The annual events and 40th anniversary celebrations that we had prepared for and anxiously anticipated did not disappoint. The candidates performed valiantly with good skills at the grading. It was great to have the excellent support of the Black Belts, students, friends and families.
Of course there are still lessons to be learnt and we can be better in the future. We are happy to promote the following to:
Mr Keith Van Niekerk - Lower Hutt
Mr Rick Connelly - Lincoln
Mr Tim Kennett - Invercargill
Mr Steven Taylor - Invercargill
Mr Aldous Kelly - Greymouth
Mr James Helem - Greymouth
Mr Blair Andrews - Blenheim
Mr Bevan Wilkinson - Papanui
Mr John Avei - HQ
Ms Suyi Chan - Sydney
Mr Rowan Findlay - Invercargill
Mr David Good - Ponsonby
Mr Philip Marshall - Kelburn
Mr Cody Hopkins - Hornby
Mr Tim Smith - Newmarket
Mr Rob Wilson - HQ
Mr Kin Chan - North Shore
Master Paul Reid - Parklands
Master Bruce Lord - HQ
The celebration dinner was sold out with 155 attending. There was around 200 at the awards at HQ afterwards, with speeches from Masters Lord, Simons, Kinney, Mr Alistair Kidd and myself.
Mr Cody Hopkins was awarded the very special Penelope Lake Trophy for the spirit of training. Mr Bevan Wilkinson was the recipient of the Kidds Cup for the Instructor of the Year. It was a very close decision with a number of instructors who were also very deserving of the award this year.
Masters Mike Kinney, Marcus Simons, Bruce Lord and Mr Barry Thompson were presented awards for their loyal service after decades of dedication to Chans Martial Arts.
We owe many thanks to Mr Alan Logan and his helpers for all the hard work in organising the dinner and awards function.
Many former students took pains to attend the grading and functions. It was really good to catch up with them even though it was very brief at times.
As it is our 40th anniversary it is appropriate to reflect on our history. We have evolved from originally practising Tae Kwon Do to also teaching Shaolin Kung Fu with takedowns and holds incorporated. We then changed to Choi Kwang Do after learning of its bio-mechanically sound methods. From 1985 I was greatly influenced by Prof. Wally Jay’s Jujitsu, CC Wong Laoshi’s Tai Chi Chuan, Master Chai’s Thai Boxing, Sijo Jim DeMile’s Wing Chun Do, Prof. Remy Presas’s stickwork and Dillman’s pressure point techniques. These ideas were incorporated into our curriculum.
In 1995 Prof. Yek’s Tai Chi Chuan training made me see that everything that I used most efficiently in the martial arts followed the Tai Chi Chuan principles. Hence Shao Chi Chuan was conceived as a unique and integral system that aimed to develop seamlessly from the physical to the internal martial arts with Tai Chi Chuan core principles. In Shao Chi Chuan, it is easy for a beginner to learn basic but effective self defence. They also build a sound foundation for the advanced internal techniques in the syllabus. We have solid evidence of students making good progress in this direction in recent years. However, there is more development to look forward to at the higher levels.
Our students have competed very successfully in many national and international open tournaments over the years even though our main aim is to train a complete martial art for self defence, personal development and academic challenge. Now we only retain an annual tournament for the sporting challenge. Students can test their skills and enjoy the challenge of combat sport with rules that are designed to be as safe as possible. As it is only open to our own students, the competition is usually conducted in good spirit.
The other major activities we have adopted for more than three decades are training camps and seminars.
Our camps started with rigorous regimes where students slept in bunk rooms and were rostered to cook meals etc. Sometimes dinner was quite late. We had freezing morning runs and marches, many brutal training sessions, negotiated obstacle courses and practised ‘night combat training.’ We were always very sore by the end of the first day. On the last morning of camp, there were usually lots of groaning when we did our stretching and most will limp off to their vehicles at the end of camp. Still we enjoyed them very much and always came back for more camps which were sometimes held twice a year.
Over the years, we changed the emphasis to a more comfortable regime where everything were geared for more conducive learning of skill and knowledge. Annual camp became the most important time to standardise and introduce new ideas and techniques rather than for toughness and endurance training only. Camps are always fun and very good to catch up with old comrades and compare notes on training.
Over the years I had to conduct seminars to update and inspire the far flung branches and regions of Chans Martial Arts. They are often held in conjunction with gradings. These days Masters Kinney, Simons and Lord as well as other senior instructors also hold seminars as we have grown considerably over the years. We have an annual seminar in Sydney and next year we will have one in Newcastle, UK on top of all the New Zealand seminars.
Prof. Wally Jay, Sifu Jim DeMile, Wong Laoshi, GM Chai Sirisute, Prof. George Dillman, GM Bobby Taboada, Soke Jim Heremia, GM Choi Kwang Jo, Prof. Leon Jay and Prof. Yek Sing Ong were guest teachers at our HQ over the years.
It is good to reminisce where we started training and the various locations after that. I took over the small TKD group at the YMCA in Hereford Street Christchurch in 1975. Master Kinney and Master Simons were among the group of keen students along with Prof. Jason Bates, Prof. John Ralph, Mr Philip Bates, Ms Anna Harris, Dr. Sophia Harris and Mr Cliff Humm. These were the keen and extremely intelligent students who first pushed me to continuously seek for scientific answers in the martial arts.
We soon outgrew the room at the YMCA and moved to Heaton Intermediate School. It was very cold in winter and at times even had fog on the inside. They used to oil the floors regularly and made the following weeks very challenging to train on. Master Kinney started the Hornby branch during this era.
We then leased a small room at the Peterborough Centre to have a full-time school. Classes were split up in ranks and we often had four classes in succession. It was also cold in winter and hot in summer but it was ours to use seven days a week. This was when we set up the West Coast branch at Paroa School just outside Greymouth.
We then moved to an old building at 355 Colombo Street where the South City Mall car-park is today. It was three storey up and again had extremes of temperature. However, it had a bigger training area which we really enjoyed. After a few years we were again forced to move.
With a lot of difficulty we managed to buy the 15 Lawson Street building. It was in very poor repair and needed a great deal of work to make it presentable. Mr Tony Clarkson, Mr Rino Adair, Mr Greg Williams and the Heywood Family helped every weekend for nearly a year. The West Coasters like Mr Rex Scott, Mr Andrew Lyes, Mr Gary Bennett and many others lead by Mr Steve Henery came very often to make the big push with the help of Christchurch students. Mr Chris Holster and Mr Brent Drake were the ones who put in a great deal of time and effort to finish the project off after that. Most will remember that the old 15 Lawson Street was a great HQ with plenty of room for different classes and functions and a massive training area. Unfortunately after 25 years wonderful service the earthquake damaged it beyond reasonable cost to repair.
In the meantime, we have spread our branches far and wide. We range from Auckland to Invercargill. Sydney Australia, Oregon USA and Newcastle UK.
Our current HQ at 340 Wilsons Road North is a strong building which survived the earthquake. It has good parking but is not as spacious as what we have been used to. We will continue to improve it as it has turned out to be quite a good training centre and membership there has been building steadily.
To round up, our training theme for this month is “self defence.” As we break up for the festive season we should therefore think about: 1) house and vehicle security when leaving for vacation 2) careful driving especially on longer journeys 3) water safety if relevant 4) not drinking alcohol in an unsafe environment or with untrustworthy company 5) being extra vigilant in public areas 6) enjoying the festivities without damaging our health 7) stretching and practising a little martial arts.
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year.
May Chi be with you,
Chans Martial Arts