A YORK karate champion returned to the Clifton school of his youth for a special evening’s training, writes Matthew Naylor.

Having plied his trade in Japan for the past two decades, Richard Heselton reunited with his former training dojo at Canon Lee School to pass on his expertise to the next generation of York martial artists.

Ian Tate, trainer at the York Kenshinkan Karate Club, hailed the coaching skills of the Whitby-born fighter, whose name alone was enough to draw an enthusiastic crowd to Clifton.

“It was a fantastic evening,” said Tate.

“We had people coming from all over the country; Richard is that renowned from his work in Japan.”

Plucky Heselton moved to Tokyo as a teenager and landed on his feet with four years of experience and coaching at the world famous Takushoku Karate Club, the only westerner to do so.

Having initially done enough to get by in the competitive Asian arenas, Heselton became captain of Takushoku’s karate team as his experience and reputation grew.

He said: “I had initially moved to Japan with enough money to get by for a month or two.

“I certainly never imagined that I would have stayed for 20 years and gone on to have the success that I have.”

Heselton will now return to Takushoku University as a coach but, while back visiting family, he has been doing the rounds at many of his former dojos, including Kenshinkan, to “give back”.

In their teen years, Heselton and Tate trained together in Clifton and the All Japan fighter admitted it was a pleasure to once again train alongside his former sparring partner.

“The evening went really well and the standard at Kenshinkan is still very good,” said Heselton.

“It’s great to be over in England and giving back to the people who helped me get started.

“I come back every year or two and it’s a nice change as the training in Japan is somewhat more intensive, with long hours every day.”

Kenshinkan Karate Club C train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Canon Lee School.

More details are available at their website www.yorkkarateclub.org