I began training in Shotokan Karate at the age of 16 with the Sheppey Karate Club, attaining my 1st Dan in 1982 under the charismatic late Sensei Ray Fuller. Both Ray Fuller and my club Sensei, Arthur Wallace (now a 6th Dan), were interested in bunkai and I soon began to enjoy the practical side of Karate rather than competitions.
Work took me to Scotland where I continued training with the Karate Union of Scotland. A knee injury and 2 cartilage operations took me out of training for over a year, but I returned and attained my 2nd dan under Sensei Enoeda in 1988.
Work again moved me, this time to the South West of England, where I continued training, first with the Karate Union of Great Britain and then with South England Karate Union in Frome, Somerset. Training in Frome under Sensei Graham Mead in the early 90’s I further developed my love of practical bunkai, along with learning to make my Karate technique “softer”. Sensei Mead would teach that many of the more advanced applications should feel “soft, but heavy”, rather than forceful. He also taught more relaxed movements/techniques, condensing the techniques to take out any non essential movement (including over-exhalation and tension). I felt my Karate moving to a new level.
I also studied a bit of Wing Chun Kung Fu during this period which I found very practical and straight forward. Although different on the surface, I found that many of the Wing Chun applications were just the same as many of the movements in my Karate kata’s.
In 1995, I attained my 3rd Dan with SEKU under Mick Dewey, Dave Hazard and Mervin O’Donnel.
Then due to domestic problems, I was not able to train properly for a number of years, though I did try to maintain some standards, particularly in kata, training on my own when I could.
In January 2009 I happily returned to my Karate training. With the Frome Karate Club unfortunately closed down, I had to look around for a club that suited my needs. I wanted a club that had high standards of basics and kata, realistic self defence and bunkai, and a progressive approach. I was lucky to find the Wells Traditional Shotokan Karate Club, run by Sensei Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan, (part of the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association) which fulfilled all my needs. Paul also teaches Tai Chi which I took up in Aug 2009.
Although the Tai Chi and Karate are taught separately and are quite different on the surface, there is also significant overlap. It is also nice to see some of the Tai Chi softness put into the Karate, making it more fluid, effective and healthier.
To increase my own knowledge further I have attended courses with Iain Abernethy (grappling bunkai expert), John Johnston (Adaptive Karate) Rick Clark (pressure point expert) Kevin O’Hagan (Reality Based Martial Arts) and others. I’ve also studied books and DVDs by some of the top names in the martial arts world.
For the emotional pressures of self defence, I have trained for a short time in Close Quarters Combat with Team Nemesis in Bath and attended a F.A.S.T. Defence Course (FAST = Fear, Adrenalin, Stress Training) and with Kevin O’Hagan’s seminars.
I also believe that martial arts are very much about self development and teaching you to become a better person. If you are going to learn techniques that can maim or even kill somebody, then you need to have some kind of moral code as to how you would use it.
In May 2012, possibly a bit late in my martial arts career, I decided that it was time for me to “grow up” and start up my own Karate classes in Midsomer Norton. Hence I started up Holistic Karate. I know this may be an unusual name (and some people associate it with green tea and incense), but to me it means a more complete approach to teaching Karate. At this time I joined the British Combat Karate Association as it best fitted with own approach, is very supportive, efficient and gives more autonomy than most other associations.
I have had articles published in:
– Traditional Karate
– Shotokan Karate Magazine
– Jissen Martial Arts Magazine (on-line)
– Bleeding Edge Magazine (on-line)
– World Martial Arts Magazine (on-line)
I organised the Rotary Martial Arts Festival in Bath (UK) in May 2010.
Me with Iain Abernethy (a true gent) and I after one of his courses.