YORK’S involvement in the uptake of karate in the UK will be featured in a television programme on the history of martial arts.
Ian MacLaren, northern region chairman and head of archive and research at the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB), who is based in York, where he works as a civil servant at Imphall Barracks, tells the story of how he got into karate in York in the 1960s.
Mr MacLaren started training in 1964 at the York Shotokan Karate Club, which was the first karate club in York and one of the first in the UK, founded in 1961 by the late Gordon Thompson.
Mr MacLaren, now a fifth Dan, a fifth-level black belt, trained and graded with British Karate Foundation chief instructor, Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa as well as many other famous instructors.
He was a founder member of the KUGB when it was established in 1966, and has since founded other clubs, including the Torashin Karate Club in Huby with Josie Wynn, where he still teaches on Mondays and Thursdays.
Mr MacLaren said: “York was one of six areas in the country where karate was originally founded in the 1950s and 1960s. It grew and grew enormously.”
He said that he told the producers of the programme, called Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: The Rise of Martial Arts in Britain, about the early days of the club and his experiences with the Japanese.
He said: “They profoundly affected our view of things. We started off as students and were fascinated by it. It was a wonderful experience. They seemed almost alien to us because of the different cultural aspect of things and their different viewpoint about physical training. We thought they were extremely harsh, but looking back it was the way to do it.”
He said York is still a centre for karate and home to some very good clubs.
The programme, which will also track the progress of Jujutsu, Judo and Kung Fu will be shown on Sunday at 10am on BBC4.
Do you have memories of York’s Karate scene in the 1950s/60s? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org