On 15 July 1993 the CKA, then known as Amersham & Chesham Shotokan Karate Club, first opened its doors as an independent karate club. Our head instructor Sensei Ashley Croft, then a Nidan, and Pat McAulife decided to leave the Katsu Academy.
This was done for a number of reasons; so that the club could be managed in ways that are most appropriate for the needs of our students, so gradings could be held within the club rather than travelling to Leighton Buzzard and we joined the Amateur Martial Association (AMA) which gave us access to external courses the AMA organise.
I am glad to say that a number of the first students in the CKA are names you will know today. Sensei Erin Thwaites and Sensei Brian Warner continue to take the club to new strengths. They were joined with Sensei Craig Jones and Sensei Robin Thwaites who were both key figures in my early training and are still part of the association.
Erin Thwaites, Craig Jones, Brain Warner, Robin Thwaites
Mr Jones was the first student to attain Shodan in the newly formed club and later went on to reach Godan. Sensei Warner was 11 when he started, went on to achieve Shodan then after a break for university came back and rose to his current level of Yondan. Mrs Thwaites is now a Godan after many years of training and service to the club.
Much has changed over the years but many things have stayed the same. We continue to have a strong link with Professor Rick Clark who we host every year. The late Sensei Flavell and his assistant chief instructor Archie Fieldhouse were first hosted in December 1994 and returned for nearly ten years.
The first issue of The Lion was in September 1993. It was initially sold for 30p a copy but from issue 2 the quarterly newsletter has been free ever since.
I am sure that there are students currently at a kyu grade that will in the future go on to run their own dojos and take the club forward even beyond my own time in the association. This is a good thing that speaks volumes about the high quality of training and open nurturing environment we aim to provide.
The CKA has always encouraged students to do external courses, to cross train and more importantly to bring back and share that knowledge with the rest of the club. The club was founded to get away from petty politics to create an environment of learning, enjoyment and hard work which I am proud to be a part of.
Here is to another twenty years of growth, sweat and friendship.