Were you given any suggestions or guidelines on protocol regarding these
four sensei due to them being Japanese and also, because they were such
famous karate instructors?
Yes, Dr. Bell explained how we should conduct ourselves in their presence
along with many other facts and details regarding them. I remember him
telling us that all high grade karate-ka always have a good complexion due
to their overall health, fitness and good physical condition which is a
direct result of their rigorous training. He also said that Japanese
instructors always remember each and every student who trains under them
and I found all of this very interesting.
Did Dr. Bell prepare any kind of a campaign to promote the planned
demonstrations leading up to the arrival of these JKA instructors?
Yes he did, he handed out white, A4 leaflets and yellow, A2 posters which
announced their arrival and the time and venue of the demonstrations. We
were all given several of these to put up in shop windows and wherever else
So Nick, the scene was set and you had about another three months before
the arrival of these four, very famous Japanese sensei.
You must have been incredibly excited. What were your thoughts and feelings
over those months leading up to their arrival?
Well, I had only been practicing karate since the middle of December 1964,
about two months in all, and of course loved every minute of it. My
instructors, who I held in the highest regard and with absolute respect,
were brown belts. To be told that, in just a few month's time I would be
training under black belts, who were Japanese and who were four of the
Japan Karate Association's very best instructors was thrilling and a bit
terrifying all at the same time although, I was very excited of course.
Can you describe the moment you first laid eyes on these
four, very special Japanese sensei?
Well, I was an eighteen year old, ungraded white belt, with a Karate Gi that was made for me by my next door neighbour,
having discarded my judo Gi a few weeks earlier.
It was a Friday evening, around the 17th or 18th of April 1965. I had taken
the usual, one and a quarter hour journey by underground from Chancery Lane
to Kentish Town in order to train at my usual Friday night dojo, which was
at the Lyndurst Hall in Weldon Road. I really had
no idea what a momentous occasion this was to be in terms of karate history
or that I was to be amongst the very first UK karate students to train in
the first lesson ever to be given in the United Kingdom by the best,
Japanese sensei (instructors) from the Japan Karate Association (JKA). It
goes without saying that I felt extremely privileged and excited to have
the chance to train under these very special karate instructors.
Were the four sensei at the dojo when you arrived?
No, they hadn't arrived when I got there. The lesson began as usual and was
taken by Jimmy Neal and Terry Wyngrove I think.
Then, at about twenty minutes into the class, the doors to the right that
we were all facing opened and one by one, the four
Japanese sensei made their entrance, bowing and walking forward
until they were all lined up in front of us. They glowed in their white
karate Gi's and black belts. I have to admit that
I'd never seen human beings look or 'feel' quite like this before as they
simply stood there, hands down to their sides, heels together with toes
pointing outward. There was a strength and power,
a severity and kindness about them all in one go. Very impressive and quite
What happened after they lined up?
Dr. Bell began by introducing each of them, starting with Kase sensei who was the most senior. Each sensei
briskly took a small step forward and bowed as his name was called out.
Then, Dr. Bell gave a short talk about that particular sensei. Once the
introductions were over, Dr. Bell asked them what they wished to do. They
decided that it would be a good idea to let Terry Wyngrove
and Jimmy Neal continue with the class, whilst they walked in and around us
in order to watch the way in which we performed karate techniques. This
went on for about fifteen minutes after which time they asked us all to sit
down, in order for them to demonstrate how the techniques should be