Every genuine martial arts style or system contains a rich mosaic of principles and techniques that at the most brutal assist in the surviving of the combat experience, and at the most sublime provide a psychological and physical pathway of self-development and self-transcendence. The best styles of Okinawan and Japanese karate confirm to his blue-print, and I would say that Wado-Kai, Shukokai and Goju Ryu are prime examples of the best that this genre has to offer. All these styles (two Japanese; Wado-Kai and Shukokai – and one Okinawan; Goju Ryu) have their historical roots within Chinese martial arts which probably are linked to the Fujian province of Southern China. Indeed, Wado-Kai and Shukokai derive from the Okinawan karate of Master Gichin Funakoshi – the Okinawan martial artist accredited with transmitting his style of Chinese martial arts to Mainland Japan. I practiced these styles only as an accident of fate – they happened to be prevalent in the areas I lived in to pursue my education throughout the 1980s. No one at the time (not even my close friends) knew of my Hakka Chinese gongfu background. I saw no reason to explain this, an they saw my familiarity with certain techniques as me just being talented in these areas (I was viciously fast and very good with kicking and moving, as in the traditional Northern martial arts in China, a student perfects kicking first – whilst due to cultural differences in the West – it is punching that is perfected first with kicking usually appearing uncomfortable). On the other hand, as I entered my late teens, Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) directed me to develop my punching to a very high degree. This is where Wado-Kai (correct alignment) and Shukokai (correct hip and shoulder twist) assisted my development tremendously! Goju Ryu, on the other hand, has a special place in my heart. Its all-round body-conditioning reminded me of our own Hakka Chinese gongfu style which developed tremendous power, endurance and strength! The bones certainly hardened, whilst the mind became calm and broadly aware. Master Chan Tin Sang was an extraordinary teacher as he entrusted me to enter the training halls of other styles, dedicate myself to their ways, learn them fully and then integrate these lessons and skills into the Ch’an Dao System. This could happen as each karate style brought out a particular aspect of our own fighting system. I have the utmost respect for all legitimate styles of martial arts training and see no reason why there cannot be a positive cross-training that enhances rather than diminishes. As the US at the time was emphasising Japanese martial culture throughout the West as a means to side-line and obscure Chinese martial culture (due to the Cold War), European cuntries with no historical connection with Japan suddenly found themselves hosting (usually at their own expense) Japanese ‘ambassadors’ of various karate styles and associations. This arrangement all came crashing down when President Carter established full diplomatic relations with Mainland China in 1979, and Westerners started travelling en masse to China to train in gongfu – and Chinese teachers came to the West to teach – although the effects of this change would take around a decade to fully manifest itself. In the meantime, I trained in Japanese karate at the tail-end of this time period and consider it a very interesting and unique experience.
For educational purposes, I lived in Hereford from September, 1984 – July 1988. Prior to this I had spent a year living in Reigate and Redhill. Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) had suggested that whilst travelling for education, I should attend whatever local martial arts training was available, and in the case of the karate styles, try to discern the Chinese gongfu roots. I spent a year training in Wado-Kai Karate-Do under Sensei Alan Bound in Reigate, but when I arrived in Hereford, I was swept along into the local Shukokai class taught by Sensei Tom Beardsley 4th Dan (I will write about this separately). However, in 1986 I was informed about a traditional Goju Ryu class in Hereford – I think from am advert in the magazine entitled ‘Karate and Oriental Arts’ - taught by Mr Tony Smith. This was in Hereford Leisure Centre (I think on Wednesday and Friday nights), with a Sunday training in the countryside. These classes were extraordinary and reminded me of our traditional Hakka Chinese gongfu style. The emphasis upon heavy (muscle and bone) body-conditioning was so familiar to me that it felt like a ‘returning home’. This Okinawan approach was obviously ‘Chinese’ in manifestation – just as Wado-Kai and Shukokai were typically ’Japanese’. The grading system of coloured-belts was similar (with some differences), but the gradings were so hard and infrequent that those that focused on Goju training had to psychologically and physically commit themselves to levels of dedication I had not seen in any other Karate Training Hall (or ‘Dojo’). Practitioners, led by Tony Smith and his assistants, trained to the point of utter exhaustion – and then moved into new dimensions of existence! As a 10th Kyu white-belt, I had to undergo a three-hour grading session (under ‘Sensei Bill’ 3rd Dan and his equally highly graded partner - whom I met again many years later, by accident at a dinner party) to earn my 9th kyu – a white belt with one black tag. As matters transpired, I was granted two grades in one examination (together with a friend named Ashwin Bulsara) and left with an 8th kyu grade – a white belt with two black tags which I still possess today, and am very proud of. I was living a double martial arts life at the time, being a practitioner of Hakka gongfu since a young child. I managed to train for about 18 months solid in Goju Ryu in Hereford, but trained for much longer when back home in Devon (between my required but secretive gongfu lessons). I made contact again in 2000 with Tony Smith via telephone and the internet and we became good friends. Since my formulative days in Hereford, I had married British Chinese woman born in Hong Kong, had inherited our family gongfu style and was teaching classes of my own. For about two months in 2005, I had a friend who was driving near to Cardiff once a week and she agreed to visit Hereford en route and we trained with Tony Smith in a different hall (somewhere near the centre of Hereford). Tony also stayed a few times in our home in South London and I was happy (and honoured) to meet his partner and sons. As an author, I wrote an article about Tony Smith and it was published (in two parts) in the ‘Traditional Karate’ magazine in 2007 (please see below). Around 2007 Tony introduced me to Mr George Andrews 8th Dan at his training hall in the Elephant and Castle part of London.
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.