OnSaturday, June 19th 2021 Tower Shukokai held a practical test (“Shinza” in Japanese) for two of our most dedicated students. Dr. Richard Swann, a GP from Edgworth has been a stalwart of the club since 2009 and passed the 3 hour test of stamina, skill and mental resolve to earn his kuro obi, or black belt.
15 years old Angus McIver is also from Edgworth, and also has ambitions in a career in medicine. He is already known to your readers as a prolific and successful national and international competitor. He also endured the test and passed earning the coveted black belt.
The examining panel was Andy Allwood, and Martyn Skipper, both 5th dan black belts, and Matthew Rathmill, 3rd dan.
Amongst the other tests, the candidates had to fight each other, and Tower senior black belts Ian Marsden and Katie Keppie.
Tower has continued to train over Zoom throughout the lockdown and now meets again at Edgworth school.
AMA Awards Dinner, Bolholt, Bury 16/11/19
Tower Shukokai Karate Club has been associated with Darwen since 1987. Founded by Andy Allwood the club has developed national and international talent, and continues to offer quality training in the Japanese/ Okinawan traditions of karate to young and old, from their base at Edgworth School.
In 1994 the club affiliated to the Amateur Martial Association (AMA), the largest multi-style martial arts group in the UK. Founded in 1972 the AMA caters for all martial arts, Oriental and Western, offering insurance, tuition, technical support and best practice to over 30 000 members.
On Saturday 16th November the AMA held its inaugural Awards Dinner at the Best Western Bolholt Hotel in Bury. Tower Shukokai’s members were present and amongst those honoured at the black-tie event.
The first awards presented were the long-service certificates. Tower’s Andy Allwood was recognised for 25 years’ membership. As well as the certificate - presented by the AMA’s first President, Kevin Hamilton-Stewart, and its current President, Steve Stavridis – Andy was given a painting, by the club’s Katie Keppie, showing Andy practicing karate in front of the Darwen Jubilee Tower. The painting was presented by Tower Shukokai coach Martyn Skipper, himself a member of the AMA Executive Board. In a brief speech Skipper acknowledged Andy’s dedication to the club and its members, as well as his dedication to his own training – Andy now hold the rank of Godan (5th degree black belt) in the Shukokai style of karate.
At the same ceremony, Skipper was himself given a certificate for 20 years’ service, as well as awards for coaching (he is a member of the AMA National Squad coaching team) and for refereeing.
Tower Shukokai’s club coaches Ian Marsden, 2nd dan, and Katie Keppie, 1st dan, both of Darwen, received awards for their dedication to the running of the club.
Also present at the dinner were Tower’s Matthew Rathmill, 3rd dan, and 14 year-old England junior international Angus McIver.
Although the evening’s celebrations continued into the small hours with dancing and karaoke (another Japanese tradition) many of the revellers were up early the next morning for regional competition squad training session led by AMA Exec members, Christine Pullan, Peter Allen and Martyn Skipper, and Senior National Coach Marc Leacock.
The event is expected to become an annual celebration, with 2020's event already scheduled for November 21st.
Pictured below, L-R: Martyn Skipper, Andy Allwood, Ian Marsden, Katie Keppie.
Announcement 19th June 2019
Unfortunately both the Gasshuku events at Brecon on 26th July and 30th August 2019 have been cancelled.
AMA Nationals 2019
On Sunday March 12th Darwen’s Tower Shukokai Karate Club fielded two novices and one experienced fighter at the AMA National Karate Championships at Bury’s Castle Leisure Centre.
The Amateur Martial Association (AMA) is Britain’s largest martial arts group and the national championships over two days sees competitors from across the UK compete in karate, kickboxing, ju-jutsu and other martial arts disciplines.
Led by coach Martyn Skipper, 7 year old Jacob Savage, 8 year old James Barnett, and Angus McIver, 13, competed in the kumite (fighting) event.
For James and Jacob, this was their first ever tournament. Both competed in the under 9 boys’ event, and diminutive Jacob gave away centimetres, kilos and years to most of the field. Jacob however is a spirited competitor and despite his admitted nerves, came out aggressively. His was the first fight of the afternoon and he took the match to his opponent, scoring with a series of kicks. James stepped up next and his calm, unruffled attitude saw him beat his opponent, managing the area tactically. Both therefore progressed to the quarter finals where Jacob was eliminated, but James won through to the semis. James was defeated at this stage, earning a bronze medal in his first outing. Jacob could not hide his disappointment but vowed to try again at future tournaments. The under 9 event was ultimately won by Kieron Leano of Prestwich, already a seasoned international competitor at such a young age.
Tower’s own seasoned international competitor is Angus McIver from Edgworth. Angus has recently taken up judo too and is proving an accomplished all-round martial artist. He competed in the last event of the weekend, the boys’ 13-14 years kumite (fighting). At his level the standard of competition is very high. Nevertheless Angus won two fights and brought home a second bronze for Tower Shukokai.
Coach Martyn praised all three for their dedication to training and their excellent sporting spirit on the day. All three boys look forward to their next competitive outing.
Photo L-R: Jacob, Martyn, Angus, James
04/05/19 Boxing for Cancer Research
Coach Martyn Skipper is in training for a boxing match at the prestigious Bowlers Exhibition Centre on June 15th. A newcomer to the sport, Skipper, who will be 56 on fight day, has had to change his fighting style and is undergoing 8 weeks of intensive coaching for the three-round event.
Training is twice weekly at Fast Gym in Salford, plus additional traing at home.
"I'm doing 6-7 days per week including sparring with the guys at "Daikento Shukokai" who are giving me a real workout. The team at Fast Gym, Darren & Brian, are excellent coaches and motivators" he said.
Martyn has given up alcohol completely for 8 weeks and is raising money for Cancer Research UK in memory of his mother, who died from pancreatic cancer, and his father who had been a professional boxer.
Martyn, along with AMA referees Steve Stavridis and Matthew Rathmill officiated at the annual "Roses" karate tournament between York and Lancaster Universities at York. On this occasion the honours were even in the karate, but York won the overall event.
Martyn was part a group led by John Burke Renshi that travelled to Japan and Okinawa to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Funakoshi Gichin, the founder of the Shotokan and the man widely credited for disseminating Okinawan karate through Japan, and thence to the rest of the world. The trip encompassed training at the Okinawan Prefectural Budokan, the Kaikan, and the dojo of 10th dan Hokama Tetsuhiro. Sightseeing took in the graves and memorials of many of the great karate masters, including the monument to Funakoshi at the Kamakura Temple.
Martyn and Imogen attended the HDKI National Championships in Dudley; Martyn as Chief Official of Tatami 1 and Imogen as competitor representing Lancaster University Karate Club, under her coach Andrea Carbon. Imogen won her individual event, the senior women's kumite, and was selected to represent England in a challenge team match against Ireland. Imogen won her bout and England won the match overall. Imogen's performance meant she narrowly missed out on the "fighter of the day" trophy.
Martyn and Ian attended a 6 hour seminar with JKF Gojukai/ Seiwakai 7th dan Paul Coleman. Hosted at Bob Davies (6th dan)'s dojo in Wirrall, the course covered kumite tactics and strategies and Goju kata Sanchin, Gekisai Ichi & Ni,and Saifa.
Martyn attended a seminar with WTKO Head Richard Amos 7th dan at Colin Needham's Red Sun dojo
Imogen Skipper represented Lancaster University in the annual Roses Tournament against rivals York. Fighting in the individual kumite and team kumite events she won all her bouts and took two golds. Lancaster also won the overall trophy.
Ian Marsden, 2nd dan took-and passed- 2nd dan Goju Ryu under Tony Christian, 9th dan. he is pictured receiving his certificate from Amanda Winstanley, 7th dan
Martyn taught a seminar in Cardiff for students of Martyn Harris Karate Academy. Course content included kumite strategies and tactics
Tower Shukokai played host to AMA Vice President, Peter Allen 7th dan. Ian Marsden, 2nd dan, took his Practical Coaching Test and Martyn Skipper, 5th dan, tested for Coaching Assessor. Both men passed and Ian was complimented for his technical performance of kihon waza. Update 22/2/18: Ian Marsden is now an officially registered AMA Instructor, having completed all the necessary training, documentation and examinations. Congratulations, Ian.
WUKF has revised competition rules. You can view the latest revision via the link on the Coaching Page The major change to be aware of is that the penalties have been redefined. Illegal techniques will be penalised with "Atenai" as before. The referee sign for Atenai is still the fist behind thje palm. A third Atenai penalty will result in Hansoku (disqualification). All other infringements (illegal behaviour) will accrue a new penalty of "Kinshi". The previous penalties of Mubobi and Jogai will now be classified as Kinshi. Four instances of Kinshi will lead to Hansoku. The referee signal for Kinshi is the forefinger at 60 degrees - the signal previously used for Mubobi.
These penalties only apply to Shobu Sanbon & Shobu Nihon. Shobu Ippon content remains as before.
Coaches can also be awarded Kinshi but only three offences will result in Hansoku.
Matt and Phil attended seminars with John Burke and Simon Oliver at the Kaizen Expo in Nottingham. See photos here
Meanwhile on the same morning the rest of the class celebrated international karate day with a performance of kata. The juniors managed 22 kata in one class. The seniors completed 100 performances of Saifa kata.
In recognition of his 40 years of karate training Martyn held a celebration training session at the AMA Honbu in Bury. Amongst the guests were:Marc Leacock, 7th dan BSKI; Simon Ford-Powell, 7th dan Jiu-Jitsu; Steve Merrett multiple dan grade in oriental martial arts; Colin Needham 5th dan WTKO and of course Andy Allwood Sensei, 5th dan, and members of Tower SKC. Over 30 guests joined him for a curry in the evening. Martyn was presented with a new silk belt and other gifts by his friends
Martyn, with Simon Ford-Powell, left and Steve Merrett, right
On the weekend of 20th November, the first named storm of the season, Angus, wreaked havoc as it tore through much of the South of England.
Further north, in Sheffield another Angus was tearing through the opposition in the last major karate tournament of the year.
The United World Karate English Championships were held at the Ponds Forge international Sports Centre, hosting competitors from all over England, plus a 30-strong invited contingent from Karate Wales.
Ten year old Angus McIver of Edgworth Primary school represented the Amateur Martial Association (AMA) and Tower Shukokai in the under 145cm boys Kumite (sparring) event. Although still only a purple belt, the category was an open grade contest, so many of Angus’ opponents were of black and brown belt grade. Showing his typical unflappable demeanour, Angus was not to be fazed by his more experienced opposition.
Coached by Tower’s Martyn Skipper, Angus found himself in a draw of almost 30 English and Welsh foes. In his first bout, Angus took first blood with an early score but allowed his opponent to take him to a draw. The drawn bout needed to be decided by “encho sen” or sudden death score and cool Angus maintained his composure to win through to the last 16.
Wins in the second and third rounds saw him through to the semi-final. His opponent was Leo Rumalean of English United Karate Federation (EUKF). Typically, Angus scored first but two fast head kicks from the Londoner saw the end to any further progress. In an exciting final, Rumalean lost to his team-mate Joseph Watts.
Nevertheless, Angus’ Bronze medal in a major national championships is something he can be proud of.
For ten year old Angus McIver, winning is becoming a habit. Angus trains at Tower Shukokai Karate Club under Martyn Skipper and Andy Allwood. On Sunday October 2nd, he travelled to the new Oldham Sports Centre to compete in the BSKI/JSKA Open Championships. Fighting in the Under 4'10" coloured belt kumite (sparring) category, Angus won through three rounds to take the gold medal. This was his third medal in three tournaments since September. As coach Martyn Skipper was refereeing on an adjacent mat, Angus's matside coach was Tower Shukokai's 3rd dan black belt instructor Matt Rathmill. Matt described Angus' performance as "Impressive" citing the lad's hand speed, but also remarking upon his cool, unruffled approach. Rathmill also praised Angus' ability to respond to advice. "Most fighters go deaf on the mat", joked Rathmill "But Angus not only listens to instruction, but responds too". As Matt is himself a seasoned competitor, his advice is always well-informed.
Angus' proud mum Kathy praised the coaching team for their support in Angus' burgeoning caree.
Angus McIver is the rising star of Tower Shukokai Karate Club. 10 year old Angus of Edgworth attends Turton and Edgworth Primary School in the village. The school is also home to his karate club. On Sunday 11th September he attended the Amateur Martial Association (AMA) North West Open Championships in Bury. Normally competing with boys of his age, and under 140cm tall, Angus faced some tough competition in a category with boys under 150cm, and up to 13 years old. Clever on his feet, and fast with his hands, young Angus out-manoevred the opposition to take bronze medal in this category. A week later, he travelled to Sheffield for the Federation of English Karate Organisations (FEKO) National Championships at the world-famous Ponds Forge Centre, home to many national and international tournaments. Again Angus battled through to the Semi-Finals of the boys' kumite (sparring) event and took bronze. Coach, Martyn Skipper observed; "Angus' karate continues to improve. As he matures he will meet taller and stronger opposition, but he seems to show no fear, and remains cool against the toughest opponents." Karate will be included in the Olympic programme in Tokyo in 2020, but by then Angus will still only be 14. Should the sport be carried over to 2024 Angus will be the perfect age, and should have the Olympics in his sights. Tower Shukokai meets on Saturdays and Wednesdays at Edgworth School. For more details see Tower Shukokai Karate Club.