40 Years of Karate

Peter Edwards tells the story of how he started karate at the age of 24, and after a number of breaks from training, attained Shodan (1st Dan black belt) some 40 years later…

Pete being presented with his Shodan Diploma

I started karate in 1968. I remember that day - I was originally doing table tennis in Southsea Community Center in 1968 (I was 24). I was going to another room and passed the main hall and in there was this bunch of chaps and some girls all with fancy coloured belts around their “white pyjamas”! I watched and listened to this lot for around 10 minutes and thought - this looks interesting. I walked away back to table tennis and then went back to the main hall. They looked as though they had finished whatever they were doing and I went in - saw this chap with a black belt around his “pyjamas” thinking he looked like a leader, I went up to him. ‘Hello,’ he said, ‘I am one of the Instructors...’ I started a week after that.

The next year - 1969 - I got my first grade – 9th Kyu. I cannot remember who graded us - the name isn't on my old licence - he was Japanese though. At that time Sensei Merv was I think, just a 3rd Kyu. Now of course he is a 7th Dan and I a mere 1st Dan - where did I go wrong?!!

I went through my next grading in March 1970 with Sensei Enoeda. What happened in the next six years until I got my 7th Kyu? I was helping my then wife with her horse! It isn't normal to wait seven years in training between 8th and 5th Kyu. If my memory serves me OK, on returning in 1977 I found a dojo in Gosport because I lived near there. I cannot remember who the Dan grades were but Sensei Enoeda was still head of the KUGB. We all used to go to the nearest pub with him after sessions… brilliant!

My grading to 3rd Kyu was in March 1988 By this time we were now disbanded from KUGB and had started SEKU (then called South of England Karate Union). Then another 11 years went by (why I don't recall) and in Portchester Dave Hinks signed my licence as a temporary 1st Kyu because I got halfway through Bassai Dai and forgot it - (Sensei Merv will remember that). Then another two years later I remembered Bassai Dai, 1st Kyu at last!

After several years, in January 2008, Sensei Merv said he was getting slightly bored with that brown/white belt around my pyjamas (it had been there for 17 years) and said ‘go for your Shodan [black belt] this year’. I had the choice of going to the Isle of Wight in March 2008, Plymouth in June 2008 or Portchester in October 2008. Guess what I chose… Portchester. I went for it and bless them, I got it!”

I thought I was in for an easier time at the club but Sensei Merv and the other senior instructors had other ideas. They gave me a couple of months to settle down to having a black belt around my waist and then let me know that I had a lot more to learn in order to get my Nidan (2nd Dan). No pressure!

Truth is that I love the challenge and although the instructors encourage and motivate all of us, they take great care to keep our individual targets realistic.


Wednesday 24th April 2019

Wednesday 24th April.

All lessons are now back to normal.

Please contact 07713284430 or email mvodonnell@hotmail.com  for further information if required.


Karate Day time lessons

Daytime Karate lessons are now being held on Thursday mornings at the Castle St, Portchester,  Day Centre. For further information please ring 07713284430 or email mvodonnell@portchesterkarate.co.uk

These classes are for a range of people with varying abilities and in particular for the older and fairly active person that would like to benefit from the health aspects of practicing Karate and at the same time exercising their minds in the learning of new skills.

Existing students of Karate are also catered for in the lessons. In particular those on shift work and others that cannot get to their regular training lessons.

Further information

For the Portchester Karate Club and clubs in other areas or different training times, please email modonnell@portchesterkarate.co.uk or telephone 07713284430.

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