Grade: Sandan 3rd Dan Black Belt
Classes: Reddish and Stockton Heath
My karate journey started a long, long time ago when I was 7 years old. As a hyper active child my parents had struggled to find something that would keep me entertained whilst also helping to burn the energy I had and calm me down. My father had trained with Sensei Jack Tilley at the Stockport Karate Club and so I was introduced along with my brother one freezing cold Saturday morning. My brother lasted 4 weeks, I on the other hand am still training some 33 years later.
I trained under Sensei Tilley who provided the discipline I so clearly needed and I will be eternally grateful to him as his teachings have had a huge impact on my life. For 5 years I never missed a lesson and progressed through my grades every few months. Whenever I got too big for my boots or thought it was easy Sensei Tilley would bring me back down to earth. At the age of 11 I was allowed to train with the adults and started training with Sensei Jeremy Hoyland who was a very gifted Karateka, Sensei Wolstencroft reminds me a lot of him. With the help and guidance of Sensei’s Tilley and Hoyland I graded to 3rd, 2nd and 1st Kyu with the late Sensei Enoeda. When I was 12 I travelled with my parents to Crystal Palace in London to attempt my 1st Dan. The panel included Sensei’s Eneoda, Kase, Kawasoe, Sherry and Brennan. I failed my 1st Dan grading which was heart-breaking especially at 12 years of age, however it made me more determined to train harder and succeed. In July 1984 I was awarded my 1st Dan by Sensei Enoeda a very proud moment for both myself and my parents.
Having achieved my black belt it quickly became clear that despite having trained for 5 years I still had so much to learn. I also had another 6 years until I was 18 and eligible to take my 2nd Dan. During that time I also started to train with Sensei Cheetham who had a very different style of teaching to what I had been used to and this gave me a very different aspect especially around Kata’s. In May 1990 I was awarded my 2nd Dan by Sensei Enoeda. I then trained for a further 5 years before taking my 3rd Dan and in September 1995 I was awarded my 3rd Dan by Sensei Enoeda.
Unfortunately in November 1999 I snapped the ligaments in my knee. This was the first really serious injury I had suffered. Following this I moved from Manchester to London with my work and took a break from Karate, something I will always regret. In 2009 I moved back to Manchester and in February 2010 I got a knock at the door from Red Tiger Karate Club. We had an interesting chat and they persuaded me to join a new class that was opening in Stoneclough with Sensei Paul Gould. After the first session I was hooked again and trained as often as I could. In March 2010 I attended a seminar led by Sensei Paul Wolstencroft, whom I had heard so much about. It was a tough seminar but I remembered most of the Heian Kata’s and enjoyed sparring some of the more senior grades. Following this Sensei Wolstencroft allowed me to wear my Black Belt again and I started training with him twice a week. Whilst the speed I had was completely gone most of the techniques came flooding back. In November 2010 I was assessed and awarded my 3rd Dan by Sensei Colin Needham. This was by far the toughest grading I have ever done both mentally and physically.
For those of you thinking about joining our club I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have ever done. We have some excellent instructors and some very talented students. I run my own business and karate provides the balance and the release I need. It has also served me well and taught me some very important lessons and values.
I still train as often as I can and you can see me at my classes or at most gradings, come and say hello!