When i were 'nobbut a lad' in the 60's n' early 70's ,my dad took me to the FORDS social club and for the next few months i was slung around the mat of the JUDO club......after that closed ,he then took me to a local school were they were doing this KARATE thingey.....This was well before BRUCE LEE and 'KUNG FU' on the telly....KARATE was JAMES BOND,etc chopping guards on the back of the neck to knock them out to aid their attempt at breaking into various secret enemy bases.
That afternoon ,during a school holiday we'd been thrown out of WIDNES BATHS, now long gone ,for being little scally pains in the arse . The guy who slung us out was reasonable and polite ,but you wouldn't argue with him. As we entered the KARATE class for that first time and asked the instructor if we could join in ,we got a shock when it turned out it was the same fellah who slung us out ,but SENSEI JOHN TATTUM didn't seemed to notice and was a nice bloke and over the next few years ,a great sensei teaching KARATE in all its forms and techniques ,unlike today where it is basically sport orientated and a lot of techniques and basics are neglected.
I discovered 'FIGHTING ARTS' magazine published and edited by the great TERRY O'NEILL, who ,in later years i was blessed in having as my sensei for a few years. One of his two main Japanese senseis that came to ENGLAND in the 60's and ,basically started the whole 'sheebang'!....ENOEDA KEINOSUKE, nicknamed the TIGER!.....And for good reason. He was amazing ,took a love for the UK and stayed and basically made the BRITISH great ,esspecially the LIVERPOOL RED TRIANGLE the best in the world ! With him ,in charge was KANAZAWA HIROKAZU....Who didn't stay as long in the UK, but made his mark as they were two absolute masters of their art and decades later the top karateka's have these two to thank.
In the FIGHTING ARTS magazine was an article on KANAZAWA with pictures of flying kicks ,etc ,all great stuff to a killing machine schoolboy, who promptly found two books by KANAZAWA and ENOEDA and much to my shame 'nicked them!
I read a lot about KANAZAWA , he was a bit more 'mystical' and i was fascinated. I met and trained with ENOEDA twice ,i remember accidentally walking into him ,and he stood with golden skin and gleaming white KARATE GI.....He glowed, i was stunned, i mean nothing gleamed in WIDNES!...Then his speed and power was awsome , he scared the living daylights out of me
KANAZAWA who had been a student of the JKA(Japanese Karate Association) in the 70's had some problems and formed his own breakaway organisation the S.K.I.(Shotokan Karate International) which in the years since i think is possibly one ,if not ,the biggest organisation on the planet ,but it meant KANAZAWA spent most of his life criss crossing the globe training seminors for his beloved and faithful followers in the S.K.I.
When i went to live in INDIA i met up with SENSEI SUBERAMANYAN who i joined up to train at some god awful time ,in the park ,every morning. The difference between my time in LIVERPOOL training with the KUGB(Karate Union Of Great Britain) was that the training was hard and physical and started leaning towards competition, stretching ,tension and grunting and screaming ,but the SKI incorporated TAI-CHI and KANAZAWA had a heavy emphasis on breathing ,which i didn't understand for a long time. I loved the TAI-CHI and would love to get back into it,but theres just no one nearby. SENSEI SUBRAMANYAN then told me after a terrible injury i'd suffered as i was getting back on my feet literally ,we'd moved to KUALUR LUMPUR and he called from INDIA to invite me over as KANCHO KANAZAWA was coming to BANGALORE and would i like to meet and train with him.....Would i /???????
I met him ,spoke with him ,dined with him and he was an amazing man ,a humble ,friendly ,very humourous man. We had a few days training and unbeknownst to me SENSEI SUBRAMANYAN had explained my problems to KANCHOso he watched me over the few days to determine wether i was due to recieve my BLACK BELT. i had been training very slow relaxed excercises as i was trying desperatly to get back into some form of shape, which i did and found the ability to move with speed and power using relaxation. Kancho explained breathing , but i was so used to the grunting way of doing things i couldn't adapt.I had been doing things as i was told never relly understanding ,so much. Only when i started the TAI-CHI and I met KANCHO KANAZAWA and SENSEI SUBRAMANYAN did it suddenly make sense. A year or so later and spent some time with KANAZAWA again thanks to IRENE TCH a good friend and representative for the SKI in MALAYSIA and he explained again his philosophy again. It took a year or so for me to understand and now i have the speed and power and flexibility ,better than any other time in my life by the use of his advice about relaxing ,breathing and harmony. When i read about him now i constantly rediscover something new ,i'm 53 ,but ,at last its falling into place.
ONE THE DAY IN bangalore After the gradings had taken place ,i was summoned out at the end ,after he'd gone through every single person with a bit of advice for all. I was called 'MISTER TIM', nobody could say LEATHERBARROW, i had to join him on stage as we filled some documents and certificates ,he never said anything about my technique, but said i needed to improve my handwriting!......My Karates fine, but my handwriting stinks!....As i left the stage the whole hall erupted in cheering and clapping for me...After the hell i'd been through.....MRS SUBRAMANYAN was sitting at the back of the hall with a huge smile .....You can take the lad out of LIVERPOOL, but you can't take LIVERPOOL out of the lad..My martial art discipline, walking straight and erect totally collapsed.I held my fist up ,shouted "YEEESSSSSSS!!!!" then burst into tears, i'd survived a life threatening accident ,recovered ,met my hero and he awarded me my black belt ,quite frankly the best moment in my life, family aside!
The poster for the training seminar was a spectacular shot of KANAZAWA kicking a block of ice to smithereens.....When he entered the hall he got a splinter in his big toe and had to wear a bandage tied round it with sort of rabbit ears sticking up. which he thought as funny as me as i burst out laughing ,as everyone else was trying to be subtle and repectful, as i said ...You can take the lad!......
Soke KANAZAWA is in his 80's , i believe he had a skiing accident and is suffering a little ,but retired from 'leggin' around the world constantly ,his excellent assistant instructors who've travelled trained and taught with him for years as well as his sons ,all excellent martial artists in their own right taking hold and carrying the KANAZAWA/ SKI torch onwards.