H) What are your goals now?
LOL Keep moving well and help my students. Nothing flash. Walk softly and carry a big stick works for me.
H) Please explain your "impact" theory in knockdown fighting.
I love to study history and combat tactics. I’m a really crushing bore at dinner parties and the like as I can drone on for hours and put everyone to sleep discussing weaponry and fighting styles from the first millennium.
One thing that comes through from the days when men fought as individuals rather than in massed military formations is that speed and weight of attack is critical. Impact weapons deployed quickly beat the fancy stuff. To get back to combat sports, I noticed that most fighters I came into contact with were tremendously fit, they had no problem lasting the distance but often couldn’t score with a decisive blow. I adjusted my training and coaching to focus on getting more impact and my fighting (and my students) improved immediately.
I now emphasise impact before stamina in my personal training. I did a thread about this on the forum and had lots of positive feedback.
H) How do you introduce a beginner into Enshin, compared to your karate induction, many years ago?
There’s no ‘syllabus’ in Enshin, so we all train together and the difference in the grades shows in the quality of their moves, not the quantity. Every Enshin branch chief can arrange their dojo training as they see fit, so long as the kihon and kata are technically up to scratch we can coach in our own way.
Beginners are able to train with the black belts in every class and they are mentored and coached by them all. When I started in 1971 you just joined the back of the line and tried your best to keep up! I don’t remember much kindness when I started, so today I go out of my way to make people feel welcome.
H) What have you given up in the name of karate?
Nothing really; as I said before. It’s been the death of a few relationships though. Funny that – how some partners see training almost like an ‘affair’ because you don’t want to see them every night!
H) What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?
I served as an operational firefighter for 31 years and was involved in many rescues. Nothing I have achieved in karate compares with saving lives - especially children - and those memories are very special. If karate helped me hold my nerve in dangerous situations it’s all been worthwhile, regardless of any grades or trophies picked up along the way.
H) I know you are a "Freeman of London" for your services to charity, would you elaborate....without being too modest!!?
I was granted the Freedom “by nomination” rather than the “honoury” Freedom bestowed by the City. I can’t really elaborate why. I was nominated by an Alderman for “a lifetime of public service and charity work.” His words, not mine. I have supported a local hospice for years and now try to raise funds for the SBSA – a military charity.
H) What advice would you give to anybody considering taking up karate?
Try your best, but remember to keep your life balanced. Family - Work - Karate is my personal order of priorities and I hate to see people getting so obsessed their marriage or career suffers. In the west, karate serves us by providing a challenge in a supportive environment. I do not feel we need to take this to extremes and following severe health problems I strongly advise against overtraining. I realise some people like to immerse themselves in the Japanese culture and if that works for them, great. I have never felt I wanted to act in that way though – I just focus on the practical.
It’s also good to keep your eye on the prize. If you started for self-protection keep things realistic. If you have talent your instructor may pressure you to enter Tournaments etc but you’re there for what you want, not for him. Focus on what really matters to you. That will keep you more interested than imposed demands.
H) What advice would you give to instructors?
Remember that, "You cannot build character and courage by taking away initiative and independence” I’ve got that printed in my office to remind me how to coach. In the old days we just survived the class, but its better long term to help the students find their own character by encouraging them to challenge themselves. Never just beat them into the ground.
This is especially true with juniors. Some of the kids I get joining have had all their confidence kicked out of them already, so immediately putting them under pressure and correcting every mistake just reinforces feelings of inadequacy. I prefer to find something they’re good at and praise them until they start to regain their self-belief. Technical corrections come later, when they are confident enough to accept them.
H) Any messages to the world of karate and k4l especially?
This forum proves that different styles and factions can get along just great. Sign the top guys up!
H) When are you going to publish the much awaited book?
LOL Probably never! It’s just a record for my kids to read when I’m in a nursing home (smelling of piss and biscuits) I started the idea thinking I could perhaps raise some cash for charity, but things stalled a bit after I got to winning the Tournament. Two parts to go so don’t hold your breath!
In conclusion, I’d like to thank everyone who has influenced and guided me this far. Even if I didn’t agree, they made me get out of my comfort zone and press on. That was just as important as showing me the skills.
Thanks to you as well Hasbeen.