Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interview with Iain Rodger of the KSK Kyokushin Scotland

(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!