Instructor: Ian Hollidge 3rd Dan Black Belt

Instructor: Ian Hollidge 3rd Dan Black BeltWelcome to my karate profile. I started karate training early in 1970 at the Holborn Karate Club next to the library in central London. The club was run by Charles Mac, at the time one of the most highly qualified martial artists in the UK. Back then my first licence fee was 15 shillings (75p). The training was in a large hall with repetitions of basics in a very orderly way, no different from today. My first grading took place in October 1970 with my 8th Kyu taking place in February 1971. As a teenager I did not yet fully appreciate the way karate would influence my life or how long I would keep training for.

Working for the GLC in London’s County Hall meant they had their own gym in the basement. There were exchanges set up between UK engineers with similar in the USA. One engineer Ted Vincent set up a Karate club in the basement gym based on the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. For the next two years I trained under him learning the Korean way of martial arts. Ray Kerrige, a second Dan in Shotokan, who at the time had just returned from the Instructors course in Japan oversaw our 6th Kyu grading in 1973.

In 1974 on emigrating to South Africa i looked for a karate club and was fortunate enough to find a JKA club run by the famous Stan Schmidt. Now 8th Dan Sensei Stan was at the time the highest European Dan grade, he is truly a fantastic instructor. His Orange Grove club was situated near the centre of Johannesburg and taught traditional JKA Shotokan and his instruction and club ethos was first class. The club was visited by highly regarded instructors of the time from around the world including Sensei Tanaka. One of Sensei Stan’s senior black belts Robbie Schmidt, no relation, started his own dojo near where i was living in Kempton Park, Nr. Jan Smuts’s airport, which i joined. Between 1978 and 1980 stayed with Sensei Robbie’s Birchacres club grading to 2nd Kyu brown and one stripe level.

One of the enjoyable aspects of karate is that it is a specialist interest activity which means that many varied clubs exist throughout the world. This means when travelling around and find yourself in a strange town you can easily call on any club door and ask if you can train for the night. Never have I been turned away, always received a warm welcome, trained hard and met new friends. This is the way of martial arts as I’ve found it, different people all with a common interest.

Although there are many different martial arts of which Karate is just one our Shotokan style gives a great foundation from which to appreciate other styles and arts. My work in South Africa, road construction meant a great deal of moving around, this gave me the opportunity to explore other clubs and I always managed to find one. In Secunda, Zulu for two, the club was a Shotokan club which, unbeknown to me, had just broken away from the JKA and joined Kanazawa’s SKI Karate Association. This meant little to me at the time as training remained the same.

It was with this club that on 14th November 1981 I took my black belt. After over 7 years in South Africa I returned to UK in January 1982 where upon returning to my home town of Croydon again starting karate at a “new” club. This was in fact with an old friend Rod De Silva who ran the Cobra Karate Club in South Norwood. After a few years I started my own satellite club in South Croydon. The satellite club was under sensei Malcolm Phipps’s Seishinkai organisation. Being near to Crystal Palace it was a must to go to the yearly KUGB summer course which each year had some of the top instructors from around the world.

Sensei’s Enoeda, Yahara, Kawazoe, Kase, Tabata, Tanaka, Shirai, Ohta and many many others instructed on these courses. I had booked onto the course where sensei Nakayama was due to teach and sadly he died the week before. Each year for one week you just focused on Karate with a different lessons all day. The best one was when Enoeda sensei did all black belt katas once slow with count and explanation then hajame correct timing. The top KUGB instructors would also be in the line up and training with all skills helping anyone willing to learn and train hard.

Another move this time 1985 to Sussex and again looking for a new club I found a KUGB club in transition to form its own association.The club was run by Sensei Mac Afzali who set up the SSKD organisation. When training I found myself being the next senior black belt, by this time having been training for 15 years.

Eventually I set up a satellite club in Bexhill-on-Sea transferring everybody over to the SSKD. In May 1988 I passed my second Dan and continued to develop the Bexhill club. Over the next few years I found myself becoming more and more involved in running the SSKD and my Bexhill club, being awarded my third Dan in 1993.

Now the SSKD is a well established association of small shotokan clubs in Bexhill, Heathfield and Horam. Karate has been a major part of my life but not my complete life.

With martial arts I’ve found it important to develop a habit of regular training, committing a given time each week. Fortunately the top instructors do travel around and where possible I will travel to train with them. A favourite is Sensei Dave Hazard who always provides that inspiration for the next step upwards. We are lucky that Simon Oliver is a regular visitor to us in Bexhill and gives us the benefit of his close quarter kata Oyo.

The Bexhill Shotokan Karate Club still continues in 2014 following the same principals of Shotokan as practiced by thousands around the world.  The great joy of martial arts and Shotokan in particular is that whatever your age you will always be able enjoy a training session.


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