When did you attempt the grade of Shodan, 1st Dan Black Belt Nick?
My brother, Pauline Bhindra (nee Laville) and I were told by Kanazawa Sensei that we
should attempt our Shodan at the Blackfriars dojo
in December 1967. We were all successful in achieving this and what was
especially nice was that Pauline was the first woman to achieve the grade
of black belt in the UK. That evening, after the grading, Kanazawa sensei
took the three of us out to London for an expensive meal to celebrate our
When did Kanazawa sensei finally leave the UK? How did this affect you and
what happened after he left?
After his three year stay in the UK, Kanazawa sensei left England for Dusseldorf
(Germany) where Nagai sensei was based. Although I was lucky to be taught
by three other brilliant Japanese instructors at the Blackfriars dojo,
namely Sensei's Enoeda, Takahashi and Sumi, there could be no one to replace my 'Master' who
I had trained under for nearly five days a week for practically every week
of his stay in the UK. He had made such a deep impression on my life and
the lives of my fellow karate-ka, Mick (Michael) Randall and my brother
Chris. Whilst we continued to train under sensei's Enoeda,
Takahashi and Sumi, we also trained very hard on
our own, in lessons that were 'carbon copies' of those that we had trained
in under Kanazawa sensei. Eventually we opened up our own dojo at the Ross Wylde Hall in Walthamstow and a short time after this,
the Winchmore Hill dojo was opened in 1968. It
was in that same year that I reached the finals of the KUGB kata competition but had to withdraw due to an injury
which I had sustained in the kumite. The three of
us were incredibly close, brought together by the joyous and sometimes,
heartbreaking journey of this beautiful art form called Karate-do. How
right our 'Master' had been when he used to say that Karate is fight with yourself. As time went on, Mick Randall and my brother
started up there own company producing and
selling Makiwara and in 1969 all three of us
travelled to Dusseldorf so that Kanazawa sensei could test the Makiwara. It was so good that he immediately endorsed
the product. Whilst in Dusseldorf we were invited to train at Nagai
sensei's dojo with Kanazawa sensei instructing and had to do free style
with Nagai sensei's students.
It must have been great to meet your master again. Were you keen to invite
him to the UK to teach now that you, Chris and Mick had your own dojo?
Yes. Definitely! Kanazawa sensei was invited to the UK from Germany whilst
he was resident there and then later on, from Japan to instruct on two or
three day courses that we organised. This was no easy task, and we couldn't
do this on our own as he was in such high demand world
wide and throughout the whole of the year
How does Shiro Asano fit into the story Nick?
The very first time that I heard about Asano sensei, as far as I can
remember, was when I was a 3rd Kyu. Kanazawa
sensei was explaining Asano sensei's favourite free-style technique which
was Mae/Mawashi-Geri, a technique which consisted
of changing a chudan (stomach height), Mae-geri (front kick) into a jodan
(head height), Mawashi-Geri
(roundhouse kick) at the very last moment. He could do this with incredible
speed and the final kick was very hard to block.
The first time that I ever trained under Asano sensei was
when he visited the Blackfriars honbu dojo and
again, as far as I can remember I was a 2nd Kyu.
On this occasion, he invited any student to pair up with him for Gohon-Kumite. At the time, Asano sensei was a 4th Dan
and each of his Oi-Zuki's (stepping punch) was so
fast that it just couldn't be blocked and he therefore pulled each punch
just a few centimetres short of the target. Those that paired up with him
were so shocked after the first attack, that Asano sensei needed only to
blow at them in a friendly and joking manner to cause the student to over
react and convulse backward, almost falling over in the process. Although
he was a truly brilliant karate-ka, instructor and exponent of freestyle,
he was a very friendly and approachable person. Eventually, he settled in
Nottingham with a large following of very loyal students.