I became interested in martial arts in the early 1970’s due to the Bruce Lee movies and “Kung Fu” series. As a paraplegic, since the age of 11, due to a fall while climbing, I felt vulnerable in various altercations whilst growing up so was keen to learn some form of unarmed combat. I approached various martial art clubs near my home in Essex, England but was told that because I was in a wheelchair I “couldn’t” do it. This made me more determined to learn a martial art and so I taught myself from books and trained with friends who did kung fu.
In December 1974 I emigrated to NZ and in January 1976 and started formal training in Kyukoshinkai karate. The Club was a member of “The Rembuden Institute of Martial Arts” whose chief instructor was Sensei Jarvis. I held the rank of 3rd kyu in Kyukoshinkai when Sensei Jarvis invited Higaonna Sensei to New Zealand which resulted in “The Rembuden Institute of Martial Arts” being accepted into IOGKF.
One of the biggest highlights in my karate training was when Higaonna Sensei presented his own black belt to me at his first training visit to New Zealand. Higaonna Sensei told me that it was not a grading but an acknowledgement of my training spirit and determination and that I was to put the belt on my wall and look at it each day.
I was graded to Shodan in July 1980 by Higaonna Sensei at which time he told me that I could now wear “his” belt. I still have the belt and wear it on special occasions.
Higaonna Sensei has graded me at each of my gradings up to Rokudan:
Shodan: 1980 – Dunedin, NZ
Nidan: 1983 – Spokane, USA
Sandan: 1989 – New Plymouth, NZ
Yondan: 1995 – Wellington, NZ
Godan: 2008 – Okinawa, Japan
Rokudan: 2016 – Okinawa, Japan
Nanadan: 2023 – Okinawa, Japan
I was inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame and the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame in August 2017.