- Name: Neville Smith
- Grade: 7th Dan
- Position: Vice-Chairperson , Instructor
I started Karate in 1970, I was 11 years old and came across it by it by chance having run into a Working Mans Club in Castleford, West Yorkshire. It was a Shotokan Club and it wasn't very big about ten members plus. I heard the words Self defence from the instructor and I joined it the following week.
I trained every week and wasn't very good but I wanted to defend myself so stuck at it. I didn't initially work for me and on asking my Sensei what I needed to do? I was informed to train every day. I did from that day on.
I met some other students at school who had seen me with a Gi and they told me about another club so I went to this club with them and found this one to be a Wado Ryu club. I found that this suited me better not being so low down as I wasn't a naturally supple person. I remained with this club attaining my first Kyu in 1974. I trained at different clubs throughout this time with a couple of close friends and we lived and breathed it.
I joined the Army in 1975 and when my date for taking my Black belt came along I wasn't allowed home to take it. I continued to train and whilst in Germany I ran a club within the Barracks for friends and their families for a short time, this was a good experience and learnt a lot from doing this. On leaving the Army in 1981 I was invited to train at a Karate club by the video delivery man noticing that I watched a lot of Martial Art movies. This style was called Za Zen Shin Ryu I trained for a number of years and in 1984 attained my first Dan. Shortly after this I opened my first Club in a Community centre and later one at RAF Manston,
In 1986 I had started my own style having become disgruntled with Za Zen and the shenanigans taking place. I was registered in the AMA; I was trying to get one of my students graded to first Dan and wasn't getting much assistance in this. I was informed about the BKA and I made contact to join. I then met our Sensei Chris Thompson who was sent to assess me and thankfully I was accepted into the BKA.
My students as my self were enthralled with Sensei's knowledge and ability and all enjoyed his lesson, my students wanted more and I asked him to return and hold a course to which he did. I was invited to come and watch the Washinkia Nationals at the Cannon's and there I was invited to attend a weeks Gasshaku at The Port Regis School. This was a very memorable time for me especially when I was invited to join Sensie's Association. I learnt as much as I could in that week obtained a syllabus book and changed my clubs over night on my return. I ran my two clubs for a considerable number of years sadly RAF Manton closed down in 1993/94 and my Dover one was passed on when I joined Kent police in February 1997. I continue to train and teach at Clubs in Kent and hope to do so for many more years.
Karate has played a major part in my life throughout giving me confidence keeping me fit and healthy teaching me respect for others and self respect. Along with a sense of purpose and well being without Karate I doubt I would be the person I am today.