Taken from an
interview on the Karate history of
Nicholas B Adamou
Thanks very much for agreeing to do this interview on your karate
history Nick. Well, I'd like to start by asking you the most obvious
question which I suppose is, when was the very
first time that you ever heard about karate?
It was in 1964 when I was 17 years of age and a student at Tottenham
Technical College. There was a student at the college called Terry Shram who, apart from looking remarkably like Charlie
Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones, was beginning to get quite a
reputation for himself as the person who could break wood simply by
'Chopping' it with the side of his hand.
I was intrigued and fascinated by this and as soon as word got
around that there was to be another 'Wood chopping moment' with 'Terry', I
made sure to be there when it happened.
So did you manage to be there? What happened?
Well it was very impressive to see this quiet, unassuming and rather
placid individual, who had very little to say for himself most of the time,
just stand there, and then after raising his hand up, suddenly bring it
down with incredible speed as he shouted (kiai),
straight through a one inch thick, piece of wood performing a Shuto-Uchi (Knife hand strike).
Was this the defining moment for you then? Was it because of this that
you decided to learn karate?
No, not at all. At that time it was believed that only people who
had practiced Judo could take up karate and, as I had no intention of
learning Judo, I never imagined that I would be allowed or be able to learn
So what was it that then?
Well it was because of an A4 leaflet which was pinned on the notice
board just outside the gymnasium of the college. It was April 1964 and I
had about two and a half months remaining before I would go on a six week
holiday to Athens, with my brother, Chris and our friend David. As I came
out of the gym and turned to my left, I noticed the A4 leaflet with the
word 'Karate' at the top. There were two Japanese men wearing white
uniforms. One was crouched low in a long Kokutsu-Dachi
(back stance) with the other man some four feet above him performing a
Yoko-Tobi-Geri (Flying side thrust kick). I was
instantly struck by the dynamic and geometrical art encompassed in the move
and felt that, although this looked like a kind of beautiful ballet, the
moves must surely be effective and deadly.
So what happened? Did you cancel the holiday and start karate
No. I was too excited about the holiday to cancel it, especially as this would
be the first time that I would be going on a holiday without my mother and
father as a family. There were about two and a half months to go before the
planned trip and I decided to visit the local library to find out about
karate clubs in the area and also to take out a book on the subject.
Did you join a karate club before you went on your trip? What book
were you given?
Well, the woman at the library was unable to come up with any information
about karate clubs and asked me to come back in a few days when she had
looked into it further by contacting other libraries. As far as the book,
well, I really couldn't have been given a more apt one. The book was
'Karate, The Art of Empty Hand Fighting' by Nishyama
You know, it seems quite strange when I think that, the organisation that I
would eventually join, would invite the very person who was chosen to
perform Heian Yondan in
the book that I had just been given from the library, and that this person,
namely Hirokazu Kanazawa, would be my instructor
just a year later when the BKF invited him to be its resident instructor