Me and Tang Sou Dao
I started my martial arts career in the early 1970s when “Enter the Dragon” was released in the UK. A group of friends persuaded me to go to a beginners class of Kyukushinki being advertised at Bill Stevens gym in Stratford, East London. Six of us went, but after 2 months I was the only one left still training.
Looking back, it was rather crude and violent, but I had nothing to compare it to. By the time I was about 18, my family had moved to Bulphan near Orsett, and my job had moved me to Grays, making the journey to Stratford difficult. I began to look around, and saw Tang Soo Do classes being advertised, and held in South Ockendon. This would have been around 1974. I went along and met a very young Chinese Malaysian man, who would later become Grand Master Loke!
I trained for a while there, but my attendance in those days was sporadic to say the least. By late 1974 I had met Cheryl, and within 18 months we were married and had our first child. It wasnt until the early 1980s that I began to train regularly again, taking my son Peter with me. The classes were now more local for us in Chafford sports centre.
Over the next few years I trained as hard and as often as I could, but family should come first (something I didnt always do!) and entered nearly every competition possible. Mixed results, but I won more than I lost.
I continued to train regularly until an injury in 2010 resulted in me stopping for 6 months. It was at this point, with the encouragement of Grand Master Loke, I decided to re establish the Rainham classes, first back in Chafford sports centre, and then after about a year moved to the Brenda Blakemore Community Hall.
With the support of Cheryl, who organises the paperwork, advertising, web page and just about everything else apart the teaching, the classes continue to grow. Cheryl and I take great pride watching the youngsters start, and seeing them take their gradings. We have over 40 members presently, ranging from a 3 year old brother of an orange belt to a 62 year old beginner!
I am very proud to say that all six of my grandchildren train with me, and that Daniel Hopkins was awarded his 1st Duan at the age of 13, four years younger than I was a white belt!
The classes continue to thrive, and Cheryl and I are now looking around for another venue to increase classes. Watch this space!
more tp come the history of Tang Sou Dao