Seido karate began in 1976 when our Founder and Chief Instructor, Kaicho Nakamura emphasised that karate should be for everyone: “The Human Face of Karate.” This was at a time when most martial art schools were focusing only on punching, kicking and physical power. They were forgetting about Karate-DO: a way of living.
Along with physical strength Seido practices develops spiritual fortitude, generosity and true sincerity. By training the mind, body and spirit together we strive to realise the potential that is in all of us. The dojo then becomes a way of developing your character as well as developing your body and mind.
I first studied Seido Karate in Jamaica in 1981 when I was posted to Kingston to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (F&CO) in order to run the Immigration Section of the High Commission.
The dojo in Annette Crescent was not far from the High Commission and was run by Sensei Errol Lynn, a talented karateka out of the Kyokushinkai tradition. I was previously a 4th degree black belt in another style of karate but I decided to ask Sensei Lynn if I could start again and train as a white belt and he agreed to this. I wanted to refresh myself with a new start.
The dojo was very tough and at that time I was the only white person training there. I got to know so many Jamaican karateka during my three years in the dojo many of whom are still good friends with me today. I was invited to take my Seido 1st degree black belt as I was leaving the island.
It was an unforgettable promotion which I cover in my autobiography, Dogs on the Runway. I was awarded my black belt and then met Kaicho Nakamura at the Seido Karate HQ in New York. By reading his history in the Human Face of Karate you will understand his own challenges in developing Seido karate.
Much to my surprise he asked me to open the first Seido dojo on my return to the UK. This was an unbelievable honour which I did not feel that I was worthy of but I promised to try my best and continue my training by regular visits to study under his guidance in New York.
I began the first UK branch of Seido Karate in 1985, at the Hughenden Valley Village Hall. I had one student, Stuart Wilson who has stayed with Seido all those years and is now a 5th Degree black belt and head of our Tylers Green dojo.
My philosophy when I began the club is the same as it is now. I have never been concerned with how many students that I have training. The main concern is that our students are serious minded individuals whose aim is self improvement. Our students seek to give back their strengths and skills to the community in order to make our world a better and safer place to live.
I have always liked the quotation Cicero in which he said: It is hard for a student to find a good master but it is even harder for a master to find a good student.
I have tried my best to be that good student and over the years have faced many challenges during promotions at New York under Kaicho Nakamura and have made many close friends. My last promotion was to Sei Shihan (6th dan with over 5 yrs experience) on 3rd June 2016 at our celebration of 40 years of Seido karate in New York.
Seido UK has grown considerably since those early days, We now have clubs in the Hughenden Valley, Great Kingshill, Aylesbury Vale, Lacey Green, Tylers Green, Mickelfield, Chiswick, South West London, Dover, Somerset, and Cheshire.
We have over 500 students training in our programmes and hundreds of students in our schools programmes. We have examined and promoted hundreds of black belts and now have over 125 black belts currently training.
We are not inward looking but widely interact with other clubs and associations running a wide range of seminars on subjects of interest to our students including Wing Chun; Brazilian jujitsu; judo; weapons; street combat and much more.
Our management committee is vastly experienced with experts from a variety of walks of life. This has enabled our organisation to be progressive and meet the many challenges we have faced in order to safeguard and develop our students.
Who is Seido karate for ? Men and women, young and old have found Seido karate to be a practical solution to the dangers of ever increasing violence. Age and strength, sex and condition are not important. We have students aged from 5 to over 60 and men and women of every body description and level of physical prowess.
The key to building confidence is to feel fit to fight if you have to. Most confrontations can be managed in a non-violent manner which is highly desirable but every so often you have to take care of yourself and perhaps seek to protect others. Having the knowledge and skills to do this is very important and regular training underpins this.
Finally I am most grateful for the dedication, inspiration and leadership of all our Seido instructors: Jun Shihan Brandt Leitch 6th dan & Kyoshi Tina Garth 5th dan (London South West); Kyoshi Stuart Wilson 5th dan (Tylers Green); Kyoshi Stephen Fincham 5th dan (Lacey Green & Aylesbury Vale); Kyoshi Bede Brosnahan 5th ; Kyoshi Matt Sherratt 5th dan; Sensei Sara Costello 4th dan (Chiswick); Kyoshi Jon Yorke (Dover) Sensei Robin Dawson 4th dan Globe School Dojo; Senpai Rob Hemans 1st dan (Somerset); Senpai Mark Terry 3rd dan (Mickelfield); Sensei Mark Eade (Cheshire).
Each instructor has spent innumerable hours, assisted by so many support instructors, in developing our students of all abilities and deserve our gratitude and respect Osu !
The future ? Seido Karate in the UK will continue to seek women, men and children interested in developing their character in accordance with the principles established by our found Kaicho Nakamura and his successor, Nidaime Akira Nakamura. I hope that you will be one of them.