After WW2, as troops returned home there was, in our neck of the woods, a series of break-ins to peoples homes. My Dad returned from WW2 having spent five years as a POW in Poland and Germany and as a form of self defence, he and his brother Frank took up Judo. Their teacher was a man called Gunji Koizumi, 8th dan who taught at The Budokwai - a club located in London, England.
In 1960 my Dad signed me up for Judo lessons at the Croydon Judo Club... and that's where it all began for me. I was eleven years old and couldn't wait to get severely thrashed! The images to the right would be circa 1963-4 'ish. I followed in my Dad's footsteps and started practising at The Budokwai and by that time Mr. Koizumi had passed away, and my teacher became Kisaburo Watanabe, an Asian Games Champion and bronze medal winner in the 1959 All Japan Judo Championships.
During my time at the Croydon Judo Club I had two other teachers, Senta Yamada 6th Dan Aikido and Tatsuo Suzuki, 7th Dan Wado Ryu Karate.
Throughout the 1960's I was a hard core martial artist, studying and practicing every evening and on the weekends. Anyone who has practised Karate would know of Mas' Oyama, and his style of Kyokushinkai Karate. This was a no-holds barred style of fighting and kumite was without any protection. In 1965 I joined Bob Boulton's class in London and had one training session with the man himself, Mas' Oyama!
Also during the 1960's I started collecting Japanese swords and managed to secure five of them. One of which was a Sadamune blade, a wakizashi. That blade was the inspiration for The Sadamune Blades Trilogy. Here's the sad part, I sold all five swords for the sum of fifty pounds sterling in 1969 and that money went towards my one-way ticket to Canada. Had I kept the Sadamune blade, there's no telling what the value would be today (2017) - a few quid more than fifty, that's for sure!
In 1967 I joined the British Merchant Navy and worked onboard cruise ships as the lowest of the low, Utility Steward, and for the sole reason of getting to Japan. February 1968, I sailed into Yokohama. With a one day pass, I took the train to Tokyo, a cab to the Kodokan, joined the club, bought a gi, went onto the mats in the main hall, was used as a brush to sweep the mats and then it was back to the ship to scrub my decks! Check the slide show below - the third sword down on the rack of swords is my reproduction sword I purchased it at the Motomachi Arcade in Kobe for eight pounds or twenty dollars.
In 1970 I emigrated to Edmonton, Canada and then to Vancouver in 1981 and to Vancouver Island in 2006. In Edmonton I practiced Judo at the Renshuden Club run by Tim Laidler. In Vancouver I practised Judo at the Vancouver Judo Club with Mr. Tomoto, Tai Chi in Chinatown and Qi Gong at the Sun Yat Sen Gardens.
The three tsuba below remain in my collection.
Below are more images of my martial art training days, enjoy! I have to go back to the keyboard and keep writing.
Dad - ready for action!
Dad and brother Frank. Ippon!
The Author - 1960s
The Author at Croydon Judo Club 1960s
My teachers during the 1960s - 1980s
Sensei Koyabu Goju Karate Vancouver
Craig Tomlinson Goju Karate
Sensei Tatsuo Suzuki Wado Ryu Croydon
Tai Chi with Sifu Lawrence Der and Spencer Wong 1988 Chinatown Vancouver