Bushinkai chief instructor Simon Keegan presents a brief synopsis of his training and grading history, in the arts of Karate, Jujutsu and Tai Chi.
Q. What grade are you, who graded you, what kind of a grading was it?
A. My grade is 5th Dan. I was graded on the mat by Shihan PAJ Handyside 8th Dan. It was a full grading – basics, kata, kumite, self defence etc.
Q. What style did you grade in?
A. A kind of Shotokan called Shobukan (combining Shotokan with Budokan and Jujutsu and Aikido). My teacher PAJ Handyside commenced martial arts study in 1963 with Jujutsu, before studying Karate with D Makinson and C Cummins and masters Kato, Asano, Tomita and Kanazawa.
His greatest influence is Hirokazu Kanazawa (now 10th Dan) who graded him to 1st Dan. He then changed styles to Malaysian Budokan, grading to 2nd Dan with founder Chew Choo Soot. Shihan Handyside is now a good friend and I enjoy his company off the mat.
Q. How long have you studied this style?
A. I moved over to this style as a 1st Dan in 2001, when I commenced training with Sensei Robert Carruthers (7th Dan) who was in the past a senior student of Shihan Handyside. I trained with Bob through to around 2012. He introduced me to Shihan Handyside in 2003. So 14 years for that particular style.
I trained with Bob outside of formal classes (as well as formal classes and grading) and received personal one to one tuition from him.
Q. And what style of Karate did you study prior to that and for how long?
A. I studied Bushido Freestyle under Sensei Steve Bullough. As far as I know he had studied, in chronological order, Judo, Yoseikan/Budokan Karate, Shotokan Karate, Wado Ryu Karate, Ki Aikido and Shukokai Karate in which he graded (to 3rd Dan) under Roy Stanhope 9th Dan. He apparently also studied a Japanese Samurai style referred to as Bushido, comprising Jujutsu and Kenjutsu etc.
I trained with Steve outside of formal classes (as well as formal classes and grading) and received personal one to one tuition from him at his home. I trained with him for around eight years (prior to the 14 in Shobukan, so 21 years formal study). I graded 1st Dan in 1999.
Q. What other styles of Karate have you studied formally?
A. Nisseikai. I started training with Reiner Parsons in around 2003, and would initially see him on about five seminars a year, but then we would also go to each other’s Dojo. I also received some tuition and help from his sons.
I trained on a seminar basis with his teacher and Nisseikai founder Tadanori Nobetsu 9th Dan, whose studies combined Goju Ryu (under Ei’ichi Miyazato) with Feeding Crane under the Liu Family.
Reiner graded me 3rd Dan on the mat and was on the board that awarded me Renshi (after 4th Dan). I last trained with Reiner in about 2012.
Q. Who are some of the Japanese masters you have trained with on seminars?
A. Fumio Demura – Shito Ryu Karate & Kobudo; Tadanori Nobetsu – Nisseikai Karate; Shizuya Sato – Nihon Jujutsu; Mitsuhiro Kondo – Aikijujutsu
Q. Prior to 20+ years formal tuition, you were schooled by relatives. Please detail:
A. My primary teacher is my father Sifu David Keegan. When I was a young child in the early 1980s, he started teaching me what he knew of self defence, Jujutsu and Karate. His first club was the Kirkby Blundells Jujutsu school in around 1959. He studied many different eastern systems of wisdom and meditation, served in the British Army (Cavalry corporal and rifleman). He lived and worked in Hong Kong when I was young. Since then he has studied traditional Chinese martial arts like Yang style and Sun style Taiji Quan and classical Japanese martial arts like Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu.
I will now detail older relatives in my family with martial arts training and/or military service which might explain my early interest and influences in martial arts. Obviously some of these were dead before I was born but their adventures lived on around the dinner table.
Father – David Keegan (Tai Chi, Jujutsu, Iaido, etc) Duke of Lancaster’s Own (Corporal)
Uncle – Paul Keegan (Jujutsu, Goju Ryu, collector of Japanese swords member of To-Ken Society)
Aunt – Susan Keegan (Archery, trained in Japan)
Great uncles – John Keegan (Navy WW2) Cornelius Lawless (RAF, collector of swords)
Great grandfathers – Paul Keegan (Ships fireman WW1), James Lawless (Kings Reg, British Army WW1)
Great great great grandfather – Herve Briant (served in Napolean III’s Royal Navy in 1850s when French sailors were sent to Okinawa, Japan and China. This explains the Karate-like appearance of Savatte and Chausson). Admiral Guerin landed in Tomari, home of Shorei Ryu in 1855.
Grandfather – Jim Nelson (British Army lance corporal WW2) taught ‘boxing’ by his father
Great uncle – Bill Nelson (British Navy WW2), Jujutsu black belt under G Skyner (Kawaishi Ryu)
Great uncle – Ted Molloy (British Navy WW2, Master at Arms) served in Japan and China
Great grandfather – Will Nelson (British Army WW1) taught boxing to his sons
Great great grandfather – August Nilsson (Swedish Navy, 1880s), taught boxing to his sons and grandsons
Great great great grandfather Nils Johann Nilsson and his father Johannes taught boxing to their sons. Johannes’ father Nils served with the Swedish East India Trading Company in Okinawa in the 1780s, contemporary with Tode Sakugawa, forefather of Shorin Ryu
Q. What is your training and grading in Jujutsu/Judo?
A. My dad introduced me to Jujutsu/Judo, and the arts were also covered in my Bushido training and I then began to study Jujutsu separately in 2000 (already as a black belt). I attained 2nd Dan Jujutsu in 2002, grading on the mat under Jaimie Lee-Barron 8th Dan.
I subsequently entered Kokusai Budoin as a 2nd Dan, studying Nihon Jujutsu and Judo under Shizuya Sato’s division (I only attended seminar with him personally), training with the likes of Jack Hearn, Ray Walker and Colin Hutchinson.
I was awarded 3rd Dan in Judo on behalf of the European Jujitsu Union and also became a member of the International Jujitsu Federation as a 4th Dan Karate/Jujutsu in 2007. I was received as a member of the IJJF by Hanshi Terry Wingrove (9th Dan Jujutsu) with whom I remain an associate.
Q. What is your training and grading in Chinese martial arts?
A. My dad first began to teach me the Yang style long form in 1999 and I joined a formal class that year. I trained in this class until 2006. Tuition was mostly in long form (88), short form 24 and sporadically in competition forms (42 etc) and sword forms. We also studied Sun style and the related art of Hsing-I to a lesser extent. I began teaching Tai Chi in around 2004.
After leaving that club, as members of IMAF my father and I worked towards developing belt grades in the art. I accepted the lowest teaching grade possible (4th kyu) and my father 2nd Dan. He subsequently graded on the mat to 3rd and 5th Dan (mixed style examiners) and he graded me on the mat for 3rd Kyu, 2nd Kyu, 1st Kyu, 1st Dan and 2nd Dan.
In 2012 we joined Steve Rowe’s Shikon. Steve is a Karateka (8th Dan Wado Ryu) and a Yang style Tai Chi master, having been introduced to Ma Lee Yang by Jim Uglow. Steve and I were two of the founders of Martial Arts Guardian and he has been a good mentor to me for some years, and I enjoy his seminars as well as our daily chats.
Q. What other instructors have influenced you? And what other styles have you done?
A. Apart from those mentioned, I’d have to say Hanshi Patrick McCarthy. I haven’t spent long with him on the mat, but he’s been a helpful friend for more than 15 years and I’ve learnt a lot from his studies. I’ve also enjoyed training in Escrima (Abaniko Tres Puntas) and I like cross-training with my friends in Muay Thai and Wing Chun.