ALUN WILLIAMS - Chief Instructor 5th Dan
- 5th Degree Black Belt
- Certified Level 4 Coach (British Ju Jitsu Association)
- First Aider
- AED & Oxygen administration Trained
- Fully CRB Checked
- 25 Years + experience
My training started early in 1985 , aged 18 after being used constantly as a training partner by my brother, Russ, who had been training for approx 6 months at a Goshinkwai Yawara class in Blaenafon. My first impression has stayed with me to this present day:……. As I entered the training hall for the first time, I watched two green belt students perform a series of fast, aggressive defences from attacks that seemed almost certain to cause injury. It was like watching a full-blown, violent street fight, but amazingly, neither student was injured. The experience of watching this controlled ferocity at close quarters was all that was required to give me the training bug, which remains with me to this day! I started training regularly then on with Russ, training at up to 4 sessions a week.
The first club was run by Sensei’s Rob Barber, Dai House and Paul Davies (all shodan). Also, Paul’s uncle Dai Weeks (3rd Dan) and Rob Taylor (Yodan), would also instruct and visit regularly, with Dai usually conducting the gradings.
We were awarded our first grade “6th kyu white belt” on 28th November 1985 and 5th kyu yellow belt on 25th January 1986.
We were awarded our first grade “6th kyu white belt” on 28th November 1985. By the end of 1986, we were training at our regular class twice a week, visiting other clubs in order to train with higher grade students and also had weekly private tuition sessions with Paul in an old scout hall in Brynmawr…..to which I will always be very appreciative of his time and patience.
Following approx 2 years of training we were graded 3rd Kyu (Green Belt) by Dai weeks and our 2nd kyu (Blue belt) shortly followed. At this time, our passion for the training had grown and we requested to Gordon Warfield if we would be able to run our own club as we felt that this would help us progress higher and also that we both enjoyed instructing so much. By running our own club, we hoped to develop stronger technique, having to adapt our normal training to compensate for every build of person.Gordon kindly granted us special dispensation to start our own club at Nantyglo comprehensive school, with Rob Taylor (4th Dan) overseeing us as our senior instructor. Rob graded Russ and I Brown Belt 1st Kyu during 1988
It was at a grading session on 16th April 1989 that we gained our shodan, being graded by Gordon Warfield and two visiting 3rd dan’s, Tony Sugden and John Gamble. Gordon requested that Russ and I present ourselves on the mat and perform for about 30 minutes. This was by no means a prepared presentation, by just some coarse “off-the-cuff” techniques and being brothers, tended to be a bit over the top for aggression and bad timing!
Following our display, Gordon announced that we had just attained our Shodan (1st Dan Black Belt).We were thrilled that our dedicated training over the 4 years had paid off.
A couple of years further on, Russ started to take on new career opportunities, starting his post grad degree in Teaching, and started to ease off his training. I continued to train hard and moved from my home town of Brynmawr to Risca, near Newport.
Fortunately, we lived about five minutes walk from the leisure centre and I started a new Goshinkwai class there in 1991. Over the next several months, the club grew in size and I now had the oportunity to train children as well and seniors
By instructing others and having to adapt the techniques to various sized and capable opponents, our confidence and aptitude developed as we had hoped and our membership started to grow. At this stage we received almost no tuition ourselves, but continued to practice on our own, learning through trial and error much of the time. Something I now consider as an important part of anyone’s personal development
One of the first senior members at Risca, was to become my greatest exponent of student dedication and friend “Oliver (Olly) Pritchard”. In several years of training, I could count the No of sessions he missed with me on one hand - some achievement! His hard efforts have certainly paid dividends, as he now holds the grade of 4th Dan and is still developing, by running his own club with friend and former student of mine, Roysten Jones.
On 13th December 1993 I was awarded my 2nd Dan by John Warfield and it was following this grading that, I was personally invited by him to attend his private Dan grade class - this turned out to be the most influential years of my training career and for which I will be eternally indebted.
This is where my real training started. John offered so many new avenues for me, introducing superior footwork systems, intense grappling technique and overall style. At age 26 year old I was the youngest in the class, the training was very fast, hard and focused and it took me several weeks to adjust to such a way of training. If I could compare the training to what I had been accustomed to, it was like moving to National level compared to County level – some change! Although the training was intense, It was just what I needed in order to progress and I had the good sense to write the technique and principles down, being able then to study them in detail at my own classes, passing on the teachings to my senior students, in order to expand the knowledge and fine-tune their application. I continue to use the same notes today to ensure that I accurately pass down what I was taught to my students and that this style is passed on.
The training would concentrate on various principles, starting initially with footwork, something that John had quoted, as being the most important part of his tuition. I had never really studied footwork patterns and body movement in any detail before and remember finding the patterns difficult to master, something I now don’t even think about during training. The footwork would almost always be followed up with aggressive low kicks to kneecaps, shins, groin etc to disable or offset the opponent’s balance, before moving into the next category, Atemi or striking.
I had performed atemi in my earlier training, mainly punches, chops, palm heels etc, but now I was being made to practice far more complex strikes, having to change hand positions continuously during multiple strikes, and using what seemed unorthodox knuckle, wrist, edge of hand strikes and combinations etc at the time – Something again that comes natural with time and practice. I hardly ever use a punch, concentrating more on palm heel, knuckle, forearm and elbow strikes, which to me are far more versatile and destructive, with the added bonus of not causing harm to yourself - something that you should consider especially as you get older.
Following the atemi, we moved on to grappling or Kumi-Uchi to give it its formal Japanese name. I had previously been taught to just sweep or throw the opponent to the floor to finish or maybe use some very basic grappling, pull downs, pushes etc. Again, more comprehensive technique was introduced, concentrating on focused aggression and power, whilst simultaneously causing pain and injury.
At this stage I could see just how important the previous footwork and atemi study was, as I was now able to move more fluently whilst grappling, which allowed me easier of manipulation of the opponent, together with causing pain and injury from rapid atemi and strong holds etc.
The atemi would concentrate primarily on the head, as this is where the opponent’s balance and senses can be most effectively be broken down. I tell my students that the feeling of having someone bombard you with fast, ferocious atemi and then painful grappling is something I compare as to being on a roller-coaster ride, you simply want to close your eyes and pray for it to be over
I was running 2 clubs at this stage, whilst continuing at the Saturday class and on 7th October 1995 I was awarded my 3rd Dan, something I had worked for with my training partner, Olly for several months previous.
This grading in particular sticks in my mind, mainly due to the fact that I had put so much effort into it and had actually detailed a 26-technique presentation in written format, splitting the grading into
1) Close contact
3) Defence from weapons sections.
I only got through half the presentation, before I was stopped
John awarded me with my Sandan 3rd Dan on 7th October 1995 and Yodan 4th Dan on 30th November 1996.
During 2001, I discussed making a short video of techniques for my classes with a student who was a professional animator and former film maker and artist and who had successfully produced work involving short films, TV and gaming animations, amongst others
We talked about the project and he brought his video camera along to the class one evening to shoot some techniques. The following week he produced footage of the technique cut together from various angles, it look superb to see the technique form a 3D perspective.
More ideas started to roll in regarding special features, formats etc and it wasn’t long before we realised that the best format to capture the varying angles, special features would be DVD.
We had to prepare a trailer for the project and so arranged 2 days filming at the Newport Centre in 2002. This went well and we learned much from the lighting and sound attributes, producing around 2 hrs of edited material.
He could see potential for a new technology i.e A total interactive menu with the student being able to select their own sequences of techniques, and so he proceeded to draft a business proposal for a WDA Research and Development grant and sent the trailer for approval. He then spent almost 3 years in discussions and amendments with them before getting the project finally approved. An initial trailer for the DVD was first filmed over 3 days at the Newport centre, where John Warfield also gave his endorsement by performing with me. The success of which allowed us funds to progress to full scale production.
It was with extreme shock and sadness that I heard the news that John Warfield had passed away on 29th July 2003, almost 10 years to the date that his brother Gordon had died.I had trained under John for 10 years and this personally depicted the end of an era…In my eyes no one could replace him - He would not be forgotton.
I received my 5th Dan on 18th October 2003 at the annual course
During the summer of 2004, several Instructors and myself filmed the………Total Body Defence DVD over 10 days at the Chapter Arts studio’s in Cardiff
Combat Magazine’s Malcolm Martin also attended the media day to interview myself and the camera crew, as well as taking stills of the days filming.
There were 3 extensive articles published in COMBAT, containing the making of the DVD and an interview with myself - see seperate section
I put together 8 techniques on Disc 1, trying to capture more basic technique and advancing through the system to more complex combinations, hoping to capture all ends of the martial arts spectrum. The techniques will be broken down into each individual element and can be selected from up to 5 different camera angles.I have performed them both at slow and full speed. TV Wales and s4c camera crews also attended the media days and extensive footage was shown both on the ITV news (June 15th) and on Welsh day-time show “Prenawn ‘Da” (July 5th)
In June 2006, several senior instructors and I formed the Total Body Defence “Goshinkwai Ju Jitsu” organisation.
The system of Total Body Defence is simply a natural development from what I had been trained in until the death of my instructor as I have always looked to seek out and incorporate elements from other proven and tested systems to further enhance my knowledge.
The organisation has gone from strength to strength since its formation, having trebled in membership and now proudly boasts some 17 Black Belts, including 2 x 5th Dan’s, 1 x 4th Dan and 6 x 3rd Dan’s
We have achieved many things in the last few years but 2010 has been an especially amazing year for me with so much going on with my personal development and the development of the organisation on many levels.
Several things that I personally feel have given me the most satisfaction in 2010 alone includes:
- TBD Professional Stand and Team of 15 students performing 4 displays at Seni 2010, Europe’s largest MA exhibition (Our 2nd Seni to date)
- 30+ seminars conducted in addition to the weekly classes.
- 3 new clubs opened, totalling 8 separate clubs as well as TBD London class progression to a regular class
- Student membership increased by 40%
- 2 Seminars conducted in Italy (as guest to Maul Mornie)
- Three 3rd Dan instructors joined TBD
- Two TBD students, Tony Jewel and Peter Evans achieved their Black Belts on Nov 20th at our Annual open course.
- Organisation awarded over £4,000 in sports lot grants for investment in training equipment to enhance development.
- Further expansion within UK, Europe and beyond including summer camps.
- Utilisation of the wealth of knowledge we already have within the organisation to specialise and develop in areas such as Weapons Defence, Fitness and nutrition and sports therapy
- Production of more DVD’s and publications
- Providing Black Belt level only training to further develop TBD Instructors
- Additional Fitness training to compliment the self defence including Kettle Bell training, boxing drills, yoga
- RED MAN® Pressure Testing seminars
- TBD in Films - I’ve been fortunate to be offered a role in Rob Ho’s independent British film, Vigilante which will be an exciting experience and great to see Goshinkwai formally depicted on screen. http://www.robho.co.uk
Buy the Award Winning DVD here