I started training in 1971 at the age of 13, I wasn't much interested in the more traditional sports like football, cricket, etc., but I did enjoy athletics, running the mile, throwing the javelin and eventually I was good enough to represent the Borough of Sandwell.
I like sports that are personally going to challenge me, then along came the martial arts.
With the advent of the Kung-fu series with David Carridine, the Green Hornet and, of course, Bruce Lee, my imagination was fired up like nothing else before.
So with half a dozen of my mates off we went to become martial arts experts! Little did I know, but 48 years on and I'm still trying to become a martial arts expert!
My training began at a school in Claypit Lane, West Bromwich studying Wing Chuan Kung Fu under Sifu's Pete Chancellor and Steve Cheung. I trained with them for 4 years until they were recalled back to Hong Kong.
I then joined a Judo club run by Sensei Graham Annington a 3rd Dan training at Wodensborough High School for the next 3 years. Unfortunately, the club was disbanded and I was out on a limb again so to speak. Then I heard about a martial arts called Lau Gar Kung Fu in Birmingham which was being taught by Master Jeremy Yau.
I trained with Master Jeremy Yau for the next 2 years. Unfortunately, college, work and marriage took it's toll and reluctantly I had to give up Lau Gar and I decided I had to find something closer to home.
For a while I drifted from club to club trying various martial arts, Shotokan, Shukakai, Ju-Jitsu and Aikido. I couldn't settle, then I heard about a club in West Bromwich run by Roy Partridge 5th Dan Wado-Ryu, he was teaching traditional Wado-Ryu Karate. I went along one evening to see what it was all about and this is when I met Sensei Partridge for the first time.
He told me a bit about Wado-Ryu, it's aims and a bit about himself. I started training with Roy (I call him Roy because we ended up very good friends) and I stayed with Sensei Partridge and took my 1st Dan with him (the black belt I wear today was embroidered and personally given to me by Roy). I stayed with him until the early 1990's having to leave to attend to personal commitments but always intending to go back at the earliest possible moment.
The next I heard was that he had passed away Summer 2000. The loss of a man such as Sensei Roy Partridge was a massive blow to me, but it only serves to forge me on and to aspire to what Roy was - a dedicated martial artist and a good friend and a gentleman.
Favourite kata - I like them all, each one produces it's own challenge.
Favourite technique - Whatever wins the day.
Aims - To be at peace with myself and the world around me, to be at one with nature and help others less fortunate than myself and be happy with my lot in life.
My philosophy - "Be as peaceful as a lamb, but, if needs be, fight as ferocious as a tiger".
During my years of training, I've had the honour to train with many highly graded and respected martial artists, some are listed below (in no particular order):
Sensei Graham Annington - 3rd Dan Judo
Master Jeremy Yau - Lau Gar Kung-Fu
Sensei Roy Partridge - 5th Dan Wado Ryu (Late)
Sensei Gary Dawes - 4th Dan Wado-Ryu
Sensei Paul Brownsword - 4th Dan Wado-Ryu
Sensei Vince Parker - 5th Dan Wado-Ryu
Sensei Dave Jillings - 6th Dan Wado-Ryu
Sensei Keenan Pedley - 3rd Dan Wado-Ryu/Shito-Ryu
Sensei Eddie Pedley - 3rd Dan Wado-Ryu/Shito-Ryu
Shihan Derek Ridgeway - 4th Dan Wado-Ryu/8th Dan Shito-Ryu
Tony Bergin - 6th Dan Wado-Ryu/Shito-Ryu
Sensei Eugene Codrington - 8th Dan - Founder and cheif instructor of the Codrington Budokan
Toru Takamizawa - 7th Dan Kyoshi Wado-Ryu (Late)
Sensei Keiji Tomiyama - 8th Dan and President of the Shito-Ryu Karate Do Kofukan
Y Iwasaki - 7th Dan Kyoshi Wado-Ryu
F Sugasawa - 7th Dan Renshi Wado-Ryu
G Grimes - 7th Dan Renshi Wado-Ryu
Shihan Keiji Sakagami - 8th Dan Wado-Ryu and President of Wado-Kai England
Sensei Dave Wilkins - 7th Dan Shotokan
Sensei Pascal 5th Dan Shotokan (Germany)
Sensei Ian Abernathy 7th Dan Wadoryu
Sensei Arthur Meek - 8th Dan
Sensei Pete Spanton - 9th Dan
Sensei Ticky Donavan - 9th Dan Ishinryu
Hanshi Masafumi Shiomitsu - 9th Dan Wado-Ryu Founder and Chief Instructor of the Wado Academy
Grand Master Hironori Ohtsuka 2nd 10th Dan
Grand Master Katsutaka Ohtsuka 6th Dan
These are to name a few, some of the above I still train with fairly regularly today.
Black Belt Mike Fellows as predicted did a blistering Grading for Shodan in front of myself, Dave Jillings 6th Dan and Phil Hale 4th Dan, Mike has kept himself on track from white belt to Black Belt 1st Dan in 4 years 9 months, Mike consistently works hard, attends courses and now teaches at our club, well done Mike and congratulations.
Terry is a Junior Instructor who has been involved in the Martial Arts world now for some years, he also is making good progress towards his 2nd Dan, Terry also trains in Taichi and Kick Boxing.
Grace is a Junior Instructor who has been with us for a while now, Grace gave her all for her Nidan Grading, very technical, precise, and sharp a pleasure to watch and very well deserved, congratulations.