I was born in August 1948 in RAWMARSH, but left when l was 3years old when my parents moved us to HEYWOOD in Lancashire.
I did have a happy childhood, although being VERY skinny with red hair, l did get picked on fairly often, but not excessively so. I started boxing and wrestling whilst attending Heywood Grammar School, and also developed an interest in the world of ‘weights’, lifting and bodybuilding.
I worked at the many bodybuilding shows around the country, first just ripping tickets as the audiences came in, progressing to a runner or caller, getting the contestants up from their changing rooms on to backstage then on to the stage itself. l eventually became Stage Manager for most of the NABBA main contests, Mr Britain, Mr Europe and Mr Universe. I was assisted by my late father in this as well. He loved the shows.
In the martial arts, l’ve had two main ‘stages’, firstly the early years from the 1960’s when l was involved with other arts, then on to the 1970’s and 1980’s when l lived in Heywood nr Manchester and had clubs and students there, from 1975 when l opened our first club in MIDDLETON Manchester.
The second stage would be when l moved back to the town of my birth, RAWMARSH, ROTHERHAM. SOUTH YORKSHIRE in 1985, when l opened my first Yorkshire club, up to the present day.
My first ventures into the martial arts was in western boxing & wrestling in 1960 whilst at Heywood Grammar School.
l always felt there was more, and l spent about 5 years or so going from club to club and style to style in the Manchester areas.
After a couple of years ‘drifting’ from style to style that l was on the verge of packing it all in, when Fate stepped in, and I found John Warfield, problem was I was in North Manchester, and John was in South Wales
I contacted John and he invited me (and my friend Fred Mason) down to his town and club, and that was it. We were totally bowled over with his knowledge and abilities, and asked for regular tuition. We left with happy hearts and Green Belts, as John had felt we weren’t total novices, so he awarded us Green Belts.
It must have sunk in a bit and paid off, as we went through a very hard grading session in February 1975, achieving our 1st Dan Black Belts in Goshinkwai from John.
I felt very lucky and myself and Fred (Mason) opened our first club, eventually we ended up with some really good hard training students, and the training WAS hard. No mats, yet we were doing throws and takedowns as well as impact and control methods.
Gradually we made some black belt students who in the early days were all graded by JOHN WARFIELD either on trips down to Pontypool, or with John and a couple of HIS black belts coming up to Manchester.
When Fred and myself made 2ndDans, we were than given the rights to grade our own students to 1stDans.
After a couple of years running our club together, FRED MASON, then 2nd Dan, left to start his own club, which sadly didn’t last too long and closed down.
On the advice of John Warfield, I sought tuition in ‘other’ Arts, including an Indian instructor who taught MURMA-ADI & KALARI-PYAT, but had the memorable name of HASHMAT ALI KHAN AFRIDI… some good stuff there.
I did FU JOW PAI Kung Fu in Manchester, and some WING CHUN under SIMON LAU… some KEMPO JU-JUTSU under a real character name of MIKE MULROY in Bolton.
These were heady hard training days, still heading down to Wales to train under both JOHN & GORDON WARFIELD as well. The slight differences between the two brothers showed me how ‘individual interpretations’ were vital.
Both John & Gordon did GOSHINKWAI YAWARA, but they weren’t the same… great stuff.
1986 - It was about this time that we decided to leave Heywood and move back to the town of my birth…
RAWMARSH, ROTHERHAM, SOUTH YORKSHIRE.
Needing an association and insurance for my students, l did a bit of searching around, l spent some time then as a member of the late great and VERY hard PHIL MILNER 10th Dan.
Anyone who ever trained under Phil will tell you how hard the sessions were…. We would train outside in the snow and rain, run through the streets BAREFOOT, do 100’s pf squats and press-ups, throws on wooden floors etc.
some notable Stand-outs would be TIM BELL, who made and excellent 2ndDan in Goshinkwai, His closest friend at that time was STUART McLEOD, who also eventually made 2nd Dan,
These two guys were great assistants and helped me out front when instructing.
So, we had FIVE Black Belts… Namely JOHN GAMBLE, TONY SUGDEN (for a very short spell), TIM BELL, STUART McLEOD & ALAN (FIT AL) KELSALL.
Our next move was to Oldgate Lane, Thrybergh, about 3 miles out of Rotherham Town centre… it was a large upstairs room above a warehouse, and we reached it via an outside fire staircase.
We bought some second-hand mats from my old friend and instructor PHIL MILNER 10th Dan, plus some other equipment and opened what was probably the BEST Club we ever had.
Little did l know that the sheer talent to come out of that club would make it, in truth, our ‘golden days’
Firstly, we had the two FREEMAN brothers KEITH & NEIL.
Also, one of John Gamble’s doorman colleague, the amazing NEIL HALL former Karate 2nd Dan, now a 5th Dan in Goshinkwai and a 6th Dan at Combat Ju-Jutsu, with his own full-time club nr LEEDS.
PHIL GLOVER former British and European Kickboxing champion, started regular training. Although a European champion at kickboxing, PHIL humbly donned a white belt, and became an excellent student.
Also starting regular training was a black belt a kick boxing and Tae Kwon Do, namely ANDY CRITTENDEN.
This would be the start of a long journey for Andy, continuing today. Andy is currently a 5th Dan at SDF - MSC
BUT, it was here that we first encountered one very unusual and unique man, who in truth turned out to be the BEST Goshinkwai black belt l ever produced…. KARL BLACKWELL.
I eventually decided to become a member of the BRITISH COMBAT ASSOCIATION (B.C.A.) headed by both
PETE CONSTERDINE & GEOFF THOMPSON.
Geoff had been a student of mine, and we travelled often and regularly down to his AT7 Centre club in Coventry where l taught Geoff and his students… some excellent combat men down there.
When still with the BCA l taught on lots of their seminars, and made some great friends. However, for their own reasons, one or two members (not from my club), were making mutterings about leaving, but not knowing where to go for an association. A couple of black belts approached me after a BCA seminar and more or less said that if l was to start my OWN organisation, then they would join immediately.
I gave this a lot of thought, and in January 2000, l launched the Self-Defence Federation (SDF), with just FIVE Clubs and 150 members.
Over the following years, many more clubs, instructors and members joined, and we easily passed the 1,000 members mark, then 2,000.
Although the original intention for the SDF was an organisation devoted to all aspects of PERSONAL SAFETY, SELF-PROTECTION & SELF-DEFENCE, we had a lot of interest and enquiries from the more traditional and semi-traditional styles, who really wanted to continue in their own SYSTEMS/STYLES, with some ‘self-defence’ thrown in.
The title ‘Self-Defence Federation’ was correct, but gave the impression that self-defence was all we did, not so.
So, after lots of discussion, we decided to have a ‘DUAL’ organisation, which was launched in JUNE 2010 as the
ASMAA-SDF. One organisation with two divisions.
The SDF branch in 2017 was growing even more, so the general day-to-day running of the SDF was passed into the very capable hands of RICHARD LANE 3rd Dan of the Studio Combat Academy in Long Eaton Nottingham.
Richard organises the SDF courses, training and seminars, and the future of the SDF is very secure thanks to Richard.
He is ably assisted by his partner KELLY FREEMAN 2nd Dan in the general running of ASMAA-SDF.
Richard Lane 3rd Dan has also resurrected the ‘Old School’ Goshinkwai and now regularly teaches at his club in Nottingham and also on seminars/workshops.
RICHARD LANE along with ANDY CRITTENDEN and IAN HARRISON are my longest serving Private students, going deep into the knowledge of the SDF & Goshinkwai and preserving it for generations to come.
The future looks very promising
We have clubs and instructors and representation in all the UK, including Northern Ireland and Scotland, with members from every county of the UK.