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Our Sensei (Jim Sutherland)

I saw some lads in judo suits (so I thought) kicking and punching in the gym in HMS Collingwood under the tutelage of a Royal Navy PO PTI called John Mohammed. I was intrigued and I asked if I could join them. John allowed me to start training and I found it both mentally and physically demanding but very stimulating, unfortunately John gave up karate soon after because of his faith and so I started to look around for another club.

I could not find another Shotokan karate club locally but I eventually located an SKI Shotokan karate club at St Vincent (1976) and used to go to Gosport to train with Sensei Paul McKay 3’rd Dan. I thus graded twice under Sensei Asano who himself was a fantastic athlete and exponent of karate where I met and trained under Sensei Alan Lewis for a bit in Fareham Scout Hall. (Aah! good days hanging from the rafters doing pull-ups).

As I was in the navy I then had a gap for a couple of years on HMS London on which I picked up my Petty Officer’s rate, I then came back to HMS Collingwood to do the PO’s course in 1979. A friend introduced me to Sensei Mick Dewey at St Mary’s School for Girls and so I started with training with the then KUGB and from the start was drawn by the friendliness and competitive spirit of Portsmouth Karate Club..

The classes were huge at this time and I went along for about a year and then got posted to Plymouth where I continued to train with a smaller but equally friendly KUGB club at St Jude's Community centre.

I returned to HMS Collingwood in late 1980 and although only a brown belt (3’rd kyu), I started a club going and also continued to train with sensei Dewey as often as possible as I was there for over 2 years during which I completed my RN technician training and in 1983 I successfully graded for 1’st Dan (2’nd attempt). During 1982 (just as SEKU was forming, a Roman Catholic priest called Jed Kerslake (1’st Dan) took over the club from me. Jed was a good Instructor and used train in Portsmouth as well with me.

I had also become friendly with Sensei Phil Bryant at Portsmouth club and Phil as our Sempai (2’nd Dan) eventually became the official club instructor. I subsequently graded 2’nd Dan in 1989 along with Phil who achieved 3’rd Dan

I trained both with Phil Bryant and Mick Dewey then until the early 90’s when Phil became the instructor for the University of Portsmouth Karate Club. As a result of Phil teaching at the university club Chris Brown, Sean Ovans (1’st dan (s)) and I ran the club at HMS Collingwood and every year we along with Sensei’s Mervyn O’Donnell and Alan Lewis put karate and self-defence displays at the Field Gun Day.

In 1995 I started a club at Fareham College (as a part-time lecturer for Sports) and unfortunately in 2005 that folded due to lack of funding. In the meantime I had opened another club in Neville Lovett Community School where we still train today.

I have completed the EKGB Instructor training Programme and re-qualified as a work place 1’st Aider for over 25 years.

I have trained with all the SEKU senior Sensei(s) and I still get a buzz from a good training session. My favourite kata is Hangetsu.

I was awarded my 3rd Dan on the 25th September 2012.