Russ Stewart: London, June 2002
New hip or new car? Unfortunately the former.
Root cause analysis: a phenomenon in Scotland in the 70s.
Bruce Lee films and the Scottish climate conspired to spawn an explosion in participation of the indoor pastime (not sport) of Karate.
Further: my general uselessness at any sport involving a ball drew me to the Bearsden Primary located Shotokan Karate club in 1973, thence to the Allander club, Strathclyde University club and a number of dojos in Hong Kong and London.
Scotland was recognised as the most successful small nation in international competition karate during the 70s.
The Glasgow Shukokai based Kobe Osaka club produced good competition fighters.
At its peak Glaswegian Tommy Morris’ Kobe Osaka had hundreds of students across the world.
Another Scot, Gene Dunnett, a member of the GB team that defeated the Japanese National team in the 70s, took a guest training session at the Allander club fairly soon after his achievement.
A hard session I recall; training was harder in the 70s. Alumni arthritis a consequence.
Press ups on knuckles, punching wooden boards, over extended stretches to enable high kicks……..
However, competition karate is not really karate.
I parlayed modest skill and a limited number of combinations into a couple of silver medals at the Scottish University Championships in 1978. Later, in 1980, as a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police Tai Kwan Do squad I was beaten by a 16 year old Chinese member of the Police Youth Club team.
High participation numbers in Scotland drew top Japanese masters, such as Enoeda and Tomita, to give training sessions and grade students in local sport centres.
Enoeda graded me green belt at an East Kilbride sports centre in 1975.
His eagle eye missed my shoddy round house kick. Perhaps the other 120 students distracted him.
Glaswegian Dan Docherty died last December aged 67.
I met him in 1980 in Hong Kong, when he was a Shotokan practitioner.
He switched to Tai Chi and won the 1980 SE Asia full contact knockdown championship, beating the much larger ( 21 stone) Roy Pink by a knockout.
The Chinese master of the Wudang Tai Chi style made Dan, a fluent Chinese speaker, his successor. Dan had hundreds of students worldwide and was an influential, controversial figure.