Alan Connor

November 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm


I started training when I was 17 at a ‘Shukokai Karate’ club in Stoke on Trent influenced at the time by Bruce Lee films (specifically ‘The Way of the Dragon’).

I didn’t progress through the grades very far as all wanted to do was Kumite Sparring! This lasted for 3 years after which I moved to Cumbria.

Some 19 years later, and at the tender age of 39, I took my son to start lessons at Egremont Chojinkai club under the instruction of Sensei Gordon Harrison and after a few months watching at the club and helping my son at home I decided to give karate another try.  I subsequently took and passed my yellow belt on my 40th birthday, showing you are never to old to take up martial arts and have been with the Egremont club ever since.

I worked with my son over the years and we graded together to achieve 1st and 2nd Dan grades. My daughter also got interested and trained for a couple of years achieving her brown belt.

I became assistant club instructor under Gordon and have spent many happy years training and teaching, gaining experience and developing others to help them reach their potential and to pass their grades. Sensei Harrison has always been keen on competition karate and is an excellent tournament official.  It was actually his influence that led me to start on the journey to join him as an official and after many years on the club and national circuit I have now achieved my ambition of becoming a ‘British Referee’ which is something I am very proud of.

If I was to look for something memorable about my time in martial arts it was being invited to officiate at the World Wado Kai Championships in London in 2013. This has been a great experience and I have gained many friends both within the Chojinkai Karate Association and up and down the country. Hopefully I have helped to pass some of the learning onto our own students to raise the standard required for them to compete at a higher level.

I am currently the joint Head Instructor at the Egremont Chojinkai Karate Club, assisting Sensei Harrison however, the absolute highlight of my karate career to date, was when I was awarded 4th Dan by Sensei Doug James at the 40th Anniversary Chojinkai Cup Annual Championships.

Mark Heaton

November 18, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I started training in 1999 at the Carlisle club aged 14.  At the first session only three students turned up and by the second session I was the only student left.  Sensei Doug James taught the class himself and he continued that Beginners Class with just me on a one to one basis, when he could have easily said come back in three months when the next new beginners classes start. He told me some years later that “he saw great potential in me and did not want me to stop training” that is a decision I am very grateful for.

I quickly discovered my passion for karate, training 3 times a week at the Carlisle club and also attending seminars and courses put on by the Association. I have been heavily influenced by Sensei Doug James, Sensei Ray Hind and Sensei Iain Abernethy and I competed regularly in Kata and Kumite.

A Senior Instructor at Chojinkai

A Senior Instructor at Chojinkai

In 2004 aged 19, I finally achieved my 1st Dan. I then geared my training towards practical karate, self defence and went onto gain my 2nd Dan with the British Combat Association.  By 2006 I had taken over the Children and Beginner classes at the Carlisle Club.

In 2009 I became an SIA Door Supervisor, increasing my understanding of practical self defence and putting what I knew under pressure in often very real situations.  I also boxed at amateur level and trained in other styles of martial arts to complement my karate skills. It was around that time I also decided to restart the Brampton Karate Club and in 2017 started Wigton Club & they both have gone from strength to strength.

As well as being the Head Instructor at Carlisle, Brampton & Wigton Clubs, I am also a Permanent Member of the Senior Grading Panel and currently hold the rank of Godan (5th Dan awarded in 2018).

Chojinkai is a massive part of my martial arts and my social life. I have attended all Winter and Summer courses since 2001, forging some great friendships between all the clubs within the Association.  I feel privileged to still be a part of Chojinkai and hope to continue to help it grow and further my training and those of others who I am privilege to teach.

Ray Hind

November 7, 2014 at 12:24 am


Ray Hind for close up

Doug James 8th Dan presenting Ray Hind with 6th Dan

I started training in 1983 at Strand Road and St Elizabeths in Carlisle, my primary aim was to loose weight and get fit.  I certainly achieved that within six months I was down to my target weight and getting fitter.  I would point out that I put a lot of effort into the classes.

Sensei Doug James was my first Sensei so I believe I had a really good base for the future ahead which at that time I didn’t realise where I’d end up.

When I first started to be honest I didn’t know what to expect but found myself doing odd things with my body and mind also my confidence grew in life in general.  I seemed to gel with the martial arts, the regular gradings we’re a good way to measure my progress and I also measured myself when sparring with the senior grades.  I always recall saying to myself well I can stand my ground with him and learned quite quickly how to master certain attacks and better defensive techniques.  Not without taking a few hits I might add and looking back it seems harsh but that was my learning process.

I started competition kumite after six months and won a bronze medal (and some blisters) at the Cumbrian Open in the market hall in Carlisle.  I enjoyed the Kumite more than the Kata side purely because I thought I was better at it.  I carried on doing competitions and won some and lost more, it teaches you humility and respect.  I still carried on with the competitions but work got in the way of weekend competing and gradually I had to step back!

My coaching career started when I was just a 4th Kyu and I’ve have been doing it on and off ever since. Hopefully the tips and techniques I pass on will help those students who want to progress to move through the ranks as I did. If I was to give a tip out it would be to learn off other students mistakes, as I did.  On seeing someone do something incorrect I would try and make sure I didn’t follow that example.

After training for about four years the ultimate goal of a 1st Dan Black Belt was mine and to be honest I never thought past that point. My technique continued to improve at pace and I earned my Second and third Dan, it seems a bit of a blur really but I guess it was because I was enjoying it so much.

I am the Senior Head Instructor at Carlisle Club concentrating on the Senior Class, a Permanent member of the Senior Grading Panel and in October 2012 I was awarded Rokudan (Sixth Dan) Black Belt by Sensei James.  It still amazes me and hand on heart I never saw that coming and I do genuinely feel privileged to command such an honorable position.

Mark McLeod

October 31, 2014 at 6:24 pm

markmcloudI started training in April 1989, I wanted to learn karate as I was starting a new job as a taxi driver in Newcastle city centre and wanted to look after myself in case of trouble.

My first instructor was Sensei Mick Barnes and I loved the training and rarely missed a class, training up to four times a week.  As it was then, one class was a sparring and exercise only session which helped enormously for competition kumite as it resulted in many medal’s and trophy’s.

My confidence in martial arts was always high and I can honestly say that Karate has left me for ready for any challenge.  One of those challenges was competing in Belgium gaining a silver medal in individual kumite in 1993 with the Chojinkai squad, representing England in international tournament with many European countries   competing.

When the Newcastle club moved to a new location to Eldon Square Leisure Centre in the mid 90’s Sensei Barnes retired from Chojinkai karate.  Of course I continued to train under the expert guidance of Sensei Paul Jackson (6th Dan retired) to also teach karate and self defence myself.

I gained my 2nd Dan in 2006 and eventually started my own club in 2008 in Newcastle West.  By 2009 I was one of the Senior Instructors at the Newcastle clubs and still teach under the guidance of Sensei Doug James 8th Dan.  Although we no longer have the club in Eldon Square, Newcastle West is very popular.  I welcome to the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to any students who want to learn.

In 2015 I undertook a course of regular training sessions over a 5 month period with Darren Longstaff 5th Dan & Sensei Doug James 8th Dan and on 1st November was graded to 3rd Dan, an achievement I am is extremely proud of.


Stephen Lambert

October 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

My interest in Martial Arts started from an early age in the mid seventies I would watch TV programs like Monkey and Kung Fu and movie stars like Chuck Norris, Jim Kelly, Bolo Yeung, Joe Lewis and Bruce Lee.

Sensei Stephen Lambert

Sensei Stephen Lambert

When I was growing up I was bullied at school, from middle school to high school. It was when I got to high school that I noticed a poster advertising Karate which was run as part of a night class on one of the schools notice boards. I enrolled as soon as I could and started training twice a week, my Sensei was called Shawn who was a big powerful man with long hair and a beard or the best way to describe him would be as a Billy Connolly look alike.

When I watch martial arts movie stars on the TV they make it look so easy but I was about to find out that to be as good as them was going to take a lot of dedication and hard work.

I trained all through my high school years with Shawn and because it was a night class we did not belong to any association so the gradings were done in house. The first time I met Sensei Doug James was in 1983 aged 17 when Shawn had brought Doug in to conduct a grading at his club & I obtained my 5th Kyu.

The classes I attended came to an end as Shawn moved away from Hexham, so I started to train at the Hexham Chojinkai club under Sensei Martin Kammeier, who had taken over the Club from Jimmy Haque.  Doug James had originally started the Club in 1981 along with Prudhoe & Hexham Karate legend, Jimmy Haque 3rd Dan, who had trained with him at the Newcastle Dojo since late 70’s.

I trained with Martin for many years and entered competitions all over the North East and our own inter club competitions. We had very good instructors at the Hexham club who would push me on to better myself such as Darren Longstaff, Brian Armstrong, Stuart Brown, Stephen Surtees, Damien Chicken and I must not forget Brenda Walker to name just a few, right up until 1999 when Sensei Darren Longstaff took over from Martin.

Darren has been my main Instructor to this present day and he’s not just my Sensei but a dear friend who I look up too and can call on at any time for advice about training and for support to push me forward in my own training, or to pass his knowledge down to my students.

I have been very fortunate to have such dedicated instructors throughout my karate carrier, I have to thank them all for their support and passion and dedication though out the years and for helping me get to where I am today .

I am the Senior Instructor at Haltwhistle Chojinkai holding a 3rd Dan. I was previously running the Hexham Chojinkai club from 2007 under the guidance of Sensei Darren Longstaff  and club instructors Neil Gatenby and Liam Reid. This club unfortunately closed in 2016 due to Instructor work commitments however, we are expecting to open up again in the near future.

Matthew Miller

October 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm



Matthew started Karate at the age of 15 in 1986, joining the classes available at the local leisure centre. Luckily, this was run by Eddie Cox, a 5th Dan in Wado Ryu Karate and renowned Instructor of the Wolverhampton YMCA karate club which produced numerous national and international champions.

This early introduction to martial arts provided Matthew with a strong grounding in both the classically traditional and the more sport focussed aspects of karate.  It also sparked a life-long fascination with the subtleties and depths of Wado Ryu.

University and then work meant a move away from home and provided the opportunity to train in a number of different martial arts, including Aikido, Shotokan Karate, Kickboxing and Lau Gar Kung Fu. However, on settling in Cumbria Matthew was delighted to return to high quality Wado Ryu Karate with Sensei James and Chojinkai at the Kendal Club under Sensei Steve Chaplow.

Much of Matthew’s focus in training has been on exploring the techniques and applications contained within Kata(forms), and in 2007 he authored a book dedicated to applications for the Kata ‘Kushanku’ entitled ‘Fighting Forms’.

Matthew strongly believes that all aspects of Karate are important; the traditional approach of Kihon (basics), Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring) provides a framework that is enriched by the addition of impact work, Kata application and self defence.

Having been a club referee and judge for several years he decided to progress, with the encouragement of Sensei Gordon Harrison, to gain England Judge and Referee qualifications in Kata as well as Kumite.  To this end, he qualified as an English Karate Federation Kumite Judge in 2014, officiating at National and International competitions however, he had to resign this role due to work commitments.

In October 2013 Matthew was awarded 4th Dan & continued to teach and train karate at the Kendal Club.   December 2014 saw his career progressing further following the retirement of his mentor Steve Chaplow 6th Dan, when he was asked by Sensei James to take over the running of the club as the Head Instructor, aiming to continue the enthusiastic, friendly environment that has always made it such a pleasure to train in.

In 2018, due to an increased work load at his job as Business Director at a local manufacturing company, he reluctantly stepped down as Head Instructor and handed over the running of the club to a “Committee of Volunteer Black Belt Instructors”.

The Black Belts also share the teaching at the club, supported periodically by members of the Senior Grading Panel, headed by Chojinkai President & Chief Instructor Doug James 8th Dan.

Matthew looks on his enforced break from karate as “a personal sabbatical” and hopes to get back to training at some point in the not too distant future.

Darren Longstaff

October 16, 2014 at 11:11 am

I started training in 1981 at the very first class of the newly opened Prudhoe Chojinkai Karate club.

Darren Longstaff 5th Dan

Darren Longstaff

I was a shy and quiet young lad but having watched many of the martial arts films of the time particularly starring Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan,  when my dad said he would take me to a Karate class that was starting I was nervous but also very keen.  I still remember that first lesson and meeting my first club instructor (the great Sensei Jimmy Hague), and I was hooked from the start.

Within a very short time Sensei Hague had me training in the adults class as well as the juniors.  It was 3 months later at my first grading that I met Sensei Doug James and he remains my instructor to this day. In my early days I trained at Prudhoe but also on occasion at Hexham and Newcastle and also attended many competitions having success as both a Junior and a Senior.

Following Jimmy’s retirement from Karate and my own relocation to Haltwhistle in 1990, I started training at Hexham club under Sensei Martin Kammeier.  I still attended competitions, fighting in individual categories and in the association team, but grew increasingly interested in the practical side of Karate for self protection, a path I have followed ever since.

I have gained knowledge and experience from many sources including several years working in door supervision in pubs and clubs bringing all the skills and experience of real world application back to Chojinkai, to augment both my training and teaching. I took over Hexham Chojinkai in 1999 and in 2007 opened Haltwhistle Chojinkai.

I am extremely proud to be with Chojinkai and have gained so much from Sensei James, my fellow instructors and those that have taught and trained with me over the years. Learning comes from many sources, but it isn’t only about the Karate skill I have learned, as I have  also gained many great friendships that have come from being in our association.

I am now a 6th Dan Senior Instructor (awarded in 2016) and a Permanent Member of the Senior Grading Panel with Chojinkai, the Head Instructor of Haltwhistle club and I teach at many Chojinkai Karate events and also run my own Self Defense Seminars.

John Timney

October 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

John has been training at the Newcastle club for over 30 years or so having started when the club was really quite young back in 1989.  His main Instructors in those days were Doug James then 5th Dan and Paul Jackson a 3rd Dan.

He has studied a number of the martial arts including Wado Kai, Jujitsu, Aikido and Freestyle but remains an ardent student and teacher of Wado Ryu.

A Chojinkai Senior Instructor

John Timney

He is an exponent of Kata Bunkai and the real world application of the principles of Kata.  He favours the close range unarmed fighting techniques that come from understanding the principles of body movement and joint control; locks, short strikes, restraint techniques and evasion.

He was inspired at a very early age by the likes of Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal and loved the classic early martial arts movies wondering how they could do those amazing things and as a teenager he was persuaded to try Karate through a friends sister who was training at Newcastle Chojinkai. Looking back, it was a life changing moment as Karate gave him the discipline and commitment necessary to succeed not only in martial arts but in his personal and work life.

He continues to train and to teach at Chojinkai as he strongly believes his peers and teachers provide an ever evolving knowledge in one of the most ancient Japanese martial arts as well as having made some lifelong friends.  There are no bad instructors at Chojinkai.  It is a very personal club and it is an easy place to train amongst people who are happy to spend time explaining a technique through, or to work with you to perfect something new.  This isn’t unique to Chojinkai, but it is a quality you need to seek in any club or style you give time trying to master.

John achieved 2nd Dan in 2002 and since the retirement of Paul Jackson 6th Dan, he is one of the Senior Instructors at the Newcastle Clubs and both trains and teaches regularly, under the guidance of Sensei Doug James 8th Dan & Darren Longstaff 5th Dan.

In 2015 he undertook a course of regular training sessions over a 5 month period with Darren Longstaff 5th Dan & Sensei Doug James 8th Dan & on 1st November was graded to 3rd Dan, an achievement he is extremely proud of.



Senior Grading Panel

October 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm
The Seniors Grading Panel of Chojinkai Karate

This Section lists the Senior Instructors who along with Chief Instructor Doug James 8th Dan, make up the Senior Grading Panel & their role is to uphold the high technical standards of Chojinkai Karate & details the huge Karate talent & experience that is within our Organisation.