Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
(Iain on the left and brother Wullie on the right)
1.) How did you start training in Martial Arts?
I always fancied being a martial Artist, I used to love watching MA films, I must have watched “Enter the Dragon” a dozen times (or more) in the 70’s (mind you I wanted to be a Cowboy before that!) but I was never in the right place at the right time to get involved.
My time was taken up as a teenager playing in bands, I was a drummer in several bands and playing 6 or 7 nights a week (as well as my daytime job).
When I moved from Scotland to Wales in the early 80’s I started working on construction sites and one of my colleagues had just passed his 2nd dan and was opening up his first dojo, so I joined as one of his first students. I was immediately hooked.
2.) Who were your teachers and/or influences?
My teacher was Sempai Wayne Mortimer (now Shihan), a very strong and uncompromising instructor, I got on well with him and we used to do extra training at work (out of sight of the bosses!) I was probably doing about 16 hours a week of karate at that time, and also went to associations summer camp in Denmark that first year and met and trained under Sensei Bernard Creton (now Hanshi), that was the hardest week of my life so far, but again, I loved it. I continued to go to the summer camp almost every year after that, I think about 6 of my grades were achieved at summer camps, including my 1st & 2nd dan’s.
My influences were my instructor and the top instructors in the association at that time, guys like Rick McElroy, John Wilson, Mark Simmons, Albert Burton and of course Bernard Creton.
Albert Burton was a great kata bunkai Instructor, and is probably the reason I like kata so much now.
3.) Did you compete in the tournaments? Any good stories?
Over the years I fought in many tournaments, one or two clicker tournaments (I was crap at clicker) and then I discovered knockdown. My own instructor wasn’t a knockdown fighter, but he trained me very hard. I fought at the British Open in Crystal Palace a few times, and many of the British Regional tournaments, but most of my fighting was at the tournaments run by Bernard Creton’s association, which was called by now “Karate Jutsu Kai”. After the first few unsuccessful attempts I placed in most of these for several years, although I had been competing since I was a 4th kyu, I don’t think I reached my full potential as a fighter until I was a 2nd dan.
As an interesting aside; I was talking to Gary Chamberlain at last years British Open, and we discovered that Gary had refereed me in the British Open the first time I fought there! ( I think that was in 1842! ), incidentally I was knocked out cold that year!
4.) How has your training enhanced other parts of your life?
Training has made me a more confident person, I was always quite quiet and shy, (and still am in some respects) and hated any kind of conflict, nowadays I just take things as they come.
If something is coming my way, I will now meet it head on, whereas many years ago I would have crossed the road to avoid it.
5.) Can you tell us more about your organization KSK?
I am the Branch Chief for Scotland for the KSK Union (Kyokushin Schools of Karate) I joined the Union in 2008 after 7 years of being on my own as “Senshi Do Karate”. I had left Karate Jutsu in 2001 due to changes and politics and decided to go it alone, I set up the Senshi Do Karate Association, but to be perfectly honest, I was never happy being the top man, and didn’t really ever feel comfortable, so after a long time looking for somewhere suitable I came across the KSK.
The KSK was set up in 1998 by Shihan Darren Murphy, it allows Kyokushin groups or dojo’s of any background to join without changes to your syllabus etc, you still run your dojo’s yourself, but have the backing of a large Union, it also gives access to national and international tournaments, some of which I organize for the KSK.
It’s a very friendly Union with no dictators, all the officials are volunteers and we all get on socially as well as through the Union.
6.) You have other family members involved in Knockdown. Did you start training together or did you just end up with similar interests?
Wullie and I actually lived 500 miles apart when we both started training, he was only 11 when I left home and neither of us trained at that time and he actually started a couple of years before me, training in tae kwon do, and then freestyle karate, but luckily I came back to Scotland several years later and saved him! J
Wullie started training for knockdown in late 2002 when I moved back to Scotland, until then the style he trained didn’t use low kicks.
Since October 2003, he has competed most years at the British Open Knockdown tournament.
The last time I competed was (I think) 1999, maybe 2000? although I have done a few demonstration bouts since (but not for many years).
7.) Tell us about Senshido Kickboxing. How are you involved?
Apart from being the Chief Instructor for the Senshi Do Karate Association, I’m not really involved with the kick boxing side of things, I leave that to Wullie, when I returned to Scotland, he already had a thriving kick boxing club in the area, and we decided to join forces, at that time, it was purely a karate association but I changed it to incorporate other disciplines. The Association still exists, but the Karate side is now licensed through the KSK. The kick boxing and MMA are licensed separately.
I attend kick boxing black belt gradings and help out when required.
8.) What do you hope your students absorb from your training?
I would like to think that my students gain in the same way that I did, mentally and physically.
One of my fighters (Mark Welsh) just won the Scottish Open Knockdown Lightweight division at the age of 18, it was his mental strength as much as his physical strength that won him that title, if I don’t think a student has the right attitude I won’t let them compete, if you are not mentally strong, you are not ready.
9.) Any advise for other knockdown enthusiasts?
For Knockdown you have to be committed to the cause…. To quote Mr Miyagi (kind of) “either you knockdown do, or knockdown don’t… if you do knockdown maybe, you get squished like a grape”
Sorry for the corny analogy, but its true, you have to really want to do it, knockdown isn’t a game, you sometimes see unprepared fighters at tournaments, I’ve watched some guys warming up and I’m thinking to myself “he shouldn’t be here” and sure enough that’s quite often the guy that get knocked out.
To be a serious knockdown fighter you have to put in the hours, there is no easy route!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Womens: Klew Williams
Runner up : Thiele Ulrike
Mens Lightweight: Mitsutaka Tsukihara
Runner up : Takeshi Ueda
Mens Middleweight : Anton Bodygin
Runner up : Jason Franklin
Mens Heavyweight: Mike Ninomiya
Runner up : Antoly Polyakov
Man. What a change from last year. No volcano to interfere with flights and overall just a really strong showing. Every fight was amazing and we had at least 5 overtime matches.
The Men's lightweight had won the All Japan Sabaki and he was amazing. Pure amazing technique. He could pull off reversals like no ones business.
The women's division was great and Klew Williams came back this year with a vengence. Strong and good techniques!
Middle Weight mens was tough! There were some Kyokushin guys in there that did pretty good until the Enshin fighters turned their power against them. The winner had a great combination of power and sabaki technique.
The men's heavyweight was a total 180 from last year. We had amazing fights that seemed more like Middle weights. Lots of energy! Antoly beat one guys leg into hamburger but in the end Mike used his mastery of Sabaki to overcome all the contenders.
I got to go to the after party and hang out and chat with everyone. It was a great time and I am looking forward to next year!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I did an interview with my Sensei, Ralph Rhoads. He is currently a 5th degree Black Belt in Enshin Karate. A former instructor in both Kyokushin and Ashihara Karate. He has been pursing the path of Karate since 1969. He currently teaches in Tucson,AZ USA at the Downtown YMCA. http://tucson.enshin.com/
What made you want to take up Karate? Also when you went to find a school did you know about the difference in training from say Shotokan to Kyokushin?
I was a weightlifter and looked like I could take care of myself in a fight, but actually had no experience in fighting. I knew about the White Plains School of Self Defense, because I had passed by it many times, when it was located in White Plains, NY.
I did not know about different styles of karate, let alone, knowing the differences between Shotokan and Kyokushin, but ironically I had purchased a book on Shotokan karate, called "Karate: the Art of Empty Hand Fighting", when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I had read it, and re-read it many times until I finally started training when I was 19 years old. My parents would not pay for the classes when I was younger, since they were very expensive then, so when I was older, and able to pay my own way, I started training.
Who were your instructors and influences?
Mainly, my instructors were Shihan Shigeru Oyama and Kancho Joko Ninomiya. When I started with them, they we called Sensei. I had opened my home to several of the Sensei that were training with Shihan Oyama to get ready for the 1975 All Japan, to name a few: Sensei’s Sato, Oiishi, Azuma and of course, Kancho Ninomiya. We lived, trained, ate and played together at a time in my life that was very dis-jointed. That experience was a very important aspect in getting my life path in order and balanced
Did you enjoy the tournaments or have any good stories about them?
I went to tournaments for kumite and kata, but was never really fond of them. I felt that many were biased towards favorites, and the outcome was based on a particular point in time. I enjoyed training and preparing for kumite, more than being measured and defined by a single outcome. Watching others fight was a learning process for me, as I not only watched the fighting, but also closely analyzed the reactions and emotional responses of the participants.
What do you remember the most about your early Kyokushin Training?
Kyokushin training was very hard and intense. I always thought that I would quit once I got to a certain level, but I never did. I believe my experiences with the people I had trained with and the close relationship with Kancho Ninomiya, had kept me from walking away. It has taken me many years to realize that karate is more than just a fighting system. There is a balancing aspect that comes from focusing ones endeavors on improving the self, the immediate circle, the outer circle and learning to be open to what life brings to your realm of existence. If I had not moved on to Enshin, I would have missed the more important aspects of karate, and the lifelong solutions that are available along its path.
How was that Shodan test?
I did not know I was testing for my shodan. I had been kicked in the floating ribs a month before, at the Fairfield. Conn. dojo, during kumite, by a brown belt Kempo student who was wearing a white belt. I had to stop training for that month as my ribs were so damaged that it hurt to move and even breathe. I was told that I needed to attend a seminar that Shihan Oyama was conducting at the Scarsdale dojo, to help and show support for the event. Training was about 2 and half hours, before we got to kumite. I fought several of the black belt Sensei that were there and then had the fight with Shihan Oyama. We fought for a very long time, over ten minutes, and my ribs were broken again. We paused for a breather, and then he asked me if I wanted to continue. In my mind, I wanted it to be over and I knew I could not fight very much more with the pain coming from my ribs... but I just bowed and said "Osu!". At that point Shihan stopped the fight segment and told me to take off my belt. I thought I was being punished for not training for a month and thought he was going to put a white belt on me. I was shocked beyond belief that I had just become a Kyokushin black belt.
After Kyokushin you went to Ashihara. How did that come about? How was training under Hideyuki Ashihara?
When Kancho Ashihara left Kyokushin, his students were also separated from the organization. Kancho Ninomiya had traveled to San Francisco with Kancho Ashihara and asked if I would want to meet him. We met at a private residence in Emeryville and I was asked if I would be interested in joining the new Ashihara style. I felt that my affiliation with Kancho Ninomiya was so strong, that I was going to follow him wherever that may take me. Since he had already determined to follow his teacher to the Ashihara style, my answer to join Ashihara was a definite yes. Kancho Ashihara came to the United States several times and I was able to train with him, however, since Kancho Ninomiya was instrumental in developing the Ashihara style, I was able to get the training I needed to come up to speed as though I had been training with Kancho Ashihara directly.
In 1988 you were invited to be part of Enshin with at the time Shihan Joko Ninomiya. How was Enshin at the beginning.
Kancho Ninomiya had called me to inform me of his decision to leave Ashihara. He was very diplomatic in letting me know that he was starting a new style, based on his knowledge and experiences. He explained that it was my option to continue with Ashihara, or to follow him in this new path. I had no hesitation in saying yes, as Kancho Ninomiya and I have developed a unique relationship as teacher to student and also as best friends. I felt that I could learn more from this close relationship, rather than from an organization that I was far removed from geographically. The early days of Enshin were a growing process of everyone involved, but under the leadership and coordination from Kancho, we were all able to develop into what is now the Enshin family.
What makes you continue on the path of Karate?
Karate training for me is a continually evolving process. Over the years my goals and my expectations have changed and adapted to changes in my life and my environment. What was important to me when I was in my twenties, has evolved to a different level now that I am in my sixties. The challenges that I confronted in my early years have now have been resolved, but new challenges have appeared.
Karate training keeps me grounded in my focus to meet the challenges in my life, and offers me a dimension that is point of reference for going forward. I enjoy being a resource to my students and fellow karateka. In a word, my continuing to train makes me "whole”, and I am grateful that I am able to continue to participate. Osu!
Sensei Ralph Rhoads
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I have decide to start my own Forum and Blog dedicated primarily to Knockdown Karate but we also love Boxing,Muay Thai,Judo,MMA,Etc!
Come join in the discussion on our forums located at