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Robert Pottle 1957 - 2019


Robert Pottle joined my club; the Harrow School of Shotokan Karate as a teenager in the late 70’s when I was a 4th Dan Senior Instructor and Grading Examiner under Shihan Kanazawa in his organisation known as Shotokan Karate International (SKI).

 

He was a serious minded and hard working student but after some time became interested in Rugby and devoted all of his energies to this fantastic sport and consequently gave up karate.


Some 25 years later in 2001, Robert returned to karate practice when he joined a 6 Week Beginner Course at my club which I held on Saturday mornings.


I had no idea that this six foot four tall man with a tough, rugby shaped body was the same person who started at my karate club as a teenager all those years ago.


As he began to train in this, his first karate lesson after such a long time, I could see he had a beautiful style and very good technique which led me to believe that he must have practiced karate before and so I waited for a convenient moment during the lesson to ask him if he had.


When he performed a Shuto-Uke (Knife hand block) with such precision and finesse, inspiration got the better of me and although this wasn’t that convenient moment I was waiting for, I said…“You really have great technique, who was your previous instructor?”   to which he answered in all innocents and humbleness… “You were sensei”.    Until that ‘joyous moment’ I had no idea that the teenager all those years ago and the 6 foot four adult standing before me in the class were one and the same person.


After the class we had a chat and it became clear that this was that student of mine from those amazing and magical days when my club was affiliated to SKI and I was a student/instructor/grading examiner of my great master Kanazawa.

 

Robert trained hard and honestly and over the months we became good friends. After explaining that he’d lost his copy of ‘Karate Basics for Beginners’  (which was the first book I authored in1974 featuring myself and Kanazawa sensei) he asked whether I had any more copies as he’d like to buy one again.  I told him I hadn’t.  He then said that he’d heard about the book that I authored in the 80’s titled Kanazawa’s Karate and asked whether it was still being published.  I told him it wasn’t.  He then asked me if I’d ever thought of producing another book on Karate to which I answered I wouldn’t.  . From that point on Robert set about trying to re-energies and encourage me to write another book and made this his quest, never giving up with me until finally, as if I’d been ‘resurrected’ I had to give in to his relentless positive energy and so decided that I would embark on writing another book.


He immediately set about working on creating a studio in my garage for photo sessions and it was only when the demands of his own profession and family life commitments increased to such an extent that he was unable to continue with his help and support. It was at this point that Siris Karadia and Rajan Patel took over the project.


Nevertheless, Robert continued to train and very quickly became part of our ‘family’ of like minded karate-ka and eventually achieved shodan Black Belt 1st Dan on 27th November 2004.

His brother Mark and young son William (lovingly known as Wills by his Dad, other family members and friends) also joined the club and started to train whilst Robert was travelling on his own personal path towards Black Belt.


Devoting much of his time to work and his immediate family and his parents, Robert wasn’t able to practice karate for a period of time but did return in 2014 with his son William who by then had developed into a young man in his twenties.  Again due to work pressures and family commitments, Robert stopped training in July 2015 as did William, having to concentrate on his studies. It was wonderful to see them again at our association’s Christmas Meal in December 2016.  Very sadly, Robert passed away on 30th September 2019 after battling with cancer.