My initial involvement in the martial arts started in August 1958 when I was 7. My Father enrolled me in the Ladysmith Health & Strength Club Gymnasium situated at 37 Keate Street, Ladysmith, Natal, South Africa, to learn Judo.
In 1960 after I had just attained my junior 6th Kyu (green) belt, my Father was transferred to Durban. I never continued practicing judo in Durban and it wasn’t until 1971 that I reconnected with the martial arts.
At that time I was working for the Department of Justice, Durban, having just completed my compulsory one year of military service. The chief financial officer, “Hank” (Herman) van Niekerk “Sensei Van” invited me to train at Budokan, Russell Street Dojo. On my first day there I was introduced to Sensei Ray Ryan, Sempei Vic Sykes, Sempei John Sinden and two junior black belts, Alan Haig and Alan Davies. Whilst with Budokan Russell Street, I attained the grade of green belt (6th Kyu).
In January 1974 I enrolled at university to start a Bachelor of Arts degree. Because of my studies I was having difficulties attending training and almost stopped karate, however, I fortuitously ran into John Reece (3rd Dan Kodokwai) who was training the Natal University Karate Club. This was a branch of Kodokwai (JKA) which John ran together with Phil Mumford. I knew John from Grosvenor Boys High School where we went to school. He invited me to train at the University club where I had the pleasure of training under Sensei Robby Ferrier. I trained with Kodokwai from 1974 to 1976 eventually attaining my blue belt (5th Kyu). I represented the university in several annual inter varsity karate championships from 1976 to 1980.
In 1976 I happened to bump into Sensei Vic Sykes. He had opened his own dojo called Ninja SA a club which he had started with Albie Frazer. Sensei Vic invited me to join Ninja SA. I was honoured to do so. On 13th March 1976 I was graded to Second Brown belt (2nd Kyu). Later in March of 1976 I travelled to the UK and whilst living in London trained with Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda, (9th Dan) until I returned to Durban. I then carried on training at Ninja SA and on 19th June 1976 I was graded to First Brown (1st Kyu).
In 1978 as a 1st Kyu brown belt I won the South African Karate Association All Styles Kumite Championships brown belt division.
In 1979 I was graded to Shodan together with Hennie van der Merwe, Mickey Scofield, Alan Haigh and Alan Davies. Our grading panel consisted of among others, Ray Ryan, Derrick Wridgeway, Larry Foster and Vic Sykes. In November 1980 I married and moved to Matubatuba where I ran my own dojo affiliated to Budokan. I was transferred to Darnall and opened a dojo there as well, also affiliated to Budokan. On 8th October 1983 was graded to Nidan. In 1984 I returned to Durban and continued to train with Budokan both in Durban and Westville.
In 1984 and 1985 I took part in Springbok trials and although selected, never actually got the opportunity to earn my Springbok Colours. South Africa was excluded from international sport because of apartheid. In the years that followed a number of competitions were held throughout South Africa. These were sponsored by Sportsman’s larger and although I achieved some success in kumite no national recognition resulted from these tournaments.
In 1989 I was graded to Sandan. Sadly this was the last grading attended by Sensei Ray Ryan who died shortly after. At the 1989 grading Terry Bosch was appointed as head of Budokan SA by Ray Ryan. Terry’s gym in Umbilo then became Budokan Hombo Dojo. I continued to train with Sensei Terry until March 2008 when I moved to the United Kingdom.
During my karate career I have had the pleasure of training under Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda, Sensei Shigeru Kimura, Sensei Chojiro Tani, Sensei Yashitatsu Fukawa (Kendo) and Sensei Hasui Sasaki (Kendo). Sensei Hasui Sasaki was the head of the Kyoto Riot police and was invited to Durban by Sensei Ray Ryan.
In 2003 I became an Advocate (Barrister) and a member of the Society of Advocates of KwaZulu Natal. I continued to train with Sensei Terry Bosch in Umbilo and with Sensei Vic Sykes in Hillcrest.
In 2008 I moved to the United Kingdom where I was called to the Bar as a member of the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple. I digress to mention that when leaving for the UK in 1976, Sensei Ray Ryan had urged me to contact Sensei David Passmore whilst I was there, however, I could not find him. Fortuitously, I discovered that he was training in Lymington and visited him at Budokan UK dojo in around March of 2014. In February 2015 Sensei David Passmore “convinced” me to train with at the Budokan Lymington dojo. On 12th December 2015 I was graded to Godan (5th dan) and received the rank of Shihan. I have subsequently been given the rank of Renshi.
2018 and 2019 were wasted years because of the pandemic.
I currently train at the Amazon Gym in Shropham, mostly doing kata and zazen. I have a Zen Garden at home where I practice zazen. I practice iaido at home primarily because I don’t like spectators around me when doing sword work.
I remain an active member of Budokan UK as the Registrar and member of the Shihonkai.