What happened at the meeting Nick. How did it go?
Well it was a very friendly and enjoyable evening as we started off with a
delicious French four course meal which was prepared for us by my wife
Martine. After this, Kanazawa sensei and Master Chu spoke about their own
particular experiences and understanding of T'ai
Chi which culminated in Master Chu demonstrating and explaining a T'ai Chi technique on his agent.
This was very impressive as
Master Chu simply pushed his palm forward about one inch against the sternum
of his agent who was standing in a front stance. This seemingly gentle move
sent him reeling backward and into my piano which was about six feet away.
It seemed as if a massive accelerating wave had hit Master Chu's agent. It
was amazing to watch.
Did Master Chu come to Kanazawa sensei's course?
Yes and he was a great success.
In a recent publication, you said that achieving the grade of Godan (5th Dan) was an important point in your karate
journey, why is this?
As I explained earlier, Kanazawa sensei arrived in the UK as a twice 'All
Japan Karate Champion' having earned a phenomenal reputation in Japan,
Hawaii and Europe. He also came to this country as a 5th Dan and it was
therefore especially meaningful and symbolic to me when I was awarded this
grade by him in 1983 thus becoming the first student/ instructor to have
been awarded this grade by Kanazawa sensei in the UK within SKI.
Did you ever visit Japan Nick?
Yes, in 1984. Over the years, quite a few Japanese Karate-ka and friends of
Kanazawa sensei would visit and stay with myself and Martine at our flat in
Muswell-Hill for one or two weeks. Amongst these
were Hiruta sensei 4th Dan karate and T'ai Chi
instructor, Miss Kamakura 3rd SKI Kata Champion,
two teachers who taught Kanazawa sensei's children along with their
husbands and many other Japanese friends that I can't remember. We would
look after them and also take them out to show them around places of
interest in London. They always told us that, should we ever come to Japan,
they would do the same for us. When Martine began working for a travel
agency and was able to get cheap flights around the world, we took them up
on their offer and went to Japan for two weeks. We had a wonderful time
there and Kanazawa sensei's wife and the many Japanese friends that we had
made over the years looked after us, organizing many interesting excursions
and visits around Tokyo and Kyoto.
You remained in SKI for another six years until 1989 which means you had
followed Kanazawa sensei from those early days in the BKF, the KUGB and
then finally, SKI, a total of twenty four and a half years. Why did you
finally leave SKI Nick?
By November 1989 I decided to form my own karate organisation, The National
Shotokan Karate Association (NSKA) and my reasons
were quite simple. I had served my apprenticeship as a loyal disciple to
Kanazawa sensei for nearly twenty five years, longer that
any other student that had started under him in 1965. In fact, many
students by this time had already established their own karate
organisations, some of them after only having reached the level of Shodan (lst Dan Black Belt).
When I started the NSKA I decided to hold a two day 'Open' karate course at
the Harrow Leisure Centre for my newly formed association, and asked
Kanazawa sensei if he would honour me by being the 'Special Guest
Instructor' on it. This he agreed to do and around 400 karate students from
many different associations and styles came to train under one of the
world's most famous Japanese masters. This was the first time that Kanazawa
sensei had instructed on a course that was not part of his
own SKI organisation and I felt that this gesture was an endorsement
of my newly formed association. The Harrow Leisure Centre remains the main
training base or honbu dojo for my association