“He held Christmas parties in the Dojo,” Flynn said. “Periodically, especially when a martial artist guest visited the Dojo, he would take everyone out to a restaurant at his own expense.”
In Flynn’s case, Mirakian helped him find a job when he was out of work at Raytheon. He also helped two other students find job at the Waltham based corporation.
For 40 years, Mirakian worked at and taught karate three times a week at night and on Saturday afternoons. He continued to teach until he suffered a stroke in 2014.
The karate school or dojo was a way of life for Sensei Mirakian’s students,” she said. “Many students had been with him since childhood and had grown up practicing karate on Saturday afternoons.”
Leary said Mirakian was very traditional in teaching a Go Ju Ryu karate style. There was no participatin in competitions and students were taught to practice kata, which are pre-arranged forms, and kumite, a form of pre-arranged sparring.Sometimes, she said, the students also also practiced Kobodo, which is kata’s using traditional Okinawan weapons, like the Bo, Nunchaku or sai.
“We practiced 3-4 times per week from 8 p.m. to 10:30 or 11 p.m. under his watchful eye,” she said. “We started with calisthenics and running. There were traditional Makiwara or punching boards in the basement to toughen the hands and develop concentration.”
Leary said Sensei Mirakian insisted on strict discipline and perfecting the art of the kata. He was not in the habit of coddling or encouraging his students.
“He did no recruitment that I was aware of,” she remembered. “You had to prove to him that you deserved to be there. Many did not last long. But the few who did stay, stayed for years and also took over much of the teaching of the newer students, especially as Sensei Mirakian got older.”
“The training was never watered down to increase enrollment,” Flynn agreed. “It was the same rigorous training that he received in Okinawa. He took a personal interest in his students and was selective about who he taught. He was more interested in teaching people of good moral character than in maximizing enrollment to make a profit.”
In 1990, Grand Master Meitoku Yagi promoted him to ninth degree black belt. He was the only person outside of Okinawa to be awarded this honor
“He was a missionary,” Flynn said. “He believed practicing karate went beyond learning self-defense and was a way to make people better both physically and mentally.”
One particular Mirakian quote, Flynn said, will stay with him for life.
“He said, ‘Traditional day to day continuous karate training strengthens the body, improves health, cultivates the mind and develops an indomitable spirit that can be applied to any activity in life.’” Flynn remembered.
On March 31, Sensei Mirakian died at the age of 82. His karate school, the Okinawan Karate – do Academy, carries on his mission. His senior students staff it with the support of his daughter, Doreen Mirakian