Q: Simon, who were your Karate/Jujutsu teachers?
A: After some informal study with my dad I trained with Steve Bullough (1995-2001); Bob Carruthers (2001-2012); Reiner Parsons (2003-2012) and I currently consider Phil Handyside to be my teacher. I graded with these four respectively 1st Dan, 2nd Dan, 3rd Dan, Renshi (4th Dan), 5th Dan. I also graded in Jujutsu under Jaimie Lee-Barron and had one to one training in Jujutsu and Judo with Ray Walker.
Q: Have you trained with Japanese/Chinese/Filipino masters?
A: My father and I have only trained with Japanese/Chinese masters on seminars. They include Shizuya Sato, Tadanori Nobetsu, Mitsuhiro Kondo, Rene Tongson and others.
Q: Who did you train with in Tai Chi and when?
A: From 1999-2006 I trained in Tai Chi with Alan McDonnell. My dad was in the class a few months before me. I was not a senior student, nor gifted or skilled in this art. Nor did I receive any special tuition. I attended about four seminars with Professor Li De Yin but received no personal tuition from him. We were mostly taught the Beijing Yang style forms (88, 24, 42), some of the sword forms (mostly 32), and we received some tuition in Sun style and briefly in Hsing-I as well as some of the Chi Kung sets. The only Tai Chi form I feel au fait with at this moment in time is the 24 form. I enjoying practising the 88 and Sun style for my own enjoyment but do not feel confident enough to show these in public.
Q: Who else have yourself and your father trained with of relevance to Tai Chi?
A: I speak to Steve Rowe every single day and he is my first point of contact with technical queries. My father and I attend his Tai Chi seminars whenever possible. And we hope to continue to follow him on this path.
My uncle’s wife Mei Kwan is a Yang style Tai Chi practitioner (I’m afraid I don’t know the lineage) and when they are in England we like to cross train Tai Chi in the garden with her. Similarly my father enjoys practising one Shaolin Chi Kung set, taught to him by a work colleague called Yves. I do not know this form.
My father has also studied Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu for about the last 12 years, chiefly with Steve Chriscole and John Lovatt; and later with Allan Tattersall; on seminars with Japanese masters (Tose, Hara, Yoshida etc).
My father and I have Reiner Parsons as a teacher (although through time constraints I haven’t had chance to train with him the last few years. Reiner is predominantly a Goju Ryu Karate teacher. His style Nisseikai is very “Chinese” in nature. Founder Nobetsu studied Feeding Crane and it is softer than most Goju Ryu, more rounded and internal.
Also Bob Carruthers (his current teachers are Angelo Baldisonne and Rene Tongson) is another key influence since 2001. Bob’s Karate (originally Shotokan based) is now heavily influenced by the Filipino and Kyusho arts and is again, quite soft and rounded.
There are a great deal of other influences but have been covered at length elsewhere on this website. For example:
Q: Are you a martial arts master? And is your father a master?
A: I’m certainly not a master of anything (unless whiskey consumption is a thing). I’ve trained in Karate diligently and with dedication. I was never a world champion, nor was I an unbeatable streetfighter, bodyguard, doorman or space ranger. I think I’m a decent Karate practitioner with a better-than-average knowledge of its history.
My father certainly wouldn’t call himself a master at anything either. Like me, he teaches an eclectic style from a range of influences. Neither of us make money from martial arts really and we do it for the love of the arts. I love Karate, my dad loves Tai Chi.
Personally I think he’s a brilliant teacher and my knowledge of Tai Chi is not 1% what he has.
Neither of us teach Hsing-I. My dad teaches one “Shaolin” Chi Kung set consisting of about five or six bits.
Q: Do you teach any other martial arts?
A: I have gained a few tricks from other martial arts, like Aikido, Escrima, Muay Thai etc but they have only acted as seasoning on my Karate. I am not qualified to teach Aikido, Judo, Muay Thai, Ninjutsu etc. I teach only Karate/Jujutsu/Kobudo, my dad teaches only Tai Chi/Chi Kung. Neither of us have any claim to being the “top” instructors in our arts. We both teach eclectic systems based on our experiences.
Grades, governing bodies, associations and the like are detailed elsewhere on this website.
Q. When did you father start martial arts?
A: He did Judo/Jujutsu at school circa 1960. His teacher was Bernie Blundell (elder brother of Jim Blundell). The dojo was Southdene Community Centre in Kirkby (opened by future Prime Minister Harold Wilson trivia fans). He also did some Karate and unarmed (army type) combat but didn’t grade. He started teaching me as a kid, as fathers and sons are prone to do.
Q: Do you award grades to children?
A: No, my youngest student is about 20.
Q: Do you baffle impressionable students with complicated contracts, joining fees and fancy uniforms?
A: No, they pay their £6 (90 minute lesson), yearly membership (Shikon) and insurance is £25. They can buy any kind of gi they like as long as it’s white (black at a push)
Q: Are you a belt factory?
A: No, we’ve only had one grading in 18 months. I’ve only ever graded three students to black belt in 15 years (Jamie Tozer, Dan Sanchez, Ben Gaunt) and recognised the grades of Kicki Holm (previously SKI under Kanazawa) and Pete McHugh (previously KUGB).
Q: Are you a superior warrior whose style can defeat anyone even a cage fighter?
A: No, I spend 18 hours a day sitting behind a desk drinking coffee and eating crisps so I doubt I would have the conditioning to go ten rounds with an MMA fighter, My Karate is good, my self defence practical and my few students enjoy the classes.
Q: Why should I come and train with you?
A: If you want to learn good, traditional Karate with emphasis on practicality rather than sport. Or don’t, I don’t mind really. There’s plenty of other good clubs you could join, the choice is yours.