as away as Arizona.