I have always tried to follow the Budo method of training and teaching following on from my early days with Budokan UK in the Dojo based in Tunbridge Wells and of course Honbu in Crowborough as was, where I remember one night the temperature dropped to – 6 and I had to be lifted off the saddle of my Motorbike and held up for a few minutes until the blood returned to my legs, Sensei Passmore commented that I must be completely mad, But! Not so, as a some weeks later I was graded to Sankyu at Northhold Dojo, Commitment was in my mind then and still is!.
I first saw Karate way back in the spring of 1973 on Tonbridge Castle lawn, I was excited by what I saw that day and wanted to find out more, I was 26 at that time, having been invited to try a couple of classes, I wanted to join in the ongoing journey!. Classes at that time where held all over the place and at that time we where training in what was known as “ The Satelite Club “ also in Tunbridge Wells.. This was to be a wonderful time as the floor in those days was made from Terrazo a sort of plastic; after some 30 minutes of training with gyaku-zuki and other warm up methods, the floor became a skating rink and we would skid to a stop at the other end of the hall. We had many moves of training location and finally landed at High Rocks for quite some time where I was to be awarded my first 3 grades over a period of 1 year, I tried never to miss a class.
Northolt Dojo during a seminar was to be my first major grading test with many others of the day, where I was awarded my coveted Green Belt, I thought I had arrived!, Not so there was still plenty to fill the gap in my mind, this time of training was very important to me.
I did have a time of no training due to work commitments and family commitments, this meant I could not attend training for quite some time.
Some years later, I got back into training with Sensei Andy Fox ( 5th Dan ) in his Dojo at Borough Green village hall where I trained for 8 years, Then the biggest slap I have ever had came visiting, During one of my own classes located in Eynsford village where I was living at that time, I suffered a serious brain bleed an Aneurism that almost killed me, fortunately for me one of my students was a nurse, she thought I had, had a heart attack and called for the ambulance, Paramedics assessed me and told them what they thought had had happened, I did not feel anything and I have to this day got a whole in my mind of around 3 weeks, Taken to Dartford hospital and assessed before being taken to Kings Hospital where I was operated on to mend the damage, I remained in Kings for a week before being taken back to Dartford hospital for a further 3 weeks for close observation and monitoring as well as help to retain balance and co-ordination again.
My wife Lorna and my old mate and my own Sensei during this time Andy Fox both spent a lot of time looking after me one way and another. It took 6 months for me to get back to the man I used to be and I put my life down to all the training I had done, my level of fitness and my Spirit of Aikido that was built into my mind over the past 30+ years, never give up and fight back with a passion for your life.
All this took place during the month of October in the year of 2007, Carrying on until around April of the following year, when I felt as good as new again.
I have included this event as it made me more aware of how fragile life can be.
Never take the next day for granted, it’s not promised!, indeed never take the next martial arts class for granted, You may not make it.
Most importantly of all are the seminars that are always on offer from your Sensei’s and other Senior Club and Association members, I have taken many memories from these over the past years, Because as your age increases there are more memories of the past, than there are days in front of you. Don’t cut yourself off from these special classes and events, You will never see that day again.
I also trained with Sensei David Waters now the founder of Ryusui-Ryu Martial Arts Schools, where I remained for the next 20 years until I retired from full time work at 65 in November 2010 and moved to Larne in County Antrim where I now live with my wife Lorna, her home town.
I always try to get back to England during these special events to meet up with old friends and to train with many of them again, usually followed by a time of an evenings social meal and drinks a plenty!.
Come and visit me for a great time in the land of beauty, we have some nice B & B places or if you choose to take up the offer of a more Up-Market Curran Court Hotel, All will give you a great “Norn Ireland” welcome, Come and enjoy a great holiday as well as the offer of coming to join me on the mat for a couple of hours during one of my classes, If I am still able to run them!.
During the following spring of 2011March and April I launched my own school here in Larne from scratch in our local sports centre, using some posters I had made up and standing and inviting potential new students to join me in the Dojo with a 4 weeks introductory course, It worked out quite well for me as “ a blow in!” as we are called! An Englishman in Ulster!,
The culture here is very different from what I had been used to for the past 35+ years and it took me quite sometime to get a grip of both the mind set of the Northern Ireland people and of course understanding the way they spoke, I do not have any problems now thank goodness!.
I have now been here for 10 years and hope to be able to teach my arts for a few years yet and now at 75 years young and slightly over weight, I may just be able to fulfil that dream.
I also hope to be able to take the planned trip home to Kent during the spring of 2021 to meet up with “Old friends & teachers for a social meal and of course a bevvie or 3 and to train with those special people I first met back in the day!, 1973 and of course to make new friends with new students I have yet to meet,”.
I hope this short bio helps cement links to many of my former fellow students what ever grade you hold, as well as to encourage new and younger students to stay focused in the most exciting journey you could hope to imagine, Stay the course and build great life long friends and great memories you will be glad you did.
I hope to meet some of you before I retire to the great Dojo beyond the clouds.