Doug Gerrard - East Midlands Area Instructor
5th Dan & Chairperson of the Association.I started Practicing Kung Fu in 1973 with a group in Leicester where free sparring was the fruit of the day with this and some fixed defensive sets that had to be practised for speed.
Four years later in 1977 there was a Karate group that had just started to advertise in the area, the group practiced Shoto Kai karate. I believed it to be more in line with the what I thought martial arts should be so I started practicing with them. We practiced Kata with flowing movements and all students worked on harmonisation with each other. We also practiced timing techniques with Bokken to enhance the timing aspects.
Our group went on many courses under the instruction of Sensei Harada at various places throughout England but unfortunately, the Shoto Kai association started to expect our small group to make larger commitments to the associations, this we could not do so sadly we decided that we could no longer practise with them and in 1980 our group moved from Shoto Kai to the Amateur Karate Association (AKA).
The AKA was an umbrella of different styles of martial arts such as Shoto Kan karate and Tae kwon Do. We continued to practice as we had practiced under the Shoto Kai banner and some of the groups within the AKA, including ours, would get together and practice the different styles. We used to travel to weekend courses where we Learnt knockdown fighting techniques and went into competitions locally and nationally. In the same year I became a life member of BUDO of GREAT BRITAIN.
In 1982 I was awarded 1st Dan with AKA, the grading was based on our own style of martial arts and we were graded by senior grades of different styles. Also in 1982 after getting my black belt I decided to start to practice Kendo so that I could begin to understand the use of the Bokken and Shinai that I first used in Shoto Kai. I found a group locally that was affiliated to British Kendo Association and joined them while still practicing the Karate. We also entered competitions in order to practice the various cutting techniques and defences.
In 1982 our karate group heard of the newly formed Shoto Ryu Karate Kai whose Chief Instructor was Sensei Vivian Nash. We new of him from the Shoto Kai days so we asked him to come to Leicester and demonstrate the style to us and in 1983 our group decided to start practising with Shoto Ryu Karate under the instruction of Sensei Vivian Nash.
Shoto Ryu was initially based on the Shoto Kai teachings of Sensei Harada. The style went through some changes and ended moving away a little from the path of Shoto Kai into its own unique style. Around 1984 Tai Chi Long Yang was introduced by Sensei Nash, with the view to enhance the Karate style with this Chinese art.
In 1985 I took over the local club as sole instructor. During this time I felt that if I had to teach the students the correct techniques for the style I would make sure that I knew it well and so I attended as many courses and summer camps as I could.
In 1986 I was awarded 2nd Dan with Shoto Ryu Karate. This was a major step for me because up to then I had been in my view a black belt in a different style, now I was a Shoto Ryu black belt!
In 1988 Tai Chi Chen was introduced to Shoto Ryu. With this technique you could see the connection of the martial art that is steeped in Tai chi which is why, we as an association started to practice it.
In 1990 I was awarded 3rd Dan with Shoto Ryu Karate. During this time I also decided to investigate the use of CHI or KI and to help with this I decided to start Japanese Shiazu-Do. In 1994 I completed a Shiazu-Do foundation course.
To help with the understanding of Tai Chi I decide to look at other instructors and in 1994 I started to attend courses under the instruction of Chris Pei in London and Nottingham. This was based on the Long Yang form but it showed me a different idea behind Tai chi, how it was used for the health side rather than the martial art side although I was still practising the Chen and the Long Yang introduce by Sensei Nash.
In 1996 I was awarded 4th Dan with Shoto-Ryu Karate and in 2002 after continuing to practice hard I received the award of 5th Dan with Shoto-Ryu Karate.
In 2003 I decided to investigate the practice of Yoga and how the various postures complemented the postures used in Karate, Tai Chi and many warm up exercises that I had seen over the many years of practice. There are various breathing methods that are used in Yoga which are not used for the Tai Chi and the Martial arts and it was interesting to see how these worked.
I've attended all the Shoto Ryu Summer schools except 1983.
Dan Grades Awarded
1982 - 1st Dan with AKA.
1986 – 2nd Dan with Shoto Ryu
1990 – 3rd Dan with Shoto Ryu
1996 – 4th Dan with Shoto Ryu
2002 – 5th Dan with Shoto Ryu