It was a night to remember at the Open Door Ministries auditorium in Burleson, TX, on Saturday, April 21, 2018, when more than 500 people gathered to honor American Karate Grandmaster Jamie Cashion on his belt promotion. The guest list included more than 300 American Karate black belt holders, 40 of them Senior 10th Degree Black Belts. It was to be Grandmaster Cashion’s promotion to 8th Degree, but during the ceremony the outpouring of love, respect, and support inspired Grandmaster Pat Burleson to promote Cashion to 9th Degree. It was, as one Senior Black Belt pointed out, the largest promotion of a single person in front of such a large gathering of Senior Black Belts.
“God has truly opened up so many of opportunities for me to share love and compassion through the Martial Arts.” – American Karate Grandmaster Jamie Cashion
The evening began with a video that recalled what was perhaps the defining moment in Cashion’s life, his narrow escape from death when he was burned fighting a grass fire at age 16 and his subsequent recovery. That harrowing experience set the stage for Cashion’s passion for helping others in need, a passion that has taken him to work with orphans in Uganda and Brazil, as well as people in Peru, Columbia, Costa Rica and Mexico. He has also given back to those in need closer to home, as when he joined a team of firefighters to rescue people trapped by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. These and other examples of service were highlighted during the ceremony, which was attended by many of the pioneers of American Karate.
Several of the top Black Belts in attendance spoke during the ceremony, which was presided over by Grandmaster Burleson and emceed by George Minshew. Derrick Hayes, Joe Corley and Bob Wall all shared their memories and respect for Grandmaster Cashion. However, it was World Champion Jeff Smith who perhaps summed up the feelings of those present best when he said, “No one has given back more in the martial arts than Jamie Cashion.”
It is rare to see one man bring together such a large assembly of top martial artists, but Grandmaster Cashion’s reputation and his life-long demonstration of how martial arts can positively impact lives were more than enough. Among the 10th Degree Black Belts in the audience were Allen Steen, Jim Harrison, Ed Daniel, Fred Simon, Keith Yates, Pat Worley, Jim Butin, Daryl Stewart, Gary Lee, Richard Jenkins, Bill Watson, Fred Wren, Tony Lopez, Al Francis, Billy Smith, Steve Parks, Ted Gambordella, Linda Denley, Phil Whilman, and Rudy Smedley.
The evening had originally been a celebration of Grandmaster Cashion’s promotion from 7th Degree to 8th Degree Black Belt, but the response and emotion completely overwhelmed Grandmaster Burleson. Burleson told the audience that he had decided right then and there to promote Cashion to 9th Degree, in acknowledgement of all that he had done for martial arts and in service to others. Burleson then called for a show of hands by the 10th Degree Black Belts in attendance who agreed with this decision. The vote was unanimous, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.
“I will tell you, this night will remain one of the highlights of my life,” said Grandmaster Cashion afterwards. “God has truly opened up so many opportunities for me to share love and compassion through the martial arts. He has given me a servant’s heart, and I do what I do for the love of others. This, simply put, has been a blessing!”
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