Did you increase the amount of times that trained Nick, now that
more KUGB clubs were opening up in London?
Definitely!! With Blackfriars, Upminster, East Ham, Childs Hill, and
Chiswick dojos now up and running as KUGB clubs
under Kanazawa sensei as their regular instructor, I had the chance to
train as much as five times per week under one of Japan's very best
instructors. On quite a few occasions, Enoeda
sensei would visit some of these dojos and
instruct along with Kanazawa sensei and those lessons were phenomenal.
Once, when Enoeda sensei was due to visit the
Childs Hill dojo in Golders Green, Kanazawa sensei told us that this
particular class was going to be run on the same lines as a JKA black belt
At the time, there were no
black belts, and the class was made up from brown belts, which were the
highest grades and purple belts, one of whom was me. After the warm ups,
the class started with Yoko-Geri-Kekomi (side
thrust kick) off the front leg, then step forward and down and then,
Mae-Geri (front kick), then step forward and down with Oi-Zuki
(stepping punch). We had to perform this ten times slow to count, then ten
times fast to count and then thirty times fast no count. We did this both
sides. Because everyone was perspiring profusely, the floor became very
slippery and, as we progressed onto the next combination of, Mae-Geri step
down, Mawashi-Geri step down and then Yoko-Geri-Kekomi plus Gyaku-Zuki, my
left leg began to slip on the wet floor as I was about to perform the Kekomi. I could tell that if I extended my leg I would
slip over so, at that point I withdrew my leg and didn't perform the Kekomi and simply finished with Gyaku-Zuki.
Suddenly, out the corner of my eye I saw Kanazawa sensei running towards me
and in a split second he swept my legs from under me. As I began to fall he
caught me, and told me off for not performing the whole of the combination.
At around this time, at the Childs Hill dojo, Kanazawa sensei taught us Enpi and Kanku-Dai. In some
of the classes, Enoeda sensei as well as Kanazawa
sensei, also taught us Jitte. Whilst I was still
in the process of learning Kanku-Dai, Kanazawa
sensei was asked to do a demonstration of karate at Brentford Football
Pitch in the half time period. It was decided that Kanku-Dai
would be performed and, Eddie Whitcher, Ray
Fuller Mick Randall, Mick Peachey, my brother and I performed the kata along with Kanazawa sensei.
I assume you got to know Kanazawa sensei 'The Karate Master' by
virtue of the fact that you trained with him so regularly, but did you ever
get to know Kanazawa sensei 'The person'?
It's certainly true that along with the usual group, we would follow the
'Master' to all the different dojos week in and
week out, and this did sometimes give us the chance to see how he dealt
with people and situations. What became very evident however was that
although he was a phenomenal fighter, his philosophy regarding karate and
Self-Defence was that the art was not just about the application of
fighting techniques in a fighting situation, it was also very importantly
about how to present oneself in society, being kind and having good manners
in everyday life. It was also about how to avoid or change 'awkward'
situations through humility and positive psychology and thus avoid
confrontation. He showed us that all of this was a very important part of
what 'The whole' of karate should be about. Sometime, when someone would
compliment Kanazawa sensei for being the first person to win the All Japan
Karate Championships, he would usually answer with. "Thank you but
please remember that I was only a karate champion for that one day, what
about all the other days of the year?" Then he would say. "Karate
is not just about being a champion on one day of the whole year but karate
is about how hard you train in order to perfect your karate and yourself
all the time, for every day, not just one"
This may sound a strange question Nick but, were any of you given
anything in recognition for your loyalty to Kanazawa sensei like a badge or
a special belt perhaps?
This may sound like a strange answer but, our reward was simply to get as
many chances to see his brilliant karate and to try to emulate it as best
we could by travelling to any location in order to train under him.
However, because Eddie Whitcher, Mick Randall,
Mick Peachey, Jack Johnson my brother and I were always there at
practically all of his classes, we became part of what Kanazawa Sensei
called his 'elite' group of London students, which in 1966 he named as 'The
Seven Samurai' and Kanazawa sensei along with the six of us made up 'The
Seven Samurai'. Later on, Mick Peachey my brother and I, were picked to
assist Kanazawa sensei in the application of kata
techniques in a book called, 'Kanku-Dai '
published by Paul Crompton.