What was your motivation in opening your dojo ?
Initially I opened a dojo 6 miles away from my Sensei’s dojo, I opened this dojo as I wanted to help expand and promote Kyokushin in my area. My dojo opened in June of 2009 and had a very successful first year, however, during the 2nd year my instructor and mentor Sensei Richard Males was suffering from ill health, his dojo had been running for 31 years, his health became so bad that he could no longer teach, I made a decision that I didn’t want to let this club that I basically grew up in close, so I offered to run the dojo for him and in February 2010 he retired from teaching and handed his club down to me, I trained under Sensei Richard for 25 years, HE was my motivation to open my Dojo, and HE was the reason I closed my dojo and kept his very prestigious dojo open, still to this very day he keeps teaching me new things, either by sitting down at his home with a cup of tea giving me pearls of wisdom or occasional stroll to the pub for a quiet pint when he’s feeling up to it.
When did you begin your training in the martial arts
I started in 1989, I was 11 years old. Now at 36 I still remember the day I started, I knew it was going to be hard, strict…..But Sensei Richard was a proper old school Sensei… Trained with and under the Welsh greats, Shihan Howard Collins, Sensei Gary Bufton to name just a few…I found the whole thing to be very prestigious and vigorous. I loved every minute of it.
What did you do prior to opening your dojo
Trained hard, I wanted to achieve everything I could, my goal was always open a dojo, as I said before I wanted to help expand the organisation in Wales, I opened my dojo as a shodan….i know some people think that you shouldn’t be a dojo operator as a shodan as some sceptics think you don’t know enough… but when you spent the later part of your kyu grades learning to actually BE an instructor from someone like Sensei Richard, you find that you have more knowledge than some of the sceptics.
What are your goals and the direction you want to take ?
My goals…. Probably to continue to run one of the longest running dojo’s in Wales, it takes a lot of my time…much to the disappointment of my wife, but Kyokushin is not just a sport or simply a martial art it’s a Passion, a way life…its got such a fantastic history and heritage I find myself gathering and investigating and collating every scrap of info I can find, I suppose my other goal is to at least at one point in my life actually visit Japan and train at the honbu and visit Sosai’s shrine. I want to emerse myself in any aspect of Kyokushin. And my Direction……. Well…. That’s an easy one, there really is only one direction isn’t there… Upwards…I’m still scaling that mountain and I’ll never stop.
Who were some of your Instructors and influences ?
Over the years I have trained under Sensei Richard Males as my main instructor, but also Shihan Paul Greenway, Shihan Mac Robertson, Shihian Jose Claronino, Shihan Martin Marlborough, Shihan Gary Bufton, Shihan Wakiuchi, Shihan Loek Hollander, Shihan Alan Cleary. But I have to say 3 of those names I owe my passion and determination to , Sensei Richard was like a father to me, as a child he gave me discipline and guildance through my early kyu grades , Shihan Paul taught me many great things and taught me to be humble, but my drive and passion and determination came from Shihan Mac Robertson, he is a true friend and someone who no matter where I am or what I’m doing is always willing to help and give sound advice, I find you always know who the greatest influences are in your karate by the way you mention them in your own teachings… I quite often tell stories of when Sensei Richard taught me this, or Shihan Paul told me that, Shihan Mac showed me this. One day I hope individuals I teach say the same about me.
How long have you been teaching and training ?
I have been training for 25 years …you never ever stop training, I started teaching since 2nd kyu so was 2005 so 9 years teaching now….There is a gap in my years of training, during my teens I had quite a few jobs that required me to work strange hours so had to stop training at the dojo and hence taking gradings stopped, but never actually stopped training myself, quite often in the early hours I could be found I empty conference rooms doing kata, after a few years I went back to training and it was like I never left…
Why did you choose Knockdown karate ?
To be honest I didn’t really choose it for its Knockdown karate, I joined because I was 11 years old and not a very confident person, also bullies in my area were rife so really just wanted to protect myself, it wasn’t until I got into it and began training I felt the confidence start to build and that confidence spurred on the passion and discovered that Kyokushin gave me a new way of life. The sound of that sounds all spiritual and mystic but I’m serious… the way I view things now and how I manage my life is so much better than others my age who don’t train. I sometimes feel like I’m in a bubble in the hussle and bustle of modern life and I’m all relaxed and calm. I have my Zen, I have Kyokushin, I have my family, I’m a very complete man, but I feel without Kyokushin it would all fall apart.