OF WADO RYU KARATE IN IRELAND
Wado ryu (ryu means style) Karate was established in Ireland by Prof. T Suzuki on the 4th March 1967. I was fortunate enough to be part of this first group, as for the first 2 years we had quite a number of first class Japanese instructors teaching regularly. Some of these instructors returned to Japan while others established themselves in other countries around Europe.
These instructors included Sensei's Fuji, Shomitsu, Hikakawa, Sakagami and last but not least, S Suzuki. At this time Jim Prichard from Belfast was resident instructor.
When Jim returned to the North S Suzuki, or better known as Peter, took up residence. When our school moved from Westmoreland St. to the Teachers Club, Parnell St, Peter and myself started to open more schools around Ireland. We opened one in Rathfarnham, one in Dundalk and one in Drogheda.
At this time the A.I.K.W. was established.
Peter wanted to expand even further. By this time he had also recruited Michael Guilfoyle, Jim McDonald and Niall Sweeney as instructors but he decided to bring over another Japanese instructor Mr. Iwasaki, a fellow Nichi Dai student. George Canning was Secretary of the Federation at this time and assisted in instructing sometimes.
Unfortunately, politics started to raise its ugly head and George left to form his own group.
Around this time we changed our name to A.I.K.W. Kai (organization) replacing the word Ryu (style).
Anyway, Sensei Iwasaki was sent to Cork to establish schools in Munster. There he managed to establish a Limerick and Shannon branch. Niall Sweeney moved to Offaly and started schools in Birr and Tullamore. I opened the Aer Lingus school.
At this time Karate was so popular that even when we held the All Ireland Junior (grade) competition we could fill the National Boxing Stadium.
In the early 1970's Peter Suzuki moved to Germany and left Mr. Iwasaki in charge here.
He, with the help of John Shires and Jimmy Hughes, opened schools in Newry, Dungannon and Omagh.
Also, a group of clubs broke from Mr. Olivier Brunton and joined our federation. They were John Higgins and Michael Cole from Queens Uni. and Bobby Hamilton from Newtownards.
In 1981 there was a developement in Wado Kai in Japan, which effected us here. Sensei Ohtsuka and the Japan Wado Kai split up. As far as I can assertain we sided with Sensei Ohtsuka.
In 1990 there was a split in England, which also affected us. Sensei Suzuki formed his own federation, Wado International. Mr Iwasaki and Mr. Shomitsu formed a closer association with Sensei Ohtsuka's son Jiro and the Wado Academy was founded.
Mr Iwasaki insisted on us joining the Academy, which the rest of the clubs did not agree with.
So, after quite a heated debate with him, we decided to contact Wado Kai Japan to seek direct membership with them. We achieved this and in doing so became the first country not having a Japanese instructor to receive full recognition. The situation, with three different federations to choose from left some of our groups an opportunity to follow their own agenda.
This split our federation further with some joining Suzuki's group and Mr. Iwasaki staying on his own. By now Paul Sweeney had replaced Jimmy Hughes as instructor in Omagh and Annalong and Jackie Donnaghy replacing John Shires in Newry and Bessbrook.
Kevin Harmon moved to Ireland from England and opened three clubs in the Midlands,Cavan, Virginia and Oldtown. Graham McCloud and Howard Vincent brought Shannon back on board after a long absence and I opened the Limerick University school with the help of Tom Chambers.
In 1996 Olivier Carolan opened his Senchestown School and Philip Smith, who had been part of several different federations, joined us, opened two clubs and after a number of yearsdecided to leave again.
Unfortunately in 1997 serious differences in which way the organization should be run arose, which caused a further split.
Michael Guilfoyle with his Dunlaoire School and Philip Nulty, in charge of the Drougheda School, together with Jim Booth one time federation Sec' and Chairman formed their own branch.
Finally, after 3 years this situation has been resolved and together with Siobhan Lackey's Ophir group of six Schools and Jim Green's Derry School we now stand as one of the largest and strongest organizations in the country at the moment.
- Derek Desmond