How long after this visit to the Kentish Town dojo was it, before
you actually joined the BKF?
I believe I received my BKF Licence at around the beginning of December
And was this when you started karate?
No. my first Karate lesson was held at the Upminster Dojo some weeks
afterwards. I think this was on 13th December 1964 at 10.00am on a
depressingly dismal and cold Sunday morning.
My brother and I got up at around 7.30am to catch the 144 bus to Turnpike
Lane Station. From here we travelled on the Piccadilly, Northern and
District line Undergrounds to Upminster. As we walked from Upminster
Underground station to the dojo, which took about twelve or fifteen minutes,
we passed a fair haired woman on the way walking in the same direction as
us. I jokingly said to Chris that perhaps she was a karate expert. After we
had changed into our Judo uniforms which we had bought a few weeks earlier
from Dr. Bell, and were lined up with the other students in the dojo, that
same, fair haired woman who we had just passed in the street came into the
dojo and also lined up. This was Pauline Laville
(now Pauline Bhindra of Blitz Martial Arts) and,
like us, she was also wearing a white belt.
It seems strange when I think that in approximately three years to the day
from that first meeting with Pauline, she, my brother and I would all take
our Shodan Black belt gradings
together, under Kanazawa sensei.
How often did you train Nick?
Well initially I only trained once a week at the Upminster dojo but after
about a month, I also trained at the Kentish Town dojo. So I was therefore
training twice a week.
In those early days of British karate, who were your instructors and who
else used to train along side yourself under
In the first five months of my karate training, my fellow karate-ka were Eddie Whitcher, Mick
(Michael) Randall, Ray Fuller, Mick Peachey, Chris Adamou, Jack Johnson,
David Johnson, Peter Labasci and Pauline Laville (now Pauline Bhindra).
Later on, Andy Sherry, Bob Poynton, Steve Cattle
and Terry O'Neil would sometimes visit and train at the London dojos. Instruction was given by Jimmy Neal, Terry Wyngrove, and Robert Williams as well as Dr. Bell.
So the first five months of your karate practice was under British
instructors, when did you hear of the possibility that Japanese instructors
(sensei) might be visiting the UK dojos to teach
and also to demonstrate at various venues in London?
I can't remember exactly, but I think this was around the end of January
1965. A rumour had started to circulate that four of the best karate
instructors from the Japan Karate Association (JKA) would be visiting the
UK to hold karate demonstrations throughout the country and also to teach
karate at most of the BKF dojos. Over the weeks
this rumour gathered more and more momentum until, one evening after one of
the classes, Dr. Bell turned the rumour into a fact by announcing that, Taiji Kase (6th Dan), Hirokazu Kanazawa (5th Dan). Keinosuke
Enoeda (5th Dan) and Hiroshi Shirai
(4th Dan) would be arriving in the UK and coming to our dojo around the end
of April. The qualifications and experience of these JKA instructors was
staggering. Shirai sensei had been a JKA Grand
Champion in 1962 and Enoeda sensei was the winner
of the JKA kumite title in 1963. Kanazawa sensei
(now in his 70s, and world famous as a 10th Dan) had gained a phenomenal
reputation in Japan as he was the winner of the first, All Japan Karate
Association championship held in 1957 which he won whilst he had a broken
hand. He then went on to become the JKA Grand Champion the following year
by winning both the Kumite (Free-Sparring) and Kata (Formal Exercise) titles in 1958. Dr. Bell also
told us that Kanazawa sensei was renowned for his incredibly high kicks.
Because of Kase sensei's seniority, he had been a
JKA judge and referee. He then explained that he had invited Kanazawa
Sensei to be the resident instructor of the two London clubs based in
Kentish Town and Upminster.