Why I love sport!
Martial arts covers a very broad spectrum of different disciplines and every time you open a magazine it can seem like there is a new art for you to discover, so how do you as an enthusiast choose the right one to learn?
When I was young I was enrolled in a boxing club to help me tame my wild side and learn responsibility and discipline, and also to try and wear me out as I drove my parents mad with my non flagging energy and healthy love of mischief. At school I was never the best of students as the world outside the classroom called to me constantly with trees to climb and adventures to be undertaken, driving my teachers mad with my day dreaming and excuses to disappear from class on a myriad of errands.
At boxing class it was fun. First there were the smells of sweat ground in to the floors and ring over years of hard work, the leather of the bags and gloves, the encouragement to work hard skipping and punching, ducking and weaving in games of tag in the ring, and being allowed to hit the other youngsters. My least favourite was the weekly runs around the streets, especially in the winter with the wind and rain stinging your face, but we managed to laugh at each other splashing through the puddles as we had an incentive, the winner of each weeks run got to train with Big Jimmy, our club champion – to us kids it was akin to training with Mike Tyson.
Regretfully we had to move house due to my father getting a new job so I had to leave the club, but as luck would have it at a local village hall they had a Judo club. Having seen Brian Jacks on TV at the Olympics this seemed ideal and so I joined expecting to rise through the ranks to Black Belt status in weeks. Such was my innocence.
Anyway off I went every Thursday at 6pm to the Village Hall and learnt for several weeks how to fall on the mats with my leading arm out, and then slowly progressing to some of the simple throws but this all seemed to take for ever and did not give me the same thrill of physical combat as everything was so measured and disciplined, unlike my boxing which was more like a wild cat being released from a bag, arms swinging, eyes wide and racing forward at whoever stood before me including on occasion the ref if he got in the way.
Anyway back to judo, and I say judo as at that young age it was simply judo to me not a style or discipline, the weeks dragged on and we kept going over the same thing stance, falls and throws – this was not what I wanted. I wanted action and adrenaline. So I started to have a look around and discovered a book on karate. This was more like it, physical contact, fight arenas and a sense of camaraderie where you were rewarded for effort. I had discovered Gosoko ryu, a fast and dynamic Shotokan style founded by Takayuki Kubota, the main emphasis was on practical application and sparring. I searched for a club and was fortunate to find one just a bus ride away after the first lesson I knew this was for me. Everything thrilled me from the quick leg sweeps and take downs to the fast footwork and ground fighting. I was very fortunate in discovering such a great club and great Shi-han in Paul Robertson. He was very proficient and had managed to achieve 4th Dan status through his dedication and sacrifice and he encouraged all of us kyus to develop their skills and spent many extra hours tutoring many of us unpaid simply for his love of the Art.
From these humble beginnings I have spent a lifetime enjoying and appreciating many other sports from body building to athletics as I can now appreciate the dedication that each athlete needs to succeed and even though we may not all achieve World Titles we still can be champion athletes by our commitment. Somewhere along the way I enjoyed times as a semi pro fighter in Freestyle Combat and achieved a record of 19 wins and 4 losses. (The losses were all my fault but the lessons served me well.)
Now I find myself a lot older and hopefully a little wiser than the impetuous young adventurer and I am able to assist in the development of Martial Arts in the UK through my work with truly great Martial Artists and help Worldwide in my positions with the World martial Arts Council.
I am privileged to have been accepted as a Hall of Fame member in the Combat Martial Arts Hall of Fame, I have been Vice President of the World Amateur Body Building Association UK, Team Manager for the British Body Building team that attended the World Championships 2012 and Mr Universe 2011 and a proud partner of the Hercules Olympia expo and Valhalla Festival of Muscle and Power where we showcased many great athletes and sports. I have been fortunate enough to meet the Grand Master Abbot of the Shaolin Temple of Hunan and attend such things as FIBO, BodyPower, The Arnolds, SENI and meet many people from all walks of life and different Martial Arts.
At the First World Martial Arts Championship and Open Festival in Bangkok in March, I eventually met my inspiration Brian Jacks, and also his mentor Mike Leigh. It was a thrill that took me back to being a little boy again. The Championships were a great success and I made lots of new friends from many countries from many different Martial Arts even met long lost acquaintances from London who now study in Hong Kong with his esteemed Sifu. I am anticipating the next World Martial arts Championships in 2016 being an even bigger success and look forward to meeting friends old and new.
RESPECT AND REGARDS