Sunday, 3 July 2016

The following interview will give you an insight into Sensei Dave Sharkey 8th Dan, the 'force' behind the E.K.O.

The following interview will give you an insight into 
Sensei Dave Sharkey 8th Dan, 
the 'force' behind the E.K.O.

Sensei, what made you take up karate ?
DS: It was in 1962 when I saw an advertisement for this, what was then, mystical art called 'karate', I decided to try it and I've never looked back since ! The style practiced was Shotokai and we had several courses under Sensei Harada in those early years. Then around 1965 I changed over to Wado Ryu because it became much easier to get Japanese instruction, there was a sudden influx of Japanese Sensei's from this style around that time and I remember how I used to chase up and down the country following them as they travelled from club to club.
There were very few dojo's in the Midlands - or anywhere else for that matter ! - in those days and everyone used to help each other out with invitations to train. Through that happening, I found myself training in more and more Shotokan dojo's until finally I changed over to that style in 1970.
It is the Shotokan style I've followed ever since, though I wouldn't describe myself as blinkered, I adopt and use anything I think is worth while from other styles. I think it is important however for everyone to have a strong base of kihon and kata in a recognised style, preserving and passing these basic skills on to students is more important than the passing on of an individual's fighting skills.
Who has influenced you the most in your karate career ?
DS: I am indebted to many Sensei's for my knowledge and development but I hesitate to give a 'list' as I consider it would be wrong for me to name individuals, leaving out someone who has helped me along my path, in even a small way, would be disrespectful to them. Also many factors have influenced my karate apart from the purely physical aspect, for example, I might have seen someone behaving in a particular way at a course, championships or in general life and thought it was a good example to follow, equally others have shown me how not to conduct myself ! Therefore both good and bad things can help us in the development of our karate, because karate is more than just developing our physical actions, it's about developing our whole being. Character and technical knowledge will remain with us when the physical side of our practice is reduced by age or illness, so if the physical is all we have acquired, then eventually we'll have nothing.
What has impressed you most in karate over the years ?
DS: I am impressed by everyone as long as they are trying their best. Even beginners who try really hard to learn, what to them are strange new moves, deserve admiration and respect. Everyone will have different standards but as long as someone is doing their best, really doing their best, then we can ask for no more.
Then what has disillusioned you the most ?
DS: People who enter competitions with the sole aim of 'winning' and simply practice 'scoring' techniques in their training. They should realise that trophies on the shelf measure short term gains, long term success is measured in terms of respect which cannot be competed for, only earned.
Is it difficult living a life totally dedicated to karate ?
DS: Well of course it can be, but you must realise I'm doing what I love. The daily practice, and disciplined life style required may seem so harsh to others, but it is the price I pay to develop myself as a karate-ka.
As you know, life must be a balance. What would you say are your positive and negative sides?
DS: I believe only others can decide what is positive about us, after all self praise means nothing.
But I believe you have supported charities over the years, surely this is positive ?
DS: Hopefully, but no matter what good we do we can always do better.
What do you think is a negative aspect then ?
DS: The fact that I can never sit back and say I'm satisfied.
After more than 50 years training, how are you able to keep yourself motivated ?
DS: You cannot force yourself to be motivated just as you cannot make yourself love a particular type of food, there has to be an internal desire, passion, call it what you will ! I'm very lucky in the fact that through this desire I have inside I enjoy karate as much now as when I first started, perhaps even more ! I never regard my daily training as a chore, to be got out of the way, it's something I want to do and with the endless variety of practice available through kihon, kata and kumite, it's impossible to become tired and fed up. As long as the passion is there, I'll never be bored with karate !
In practical terms, do you think kata has any real value in training ?
DS: Absolutely ! Apart from passing on the history and the technical points of a particular style, much benefit can be gained from them.
In the practical sense, kata applications must be learnt and the more advanced a student becomes the deeper they should search for understanding in this area. Things like head butts, throws and gouging are all contained within the bunkai of the kata ! Yet people who just pass through karate or perhaps don't have a good instructor, see only the superficial impractical blocks and attacks, they then think kata is useless in practical terms. In reality everything is there for the taking, we just need to look for it.
Do you feel you are a master of karate now ?
DS: Absolutely not ! I am just doing my best as a karate-ka to improve all aspects of my art and in turn pass on my knowledge to those who wish to receive it, I am simply a student. I'm bemused at those people who train for a few years, invent new styles and then describe themselves as 'masters', but that's up to them, everyone is free to follow their own path and choose between right and wrong.
Have you ever had to use your knowledge outside the dojo ?
DS: Yes, I use it every day, alertness, discipline, motivation, they all assist us in our everyday lives and applied correctly help us succeed in our desired goals. As I've said, people who simply learn the physical movements are losing out in the long term by not realising their full potential in life, let alone their karate. However, I understand the meaning of your question but see no value in relating particular tales, after all, finding trouble is easy for anyone, avoiding confrontation is the hard part.
Have you suffered many injuries over the years ?
DS: Unfortunately I suppose every 'old school' martial artist has collected their fair share of injuries over the years as it's a by-product of what we do, though as practiced now, karate is a great deal more 'user friendly' than it used to be in the early days.
In my case, apart from the usual broken ribs and fingers, top spot goes to a fractured skull, courtesy of an early Sensei's mawashigeri !
Do you think beginners nowadays have a different attitude to karate ?
DS: In these modern times people are less patient than they used to be and students are all looking for a five minute wonder.
Unfortunately real skill can't be gained overnight and so people must make a choice about what it really is they want to learn.
Do you think it's easier for people to learn karate now than it used to be ?
DS: There are certainly a lot more clubs around now although quantity does not necessarily mean quality ! A student needs to be very careful about which club they join and choose one which is with a major association such as our own English Karate Organisation and where the instructor has recognised coaching qualifications and a good training history.
Tell us about the English Karate Organisation.
DS: As you know, the E.K.O. is a highly respected association which I enjoy running immensely and I think that's the secret of it's success, the fact that I enjoy running it ! I'm very fortunate in that I love the administration side of karate as well as the practical and I believe that too many associations are being run by people who have lost their enthusiasm but nevertheless keep on half heartedly operating and of course the losers are the instructors and clubs who belong to them and think that the high fees they pay and poor service they receive is normal !
At the E.K.O. I am available personally 7 days a week for our members and pride ourselves in clearing all letters and phone calls the same day, this is the service club secretaries and instructors need to ensure their clubs are successful - they get it with us and at low fees!
You also have the European Karate Organisation of course?
DS: Yes, and it's expanding all the time but although it keeps me very busy, as I've said before I'm doing what I love so it's pure pleasure.
Finally, is there any way you'd like yourself to be remembered by the karate fraternity.
DS: I'd just like to be thought of as someone who has always done their best to foster the true ideals of karate-do.
Sensei, thank you most kindly for the interview.
DS: Thank you, I hope my views are a help more

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