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Enso SKC Opening Day

So yesterday, Enso Shotokan Karate Club opened its doors for the first time, on the 7th of January 2018. Exactly one year to the day that Bartley Green dojo hosted a special course with Shihan Cyril Cummins, 8th Dan and Sensei Ronnie Christopher, 6th Dan, a former world Karate champion. It was a good day, it was a moving day, and for me personally it was an important day.

This particular dojo at Adams Hill School Bartley Green Leisure Centre is a place of special significance; not only for me, but for thousands of other people over the last forty years plus, who have trained there. Be it during the height of the KUGB days where hundreds would fill the huge sports hall where the likes of Sensei Enoeda would command audiences of Karate ka from not only around the length and breadth of the UK, but from all over Europe and the rest of the world.

But most days were indeed average Karate days where the school sports hall was for 95% of the time the spiritual home of good, old fashioned hard-line Shotokan as taught by the one and only: Cyril Cummins, 8th Dan, my Sensei.

And eventually, at his students own insistence, on the awarding of his 8th Dan, we collectively agreed that from that point we would address him as "Shihan". To be fair, he never asked for that to happen. In fact, we took a collective decision and then we told him that was what we wanted to do. It was our way of saying thank you to him after a lifetime of dedication to his art and to people like us, as he was always there, come rain or shine.

So, for people like myself when he passed away, it left a huge deep hole in my everyday world. Training in Shotokan with him 4 days a week was my compass. It was, as the poet W. H. Auden described "my north, south, east and west". No matter what bad things had happened in my everyday life, I knew that once I got to the dojo and put on my gi, that was it. I was utterly absorbed. He made me give 110%; it did not matter if I had the best day or the worst day. Everyday was a Shotokan day. Turn up, get changed and just do it as best that you could. And dear Lord did I feel better for it.

So, after he went there was a massive gap, and in truth, I struggled to try and replace. And then bit by bit, I came to realise that maybe it was up to myself to snap out and move on. That was when I decided to open a new club in this place that meant so much that I could keep the torch burning for those like me that trained before, and felt lost. And even more important, for those who have yet to discover the rich treasures that training in Shotokan can bestow, if you train hard and look hard enough.

So new beginnings and a new dawn!

Osu,

Sensei Austin