Shukokai Karate Federation (SKF): Training with Sensei Kimura Shigeru - (1986) - Poole, Dorset! (7.9.2023)
I think that about 40 people from Hereford boarded a coach during the Spring or Summer of 1986 - and headed to Poole, Dorset - a journey of 134 miles in a Southerly direction! This journey took about 4 hours to complete and when we arrived we all booked into a hotel - with two-people per room. If memory serves me correctly, we trained on Saturday and Sunday - before returning back to Hereford on the Sunday evening. I am featured in this video in the photographs listed below. If it was 1986 - I would have either 18 or 19 years old depending on whether this event took place before or after the end of May!
We all trained in Shukokai Karate under Sensei Tom Beardsley at the Hinton Leisure Centre - although occasionally I understand that Tom Beardsley also taught at a number of other places. (I once graded on a Saturday morning in a small school training hall I never saw before or after)! I left the style in 1987 - along with many others - when the direction of the style started to locally depart from that advocated by Sensei Kimura - whom I got to talk to on the Course. As part of my overall gongfu training - I thoroughly enjoyed my time training with Shukokai and I learned a tremendous amount about hard-hitting! When Kimura's Shukokai was at its peak in Hereford - it was a thing of considerable beauty - and I will never forget the military connection or the kindness I experienced.
This is 'me' - a 'hard' and 'ferocious' warrior - on a secret gongfu mission to learn as much as I can about Japanese Karate whilst still in education, before returning to the practice of our family gongfu style! The above video was forwarded to me by my Goju Ryu Karate-Do teacher - Sensei Tony Smith 5th Dan - as I had no idea it existed! Although it is difficult to tell - I am either a 'Purple' or 'Brown' belt at the time!
Person Featured: Adrian Chan-Wyles
Location: Back Garden - 29 Siddalls Gardens, Tiverton, Devon EX16 6DG
Time of Year: Late Summer - August-September
Year: c. 1987
Photographer: Cousin visiting from Oxford - with her family.
I would often practice Shukokai Karate-Do (and our Chinese gongfu family style) in the back garden of my parental home during the Summer Holidays of the academic year (when I was studying at college in Hereford). Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) had given me the task of surreptitiously practicing various lineages of Japanese Karate-Do and studying the Chinese cultural origins of these martial arts! My cousin caught me performing the various 'Katas' - the 'middle' photograph is 'Yoi' in Japanese Karate-Do - or the 'Ready' and 'Alert' posture and attitude assumed prior to (and after completing) the performance of the various 'Pinan' Katas - and then carried-on watching whilst I performed the Chinese gongfu 'Basic Form One' [小形一 - Xiao Xing Yi] (the 'lower-block' performed in 'Horse Stance' in the third photograph on the right) - and the 'flying front-kick' found in the '3rd Advanced Form' (離拳- Li Quan) from our Longfist style (first photograph on the left)! From 1983-1984 I practiced one-year of Wado Kai (Southern Karate-Do) in Reigate and Redhill, I then trained in the Shukokai Karate-Do Federation (SKF) between 1984-1987, and then Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do (1987-1989) - both in Hereford. I also occasionally trained in the odd Dojo here and there around Devon (usually 'Shotokan') and I trained in Goju Ryu in Finchley (North London) a few times. However, as I matured and my mind and body developed into the inner and outer structures required by our family (Hakka) gongfu style - my experiment with other martial arts ended around 1993 as I started moving out of my youthful days. Eventually, once a style is properly practiced - then the inner (chemical) and outer (physical) body transforms into the 'shape' the style requires so that the correct 'functions' (or 'techniques') are developed. This means that eventually the techniques of other styles cannot be practiced in a deep or fundamental manner as the building blocks are completely different. Of course, this does not mean that nothing can be learned from other styles - but the profound knowledge must be transformed (or 'translated') into the dialectical language of the style that has been regularly practiced. In other words, when traditional martial arts are practiced over long periods of time - the inner and outer mind and body 'change' due to the continuous effort being exerted in a particular direction. When young, however, the energy channels in the body are still malleable and flexible - but this changes with age and experience.
For educational purposes, I lived in Hereford from September, 1984 – July 1989. Prior to this I had spent a year living in Reigate and Redhill (1983-1984) - where I trained for one-year in Wado Ryu Karate-Do (see below). 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 that exist within the developed martial techniques. I spent a year training in Wado-Kai Karate-Do under Sensei Alan Bound in Redhill, but when I arrived in Hereford during September, 1984, 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 class was held in Hereford Leisure Centre (I think on Wednesday and Friday nights), with an optional Sunday-morning training in the Herefordshire countryside (this was popular amongst those who participated in the training of the local SAS Regiment). 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’ - although the sheer intensity was something entirely 'new' to me compared the more 'laid-back' Chinese attitude to training. Not better or worse - just 'different' and useful! This Okinawan approach was obviously ‘Chinese’ in manifestation – just as Wado-Kai and Shukokai were typically ’Japanese’ - but contained something uniquely 'Okinawan' in its approach to training. 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 'being'! 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) and left with an 8th kyu grade – a white belt with two black tags which I still possess today, and am very proud of (although I am told that Goju Ryu has seemingly abolished the '10th' and '9th' Kyu grades - so that everyone now starts with an 8th Kyu)! 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 my Goju Ryu teacher via telephone (and the internet). Since my formulative days in Hereford, I had married a British Chinese woman born in Hong Kong (indeed, the daughter of my Chinese Master), had inherited our family gongfu style and was teaching classes of my own by this time. 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 Sensei 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.