30 years ago (aged 18) I walked into a Martial arts Class called Sakiado in Sutton Coldfield – together with three friends we attended the ‘trial lesson’ and were immediately hooked. In those early years we would finish our training (4 times a week) and then go back to my house where we had a punch bag and other equipment and continue well into the night. At this young and eager age – the bruises would be of no consequence and the hour’s hard training would have no effect on our young fit bodies and we would be ready to train again the following night.
To say we loved it was an understatement!
At around the Red Belt Stage in my Martial arts Journey - my life took a different direction and I started a sales job in London, fortunately there were a few Sakiado clubs in London. It meant I could continue to train and eventually attaining my Black Belt after 5 years regular training.
Shortly after this I opened 3 clubs in the North London area. These clubs did well and I enjoyed my time teaching – however after just a couple of years coaching I had to quench my growing thirst for adventure, passed my clubs onto another Black Belt and set off on a world trip that took me working and traveling overseas for almost three years.
On my return in early 1994 I was left with a big decision – go back into retail (I was a sales person in London and Sydney for the NEW must have accessory for the wealthy – a mobile phone!) or go back into what I truly had a passion for – Martial Arts.
Brownhills, Lichfield, Pelsall, Cannock, 2 clubs in Wolverhampton and 2 clubs in Walsall.
(check out the old flyer we used back then!)
I had done the leg work (20,000 leaflets to be precise) and was pleased when all clubs opened to good attendance – These clubs continued for many years, during this time we opened another club in the summer of 1996 - Arthur Terry School in Four Oaks – This was one of those venues where immediately the vibe was good, the energy was right and with the help of enthusiastic members such as Steve Pride amongst others - the club soon became a flag ship for the association.
Arthur Terry became the home of the Black Belt Grading and high level training took place on regular nights. A few years later and approaching 1999 (5 years since we opened the first clubs in the Midlands) I had many students at a high Grade level – Including Richard Barrett, Chris Whiting and Steve Pride and one young lad by the name of Paul Taylor preparing for Black Belt.
A rift had been developing with myself and the Chief Instructor of Sakiado over the years and when he failed Paul at his Black Belt (a decision that looks comical now given that Paul went on to fight in the octagon and the UFC) I knew then it was time to go alone.
Members like Steve Pride gave me the encouragement and support to peruse the dream and continue training / coaching – but this time with an open mind and no more politics!
With the help of a similar minded group with a true pioneer of Martial Arts at their core – Soke Brian Dossett and Spirit Combat, we added to the striking style we had with a Jujitsu element this enriched the syllabus and developed into what we now know as Chongshindo – way of the Spirit.
Chongshindo went from strength to strength growing in numbers – show casing at the European’s Largest Martial Arts Exhibition (SENI) for 4 years / running ‘Fight Night’ shows and developing many great fighters (in kickboxing and Combat Jiu-Jitsu) plus continued development of our syllabus helped promote Chongshindo as a modern Martial Art taught in a traditional way –
A true ‘Mixed Martial art’ moving with the times.
Getting Married in 2000 and having our first child in 2001 (then two more kids within 3 years) – I realised that these additional ‘spinning plates’ demanded more time and attention – It became too much for me to continue running all 8 clubs along with everything else. Especially when at this time I opened martialartshop.co.uk – although a small business at the time – it continued to grow (and still is to this day) – the demands were too great and a few clubs were passed onto other Instructors, Paul Taylor took over Bloxwich, Dave Onions took over Wolverhampton, Gary Taylor joined us from Sakiado (also experiencing problems with the politics of the association) and he took over the Walsall venue and Steve Stepped in to help Plantsbrook.
During these busy times Paul Taylor was becoming a big name in fight circles, Steve Pride was developing as the BKBU top referee and Gary Taylor was taking his BJJ skills to Europe and getting Gold and developing Combat Jiu-Jitsu.
We were putting on great ‘Fight Night’ shows and developing some excellent kickboxing Champions
So many great Members came through that door – So many great memories - Thank you all
Many made it to Black Belt – Respect to you all – Especially those still coaching with us today.
Special mentions to the Arthur Terry Black Belts that helped me over the years keeping the club alive and thriving.
Steve Pride, Ian Maye, Neil Alcock, Richard Russell – still coaching till this day
and previously Jim Lloyd, James Eccles and many others helped –
sorry if you’re not mentioned. Not Forgotten!
Annual Charity Events raised £1000's
News Paper Articles over the years
the Four Oaks are WILL continue thanks to the help, enthusiasm and commitment of Senseis’ Steve Pride and Neil Alcock
Steve Pride has opened TWO venues in this are - detail as follows
Tuesdays - 7.00 - 8.30pm
Moor Hall Primary School,
Thursdays Kids 6.00pm till 7.00pmm
Adults 7.00 - till 8.30pm
All Saints Church Hall (Behind the church)
A New Era For Me
This will leave me WITHOUT a club for the first time in aprox 24 years – it will feel strange not going to AT every Tues & Thurs – However this will allow me to visit the various clubs and help out with Instruction where needed.
Gradings and Competitions are planned throughout the year - I look forward to seeing at the clubs
Master Martin Blakeway