Ken Hoult - Four and a half decades of training, teaching and competing in Martial Arts.
Ken Hoult - Legacy:
Senior Kung Fu and Kickboxing Instructor Ken Hoult reveals the history of his lifetime of service in the Dudley martial arts industry.
Over the course of 45 years Ken has been respected widely in the West Midlands for his no- nonsense teaching style which has seen many of his students become regional and national champions in their own right, with Ken reflecting on his own achievements.
Founder of the Dudley Martial Arts Centre and now director of Saracens Martial Arts in Dudley Ken’s tale of perseverance and dedication to kung fu and kickboxing is a raw history of the evolution of martial arts today.
Locally, you will be hard-pressed to find an instructor who has been in the industry as many years as Ken Hoult and in collaboration with other martial arts instructors Saracens Martial Arts Dudley is thriving and leading the way in re-igniting the spirit of martial arts.
As Ken says: ‘It is not what you learn but how you learn it that counts.’
With quality instruction, a hard working attitude and dedication students can achieve their full potential. Too much emphasis these days is on technology and many children are not being encouraged to participate in learning fundamental self defence principles. I hope that in sharing my history today’s generation of up and coming martial artists are encouraged to work hard and follow in my footsteps learning traditional kung fu and Chinese kickboxing which first developed in the 70’s.
Where it all began:
It is 1966, England had just won the World Cup, most people owned a black and white TV and we didn’t have video players yet! During this year I began training in Judo and some Boxing. Within the next four years I delved into Karate classes. I was young and excited by the prospect of learning martial arts, I wanted to develop my fitness and learn how to defend myself.
The first Lau Gar Kung fu school opened in Dudley in 1973 and I was one of the first in the queue ready to take up something different. The queue stretched from the top of the stairs at the Hen and Chickens Pub in Dudley (now an amusement arcade) all the way down New Street. The Bruce Lee revolution had begun and the advent of David Carradine in T.V.’s ‘Kung fu’ meat that new students literally fell through the doors at every class. It was a spectacular period of time for martial arts. However, when the new students discovered that it took more than a month of training to execute 6ft high jumps and beat 20 opponents the classes thinned out leaving the dedicated practitioners to perfect their skills.
Martial Arts in Britain was still relatively new in the 70’s. It was unheard of and unlike today where national governing bodies ensure the safety and welfare of students because it was so fresh there was no industry standard and there was no safety equipment involved. The endless sit ups, knuckle and fingertip press ups, bunny-hops, punching and kicking sandbags and tyres soon made me and my training partners fitter and stronger athletes. At that time, instructors were scarce. Henry Chung disappeared, never to be seen again, Steve Chong, moved on to own a restaurant in Tamworth and finally a young Bernard Chong came along and steered the heal of the kung fu school.
Magazines were rare at this time, it is not like today where with the evolution of social media martial arts heroes have a platform which is easily accessible to the masses! I still have a 1968 edition of a certain magazine and our first fighting heroes are featured. Steve Arniel, Ticky Donovan, Andy Sherry, and Japanese sensei’s such as Mr Suzuki, Mr Enoeda and Mr Harada.
The Sparring begins:
After a few months of training hard the day finally arrived when we were allowed to spar! Combat time. At this point the roles were based on the Karate ippon (one point) and Wazari (half a point). There was no pad protection. Headguards weren’t invented yet. You only possessed a box if you played cricket (lucky for me!) We were very crude at first, no ideas, but gradually Dudley Lau Gar club built a team. The first tournaments we entered were karate. Competitions which confused us slightly due to the Japanese terminology. In my first fight, which I think was in Coventry, I was really impressed when my right uppercut landed on my 6ft 3in opponent (I am only 5ft 6in and at the time weighed in at 9st 12lb) seemed to award me my first ever competition point, award me my first ever competition point, unfortunately Sensei Takamizawa was disqualifying me for excessive force.
TO BE CONTINUED…