Interviews & People, Uncategorized


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I’ve started compiling my old interviews and have listed them here:

Interviews & People
Steve Arneil Kyokushinkai Legend
Wado Ryu Training In The ’60’s
Toru Takamizawa
Julian Dale – Eagle Claw
Dave Rubens – Aikido and Security
Yoshinobu Ohta Interview 2003
Mick Randall MBE Interview 2003
Mick Billman Interview 2003
Mick Gooch Interview 2003
Peter Spanton Interview 2003
Dave Hazard Interview 2003
Dave Courtney Interview 2010
Doug James Interview 2003
Jim Uglow Interview 2001 – Chap Sau
Ray Fuller Interview 2003
Mick Nursey Interview 2003

Talks With Dennis Jones
Dennis Jones Interview

Articles, Interviews & People, Uncategorized




Written in January 2004…..

It was a year ago that we last interviewed Dennis – and in Bob Sykes words “2003 has been the Dennis Jones year”.  Writing the “Samurai on the Door” columns and working on a book with him has helped me to understand what makes him tick a little bit better.  I think the most surprising quality about Dennis is his quiet manner.  You only get to know anything about him in bits and pieces over a period of time and need a lot of perseverance and patience to get the whole picture.


Dennis is well qualified with a Batchelor of Science degree; an ONC and HNC in Building, a Fellow of the Institute of Carpenters and is a College Lecturer in Building and Civil Engineering.  He is very well read in many subjects, including Philosophy and History, particularly appertaining to Martial Arts.  He has an incredible knowledge of guns and shooting and with both his Father and brother having been in the SAS, a good working knowledge of Military strategies and fighting methods.


His first love however, is the Martial Arts and the development of the Human Being through their study.  His deep historical study of the Martial Arts and practical experience on nightclub doors over 23 years, makes him a unique person with a highly unusual perspective.


I hope you get the opportunity to meet and train with Dennis in the forthcoming year and that you get the chance to delve into the rich tapestry that makes up his experience in life.  Meanwhile I shall continue to work with him on the “Samurai on the Door” column and the book and offer you this interview for the MAI Yearbook…..


SR  Talking to Bob Sykes the other day, he told me that the “Samurai on the Door”  column is the most popular in the magazine!  What do you think of that?


DJ  Surprised in some respects and not in others Steve, I’ve studied and trained in the Martial Arts for nearly 30 years and “pressure tested” everything on the doors throughout that period of time.  Many Instructors can only pass on their fighting knowledge second, third or fourth hand, or they may have competed or had a couple of street fights against non entities.  I’ve used my techniques against all manner of fighters continuously over all those years, in all manner of situations and feel like I have a lot to say.


My driving passion has always been the Martial Arts and I’ve trained and thought about it every day without fail, often training in the dark and in the most inhospitable and unusual places….. knowing that extra repetition and mental affirmation could be the one that saves my life.


SR  You’re a dark horse, we know you obtained your first Black Belt grade in Kyokushin  all those years ago and that you obtained a teaching certificate in Wu style Tai Chi from Katherine Allen, but you’ve actually cross trained quite a lot over the years haven’t you?


DJ  Probably the first person in my generation to talk about cross training was Bruce Lee, like most people training at that time, he was my hero, so I took his ideas on board.  Working on the doors meant that I was looking to see what worked and styles and Martial Arts never really came into it, but yes, I trained in any club and with anybody that I thought might have something to offer.


I would like to make the point though, that the Traditional Martial Arts do have a lot to offer, they were formulated by people that had to fight to the death to survive, if they are passed down accurately all the strategies and techniques that I use are in there.  The problem with many modern Martial Arts is that Instructors choose a technique because it looks good or sounds logical, but… test it in reality and it fails….


Take it from me; the very first time that you face a real opponent in the street, it will be like nothing you’ve ever encountered in the Dojo…  unless you have a mentor that has that kind of experience teaching in your Dojo.


SR  You’re also one of the most well read Martial Artists that I’ve met….


DJ  (Laughs) I’ve read everything I could lay my hands on to do with the Martial Arts from about 1973 onwards, including all the obscure items, like the Times article on Mas Oyama’s first demonstration in 1960 in Madison Square Gardens, the first full contact championships when fighters like Aaron Banks were competing, when the legendary boxer Rocky Marciano trained in the Martial Arts and so on.  I’m an avid collector of all Martial Arts documentation.  I love to read all the old books containing pictures and documents referring to the old Chinese Boxers or in fact, anything to do with the Martial Arts.


SR  You’ve read a lot of philosophy as well….


DJ  Yeah….  Everything from the Upanishads, to the Bible….  I’m what you might call a “man watcher”, because that’s what I have to do on the door, nasty people are deceitful by nature and I have to be able interpret all the subtle signs of them trying to “get into my head” for my own safety.


SR  You also have the longest list of letters after your name I’ve ever seen!


DJ  I have taken the trouble to obtain qualifications because I’ve had to earn a living to be able to continue and finance my study of the Martial Arts.  When I was younger I was told that I was stupid and felt that I had to prove that I wasn’t.  I simply put the same work ethics that I learned in the Martial Arts into regular study.


I have a Batchelor of Science degree; an ONC and HNC in Building, a Fellow of the Institute of Carpenters and eventually became a College Lecturer in Building and Civil Engineering.  This gave me a reasonable and honourable living and enough spare time to enable me to continue with my Martial Arts studies.


SR  I think that it shows that you have the ability to develop yourself holistically and utilise your Martial Arts skills in all other areas of your life.  Would you say that writing these articles has been cathartic for you?


DJ  It has been extremely good for me.  23 years of conflict taught me a lot, if you can imagine all that Martial Arts study and I still felt doubt and fear, looking around at all the Instructors, Sensei and so called “Masters”, I couldn’t find anyone to really help.  Bruce Lee said that a Master was a Martial Artists who had no “vague notions”, many of them sounded confident but I knew when put under pressure they would be Paper Tigers.


Working on the magazine and our forthcoming book has helped me to frame what I’ve learned and experienced and will inevitably help others.  Martial Arts practitioners usually have opinions on what will and won’t work in a street confrontation and I choose not to comment on that… what I will tell the readers is what REALLY happens from my own direct experience…..  the truth….. as it is…. what I’ve seen – and what I’ve felt.


What I can also say is that I can identify many common denominators in the old Martial Arts texts that I can relate to.  The writers had to fight to survive and had the knowledge we still require; much of it was unfortunately lost enroute to us.  I was awestruck watching old footage of people like Kano, Ueshiba and Oyama because you can see the capability in their movement and the determination and resolve in their eyes.


SR  The book that we’re working on, doesn’t fit in to the “Hard Bastards” genre, it’s more about the alchemy that takes place in a human being who studies Martial Arts in the same way that we do.  It’s more a Martial Arts or “Lifestyle” type book and contains a structured way of approaching the internal alchemy that takes place, irrespective of whether the reader trains in a Martial Art….


DJ  That’s right.  The stories that we use, such as those in our column, are designed to illustrate a point from practical experience and make learning a more pleasurable and memorable experience because of the illustrations that we use.


SR  Violence seems to permeate throughout society and today, wherever you look, the can see the effect it has on our lives.  What would you say is the difference between a violent person and a Martial Artist?


Violence is easy; it’s used by criminals all the time.  Most are not even particularly good at it; they just make sure that the odds are in their favour.  There’s no human development in learning violence.  I’m interested in courage, bravery and a developed human being.  Peace is earned.  We have to earn the right to live in peace by keeping violent criminals at bay.  We don’t have to become like them.  That’s what the articles and book are all about and I think that most Martial Artists would agree with me.


Criminals will get into a victim’s head first, then they’ll isolate that person from support by using money, wealth and especially influence.  Then they will use violence on the victim, three or four handed, maybe knee capping him with a baseball bat, using a weapon on his face, breaking his arms, or perhaps even murdering him.  Often it’s just business and there’s nothing brave in that. Remember, being a criminal is a way of life; it’s not the “way” of Martial Arts.  A Martial Artist will always have the “righteous objective” that we’ve discussed in previous articles and would never start the violence.


Our path is not to become unevenly yoked to them.


SR  What do you mean by “unevenly yoked”?


DJ  What I mean is, they control you by getting you to do things for them, I mentioned in the December article that if you were the manager of a nightclub you could be targeted by the dealers and if you were a weak person they would seduce you into getting a drug habit so that they had a hold over you and you would be “unevenly yoked”  to them.  You become dependent on them and they are able to make decisions that could affect you in a negative way.  I can say that I’m not “unevenly yoked” to anyone.  I’m not involved in any type of drugs or criminality.


SR  Bob Sykes mentioned that 2003 was the “Dennis Jones Year” and apart from the magazine articles, you’ve taught and lectured to the Shi Kon Dan grades, taught on the Medway International Summer Course to a host of International Martial Artists and you’re coming with me to the Czech Republic to teach Presidential Bodyguards, Special Services and Police Self Defence Instructors.  Bob has asked you to teach on his Super Seminar and you’re working with me on the book.  You’ve also opened a club in Maidstone Kent.  A busy year to say the least!


DJ  That’s right!  I’m not used to being high profile.  In my trade it pays to be the opposite.  I’m grateful for the help that both you and Bob have given me and I’ve had to work hard to find words to express what I’ve done naturally over all these years!  With my close circle of friends and students, I’ve generally used what we call the “vernacular” to explain the principles.  Techniques were developed and refined through the encounters that I had, I didn’t need to explain them in Martial Art terms.  With the Shi Kon method of analysis and principles, that which I found difficult to explain previously fits in perfectly!


SR  I think one of the reasons that we got on so well instantly, was the fact that we could both recognise the principles behind what each other was doing.


DJ  That’s right.  In my club I’m teaching the Shi Kon syllabus because it’s efficient and works well.  When I first met you, from your reputation I thought that you were a traditional Japanese style Martial Artist.  What amazed me was, when we started talking I realised that you had a system that fused Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts into a practical set of principles.  Although you teach traditional Wado Ryu and Yang Family Tai Chi, the underlying principles are still the same.


I was also amazed by the fact that you had no ego towards me and that we could talk openly and freely about Martial Arts, self defence and philosophy without either of us becoming defensive.


SR  In our photo shoot you look perfectly at home with a Katana and Jo staff…


DJ  Yeah I have a natural affinity to the Samurai and their weapons  I know that you have trained in both for decades yourself – I find the Samurai ideals very zenic and noble.  Even though I’m half Chinese my mind rests very comfortably with their principles.


SR  With the huge response we’ve had to the articles and courses the readers are continually asking about the book and future courses, what are your plans for 2004?


DJ  To continue with the articles, complete the book, continue with the courses and grow my club.  Most important for me is to tell it like it really is, no embellishments and no compromises.


SR Thank you Dennis.


DJ  Thank you Steve.









Articles, Interviews & People, Uncategorized

Iaido – The Cutting Edge


Tribute to Fuji Okimitsu 1939 – 2017


Iaido came to England by various routes and mention should be made here of Fuji Okimitsu (Jikiden style) who was born in 1939 in Saga Prefecture which is the old province of Hizen, a mecca of Martial Arts, famous for the Hagakure (Samurai spirit), he started training at the age of 7yrs playing Shinai Kyogi wearing white trousers, T shirt and rubber shoes using Fukuro Shinai (bamboo sword split into 16 canes and covered with a canvas bag) as the Martial Arts were banned by the American GHQ.

Fuji Sensei was my Iaido teacher and a much loved and respected Sensei based in Dartford Kent for many years and will be fondly remembered by us all from a variety of disciplines as a real character and one of the most friendly Japanese Sensei that we have ever met.  In 1988 he named my association ‘Shi Kon’ and drew the kanji that still hangs on my Dojo wall.

He moved back to Japan returning to live and teach in Cornwall for the remainder of his life.  I will write a personal account of my training with him at a later date.

Below is a history of his Muso Jikiden Ryu of Iaido and when it branched off into Muso Shinden Ryu.

The warrior Hayashizaki Jinusuki Shigenobu was meditating at the shrine when the vision came….. born in the year 1543 in Tateoka Oshu (now known as Murayama – Shi, north of Tokyo), his father had been killed in a duel by Sakagawa Ichiunsai when he was very young, he had studied Budo assiduously until at the age of 19 he traced Sakagawa to Kyoto and avenged his father by defeating and killing him.

The vision became his inspiriation for Iaijutsu and laid the foundations for modern Iaido as we know it today.  Many technical skills in the Japanese arts of  Karate (particularly Wado Ryu), Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Judo, Ninjitsu and other Kobudo arts have their roots in this lineage, most Japanese warriors trained in the way of the sword primarily and their unarmed training was Tegatana (hand sword) adapting the same techniques that they used in sword training for other forms of combat.

Hayashizaki had the Ryu (style) named after him and it was also called Muso Ryu meaning “dream” or “vision”, two of the most popular styles of  Iaido in Japan and the rest of the world today, Muso Shinden Ryu (Muso meaning “vision” and Shinden, “shrine”) and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (the Kanji for Muso here being different meaning “unique and without equal” Jikiden meaning “transmitted direct” and Eishin is the name of the 7th Soke Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin who became Soke in 1610 and made many changes to the style and was regarded a very skilled exponent).

Tamiya Heibi Shigemasa inherited the Ryuka and the main line for Jikiden and Shinden can be traced through him, Hayashizaki also had two other outstanding students, Katayama Hokinokami Hisayasu who founded Hokkiri Ryu and Sekiguchi Hachiroemon Jushin who founded Sekiguchi Ryu.

It was with the 9th Soke in 1675,  Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa that Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu became firmly established in the Kochi area right through to the 19th Soke.  Hayashi was a retainer to General Yamanouchi with the Shogun Tokugawa, up until this time the Iaijutsu forms only incorperated Tachi Waza (standing)  and Tate Hiza (a way of kneeling wearing battle armour) as they were all that were required for battleground techniques, it was Hayashi’s Kenjutsu teacher Omori Rokurozaemon who invented Omori Ryu to incorperate into the style utilising Seiza techniques for an indoor situation.  He used Hakama Sabaki (methods of manoevering the Japanese traditional costume when moving), Metsuka (way of using the eyes), Nukitsuke (drawing and cutting in one flowing movement) and Chiburi (blood shake of the sword) all techniques that would not be required on the open battlefield.

The 11th Soke (1742), Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu had two outstanding students, Hayashi Masunojo Masatake, who became the 12th Soke in 1779, continuing the Jikiden line and Matsukishi Sadasuki who using the same style renamed it Muso Shinden Batto Jutsu which later became Muso Shinden Ryu.

Around 1910 Iaijutsu ceased to be confined to definite areas and various Ryuka became popular throughout Japan and at the beginning of the Showa period at around 1925 that  Iaijutsu became known as Iaido (Do meaning “the way” as in the Chinese Tao).

The Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Seitigata Iai came into being in 1969 producing at first seven forms, building them eventually to ten (reflecting the ten Kendo kata) categorising the basic movements of  Iai from the Shinden and Jikiden styles with some characteristics from the Hokki style.  The Seiti forms are used at gradings enabling practioners from all styles to grade together, it is a bit like Shotokan and Wado Karate practioners integrating the Pinan and Heian Kata producing a standard set of forms to reflect both styles and using them for grading purposes so that the other Kata reflecting the differences in their styles could still be practised!

The following is a list of the lineage for Jikiden and Shinden ryu:

  1. Hayashizaki Jinusuke Shigenobu
  2. Tamiya Heibei Shigemasa
  3. Nagano Muraku Nyudo Kinrosai
  4. Dede Gunbeinoje Mitsushige
  5. Arikawa Masaemon Munetsued
  6. Manno Danueimon Nobumasa
  7. Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin
  8. Arai Seitetsu Kiyonobu
  9. Hayashi Rokudaiyu Morimasa
  10. Hayashi Yasudaiye Masataka
  11. Okuro Motouemon Kiyokatsu

Here the style splits into the two branches:

No. Jikiden Shinden
12. Hayashi Manonoso Masatake Matsukichi Sadasuki
13. Yoda Manzo Takakatsu Yamakawa Kyuso
14. Hayashi Yadayu Masataka Shimomura Ichisada
15. Tanimura Kamenoso Yorio Hosokawa Yoshimasa
16. Goto Magobei Seiryo Nakayama Hakudo
17. Oei Masamichi  
18. Hokiyama Namio  
19. Fukui Harumasa  
20. Kono Minoru  
21. Fukui Torao  




Articles, Interviews & People, Uncategorized


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Steve Rowe talks with Doorman and Martial Artist Dennis Jones…


Giri:  a debt of gratitude, duty, justice, obligation, a sense of honour


SR  Dennis, we were discussing the concept of “Giri”  within the book  “Hagakure” by Yanamoto Tsunetomo and the following story…..


“Among Takeda Shingen’s retainers there were men of matchless courage, but when Katsuyori was killed in the fight at Tenmokuzan, they all fled.  Tsuchiya Sozo, a warrior who had been in disfavour for many years , came out alone, however, and said, “I wonder where all the men are who spoke so bravely every day?  I shall return the master’s favours to me”  And he fell alone in battle.”


And you were relating it to Giri amongst Doorman, can you explain this to the readers?


DJ  Well Steve, I’ve worked with many Doormen in my time, some of them were high grade Martial Artists, others Body Builders and so on, and in the “quiet time” on the door most talked a great fight.  To listen to them you would assume that when “push came to shove” on the door, they’d be right there with you backing you up, or in front dealing with the problem.


But I found, as you’d expect, the best talkers just seem to disappear at the time that you need them most.  But I’d like to talk about a guy we’ll call Robert, he was neither a Martial Artist or Body Builder, in fact he didn’t train at all, but he did say to me “Dennis I can’t fight like you but I’ll tell you one thing…”  he put his hand on his heart…  “I give you my word that when it “goes off’ and you’re surrounded, I may not be able to fight like you, but I’ll always watch your back and at least take one of them out, and if you’re getting a kicking; I’ll be on the floor tasting the leather boots with you.”


I looked in his eyes and could see that he was sincere.  Many of the other Doormen would put him down and call him useless, but they were also the ones that talked a good fight and were not there when it really counted.


Well, one night it’s “gone off” with what seemed like everyone in the Nightclub fighting, bottles, and glasses being used as weapons and glass ashtrays (why do nightclubs still persist in using them when they are used so viciously as weapons?) and women screaming everywhere.  I’m right in the middle of this melee, god knows where the other doormen had disappeared to and I’ve looked down to my right and there was Robert being true to his word.


He’d leaped on this guy from behind and dragged him down to the floor using a technique I call “the octopus” with both his legs wrapped around an attackers waist and his arms around his throat and he was choking him and biting his face!  Bless him, he was true to his word – bound to me by obligation –  he had taken one opponent out of the equation!  The other Doormen with all the talk had run away….


When I read that story in Hagakure I think of Robert.


SR  I can remember someone saying to me that when you choose your friends, imagine yourself in the trenches of the first world war and about to “go over the top” and think would I like this person next to me?  When I was in the Fire Brigade many years ago your life did depend on the guys you were teamed up with and the trust and camaraderie was an important part of the job.  The security world is very similar….


DJ  You’re right!  It’s important on the door, but you often just end up with people that someone else has employed and you never really know how someone’s going to react until it actually “goes off” bad.


SR  “Giri” is an interesting Japanese term as in feudal Japan a Samurai owed his life to his Master and “obligation” meant something quite different.  The term has been quoted many times to me asking for blind loyalty to a Japanese Sensei and yet I feel that it’s meaning for us in the Martial Arts that respect has to be earned in both directions between Instructor and student.


DJ  Another passage from Hagakure reads:


“Lord Naoshige once said “There is nothing felt quite so deeply as giri.  There are times when someone like a cousin dies and it is not a matter of shedding tears.  But we may hear of someone who lived fifty or a hundred years ago, of whom we know nothing and who has no family ties with us whatsoever, and yet from a sense of giri shed tears.”


Funakoshi talks about taking his children to meet his Sensei Azato and Itosu and how they bought his children sweets that he couldn’t afford, and how: “… the two generations of us, have all benefited enormously from the teachings of these two Masters.  Where shall I find the words to express my gratitude?” That story strangely bought a tear to my eye because I could understand that it’s more than just a Martial concept.  You can even have “Giri” towards a respected enemy, the Chinese say that “if two tigers meet, one will surely be maimed and the other killed”.  Often seasoned warriors have mutual respect for the effort they know each other have had to put in to develop their skill and character.


I felt “Giri” and respect for Robert because of his actions and eight years after this event I found out that he had died all by himself in a flat of a heroin overdose and when I looked back, he had given me his word and when faced with a really bad violent situation that made most of the other doormen “lose it” and run away, he did exactly what he had promised to do.


I don’t know why or how he got into drugs, but when I think of him dying on his own in that flat I feel sad and empathic towards him, because in his own way he was a real man.  You remember in our first column when we talked about the guy who stole my pen at school dying of a drugs overdose and I felt nothing towards him?  Strange isn’t it that the death of Robert can bring a tear to my eye…..  I think in my world that is “Giri”….


SR  One of my reasons for writing the EKGB column is a sense of Giri toward the people who started Karate in England.  I feel that we never give credit to the people who were there from the start and put in so much work.  New generations of Martial Artists are coming through and might never know the history and names of their Founding Fathers.  In the Medway area it was people like yourself, Mick Gooch, Norman King, Roger Wilkes, Pauline Bindra and so on who made the Martial Arts known to the general public.  There are so many people with extravagant claims around nowadays that are benefiting from all the work put in by others and not giving credit where it’s due.


DJ  I’ve known Roger for 26 years – and yet I’ve probably only spoken to him 6 or 7 times, yet I have respect and “Giri” toward him because of what he is and for what he has done.  Our paths have been linked all the way through that period of time.


SR  Nothing gave me more pleasure than to get you all together teaching at my Medway Summer Course this year!


DJ  I’d like to end this month’s column with a little poem that epitomises “Giri” to me.  When I was a child my Father was in the S.A.S and he would come to me before going out on special operations and would give me a kiss and say “I’ll see you”…  of course we both knew that maybe he wouldn’t…  as luck would have it, he did, but some of his friends didn’t come back and I’d like to also dedicate this poem to them and Robert.


“The sound of the bell of Gionshoja echoes the impermanence of all things.  The hue of the flowers of the teak tree declares that they that flourish must be brought low.  Yea, the proud ones are but for a moment, like an evening dream in the springtime.  The mighty are destroyed at the last, they are but as the dust before the wind.”


From The Samurai  by S R Turnbull



Interviews & People

Mick Nursey Interview 2003


This interview was conducted in September 2003…

I didn’t really know Mike Nursey until recently.  I’d heard his name over the years and when he came directly into the English Karate Governing Body from FEKO he attended the Council meetings and was elected on to the Technical and Executive Committees.  Mike has always been the voice of reason.  He represents the voice of the majority and clearly has the interests of English Karate at heart.

At the first Management Board meeting it was clear that he wasn’t duplicitous and in computer speak was WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).  We had a good day at my Dojo doing this interview and spent most of the time talking Karate as opposed to politics.  As you will see from this interview he is another EKGB Karateka that has been around since the dawn of English Karate.

SR  Hi Mike, where did your interest in the Martial Arts come from?

MN   At school  I tried Football and Rugby but wanted something where I could get a result directly from my personal effort and not have to rely on other people as you do in team sports. I started  Judo in 1961 when I was about 12 years old and carried on for approximately three years where I achieved a brown belt. While doing Judo I was also a member of Southgate Swimming Club. Regularly swimming 50 – 60 lengths twice a week for stamina and fitness and swam for the County many times.

At   a Venture Scout meeting a guy called John Hawkes came down to the club and did a Ju Jitsu demonstration, I followed him back to his club in Wood Green which was behind a very tough Irish pub in North London called the Wood Green Arms and enrolled.  The Ju Jitsu was blended with Judo which suited me because of my Judo background.

SR  How long did you stay there?

MN  I stayed for approx 1 year but as I was very slight at 9stone and found even a beginner at 16 stone was hard to beat so I looked around for an art that utilised distance more efficiently.  One night I saw a student doing some strange moves in the corner and he told me it was Karate and that there were only two clubs in London. I enrolled in the nearest one run by John Van Weenan.  That was in 1967.

SR  What was the training like then?

MN  Very disciplined.  Lots of repetitions.  Two hour sessions starting off with loads of basics in the old long Shotokan stances.  We were very lucky, Instructors like Eddie Witcher, Mick Randall, Mick Payne  and visiting Japanese instructors such as Takahashi, Kato and Chief Instructor of the KUGB Sensei Enoeda would come and teach and do the gradings; it was difficult but I loved it!

SR  What was the sparring like?

MN  Sparring was lethal!  No control and you frequently got a whack from the higher grades, in those days you just accepted it and tried to get out the way.  There were also no mitts or safety equipment.

SR  Who else was around at the time?

MN  Mick Billman was and still is a good friend of mine.

SR  He’s the subject for my next interview, I’m actually seeing him next week.  Who else?

MN  Mick Randall, Roger Hall, Nick and Chris Adamou , John Van Weenan and Paul Perry to name but a few.

SR  Who were the main Instructors?

MN  The Club Instructor was John Van Weenan and we were in the KUGB.  After about 6 months training we had a course and grading at Crystal Palace and all the Japanese Instructors were there.  I was a bit short of money and couldn’t afford to stay at the hostel there, so I borrowed an old camper van and parked it in the car park!  Every day I came back from training to find a notice fixed on the windscreen telling me to move it, so I just kept switching car parks and slept in the back!  I managed to keep that going for two weeks!

I took my first grading there and went straight to temporary yellow belt.  That was a buzz and seeing the Japanese Instructors really inspired me!

SR  Would you say that there was a camaraderie in those days that doesn’t seem to exist now?

MN  Yes.  Society has changed.  In those days the training was harder and people didn’t complain so much.  If you took a hit you just got on with it and accepted it.  If we taught like that nowadays we’d lose all our students, I’m not sure it was a good or bad thing but I’m glad I was around to experience that sort of training.

SR  When did you get your first Black Belt?

MN  In 1971. From Kanazawa Sensei.  I went to 1st Kyu with Enoeda Sensei and then Kanazawa came over and I went with Mick Randall and Kanazawa.  When I took my Shodan it was a big event that was held in front of 200 people and quite nerve racking!

SR  When was the SKI formed?

MN  SKI was formed around 1974. The Chief Instructor was Sensei Kanazawa who at this time came to England quite frequently.  But over the years due to his commitments in other countries he was coming over less frequently and passed the SKI on to Asano Sensei in Nottingham. Asano would come down every couple of months for a training course that consisted of hard basics in the morning and freestyle in the afternoon with the black belts. He was Japanese University freestyle champion. He would get all the students sitting in a circle while he strutted up and down punching and grunting before calling the dreaded words “one black o belto”. One black belt would get up and get a good pasting followed by the next one and the next one until he had fought them all – sometimes as many as 20.  The afternoon session with the black belts dwindled over the years but I thought it was great.

SR  How did you get on with the Tai Chi that Kanazawa Sensei taught?

MN  I think when we learned it was in the early stages, we just learned it like a Karate kata and did it because we were told to.  We didn’t understand it but were told that it was good for us!  When Kanazawa Sensei went most of us stopped practising it.

SR Where did you go from the SKI?

MN  That was when we formed the English Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA)  in ’79 with myself ,the late Eddie Witcher, Mick Randall, Chris  and Nick Adamou, Greg Durrant, John Van Weenan ,Roger Hall, and  the late Harry Jones.  It was so successful that it grew too big and became too difficult to manage.  John Van Weenan started his own Association, as did Greg Durrant and Mick Randall,and Chris Adamou.  ESKA is still running today and is currently in its 24th year with myself and Roger Hall as Chief Instructors.

SR  How many students do you have now?

MN  About 900. Almost every club Instructor has graded in ESKA from white belt. We hold regular courses and gradings and organize many functions, tournaments, dinner dances etc and a have a very good social side, I feel that is important in an Association.

SR  What other senior grades do you have in the Association?

MN  Roger Hall is a 7th Dan, Mark West and  Nick Lower who are 5th Dan approximately ten 4th Dans and a total of nearly 80 Black Belts.

SR  What area does the Association cover?

MN  Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex although we do have clubs in London and the Isle of Wight.  We have a competition once a year that is always well attended. For the millennium we had a special tournament with over a thousand people attending and Tony Banks MP was our VIP guest.

SR  Do you do WKF tournament?

MN  Yes we do, although we are a traditional group and tend to have more Kata competitors than Kumite.

SR  How did you get involved in the politics of Karate?

MN  Through my old friend Mick Billman.  We were members of the EKGB through FEKO and we decided to join the EKGB direct.  Mick encouraged me to take an active part and I became involved in the Council meetings and was elected on to the Executive and the Technical Committee.  With the EKGB restructuring we have now become a Company Limited by guarantee and have a Management Committee. I was elected on to that along with yourself Steve.

SR  How did you find the politics?

MN  I was very frustrated at first with how long winded the meetings were  but we have now evolved into a strong positive entity.  The new Management Committee looks very promising!

SR  How do you see the future for the EKGB?

MN  It looks good!  The new structure has created a pro active Committee and we can actually get things done.  Those on the outside will soon have good reason to want to be in the English Karate Governing Body because of the support structure that we are putting in place.  Our Coaching, Vetting, Child Protection Policies, Tournament Structure, Squad Training and Selection Procedures, insurance packages and general resources are second to none.

Just look at our membership, look at the people that you’ve interviewed over the last few months Steve. There can only be one Governing Body for Karate. The EKGB has the majority of senior Founding Fathers of English Karate and our resources and affiliations really are second to none.  .  If you want to be a REAL English, British, European or World Champion or selected for the Olympics in 2008 you have to be in the English Karate Governing Body.

We’re also focussing on Traditional Karate – the Club Instructors need support and guidance. We need to be able to advise them on business management, Insurance deals and packages, computer software, grading and technical structures and strategies, advertising law and recommendations, statistics and so on.  They need the support and expertise that we have.  All we have to do is to make it available!  That’s our job Steve!

SR  What about your own Karate?

MN  Karate to me is just as enjoyable today as it was when I started all those years ago. I love teaching!  I get enormous satisfaction from teaching all types of students helping them through all the ups and downs of their training and get a real buzz when they finally achieve their Black Belt. I would like to see ESKA continue to expand from within and  to carry on teaching and training for many years to come.

SR  Mike it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

MN Thank you Steve – I enjoyed myself.

Interviews & People

Ray Fuller Interview 2003


This Interview took place in 2003

Ray Fuller was there at the beginning.  He was one of the very first Karateka in England, starting with Vernon Bell in the famous Horseshoe pub in Clerkenwell in 1964 with Mick Randall (now MBE).  Ray was there for the founding of the KUGB and in 1975 formed Thames Karate, which is still a member of the English Karate Governing Body today.

Ray has without a doubt led an eventful life.  Well known as a spirited Karateka and for his uncompromising attitude to traditional Shotokan Karate, Ray has headed one of the largest groups throughout the major Karate years.  Many strong Shotokan leaders today can trace their roots back to Rays instruction.

In the last few years Ray has been stabbed, fallen down the stairs damaging his hip and when in hospital discovered he had bone disease.  He has scars measuring over 3 foot in length, has overcome the bone disease, has gone from crutches to sticks and is on the mend.  With the death of the great Enoeda Sensei and Jimmy Patterson of Thames recently, at 70 years of age Ray’s instruction is in demand more than ever.

Because Ray is one of the great characters of English Karate, he has some funny and interesting stories to tell.  We have had all the historical aspects of Shotokan and Karate in England over the past few fascinating months from some the top English Karate Governing Body Instructors and I hope that you’ve all enjoyed learning about the background to your Art, Ray will now “colour in” that background with some human interest stories….

SR Ray, what were you doing before you started Karate?

RF  I was in the Army, in 2 Para.  I was in the Suez crisis in the Sudan as part of the Reconnoitre Squad, there were only 8 of us. I was a wireless operator in the desert working as a look out to inform the authorities if the Sudanese and Egyptian Armies joined forces to attack us.

SR  How did you get involved in Karate?

RF  There was a television programme called “Whickers World” on at the time hosted by Alan Whicker and they featured this strange Japanese art called Karate.  I was boxing at the time and was continually getting injured and as these Japanese guys didn’t get hurt, I thought I’d give it a go.  I looked around and discovered that a man named Vernon Bell ran the only club in the country. So Mick Randall (featured in the November edition of MAI) and myself paid him a visit, filled in all the appropriate forms, paid our dues and turned up at his club over the Horseshoe Pub in Clerkenwell on a freezing January night in 1964.

The club was called “Yoseikan” which is a place in Japan and not a style.  We had Mount Fujiyama as a badge but the style was still Shotokan. We had to watch a couple of times before he would let us join.  I think the first few sessions we spent punching the wall!  It wasn’t cheap either!

SR  Who else was around at that time?

RF  Let me see…. It was so long ago….  There was Jimmy Neal, Terry Wingrove, John Chisolm, Eddie Witcher, Mick Peachey, Rob Williams, Brian Harper, Royston Williams and Aurthur Nightingale to name a few.

SR Who were the first Japanese Instructors you trained with?

RF  There was Hiroo Mochizuki, but we’d only just started then… and then Tetsuji Murakami the Japanese Instructor who lived in the South of France, he was good!

SR  Mick Randall was saying that you used to train together a lot at work…

RF  That’s right!  We had a great Dojo in the basement of the building that we worked in.  I think we spent most of our time training.  Then I got the sack because we were training on the roof and a nurse from the hospital opposite saw us training and called the police!  It was in all the newspapers…  “Karateman Gets The Chop!”

SR  When did the Japanese Instructors come over?

RF  The others are better on the dates than me, but after Mochizuki and Murakami, Vernon Bell brought over Kanazawa.  Eventually Kanazawa got fed up with the structure and left with Mick Randall and myself and we formed what was to become the KUGB. Enoeda came over and then the other Japanese followed – a good book to read for this history is “The Kanazawa Years” by Mick Randall and Clive Layton.

One thing that annoyed me, was one Japanese Instructor who came over as a purple belt; and I used to take the class when the senior Japanese Instructors didn’t turn up (which was quite often).  He went to Japan and came back 6 months later as a 3rd Dan!  He then wanted to take the class!  I politely (Ray Fuller style) told him that wouldn’t happen – and when some of the other students, particularly a very large Polish gentleman threatened him, he decided that perhaps it wasn’t in his best interests!

This Polish guy was great, one day he was performing his kata and disappeared in to the kitchen doing knife hand blocks, he then proceeded smash the kitchen up in his frustration, we heard bangs and crashes as he hit all the pots and pans…   and then came out of the kitchen finishing his kata!!!  Kanazawa just stood with his mouth open!

SR  What was the difference between Enoeda and Kanizawa?

RF  Enoeda was strong, but Kanazawa was clever!  I remember once at Chiswick, John Chilsolm, who worked at Elstree studios had invited some film stars down for a visit and Kanazawa and Enoeda put on a demonstration…. It was classic! Enoeda performed Jitte and Kanazawa Gojushiho Dai, they then broke some wood and had some comedy photographs taken with peter Sellers. Enoeda has now unfortunately passed away and Kanazawa has aged, I went to see him recently at a course run by Roger Carpenter and he remembered me as the “Kumite man”!  We had made arrangements to see Enoeda, but unfortunately he passed away before we could get the chance…..

SR  Did you ever meet Nakayama?

RF  Yes I did and was lucky to have had some private instruction from him at Crystal Palace.  He was an old man by that time – and one thing I didn’t like, was there were about 6 Japanese Instructors behind him poking fun and laughing at him, I thought that was very disrespectful. Sensei Nakayama also awarded me a special certificate and silver tie pin for my services to Karate.

SR  Who was your favourite Japanese Instructor?

RF  It has to be Yoshikazu Sumi, he had a great spirit and a real sense of humour!

SR  You have some great stories about some of the Japanese Instructors in the early days, that I feel puts the personal touch to them, but not everyone may feel this way so I’m going to extract their names and personal references but tell the stories…..

RF  As you wish Steve. We had a club at the Budokwai in Fulham and all the instructors used to call me “Lay” because they couldn’t pronounce the “R”, one day one instructor said “Lay…  me hungry”, so we went to an Italian restaurant.  It was packed, but some people had just vacated a table so we went over to it.  The instructor called over a waiter and said “Please clean table” The waiter said “If you want a clean table, clean it yourself!” The instructor did no more than whip the tablecloth straight off the table and everything that was on it went crashing on to the floor!  The Italians chased us off with knives and god knows what!

I can remember being in France and pushing the same guy around drunk in a wheelbarrow…  when a cameraman tried to take his picture on the Eiffel Tower (he hated having his picture taken) he hit him and then threw the camera off the top of the tower!  He was arrested in the end on the return journey because he refused to do his seatbelt up claiming that he was a Kamikaze pilot!  We had to bail him out of Richmond police station!

SR  He does sound like a funny guy….

RF  One day he decided to tie a bicycle inner tube to a door handle as a training device for punching, as he stretched it to it’s limit, we watched it gradually slip off the handle and BANG! It hit him in the ear knocking him down to the floor!  I had to run into the toilets to laugh…. He’d have killed me if he’d caught me!  I could hear him saying “who laugh?”

One of the funniest occasions was between this instructor and another that had just arrived in the country..  We were having a drink after training he asked the new arrival “have you come over for the Derby?” The new arrival said “no…” and he said “Oh…. It’s just that you look like a horse!” The new arrival threw a roundhouse kick straight into his head!

SR  How did you get to form Thames Karate?

RF  The KUGB were just too expensive!  As all our clubs were around the Thames area so it was an obvious name; we formed the group in 1975.

SR  What are your plans now?

RF  I’m lucky in the fact that I don’t have to do Karate for money, I’ve worked all my life and have a good pension.  I couldn’t live on the old age pension.  I worked on building sites as a foreman painter, which is another reason I had to learn Karate, I had to look after myself – you get some stroppy people on building sites sometimes.

SR  Have you ever trained in any other Martial Arts or styles of Karate?

RF  No – only Shotokan all the way through.  It’s not the style or Art but the person.

SR  Do you think that Karate has changed over the years?

RF  Shotokan hasn’t changed at all – I started 42 years ago and it’s remained unchanged. I trained with the Russian Squad just before their revolution – and they practised their Shotokan exactly the same as us!  Wherever you go it’s the same, so the Japanese must have done a good job spreading it worldwide.

SR  How do you see your future?

RF  As you can see I’ve been through a hard time over the last few years.  But I feel lucky.  The stabbing was bad, falling down was bad, but if that had not happened, I would be dead from cancer now.  My legs are improving; I’ve been stitched up, had chemotherapy, lost some hair from it, it then turned grey, but it is now growing back thick and dark. My good students are still with me and I’m happy to be still here and training.

Thames was a founder member of the English Karate Governing Body and will stay with it.  We may not be big on sport, but we intend to make sure that we get heavily involved in the Coaching, CRB disclosure, Child Protection Policies and make sure that Thames stays where it’s always been, right at the front!

SR  Thank you Ray.

RF  Thank you Steve.

Interviews & People

Jim Uglow Interview 2001 – Chap Sau


This Interview was conducted around 2001

In all old mystical systems there is the hidden art of “direct transmission”.  This is often alluded to – but in most cases never revealed. Many modern so called “masters” often deride it as “hocus pocus” but on investigation never studied under a genuine master or if they did, didn’t stay long enough or possess the necessary talents to receive the “family” transmissions.

The thing is, you only have to look a some masters to see that they possess that certain kind of “magic”, not only in their Martial Arts movements but in everything they do.  They are happy, contented, sociable and incredibly powerful and fluid in everything they do.  Invariably they never boast of having received the transmissions, those that boast and advertise, invariably haven’t.  The Kung Fu world means that the students have to search and work it out for themselves.

The Martial arts are littered with clues, the Japanese call it “Jikiden”, the Iaido style that I studied is called “Muso Jikiden Ryu” meaning “visionary style of direct transmission”.  So the idea was not unfamiliar to me, in western magic you undergo  “initiation” with rituals and symbols with a high priest or priestess where you “yield” to their manipulations so that they can increase your links to the higher power or energy.

I came into contact with “Chap Sau” in my lessons with Jim Uglow in the UK and Ma Lee Yang in Hong Kong.  My experience really was quite profound, Jim would manipulate my hands to “soften” my elbows get my shoulders to “sit” on my lats, and “settle” my back, hips and legs until I found the energy line from hands to feet.  He would “fiddle” until everything came alive.

So I figured who better to talk to on your behalf to try and get the best idea of how it worked……….

Jim was “Chap Sau’d” by none other that Kong Pui Wai, the current Chairman of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Association and lineage holder of Hung Gar Kung Fu.  Kong Pui Wai was Chap Sau’d through the famous lineage of Hung Gar master Chan Hon Chung who in turn was Chap Sau’d by the Master Lam Sai Wing who in turn was Chap Sau’d by the famous Wong Fei Hung.  In Tai Chi he is Chap Sau’d by Ma Lee Yang, the head of the Tai Chi Yang family and daughter of the famous Yang Sau Chung.

Chan Hon Chung alluded to Chap Sau when he said “I have a special way of training, I require perfection in every single movement in every single style, that’s why I often spend over two hours on one single movement when I practise it.  One of the basic requirements of teaching is to require correct hand movements, if you yourself cannot achieve this perfection, then you certainly will not be able to teach others to do so.”

SR  Jim, how would you describe Chap Sau?

JU  It’s not easy, it’s a method of putting the body into it’s most natural state to be able to produce power and health.  It involves getting the secrets of the art into the body from a generation that holds the lineage and secrets to pass down.

SR  How would you describe the results?

JU  Extreme relaxation of the mind and body, increased health and incredible power.  You then have the responsibility to absorb the knowledge into your body with hard training and intense study.  Chap Sau gives you your first “guided experience” and you then have the task of recreating it on your own…….but the power is not guaranteed.

SR  To your knowledge, who now uses “Chap Sau”?

JU   Kong Pai Wai, has the full Chap Sau passed down through the lineage from the originators in Hung Gar (described above) and is able to Chap Sau to highest level.

SR  What about in Tai Chi?

JU  My personal experience is with Ma Lee Yang who received thousands of hours of Chap Sau from her Father (Yang Sau Chung) studying with him on a daily basis for twenty nine years!  He in turn received it from his Father the most famous Yang Chen Fu and his uncle Yang Shao Hu, Yang Chen Fu’s elder brother.

SR  Do many schools still possess this system?

JU  I don’t know, one of the results of this system is that the school becomes relaxed and the students happy with each other, but they train and study hard.  If the students and teacher can’t socialise with each other and train hard together, then the “Chap Sau” probably isn’t fully realised.

SR  Would you say that there are many instructors around in the Kung Fu world that haven’t ever experienced this?

JU  Probably, I have been training “in the system” for over twenty years and although it was being done to me from day one, it was only “formally” done on me in ’92.  I started in ’85 with Chan Hon Chung “Chap Sau’ing” me and I didn’t know what it was!  So it’s possible that you are learning it and don’t know what it is until someone decides to tell you and “formalise” it.  Of course the teacher has to have the lineage and the full transmission otherwise you only get a “form” of it.

SR  How would you describe you own personal experience of Chap Sau?

JU  It’s crazy!  First I experienced extreme temperature changes, hot in mid winter and freezing in mid summer!  (see pictures)  Then the body’s temperature starts to adjust to the Chap Sau and the tissue and blood alter changing your mental and emotional state.  If you see some of the pictures of me being Chap Sau’d in Hong Kong you can see the agony, my body screamed in extreme pain until my mind managed to let go of it and the body “settled”, then I felt ten times stronger than before.  You feel really powerful, but then you’ve got to get the feeling back when you’re on your own………

SR  Can you tell the readers the story of how your entire school came to be Chap Sau’d?

JU  For twelve years I was inviting Kong Pui Wai over to England to visit my school and he would always say that he was “too busy”.  Then on the twelfth year he formally announced to everyone in Hong Kong that he was coming over to “Chap Sau” my entire school!  You can imagine the shock in Hong Kong and to me!  Teaching for money is normal, “special” people like Kong Pui Wai cannot be bought and as he has the full Chap Sau formula, he has spiritual and moral obligations with regard to it’s teaching, so this really was a special event!  The words “Chap Sau” can mean many different things and the entire formula goes into the parts that nothing else reaches!

SR  How did it effect your school?

JU  We didn’t have a miserable school in the first place, but it’s acted like a healing formula, everyone feels happier and more settled.  They all come in and study to “remember” the internal guidance that he gave to them individually and as a group.  To have received this guidance individually from such a high level master has changed them all.

SR  How did the Chinese view this?

JU  It’s a great honour and extremely rare to receive this from such a high level master, so I think they were quite surprised!

SR  What’s your experience in Tai Chi with Ma Lee Yang?

JU   Very similar really……..  The sessions are very hard on both mind and body there’s only you and the teacher with a job to do, she knows what she needs you to understand and you are struggling to understand with nowhere to hide!  She is constantly manipulating for days on end and although you struggle you come out with an incredible sense of well being………

SR  To receive it from Ma Lee so quickly, did it come as a shock?

JU  Did it!  To have waited so long in Hung Gar and then receive it directly from Ma Lee was a shock.  I received it orally first to get the idea of each posture in the form and then had it manipulated by finger pressure to confirm it.  She accepted my twenty year “apprenticeship” and knew that my Hung Gar school was well known to have the full Chap Sau formula and to teach it so she knew that I knew what she was doing.  It was easier for her because she didn’t have to teach me the concept, however she still had me as raw material!

SR  How would you describe the necessary relationship between instructor and student for the Chap Sau to take place?

JU  You have to enjoy each others company or there’s no chance of ever getting anywhere.  You have to have faith in the teacher and be able to confirm that the posture that they have shown you is better than the one before.  You have to realise the suffering, practise and study that they have put in to get this ability and be prepared to do the same………..  often hours in one posture!

SR  So you would say that you need to have established a long tem relationship before it can happen?

JU Well in my case it was many years, it was being done to me and I didn’t know!  I just felt good and kept returning to Hong Kong for more!  It was only when it was formalised that I realised what had been happening………

SR  So what’s your advice to any Kung Fu student looking for that kind of teaching?

JU  Look for the right teacher, with the right lineage and the right time spent with a famous master who has received Chap Sau, look at his/her ability, ensure that you can establish the right kind of relationship with them and then be prepared to yield to the teachings and work very, very hard!

SR  Thanks Jim.