Contact Us

Contact: Simon Jennings
Telephone: 07786 445200
info@plymouthshotokan.co.uk

Club

PLYMOUTH SHOTOKAN CLUB HISTORY 1966-2011


 


The first record of Karate in Plymouth was in February 1965 when members of British Karate Federation were invited to demonstrate for the Plymouth Command Judo Club based at the Royal Naval Hospital. It was the Judo black belt championships with various displays carried out and the karate display was well received.



It was the following year that Paul Kiernan started the Bushido Karate club  and it was up and running by September with Jack Wilson who worked  with Paul at the Clarks shoe factory.


Training venues were difficult to get then as karate was unknown and people were suspicious of what exactly we were doing. The Astor Institute and the YWCA were the main venues with training Sundays, Mondays Wednesday and Thursdays the cost per week was 15 shillings (75p) The army at the Royal Citadel agreed to let us use the gymnasium on Saturdays for 5 hours and provided the security pass for access. The gym was twice the size of the Astor and had heating. Unfortunately whilst practising for a demonstration there was a cut to the arm needing help from the medic for a knife wound (no health and safety then, sharp blades used) and they terminated are use of the hall.


Early instructors were Mick Peachey who then left for Japan, Andy Sherry, Alan Smith and Bob Poynton.


1967 saw three visits by Sensei Kanazawa who showed everyone how little we knew about karate. His technique power and speed were phenomenal and we were lucky to get him at his peak. He was assisted by Sensei K Takahashi and they did a demonstration at Devonport that attracted over 400 spectators and gave a huge boost to karate in Plymouth.




The end of the year saw the clubs founder Paul leave the area and Sensei Kanazawa leave the country and both were presented with farewell gifts by Vic Knight the club president at the London Inn Plympton.


Sensei Sumi came to the club for three separate visits and in January 1968 visited for 10 days with training every day and an inter club competition with Kanku Pool with Sensei Sumi officiating. Plymouth sent a team to the first nationals held with Reg Wakeford beating Andy Sherry but on the second year we were stopped by snow 60 miles east of Plymouth.


At the grading in February at the Astor Institute with the temperature in the dojo hovering at freezing Sensei Sumi suggested we use an upstairs room that had a gas fire to carry out the grading which we did three students at a time with strict instructions that Sensei Enoeda must never find out. He left the country that year and Sensei Enoeda took over and was later assisted by Sensei Kato


 


     



Circa 1969 Jack Wilson also left Plymouth and this coincided with us loosing the Astor Institute. When we resumed training a few of the original members had left, leaving Dave Herrity and Les Clarke to carry on. Dave at that time worked for Devonport Dockyard and managed to get us training facilities at the Civil Service Club on the proviso that we renamed the club The Civil Service Karate Club. We did not want to lose The Bushido name but were given no choice. This was our venue for a few years until an amusing but unfortunate incident which took place. Sensei Enoeda was due for training and grading and on arrival we were told our usual hall was unavailable but that we could use the main one. On inspection the floor was found to be far to polished so abrasive was used which proved excellent for our training. but not so good however for the dinner dance that was held that evening by the Civil Service. Needless to say the clubs relationship ended there and then and Dave was very nearly unemployed.


      We then moved to St Simons Church hall in 1974 and became Plymouth Shotokan Karate Centre which remained our dojo for the next 25 years. It had very little heating, concrete with wood block floor (ideal for take downs!) and next to no facilities but the atmosphere generated more than made up for it. The training was extremely hard through that period as any one that trained then will testify to. With 20 plus Dan grades and half that many browns training most night’s competition was strong.  Over 80 members obtained their Dan grades under Sensei Enoeda through that period.




Sensei Kato visited the club four times a year until circa 1973 when Sensei Tomita arrived as Sensei Enoeda’s assistant. He taught four times a year for the next 10 years and was a great influence at the club teaching through the formative years and establishing the type and style of training still practised today. Sensei Enoeda would visit with him twice a year and would arrive Friday, teach in the evening staying at The Holiday Inn. At 6.00 am Saturday morning Les would collect them from the hotel and drop them off to a golf course until lunch time then back for training in the afternoon, Sunday morning training again, then lunch then back to London. At the clubs peak there were as many as 140 members grading with their satellite clubs of the Polytechnic and Newquay. Dave North and Ali Clark ran the Newquay club and Les and other instructors would visit to assist the club. Ali immigrated to Australia where and has continued his training. Eventually the club left the KUGB due to the distances involved with gradings.  Dave Kirsop took over from then with his club at Looe and has supported the gradings with Plymouth since.




The Plymouth Polytechnic was probably one of the earliest universities to be formed in circa 1972. Shahab Faliki was training with the club and was at the University so started regular training with the students. Shahab settled in Plymouth with his wife Shirin and eventually his baby Shaharia and became good friends with Les and Bernice but was called back to Iran in 1977 when the Iran/ Iraq war was on and unfortunately we heard nothing more from him. Other black belts, Lorne Roberts, Kenny Elliott took over with Steve Elliott who is still chief instructor today and still trains at the main club on a regular basis.


Dave Herrity one of the founder members who ran the club with Les Clarke retired in 1977 and this left Les to run the club on his own which he still continues to do today. At that time there was always at least 10 high grades that taught through the 80/90’s. Shaune Blight, John Opie, Peter Wright, Collin Putt, Andy Trout, Dell Green, Martin Waterhouse and Denny Horrell being the main instructors all reaching 3rd Dan. Denny took over as assistant chief instructor and held that position and sparring partner for Les (some might say punch bag) for the last 25 years. Instructors attended the black/brown belt courses at Slough and Bath and the week courses at Crystal Palace. They also did numerous demonstration throughout the area on a regular basis.


    


A separate junior club was formed in the 80’s and 90’s and there were up to 70 members training.



Sensei Tomita left to return to Japan in 1983 and the club gave him a presentation on his last session and a few weeks later Sensei sent Les his karate gi as a thank you for 10 years together. He was a brilliant instructor at a time that the club was at its strongest.


Sensei Enoeda would bring instructors down to Plymouth after the spring course at Crystal Palace and clubs from the South West would attend the day’s course.


Sensei Ohta was brought over from Japan to take over from Sensei Tomita and he has been the club instructor until the present day. His technique, skills and sense of humour has made sure Plymouth has continued to have top class instruction up to the present day.


  


Sensei Enoeda’s untimely death came as a great shock especially for Les as he had been his student for 38 years and it was a great loss for karate. Sensei Ohta split from the KUGB and started the JKAE and the club has continued to be taught and graded by him as we were before Sensei Enoeda passed on.



The club has entered competition, the first being the first KUGB British championship in 1967 and has entered National and regional events with various successes throughout the following years. There were some good clubs in the South West at that time and it was better for local clubs not to have to travel to London to compete and therefore to cut out the travel time and advantage that London clubs had and still have today. Dave Collicott from Exeter arranged all the competitions then and worked hard to ensure they ran smoothly although he did not get the appreciation that he deserved for all his work. Teams consisted of seven per team and many of the South West clubs had three teams entered, and you could meet the same teams over quite a few years which led to some interesting return fights as many from that era will remember.