Mark Heaton

November 18, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I started training in 2000 at the Carlisle club aged 15.  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 that has gone from strength to strength.  As well as being the Head Instructor at Carlisle and Brampton Clubs, I currently hold the rank of Yondan (4th Dan) and teach six classes a week over three nights.

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.

Gordon Harrison

November 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

gordon photo 1

I have always been attracted to the martial arts but never had enough time due to work commitments.  When my son expressed an interest to start, this gave me a reason to go along with him and get started myself.  In November 1985 myself and my son Dale started training at the Whitehaven Dojo under the instruction of Sensei James, Sensei Gerard Carr and Sensei Alan Banks.

My son eventually stopped training, but I was hooked and progressed through the grades until I reached my ultimate aim.  At the time that was achieving my 1st Dan Black Belt in June 1991.

In 1987 I also was training at the Egremont Dojo that was originally run by Sensei Gerrard Carr.  In 1989 I took over as the Instructor of the club myself for Sensei James and have been the Senior Head Instructor at the Club ever since.

As my love of martial arts developed, like many students I also studied other styles and practiced Aikido for a year and Iaido (the art of the samurai sword) for about three years.  It’s important to understand other martial arts as they all have something different to offer students but my main love is Karate and I especially enjoy Kata.  I believe everything you need to know for good self defence is hidden within the fifteen Katas of Wado Ryu Karate.

I started refereeing in the 1990’s at the Karate Open competitions around the North of England and then joined the National scene in 2000’s as an English Judge and Referee. I am currently a British Elite Referee in Kumite and Kata, apart from Refereeing the top matches, I take responsibility on the day for overseeing of matches and referees performance.

My fellow Head Instructor at the Egremont Club is Sensei Alan Connor, who started training at the club around 1990 and reached 4th Dan Black Belt in 2014.  Alan is also a British Kumite Referee and between us we organise and manage the Club.

In 2008 I also took over responsibility for the Cockermouth Club for Sensei Doug James and under my tuition and with the students dedication, the club has produced many Club and Open Kata Champions.  I am very proud to say that the clubs at Cockermouth and Egremont have produced around twenty five Black Belts of all ages, many of which have competed Nationally and Internationally.

Many of our student grades have also done exceptionally well on the Competition scene, both Nationally and Internationally.  No other clubs in West Cumbria has achieved this level of success on the competition scene.

The Chojinkai Karate Association is more like a large family and at the Cockermouth and Egremont clubs, we have many families training together, not only brothers and sisters, but their mothers and their fathers also.  Our aim is to carry on with our high standard of training for both adults and children to keep them competing at National and International level and we would love to see you come and train with us.

In 2008 I was awarded 5th Dan (Godan) by Sensei James and in November 2014 Sensei James acknowledged my contribution to Refereeing within Chojinkai and on the National circuit when he presented me with a Special Competition Karate Award for “the Development and Outstanding success in Coaching the Chojinkai Competition Officials”, an award I am extremely proud of.

At the Association Annual Championships on 11th October 2015 I was again honoured, and awarded 6th Dan (Rokudan) by Sensei James.

Doug James 8th Dan presenting Gordon Harrison with 6th Dan Award

After all these years and many memories to look back on I am still learning.  I aim to continue training and teaching at Chojinkai and still enjoy Officiating at local, national and international events.


Colin Broatch

November 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm
A Chojinkai Senior Instructor

Colin Broatch 4th Dan Chojinkai Senior Instructor

In April 1975 I saw an advertisement for a Karate class in the Workington Grammar school which was the school I had attended. I had seen all the Bruce Lee films at the local cinema but the reason I was interested in starting Karate not for self-defence but more for fitness training. My sporting passion at the time was Sunday league football and thought Karate would give me the fitness and agility I needed.

As a 22 year old I was quite shy and lacked confidence. I plucked up the courage and shaking with nerves went along to the Karate class on my own to see what it entailed thinking if I didn’t like it or fit in I could just leave. I was introduced to Sensei Ray Young who was the chief instructor of Cumbria Wado-Kai and from that first lesson I was hooked on Karate, not just for the training but also the camaraderie and friendship shown by the people in the class. Workwise I was working 3 shifts but every time afternoon shift week came along I would put half a day’s holiday in twice a week just so I could go training. I enjoyed Kumite more than Kata and fought for the Cumbria Wado-Kai team. I will never forget my first competition which was in Carlisle. At the time in Kumite there were no mitts or gum shields and was semi-contact. In the first 10 seconds I had a burst lip and loose tooth which got rid of my nerves and went on to win all my 3 fights. Gradings were held over weekends, training Saturday in Workington then Sunday morning at Carlisle. The Grading was carried out Sunday afternoon by a visiting Japanese instructor.

In 1978 Sensei Ray Young along with his assistant instructor Sensei George Askew left Cumbria Wado-Kai to instruct and set up clubs in Sweden. Some of the remaining students decided to set up a club of their own. At the time I had achieved my 4th. Kyu but I did not think I could progress with them as a club so finished with Karate and concentrated on my football.

In 1991 my son, then aged 7, saw an advertisement for Karate lessons at the local Chojinkai Club and asked if I would take him along to try it out. I thought, well I tried it and enjoyed it so why not him, We went along to the Trinity Methodist church in Workington and Sensei David Graham introduced my son to the class. For the next few weeks I stayed and sat in the class watching while my young son got used to the class. I had finished playing football the year before and as I sat watching them train I thought even after 13 years out of it I could still do this so I asked Sensei Graham if I could join in to which he agreed and that was it I was hooked again.

After a few months of training and assessment it was agreed I would retain my 4th Kyu status. I was encouraged to travel to Whitehaven sometimes and train with Sensei Iain Abernethy and Chief Instructor Sensei Doug James. Not long after I joined the Workington Chojinkai Club Sensei Graham left because of home/work commitments and Sensei Gordon Harrison took over. Sensei Harrison played a major part in my progress in the club, with his encouragement and advice within 3 years I had achieved my goal of 1st Dan black belt in 1994. I had been assistant instructor for a while then because of Sensei Harrison’s other commitments I soon became Workington’s Head Instructor.

Over the following years I regularly trained under Sensei Harrison and Chief Instructor Sensei Doug James as well as run the Workington class. I also started to get involved in the associations competitions at first judging then refereeing. Following this I was encouraged to attend national referee courses to gain some qualifications.

Under the guidance of Sensei Harrison and Sensei James I was recently awarded my 4th. Dan black belt at the 40th Anniversary Chojinkai National Championships on 12th October 2014, of which I am very proud and thankful for all their help and encouragement. I am currently an English Karate Federation Referee “A” officiating at National and International competitions.

I encourage my students to train to be good at what they are doing not just for another coloured belt. I think one of the biggest pleasures I get out of teaching Karate is watching people, adults/children, joining the class all nervous and quiet then gaining in the confidence to show off their skills on the floor whether it be Kata/Kumite in a group or on their own.

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.

Stephen Chaplow

October 27, 2014 at 10:33 pm

steve chaplow photo

I first started karate in January 1985 under Sensei Doug James & Sensei Paul Evans,  just for something to do that was both physically and mentally demanding, not realising it would be the start of a very long and testing journey which I am still traveling today.

I have also studied Aikido and Judo and my ambition was not only to achieve black belt but to achieve 3rd Dan.  I had a break in 1998 due to illness which was when I studied Aikido because it can be a less physically demanding art which suited my needs at the time, but I always knew I would return to Chojinkai because of the attitude of striving for excellence which is at the core of the club.  This suits my personality as I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times.

Some of my karate career highlights have been achieving my 3rd, 4th and 5th Dans Black Belts plus the honour of winning Silver and Bronze medals in the teams and individuals respectively at the Belgium international cup with the Chojinkai team and numerous other medals while competing.

My teaching career started quite early on when I was a 1st kyu brown belt as my club instructor at Kendal left due to a relocation in Scotland.  This left me as the most senior grade and I think this might have indirectly helped my karate because I had to analyse everything myself to improve not only how I personally did things, but also how I taught.   Hopefully since then I have helped and inspired people not only in karate but in life, the values karate instils in us is to do the best we can in everything we do

I am a strong advocate of Kata Bunkai and letting people explore the many paths they can take.  My message is that keeping it simple makes it effective.  Sometimes students can over complicate martial arts to impress but this only satisfies the need for showmanship.  It is not a personal trait I ever thought I needed nor one I have had to encourage in my students.

At the end of December 2014 I decided to retire from Karate after 30 years.  Matthew Miller 4th Dan has taken over the running of the club and is doing an excellent job and will continue to maintain the high standards that I have always strived for at the Kendal.

I had been Head Instructor at the club for over 20 years and was a permanent member of the Senior Grading Panel, a Senior Competition Referee, all these are all roles within the Association, I am very proud to have held.

To my surprise at the Senior Training Course in Carlisle on 6th December 2014, Sensei James presented me with my 6th Dan Award in recognition of 30 years with Chojinkai Karate.

I always thoroughly enjoyed training at Chojinkai and made good friends and wherever my path takes me in the future, Karate will stay with me for the rest of my life in one way or another.

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 & continues 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.

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 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 and a Permanent Member of the Senior Grading Panel with Chojinkai, the Head Instructor of both the Haltwhistle and Hexham clubs 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.