Updated: Dec 28, 2021
I began my karate training under Sensei John Van-Weenen in 1972 in the Japanese Karate Association. Shortly afterwards, Sensei Kanazawa formed his own association, SKI (Shotokan Karate International) under whom I graded up to Shodan in 1979, which I had previously failed at my first attempt. Later that year I followed Sensei, who along with Senseis Randall and Nursey, formed the English Shotokan Karate Association.
In 1980 I began teaching on a fairly regular basis and in 1983 opened my first club in Newport Pagnell. It was in the same year that Sensei Van Weenen formed The Traditional Association Of Shotokan Karate. At that time TASK had only four clubs and a dozen black belts. At its peak TASK boasted almost a hundred black belts who collectively ran over 40 clubs with in excess of 1500 students. It was in this association that I graded to 2nd Dan on 10/06/84, 3rd Dan in 1988 and to 4th Dan in 1992, shortly before becoming a professional Karate instructor.
In January of 1998 I was awarded 5th Dan and six years later, 6th Dan. This is as far as I sincerely thought I would go, which is an extremely long way beyond my initial target of yellow belt all those years ago. In July of 2011 whilst on a CFTS course taken by Sensei Slue, both he and Sensei O'Reilly presented me with 7th Dan. To be awarded that grade left me speechless. It was a very humbling and embarrassing moment. I know I am not worthy of the grade. When I look at other high ranking senior karate-ka I know, without any false humility, that I am not worthy. I just hope that given time and with much dedicated training I can live up to the grade that others have bestowed upon me. However in reality I suppose I must progress else I would become like a cork in a bottle for in CFTS. We are lucky enough to have other senior ranking dan grades that also need to move onwards and upwards. Even after forty years I acknowledge I still have much to learn and a long way yet to travel on my journey of learning, improvement and enlightenment.
Throughout my time in Karate I have always enjoyed the competitive aspect of both Kata and Kumite competing at both local and national level with varying degrees of success. Through coaching, and having qualified as an association judge and referee in 1981, I can still derive a lot of pleasure from others competing.
In 1994 along with Mr Calver and Mr Coppen, we formed the Central Federation of Traditional Shotokan. This was not because of politics or malice just a natural progression and the need to spread my wings, seek new horizons and to enhance both my personal training and that of my students. Since forming our own association I have had my love of martial arts re-kindled having attended many courses from a wide range of differing styles and instructors. This has had the effect of removing my blinkers and opening my eyes to the many different approaches to self defence. At the same time I have been very fortunate to experience instruction from some of the worlds leading Shotokan instructors.
In January of 1998 I qualified as an EKGB coach under their new upgraded coaching scheme. I was also awarded NVQ units D32 and D33 by City and Guilds through Leeds University enabling me to teach other instructors to coach and to assess their performance. In the spring of 2004 I became the CFTS Child Protection officer with direct responsibility for all training and miscellaneous protection issues.
Prior to becoming a professional instructor I worked for a national chain of motor factors as a sales manager and it was in this position that I first became involved with NVQ's. Although I realise now that I was unqualified to do so, I used to undertake assessments in retailing and warehouse skills on behalf of our training department.
I am lucky to have been happily married since 1975 and consider myself to be a family man. I have five children all who have trained at karate and have been awarded dan grades at various levels moving on to be MASA approved fully qualified karate instructors in their own right.. Regrettably due to their lives having moved on they are not all currently training. For many years my wife and I fostered children from differing backgrounds for a multitude of reasons giving a true insight into the lives of so many others that for reasons beyond their control have lead in to emotional and other difficulties. This has given me a more compassionate outlook which compliments the sentiments of the dojo kun which is yet another reason why the charity work that CFTS has supported so fervently is so dear to me.
Other than martial arts my hobbies include coaching youth football which I did for sixteen seasons until it became difficult to give both football and karate the time they both needed. Time permitting I enjoy attempting to get a recognisable tune out of a keyboard but this too is very demanding of time so has not improved to the level I would wish for. Maybe when my arms and legs are less active I will be in a position to give music more time. I also like to get as many weekends away as possible with the family up to our mobile home on the coast in Norfolk. When not away I enjoy gardening, I also keep fish both in my garden pond and a tank of cyclids indoors.
My ambition for the future is simple: to continue training as long as possible, to see what grade I can achieve and what level of expertise I can attain. I shall continue teaching and coaching at all levels putting whatever I can back into an art and way of life that has already given me so much both in and out of the dojo.