About Our School
Desa School of Karate opened as a full time traditional Okinawan karate school in September 1996. After seven years in the basement of the St. Albert Rugby Club, the school (dojo) was relocated to its present location, designed and built by Sensei Manuel deSa (with much help from his students).
The main dojo, with 9000 square ft of space now includes a 3000 square ft matted workout area on the main floor and a 2000 square ft classroom on the second floor. There are spacious change rooms with shower facilities for both men and women, welcoming office space and viewing benches and bleachers for guests. Visitors are always welcome, whether it is to view a class they might be interested in taking or to just watch a friend or family member.
Having a facility open year round and designed specifically for martial arts training provides many benefits that other programs cannot offer. With staff dedicated full time to teaching and monitoring the quality of instruction and the progress of each student, it is much easier to adjust the schedule to the changing needs of the student and maintain the high standard the school is known for worldwide.
The dojo also offers community programs in Sturgeon County (where Sensei Desa first started teaching in 1994). There is an after school program at Camilla School in Riviere Qui Barre, and evening programs in both Legal and Cardiff.
In addition, the school also offers classes in traditional Okinawan weapons, known as “kobudo”. We offer special classes for 4-5 year old children (Kickstart), Ladies Self-defense workshops, and Kid Power Bully Defense, all done throughout the year. In addition special courses and workshops are set up that can be tailored to meet specific needs of different groups or organizations.
Sensei Desa Biography
Sensei Manuel A. deSa began studying Karate while attending the University of Alberta from which he graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts Special Degree. In 1990, he met Master Neil Dunnigan and was impressed by not only the style of karate, but the philosophy taught along with it, the method and focus of instruction, and Master Dunnigan’s direct ties to some of the top Okinawan Karate Masters. With a lifelong passion for the art, some natural talent, and a lot of hard work, Sensei Desa now runs a successful full time dojo. In 2008, he asked and was accepted as a student of Grand Master Kiyohide Shinjo of Okinawa, Japan. He is also a student of Sensei Masakazu Kinjo in traditional Okinawan weapons (kobudo). Sensei Desa brings to each class not only an excellent knowledge of Uechi-Ryu karate, gained from regular practice and trips to workshops and competitions around the world, but also many years of experience in working with youth as a child care counsellor.
In 2022 he was promoted to 8th degree Black Belt (Kiyoshi, Hachidan) by Grand Master Shinjo.
"My goal for every student is to help them work towards their Black Belt, not only in Martial Arts, but in life.
By working towards this goal, we create an environment in which each student develops confidence through accomplishing high, but realistic and attainable goals both in and out of our school."
Manuel A. deSa
Sensei Manuel deSa
Kiyoshi, Hachidan, 8th degree Black Belt
Shihan - Master Instructor
Sensei Janet Vranas
Nanadan - 7th Degree Black Belt
Shihan - Master Instructor
Head Instructor Cardiff/Legal/Camilla
Godan - 5th Degree Black Belt Karate - Children and Adult Program - Comp Crew Coach
Rokudan - 6th Degree Black Belt Shihan - Master Instructor Kobudo Instructor Karate – Children and Adult Program
Yondan - 4th Degree Black Belt Karate - Children and Adult Program - Comp Crew Coach
Sandan - 3rd Degree Black Belt Karate - Children and Adult Program Coordinator for Camps/Parties
Godan - 5th Degree Black Belt Shihan - Master Instructor Karate - Children and Adult Program - Master Instructor
Godan - 5th Degree Black Belt Shihan-Master Instructor Karate - Children and Adult Program - Comp Crew Coach
Godan - 5th Degree Black Belt Karate - Children and Adult Program - Kobudo Instructor
Rokudan - 6th Degree Black Belt Karate - Adult Program
Yondan - 4th Degree Black Belt Karate - Children & Adult Program
Sandan - 3rd Degree Black Belt Karate - Children & Adult Program
Nidan - 3rd degree Black Belt Karate - Children and Adult Program
Yondan - 4th Degree Black Belt Karate - Kobudo Instructor
Sensei Desa has developed a leadership training program in which students brown belt and above volunteer their time to assist in our various classes, thereby developing their leadership skills. Many have gone on to become regular instructors in the dojo or have taken these skills into their community to assist in other ways. Currently the following students are part of the Desa School of Karate leadership program:
Sarah El Mohtar