profile - Pete Whitney 7th Dan
I started training in 1966 when karate in England was in it's infancy. A Kenpo instructor called Tommy Jordan came over from Ireland to do an instructional course at Swindon College, and started a small Kenpo class. Initially we trained in a small car park back of a pub, but then moved to a Council Community Centre.
After Mr Jordan returned to Ireland, he sent another instructor over, Brendan Walsh to continue with the club. After a couple of years Mr Walsh got homesick and returned to Ireland leaving the club to myself and 3 other instructors, all of us 1st kyus.
It was around then that we were invited to a competition by Sensei Spanton in nearby Cheltenham. This resulted in my friendship with, and respect for Sensei Spanton which I have valued ever since. As we were in limbo and having to travel to Ireland for further grades and instruction, when Sensei Spanton invited us, because of our situation, to join him, we did so. The change to the precise and clean technique of Wado-ryu was very strange after more than 6 years of 'kill or be killed' ethos of Kenpo street-fighting. However we made it, and in March of 1974 the grading panel of the BKA graded myself, Martin Sleeman and Jeff Fraser to Shodan. That was then our full transition to Wado-ryu and HKK.
Eventually Martin and Jeff stop training and now I'm ably assisted by Phil Bentley 5th dan and Mark Martin 4th dan.
In our early years I loved competition and was only beaten twice. I stopped aged 40 to concentrate on refereeing. I loved it all and still do, having travelled to many places and participate in many courses.
Now aged 70 and a 7th dan I'm trying to slow down a little, though this is proving very difficult!
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