This is my second time around in karate as I was fortunate enough to train with the Japanese in the 70s and 80s and earn my Shodan in Wado-Ryu. As anyone who has trained with the Japanese will testify, it's basics, basics and even more basics! To this end, basics hold no fear nor boredom for me and I always felt that good kata and kumite can only come from good basics.
The Wado-Ryu club folded in the late 70's and migrated into a semi-contact and weapons based organisation under the banner of Kenbukai. The focus moved away from basics and into contact karate, incorporating kumite, groundwork, ju-jitsu and kali/escrima with instructor Bob Breen. We supplemented the training with some great courses with some top contact fighters from the USA but topped it with two Kali courses with Bruce Lee's star pupil, Dan Innosanto.
Following a four year stint working in the Middle East , training with a few black belts from various styles, I returned to England and rejoined the Kenbukai team. However, contract work being what it was meant I moved around a lot but still trained with whatever style I found in the local area. I trained in Kung-fu, traditional Shotokan karate and even joined a Judo club.
A serious back injury put my karate career at risk for a long while and I thought I was destined never to train again, maybe only gentle swimming and that's not a good prospect for a serious karate-ka.
However, salvation was at hand when my son Liam said he wanted to start karate and I wanted him to have a good grounding in a traditional style. Scanning the local paper brought us to Renshi Andy Kidby's club in Bletchley. Standing watching Liam train, I thought “Why stand around watching – join in!” And the rest is history.
I am immensely proud to have obtained Shodan in 2005 and Nidan in 2008. I always train hard, giving 110% to my chosen sport and like to keep it as real as possible. The varied schedule of kihon, kata, kumite, self-defence, knife work, bo and more ensures this will always be the case, it is my stress-buster, my social arena and above all, a great place to train.
In 2008 I took over the Newton Longville CFTS club with Sensei Waterhouse and we have helped it go from strength to strength, with a high calibre of students both young and old(er), some great social events and the club are always there to support NL and CFTS at gradings and courses.
My daughter Zoe joined CFTS in 2009, having previously trained with the ECKA in Buckinghamshire and has graded her way up to Shodan and I am extremely proud of her strength and dedication to the sport. Watching her win the ladies kumite competition in 2011 was a highlight for me.
But the absolute pinnacle for me came in March 2012 when myself and my fiancée, Sensei Pam Waterhouse, took Sandan and passed. A dream come true!
In 2015 I decided to take a different path in karate and try to engage more members into the Federation by approaching schools in the local area with the aim of setting up after school clubs. This has now escalated and together with Sensei Waterhouse, we now run after school clubs at the following schools;
St. Michaels, Stewkley, started September 2015
Thornton College, Thornton, started January 2016
St. Thomas Aquinas, Bletchley, started September 2016
On the 7th October 2017, myself and fiancée Sensei Pam Waterhouse both took the Yondan (4th) dan grading, which was both physically and mentally challenging, but the work we had put in over the previous 18 months paid off and we were both successful. An amazing day all in all.