STEPHEN RAWSON 7th DAN


Weymouth Karate Club – Ken Bu Jyuku 
Osprey Leisure Centre PortlandWeymouth
Wed eve 19:15 – 20:15 All grades 7 years plus


  • I started Karate in 1974 aged 13 years after being threatened whilst I was out one day. I had always had an interest in Martial Arts brought on by the Bruce Lee and Kung Fu programmes on television. I knew nothing of styles, types, or authenticity of Karate, but went along to a club in Doncaster that had placed an advert in the local paper. After my first lesson I can remember saying I would stick at Karate and get my Black Belt.

    Ken and Margaret Genery were the founders of the club and the driving force behind its success. My instructor in those days was a green belt who seemed to have legs of rubber, and despite my valiant efforts I have never reached his level of flexibility. I trained twice a week, as I had to rely on my Dad driving me there, waiting 2 hours and then bringing me home. Training was different then with a lot of emphasis being based on speed, strength, and having forearms of steel brought on by hours of Soto and Uchi Uke practice. The syllabus and variety of techniques taught in those days were somewhat limited compared to today, however I have been known to push my own students through that type of training once or twice.

    After 4 months I took my first grade with Maeda Sensei who was the first Black belt I had ever seen. I thought my own instructor was good but this person was something different. I continued training at the club for the next 4 years, which saw many people come and go, including the instructor. Ken took over the task of teaching and what he might have lacked in flexibility, he made up for in sheer drive and motivation towards his students, of which some nights were down to 3. (Andrew Genery, Suzanne Genery and me)

    As the club numbers started to grow again I would help teach the beginners as a Brown Belt. This was fine until I failed my Dan grade twice. The first time I blocked someone’s punch with my nose. The second time was after only doing the Friday of a Winter Course where I learnt all about Mokuso. This included Suzuki Hanshi explaining the finer points of it to me by hitting me over the back 3 times with a kendo stick. (You tend to sit up straight after that) Ken’s response to me was no teaching, just training which I did 2 hours a night 3 times a week for the next 6 months.

    This culminated in me attending the Summer Course of ‘79 at Eastbourne, sitting Bolt Upright in Mokuso and passing my Dan Grade at Marvic House in London. This was despite busting my partner’s nose in pair work, and knocking someone out during free fighting. It was on this course that I met Sugasawa Sensei for the first time; little was I to know what an influence he would be to my future Karate training.

    I would rarely miss training, however the first time I did in August 1979 was when the future Mrs Rawson started at the club. I was greeted at the next lesson with “You should have come training the other night. We had a little ballet dancer turn up who could get her legs past her ears” I still struggled with stretching. Needless to say I met Pam the following week. Shortly afterwards I left the club to start my career in the RAF. My first posting was to a small unit in Salisbury where the only training I did for 4 months was in the bar. I then went home on leave, struggled to get my Gi and belt on and went to the club. Pam, who by now was a green belt, went for a tactical approach on seeing me. “You’re Fat” was her opening comment. I decided to lose a bit of weight before I asked her out. Thankfully I lost enough, as we started our relationship in April 1980, and married in February 1981.

    We lived near Chippenham where the closest Wado club was Bristol. Not wishing to travel that far 3 times a week to train we decided to open our own club. Chippenham at that time had no sports centre and the best facilities we could find, plus afford was a small hall at the rear of the Pheasant Public House. Ken’s classes in Doncaster had been somewhat gruelling, and they were affectionately known by us as ‘Kenseis’, so using that philosophy in November 1981 Wado-Ryu Karate was introduced to the folk of Chippenham. Despite the hall being like an igloo with ice on the inside of the windows, and the floor as slippery as an ice rink, we brought our first few students up to the standard of 8th Kyu.

    Sugasawa Sensei was invited to Chippenham to conduct our first ever Training & Grading session, which was a little nerve racking for us, however all our students passed. Sugasawa Sensei has continued to head the club since then, providing inspiration, guidance, and above all the true philosophy of Wado-Ryu Karate.

    The club moved to a scout hall in Derriads Lane when the Pheasant was refurbished. The ice on the insides went, but it was still as cold and slippery. In May 1989 we were invited to become the Karate instructors at the Olympiad Leisure Centre. With 3 children in tow we decided to form a children’s class which grew far greater than we expected. Over the years we have seen many children grow up in to fine adults and excellent Karate-ka, several of whom are now Black Belts. We have also had students compete at Local, National, International, and World class level.

  • I have achieved the various levels of Dan Grade as follows.

    1st Dan August 1979

    2nd Dan August 1983

    3rd Dan February 1991

    4th Dan March 1996

    5th Dan October 2004

    6th Dan January 2013

    7th Dan July 2020

  • Since 1974 I have trained with the following Japanese Sensei and am indebted to their willingness to pass on their knowledge of Wado-Ryu Karate

    Maeda

    Wakamei

    Yamanashi

    Kobayashi

    Nishimura

    Prof T. Suzuki Hanshi

    M. Shiomitsu Hanshi

    K. Sakagami

    P. Suzuki

    H. Ohtsuka 2nd Grandmaster

    K. Ohtsuka 3rd Grandmaster

    Noboru Suzuki

    H. Harada

    Y. Iwasaki

    F. Sugasawa

  • My thanks also go to the following British Karate-ka who also over the years have been involved in my instruction.

    K. Genery

    A Genery

    S Genery

    J Morton

    G. Grimes

    A. Meek

    N. Quilliam

  • In 2013 Pam & I retired to the South Coast and handed over the Chippenham Club to our senior student, Carol. We set up a small Club in Weymouth. At this time we were both awarded 6th Dan by Sugasawa Sensei. We continue to teach on a regular basis both in the UK and abroad.

    Karate has given me the opportunity to travel the world, making many friends on the way. I have competed at Kata in many places winning several trophies, but by far to be able to compete in Japan had to be the pinnacle. I intend to practice and teach authentic Wado-Ryu Karate to the best of my ability for as long as I can. Asked if I have any ambitions, I would like to teach a young child who was totally blind to Black Belt standard by the time they were an adult.


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