History of the Club

Black-Belt-GradingRoffey Karate Club under the direction of Sensei* Phil Smith (*translated as ‘Instructor’), teaches the WADO RYU style of Japanese Karate. This style is lighter than most and incorporates evasive and sweeping movements in defence which means it is very suitable for student of all ages and sizes. The founder Hironori Ohtsuka trained originally in Ju Jitsu so there is evidence of that in Wado Ryu karate.

Master Ohtsuka

Master Ohtsuka

Master Hironori Ohtsuka born in Japan 1892, the founder of the Wado-Ryu style of Karate. “the difference between the possible and the impossible is one’s will,” Professor Ohtsuka’s style of Karate Wado-Ryu is an excellent style to study, especially if starting later in life. A focus on minimising wasted effort and maximising use of hip twist, enable much power and speed to be generated even when one’s body is slowing through age.


Sensei Phil Smith

It has been stated that Professor Ohtsuka was in his physical and mental prime from his early fifties to his late sixties. There are many Adult students and Instructors who have come to realise that this is a fact and that technique and practice means that age ceases to become any sort of hindrance or drawback. Sensei Phil was a late starter in Karate starting in June 1986 at the age of 35.

At first it was an often thought about replacement for a waning football career. However I had no idea how training in the Martial Arts would impact on my whole life. I have been fortunate enough to see that same impact manifest itself in the many people, both young and old, who have trained at our club. The progress that some of the younger students make is about the most gratifying reward possible. The growth in confidence and self esteem of all ages of students is clear to see. The focus and discipline in Karate has always helped me with my ability to concentrate and from feedback from parents the same has happened to many of the children.

Chronologically my career in Wado Ryu karate is as follows; * 1st Dan 1991 under Sensei Mick Rapley (SEKA) * 2nd Dan 1997 under Shihan Geoff Whitehead * 3rd Dan 2000 under Sensei Paul Elliott. * 4th Dan July 30th 2004 Sensei Paul Elliott I have also studied WUDANG style Tai Chi Chuan with Peter Ballam who is an Instructor with Dan Docherty’s practical Tai Chi Chuan group. Firstly in 1991-2 then again from early 2004 continuing now.

I also trained for 20 months in Wing Chun Kung Fu, with Sensei Gary Hawes, under Sifu Bill Bostock as part of Master Kevin Chan’s KAMON Wing Chun Association, reaching the third grade level ( Red 1). This spread of training has helped me to understand the links between Martial Arts and has benefitted my ability to teach. I am a qualified Personal Protection / Safety Instructor with the British Self Defence Governing Body, having undertaken their Advanced Certificate. I am qualified to deliver courses in Personal Protection, Personal Safety, Management of Confrontation, handling Violence and Aggression at work and the aspects of Law and Legislation relating to these areas.

I am also a qualified practitioner in REIKI. REIKI is a healing practice which focuses on the use of energy to help with the healing process, whether specific or non- specific. It can be used as for self healing or to help others..The energy can be likened to CHI (Chinese ) or KI ( Japanese ) and that is what your Martial Arts training is also seeking to use. It can be closely linked to the practice of CHI KUNG and TAI CHI. I practice the BA DUA JIN ( 8 Reels of silk Brocade) CHI KUNG whenever I can. Training in these arts has helped me immensely in understanding how to relax, both in my technique, and in my life, dramatically improving my response times and reflexes in many situations. Making full use of my energy in all aspects of my practice has also helped me understand the use of closer range techniques. I hope I am able to pass on some of the benefits of this training to the students at Roffey Karate club. Personally the impact of Karate-do on my life and career cannot be measured, but I have come to appreciate the true essence of Karate-do, as a ‘Way of Life’.

I cannot overstate the impact correct training in the Martial Arts can have on one’s physical and mental well-being. As many do I have had to deal with some significant life-events and I am convinced that my Martial Arts training was the vehicle, which enabled me to, not only deal with the rigours which life deals us but to develop because of them. As an instructor with my own students I am learning much about myself and the benefits of Martial Arts Training. I have training and teaching with me are many Dan Grades, who have grown and progressed with Roffey Karate. They all have the progress of others at heart and contribute an immense amount to Roffey Karate.  Sensei Colin Jackson 4th Dan and Sensei Gregg Sandford  3rd Dan are key to the success our students achieve. Their assistance in the classes brings a welcome depth to our ability and to the enjoyment our students get.

The growth in the strength, balance and ability of my students is often inspirational. The progress they make in their characters and personalities has been noticeable to parents. This drives me to continue to strive for that development within myself. But probably one of the most significant aspects of training and teaching at Roffey Karate club is how much fun it is and how many friends you make. The enthusiasm shown by our students at all ages is a truly gratifying experience. There is, in the club, a sense of companionship that I have never seen in Martial Arts, which can be a solitary experience. Not at Roffey we are a club and the students and Instructors work with each other and for each other. There is no ego in any member, everyone is respected at every level. It makes me and the Instructors very proud to be a part of it.

Growth mentally is as vital and the discipline Karate-do brings, along with the vitality it creates, has helped my desire to advance in all aspects of my life. Master Funakoshi who, taught the founder of Wado Ryu karate for a while said ‘ life through Karate-do is life itself, public and private’ (Karate-do Kyohan. Gichin Funakoshi Ward Lock Limited 1972). But one of the most significant phrases I have ever heard came fron the Founder of Wado Ryu karate  Professor Hironori Ohtsuka Meijin and it is that phase that forms Roffey karate Club’s view of itself. “The difference between the possible and the impossible is one’s will”.  When you have a moment give it some thought in relation to your life.