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.



Archive Video

October 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Chojinkai Karate – the story so far – narrated by Sensei Doug James 8th Dan

This short video covers the first 35 years of his fascinating career, from first starting Karate in 1967 through to the start of the 21st Century – contains classic vintage clips from Sensei James’ Martial Arts history.

Recorded in 2002 with a running time of approximately 13 minutes


The Eighties

August 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm
The Eighties

Double Gold presentation by Sensei Toru Takamizawa & Sparring Demo with Eugene Codrington at 1980 Tera Nationals.

The eighties started well with a Gold Medal in Kata at the Wado and Open Style Tera Karate Kai Nationals. His hard work continued to pay off with a successful grading to 3rd Dan by the Tera Karate Kai Panel in Birmingham in 1980.   His Clubs were far & wide covering Cumbria & North East, so he decided to re-brand the clubs to bring under one banner & “Chojinkai Karate” was born.

1980 – the first ‘Chojinkai’ Course in Carlisle, front row l to r, Tim Bird, Graham Solon, Tom Armstrong (emigrated to Perth, Australia), Ged Carr, Doug, Jim Thompson, Steve Greenwood, Richard Bird.

As his interest in competition flourished, Doug became more interested in refereeing and trained under Barry Tatlow who was the Tera Karate Kai Chief Referee.

The decade progressed and Doug went on to found the Newcastle Upon Tyne Open Championships at the Lightfoot Stadium, Walker.

In 1982 he made the decision to leave the Tera Karate Kai & Toru Takamizawa to form his own association, to concentrate on furthering & developing the Clubs with the foundation of the British Karate Do Chojinkai Association within the English Karate Federation – later named FEKO.

I early/mid 80’s he opened a full time professional dojo & martial arts retail shop in Newcastle – Chojin Martial Arts – photo with Club Instructor Paul Jackson then 2nd Dan (Newcastle Club first Black Belt).

BELOW:1983 Summer Course – Rita, Michael, Doug, Steven.

BELOW: 1985 Summer Course – front row, l to r, Simon Crow 1st Dan (Morpeth Club first Black Belt), Ian McCranor 3rd Dan (Chojinkai Coventry affiliated Club), Doug, Steve Byfield (Suzuki 3rd Dan now with Chojinkai Newcastle), Robert Toole 2nd Dan, Ian Wood 1st Dan.

In 1983 he qualified with the English Governing Body as a National Judge status under Brian Smith. Doug retired from competing in Karate at the age of 35 to concentrate on & developing competition officiating.

He was awarded 4th Dan, endorsed by the World Governing Body WUKO and achieved National Referee in 1984 & his first International qualification in 1986, allowing him to Judge at the European Senior Champs in Spain.

European Judge in Madrid in 1986.

Perth Australia Course 1986 & met up with former Carlisle student Tom Armstrong

Doug was a founding member & Chief Referee of the British Karate Grand Prix along with Roy Stanhope, Abdu Shaher, Unel Wellington, Victor Charles. Following on from this he was Invited to Australia to teach and formed the International Karate Do Chojinkai, with affiliated Groups in Southern Ireland and Wales.

1986 Summer Course at Minehead – Son Michael (11) 2nd left front row & Son Steven (13) 2nd right back row – next to Doug is Instructor Simon Crow 3rd Dan.

1987 Summer Course at Ayr – Front Row l to r – Andy Goodwin 1st Dan, Jon Little 1st Dan, Simon Crow 3rd Dan, Doug, Steve Chaplow 1st Dan (Kendal Club first Black Belt), Ian Abernethy 1st Dan (Cockermouth Club first Black Belt).

The age of Video was firmly upon us, and Doug recorded ‘Wado Ryu Karate’ – ‘Beginner to Black Belt’, Pioneering the first Comprehensive Video on the Wado Ryu Curriculum, with Video Producer Tim Eyrl.

The success of this top selling training video inspired him to form the Video Martial Arts International Production Company (with business partner Tim Eyrl), more universally known as VMA International. This pioneered the first ‘Magazine on Video’ in 1988.

The company went on to produce Instructional and Training tapes with Ticky Donovan, Terry Pottage, John Richards and other leading British Karate Instructors of the day and became the first company to record Championship Videos of English and British National Karate Events plus the European and World Karate Championships. By the end of the 80’s VMA had been appointed the Official Video Team to both EKU European and the WUKO World Championships and Chojinkai continued to flourish.

Fighters Magazine

Cover photo & main feature in Fighters Magazine, with Hexham & Prudhoe Instructor Jimmy Hague, then 3rd Dan (Hexham Club first Black Belt)

His international refereeing continued and he went on to Officiate at the European Senior Championships in Italy and Scotland and the European Junior Champs in Spain.

More qualifications followed with an International Referee qualification at the European Championships in Yugoslavia and the prestigious award of a 5th Dan Black Belt under WUKO.

Relaxing at hotel in Titograd 1989 after qualifying as European Referee, with England Judge Jeff Pearson & National Coach Ticky Donovan

Link to The Nineties –>

The Seventies

August 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm

The Seventies

The hard training throughout the sixties paid off when Doug was graded by Peter Spanton to Brown Belt 3rd Kyu in February 1970, on one of his regular visits to the club. This is when Doug started helping out at classes and first showed a keen interest in teaching.

Complementing his teaching he had competed in Open Kumite competitions and in the North East Karate Kumite League, organised by Bryan Crossley from Bishop Auckland, who had been the first All Britain Kumite Champion in 1965.

Doug scoring in early 70’s Karate League Kumite – Referee Bryan Crossley – before hand pads!

This resulted in Doug winning the Silver Individual Kumite Trophy in North of England Open in 1971 and the following year winning the North East Karate League Kumite Team together with his Budokan colleagues. The league was a forerunner of competitions in the North East & attracted many top clubs such as Sendai Sunderland with John Holdsworth & Owen Murray and Kobukan Darlington with Richard Copeland to name but a few.

His interest in competition continued. With the Budokan squad, Doug travelled to London and competed in the BKA Nationals, Kata and Kumite, reaching the quarter finals in the Kumite at Crystal Palace.

Life moved on, and Doug and Rita were the proud parents of their first son Steven, who was born in 1973.  With priorities changing, Doug, Rita and Steven moved to Carlisle in 1974 to allow Doug to work in Production Engineering at Pirelli. To live in the Lake District was seen as an added bonus, as this was an area they had many times visited in the past on long weekends & vacation breaks.

1975 Carlisle class at Harraby Community Centre, front row – Ian Crawford, Sheena Rock, Unknown, Tom Armstrong.

His dedication to Karate however never waned and Doug opened his first Karate Club in the October 1974 in Carlisle at Harraby Community Centre & the Cumbria School of Karate was born – in 1975 the Whitehaven Club was opened at the YMCA, Duke St.

Also in 1975 their second son Michael was born & Doug had already graded to Black Belt (he was graded to 1st Dan by the BKA Panel in London) – he took the bold step & resigned his job as Production Engineer and began teaching professionally in 1976.

Within 12 months he had started more clubs in Annan, Blackburn, Brampton, Cockermouth, Egremont, Lancaster, Morecambe, Maryport, Penrith, Preston, Silloth, Wigton, Workington and later classes in Langholm & Lockerbie. To ensure that he and his family would make a living, he took all classes himself, usually two venues in one night and then throughout the weekend, driving over 30,000 miles a year.

2nd Summer Course Silloth 1977, Doug Kneeling with Egremont & Whitehaven Instructor Ged Carr 1st Dan. l to r – Richard Bird, Graham Gordon, Frances Holliday, Mike Haslam, Jim Thompson, Sheena Rock, Unknown, Unknown, Steve Thwaites, Unknown.

In 1976 with his own clubs having their first summer residential course at Silloth Lido Holiday Park & the same year saw an opportunity to get the top English & Scottish karate clubs competing together in the ‘Border City’ & founded the renowned ‘Cumbria Open Karate Championships’ at the Carlisle Market Hall.

1976 Front kick board breaking demonstration Carlisle Great Fair Stage

Not wanting to give up his own need to train, Doug began training occasionally with Peter Spanton in London  & Toru Takamizawa in Birmingham.  In 1977 he affiliated his clubs to the Tera Karate Group within the BKA & would travel to Birmingham regularly for private lessons with Sensei Takamizawa at his club, the famous ‘Temple Karate Centre’.  Still looking to grow his own skills, Doug continued to compete in Kumite League, Open and Individual competitions and was the pivot point for the Club Team.

with Eddie Daniels 4th Dan & Toru Takamizawa 5th Dan

In 1977 he attended a Summer Course in Spain with Toru Takamizawa and Eddie Daniels from Shukokai Karate & subsequently was successful in grading to 2nd Dan by BKA Panel in London.

Doug’s first love in the dojo & competitions had always been sparring/kumite, however Sensei Takamizawa’s inspirational teaching & attention to detail, got him equally interested in Kata resulting  in him achieving the Silver medal for Kata in the BKA North West Championships & at the Tera Karate Kai Nationals, he won the Bronze medal for Kata in two successive years & his team won the Junior Team Kumite.

1977 Cumbria Wado Ryu Championships at Carlisle Market Hall

1977 Ticky Donovan Course in Carlisle

1978 Top left: Whitehaven Club first Black Belt John Fitzsimmons & Carlisle Club first Female Black Belt Frances Holliday, Egremont 1st Dan Ged Carr, next to Doug


At Penrith Dojo circa 1978

His reputation was clearly growing and he opened a new club in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1978, and later other clubs in the North East followed with Morpeth, Sunderland, Hexham, Prudhoe & Durham, thus the ‘North East School of Karate’ was born.  The time commitment was clearly growing and Doug decided to re-structure the number of club venues, so he could personally teach at the majority of the clubs and look forward to the remainder of the decade with the assurance that the students were getting the best he could offer.

1979 Tera Karate Kai Nationals Junior Team Winners ‘Cumbria School of Karate’ – kneeling David Whiley, Ivor Savage, Lynne Byers, Robert Toole – l to r – Richard Bird (Penrith Club first Black Belt), Shirley Routledge, Ged Carr, Aileen Sinclair, Gillian Walton, Jim Thompson (Carlisle Club first Black Belt), Rita, Eddie Potts, Doug, Tim Bird, Unknown, Unknown.

Summer Course at Southport 1979, with Ged Carr then a 2nd Dan.

1979 Cumbria Open – ‘Cumbria School of Karate’ Team lining up, l to r, Mike Pattinson, Robert Toole, Unknown, Ivor Savage, Richard Bird.

Link to The Eighties –>