Karateclub Asahi Hasselt was founded by Sergio Gneo in 1972. In the early years, trainingsessions were held in "The Balloon", an inflatable, pressurised hall, located at the back of the then newly built open-air ice skating ring. The club didn't have many members in those early days, but that changed as soon as Messrs. Bruce Lee and David Carradine (as the unforgettable Kwai Chang Caine) started to do their Martial Art thing in movie theatres around the country and on TV. Many exhilarated fans joined the fledgeling karate club. As a result membership numbers increased rather rapid: almost every week new beginners would turn up for training and quite often Sergio had to summon extra people from Asahi Genk to help him teach the Hasselt crowd. This frantic situation stabilised fairly easy once Maurizio Contipelli joined Sergio as a regular instructor in our club. Together they ensured that the JKA Shotokan Karate practiced in Hasselt was of the highest standard. As a result the club could, five years after its inauguration, proudly celebrate its first homegrown black belt.
At the end of the seventies, when the public interest in Martial Arts had somewhat faded away, the club moved training venues a few times. First there was the gym at the local Atheneum and a little later a second move brought the club to the Gaarveld Junior School in Runkst. Training, however, remained at the highest level and the second member of the club to achieve his black belt was celebrated in mei 1979. In the early eighties, karate was still quite popular; the club once again moved training venue, which allowed it to expand the training sessions for its members to 3 training sessions each week. In the mid-eighties the club also started karate classes for teenagers and over the years quite a few of those early teenage-members have grown into well-established black belts who still regularly practice karate at our club. Sadly, however, after almost 20 years, the club was forced - due to a lack of interest - to close down those once very successful training sessions for youngsters in the autumn of 2004.
In the meantime, Sergio had become Assistant-Chief Instructor to Miyazaki Sensei, which meant that his national teaching duties prevented him fairly regularly from teaching at the club. In his absence Dogan Sempai would take the lessons. Later, after Sergio had succeeded the late Miyazaki Sensei as Chief-Instructor for JKA Belgium, Stefan would more and more share that responsibility with Dogan. Eventually Stefan, with his background in Physical Education, completely took over those teaching duties in our club from Dogan and became assistant-instructor to Sergio Gneo Sensei for Asahi Karate Hasselt.