Clive Betts


My interest in martial arts began like many other people after watching the 1970’s TV series Kung Fu which along with the Bruce Lee films of the time brought martial arts to the attention of the wider public.

My own martial arts journey began in 1981 when I took up Tae Kwon Do under the instruction of Nigel Howlett where I gained yellow belt.

A short stint at Judo followed but I never graded.


After a break of 27 years, I was watching my daughter training at Clapham one evening in 2008 when Sensei McClagish ‘invited’ me to take my shoes and socks off and join in.


The next four and a half years of regular training saw a steady progression through the grades under the instruction and guidance of Sensei McClagish and the other Dan grades at Clapham who made training both interesting and fun whilst preserving the martial ethos & etiquette of Karate.


12 months of leg pulling by the Dan grades followed my 1st Kyu grading until I was invited by Sensei McClagish to try for my Shodan.

After a nervous couple of months grading day finally came and, thanks to the efforts put in by the Clapham Dan grades over the preceding weeks, I was awarded my black belt in March 2013.

This was a major achievement for me, one that had seemed way out of reach when I first started training.


I know they say Karate is in the heart and mind, not in a belt but it still means a lot when you are awarded one… whatever colour it is.


Over the years I have attended most of the courses run by CFTS as well as one or two outside of the association including one with Kancho Kanazawa, which have all helped to give a better understanding of both Shotokan, other martial arts and different peoples approach to the practical application of Karate.


Having come back to martial arts as a more ‘mature’ student I don’t have the flexibility of some of the younger Karate-ka but my personal feeling is there is a lot of karate to choose from; so, practice everything, but when it matters keep it simple and use what works for you.