Dave Hazard Interview Part 1 of 3 – Traditional Karate
Vol 5, Num 12, August 1992


When you think of the Karate man’s Karate man, many different names spring to mind from the wealth of well-known names in the Martial World. But for me, if there is one individual who exemplifies pure technique and fighting spirit it has to be Dave Hazard. I took the opportunity of interviewing this man who has the reputation of always living up to his name.

Dave Hazard, 5th Dan JKA


Right! The most boring question ever, but when, where and how did you start Karate?

DAVE HAZARD: I had been doing Judo when I met someone I knew with his wrist bandaged up. I asked him how he’d done it and he said “Doing Karate”.

There was only one club that I knew of then, a Kyokushinkai dojo in Stratford in the east end of London, but this man said that he went to a club in Blackfriars with Japanese teachers and that conjured up all sorts of magic. He said why don’t I come down there, so I went down that night with close friend and early mentor, Dave Cox.

TK: What year would that have been then?

DH: That’s late 1969! I thought they had landed off the moon – the things they were doing.

TK: What were they doing?

DH: Jodan kekomis, mae-geris, mawashi-geris and take-down combinations, but actually punching people whilst they were still in the air. Now it’s considered the norm because everyone’s seen it. But if you can remember that far back.

TK: No, I can’t.

DH: Not many people ever saw Karate, even Judo. I didn’t know much about Karate. I knew it was kicks and punches and you could imagine someone kicking the shin or the knee, but going there and seeing a man with his foot in someone’s face, totally controlled, with the speed that we judged as being like lightening, you can understand how people thought Karate was something mystical, or that there was magic involved. That was it! We joined that night.

TK: How did you take to it? Because you were a bit of a lad at the time as well, weren’t you?

DH: No, not really, but I loved it. The idea of getting in there and having a scrap and using your feet and everything else was good! This was because I was always told not to kick somebody when they were down. But this was totally encouraging you to kick someone whilst they were on the floor. It appealed to me a great deal!

TK: Who was your main instructor then?

DH: Enoeda Sensei would be there every Thursday and every Tuesday at the Budokwai. When he wasn’t there, then Kato Sensei was. He helped me a great deal with my basics, fundamentals and kicking. When they didn’t teach, then Ray Fuller would.

I’m a great inspirer of Men, Ray, full of character, full of stories. He really got us all going. He told us stories in the pub and you just wanted more. Enoeda Sensei, besides the occasional grin and a clip every now and again, never really got involved with me until 2nd Kyu or 3rd Kyu and then he started to really push me. Enoeda Sensei was like this with all the students of my grade, not just me.

TK: When did your competition career start?

DH: Fairly early really, as a yellow belt, I went into the southern regions and then as a purple belt at the Nationals.

TK: Who were your peers at the time?

DH: In the team we had Jim Wilson, Hugh Achellies, Ray Kerridge and Ray Fuller, this is early 1970. Ray Fuller and Jim Wilson were the seniors and Hugh and Ray Kerridge were my contemporaries.

TK: So you started competing in 1970?

DH: Yes!

TK: So when did you Start winning?

DH: I won the Southern regions a couple of times, the kata, the kumite and the team in one year. I think that might have been 1975. In 1974 I think I just won the kata and was runner up in the kumite, 1973 I was runner up in both events. So it was a steady progression of getting up the ladder. 1976 was the best I ever did at the Nationals, I won the kata and was runner up in the kumite. I think the dates are right but it seems that long ago.

TK: What do you think about competition today?

DH: It’s clever now. I mean back then it was fairly crude, people say it was harder then or it was tougher and rougher. People never really had too much of a club about moving. Basically you bowed, met in the middle and that was it. SMACK!

The people that really got placed in those days were the people that worked out how to move. Like Steve Cattle, he was a real thinker of a man in karate competition. He would manoeuvre people without them even knowing it, or he would make them come to him so he could get a certain technique off.

Billy Higgins was another one, fantastic in strategy. He would get someone to move in a certain way so he could sweep. He was famous for sweep and gyaku-zuki so you knew what to expect and he still got you! He would make you go to a position he wanted. I saw him make some phenomenal points just from being really clever and performing some very good technique.

Terry O’Neill again, you knew he was going to kick you jodan, with a mawashi or an ushiro mawashi or back kick, but you couldn’t do anything about it. He would manoeuvre you and BANG! it was over.

So apart from a few, it was cruder and the type of fighter I was, I had no chance if I was going to sit back waiting for those types to get in there. I had to get in as quick as I could, and with something different. I was not going to rely on a gyaku-zuki against a gyaku-zuki man who was good, and hard with it. Nine times out of ten I was going to come off second best.

TK: You know you were saying, the way you used to fight and move, the techniques you used to do, it’s very like Yahara Sensei. He is very unorthodox, jumping everywhere and didn’t you say Enoeda Sensei avised you to model yourself on his sort of technique because of your similar body type?

DH: That’s right. In the beginning all I wanted to be was Enoeda Sensei; now when you weigh ten and a half stone and you’re 5’8″, you can’t be Enoeda Sensei.

Mind you I don’t care if you’re 6’3″ and fifteen stone, you still can’t be him. There’s me trying to emulate my instructor as we all do, but when you try to do it like him, you end up just bouncing off people and it doesn’t work and Enoeda Sensei used to laugh his head off. He used to say “You can’t do Karate like that. I will teach you your fundamentals, but you have got to go and do what your body will allow you to do!” 

He said to me: “You should really look at someone like Yahara Sensei with your similar height and body type and take things from his stature and body”.

TK: Dave, in competition everybody likes to score with a spectacular technique. We have all done it; where you have taken that risk and we have all heard it – “Why didn’t you do gyaku-zuki? You were a wazari up!”. Was this the case with you? Indeed I imagine you would have liked to play the crowd a little at competitions?

DH: Yes. I would always go for the big score. But in the team you would have to calm it a little because you were working for the group. When I was told at one time not to do what I enjoyed doing, nothing happened, it was the finals of the Nationals in 1976. Nothing happened, nothing worth talking about. I was told, just do this, just do that, really I should have done what I had been doing all day, just go for it! I liked winning that way!

TK: Dave, when did your trip to Japan come about?

DH: Ray Kerridge! If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gone. I would have gone at some time as we always planned to go together and one day, he said: “I’m going!” So I said: “‘Well, right I’m going with you!” It was Because I didn’t want him to go without me and I didn’t want to miss out on it. We’d planned to go a bit later, it might have been one of these things that would never have come off. You know, you always talk about it, so many people talk about it and never do it.

I was put in a corner by Ray, he said “Are you going or not?”, I said “Right let’s do it!”. I sold the car, I sold everything I had, I was still living at home, so there was no problem! had the plane ticket, one night in a hotel and about £50 or £60 and that was it. I told Enoeda Sensei and off I went!

TK: Did Enoeda Sensei help you at all?

DH: He gave me a letter of introduction to the JKA.

TK: So what was it like when you first arrived over there then? Was it what you expected it to be when you first got to Japan?

DH: It wasn’t at all. I had a lot of bubbles burst over there, but a lot of new ones floated into existence which I thought wouldn’t be there.

TK: This was in 1976?

DH: No, 1977. The world Championships were going on that year in Tokyo. I had been fairly successful at the Nationals and been fighting for the KUGB Team then for three or four years. Enoeda Sensei had said. “…when the Team comes over you can join them, it will not be too much of a problem, especially if you are training hard and when you join the Team, we will have a week or two to find out if you will get in the Team…’ which I did!

TK: So when you got there who was the first person you trained with or who was the first person you come into contact with at the JKA?

DH: A gentleman by the name of Tagaki. He was the secretary or senior administrator. I shall never forget being taken aback because he referred to Enoeda Sensei as if he was like a small son. Then I thought this man had seen Enoeda Sensei go through all the stages, just like Enoeda had seen me.

We then got shown around, this is the changing rooms, etc. There were a few classes going on, the atmosphere was electric! Plus all the rumours about the instructors class being called the “Hornet’s Nest”. Also being told when we could train and when we couldn’t train. What we could watch and what couldn’t and there were so many different faces we didn’t know who to bow to and who not to.

So we just used to bow to everyone and hope we had done it right. You soon find out the pecking order! Once we got into the international class.

TK: That’s just for gaijin (foreigners)?

DH: Yes! but some of the Japanese go there, it is during the day, most are working therefore it’s normally foreigners. Once we got in there we knew where we were.

TK: When did it start to get tough?

DH: After three weeks, they invited us into the instructor’s class!

TK: So you were invited into the instructor’s class?

DH: Yes! Ray and myself were invited. An instructor called Kon, he was very senior in Judo, he was also president of some famous newspaper and I had met him before when he came over to England as a guest on Enoeda Sensei’s course. It was all very strange because I only ever saw him at the JKA once, it was that day!

Enoeda Sensei has already said he wouldn’t help us, that we had to let it come the JKA without prompting. Obviously I had spoken to Enoeda Sensei about Training in the Instructors class, he’d said that was impossible. He did say he could try and write letters to try and get me in, but it wouldn’t have been a good move compared to someone inviting us into the class. Then all of a sudden Mr Kon watches the gaijin class then happened to mention to Tagaki Sensei and a few of the other Sensei that he knew us and that we fight for the British team and are Enoeda Sensei’s students and really should be in the instructor’s class. The next day we were invited in and that was it. It was the type of thing that you could say no to, but once you said yes to it you couldn’t get out of it, that was it.

TK: Were any of the other people in the gaijin class invited?

DH: No, the only other foreigner’s in that class were the South Africans when they came over.

TK: What were they like?

DH: Very good! Very good indeed!

TK: Stan Schmidt’s students?

DH: Yes! and Schmidt Sensei, he was very good! He was on par with anyone there, I mean top class. I had met him a few years earlier at Enoeda Sensei’s dojo and that’s a funny Story.

TK: We are in Japan but let’s talk about the first time you met Stan Schmidt.

DH: I was at Enoeda Sensei’s dojo at Marshall Street. It was about 1974-75, I’m front of the line, in the dojo warming up and I’ve seen this tall gentleman with glasses on, very well dressed, walk into Enoeda Sensei’s office, he’s come out of the office next with a little bag and he’s got a gi on. He’s walked in the dojo, walking around shaking peoples’ hands and talking to them. I’m thinking who the hell is this and all of a sudden he’s walked up to me and said ‘”How do you do! Stan Schmidt from South Africa”. I’ve said “Hello! Dave Hazard from around the corner!” and he’s smiled. All of a sudden Enoeda Sensei’s walked out, “Line up!”. So everybody has rushed to line up and Stan has gone in my place. Head of the line. It’s a long thin dojo and I’ve stood behind him and I’m fuming. Who the hell is he, he’s in my place and he’s done the Sensei Ni Rei bit. We are doing the warm up and all I’m doing is looking at the back of his head and thinking as soon as we do the kumite I’m going to flatten him. We are up and down, one of Enoeda Sensei’s quick warm ups, ten minutes up and down the hall.

All the time I’m not even listening to him or paying attention to what we are doing. I’m looking at the back of the guy’s head thinking I’m going to give him one of these and one of those! All of a sudden Enoeda Sensei has said “Yame! Pair up”. I’ve gone opposite him, he must have known, you could see it in his eyes and he fancied it. It was a ju-ippon set, he attacked first. He said? “Jodan!”.

I was thinking “Boy, you are going to go!”, the next thing I know, ‘BANG!’ he’s hit me right between the eyes, I didn’t know where it came from. I got chudan, the same, mae-geri put me on the wall. Kekomi, ushiro-geri, all the same. Then it was my turn to attack but by this time I didn’t know what had hit me. I thought I’m just gonna get in there and clump this fella at least once with something but he still bounced me all over the place.

I was all lumps and I’m thinking who the hell is this? I was a first Dan at the time. We bowed at the end and Enoeda Sensei said “Line up!” with the biggest grin on his face you have ever seen. Then said “Stop! I would like to introduce a student of mine, Stan Schmidt, 5th Dan chief instructor of South Africa! and I’ve Said, “Oh no”. After the class I spoke to him and he said “Good spirit young man, keep it up!”. I said “thanks very much Sensei Schmidt. I wish I had known who you were!” He said “You’ve done very well!”.

It was a week before the May course, Enoeda Sensei’s summer course, I have got to the course and a good friend of mine, Mick Dewey, we always used to train together, was there. I said “How are you Mick, FIT?”. He said, “Yes, just fine!”.

We started training and when we got to the partner work, I forget was teaching I think it might be by Shirai Sensei. I said “Here, Mick. try a go with that tall skinny bloke at the end, he’s not too bad!” I said “mind you, he’s one of those South Africans, you know how heavy and lumpy they can be, don’t take anything from him. He was at Enoeda Sensei’s dojo last week.” He went “Ok Dave”.

Next thing, I’m looking to the side, I forget who I was training with at the time but we were in fits because all you could see was Mick on the end of Schmidt Sensei’s foot, then on the end of another etc. Afterwards he came back and he went “Who was that?” I said “That was Stan Schmidt. Chief Instructor of South Africa, good isn’t he?”

Japan 1990 with the son of the late head of the JKA, Nakayama Sensei and Baba Sensei with Dave Hazard (far left)

TK: With friends like you who needs enemies!

DH: Boy was he good! He came over to Japan with Norman Robinson, Malcolm Dorfman and Keith Geyer who at that time came and lived with me and Ray.

There was Ray, Keith and myself and one friend staying. Mick Dewey and Bob Waterhouse came over and stayed. There were six people, all you had was your own little bed to lay in but it was good fun.

The South Africans were very strong. Keith when he went home, he basically did what Frank Brennan did for the KUGB and what you did for the SKI, he won everything.

TK: Who was that?

DH: Keith Geyer! Very good. I’ve got a lot of good memories of him.

TK: From Japan?

DH: Yes! Every time the South Africans come over on the KUGB May course they always make a trip to find out where my dojo is on the instructions from Keith. They always come down and visit me and send his respects and bring a bottle of whisky and I always send them back with a bottle.

TK: Do you keep in contact with many of the old Karate friends?

DH: No. not really, just every now and again. Keith sent me a letter after one of his students had gone back about a year or so ago, saying thanks for looking after him, he was saying that he had heard I was still doing good stuff and I wrote back saying congratulations because they had told me he was married with children. It’s nice, the memories of years ago and he said he often thinks of the time when we had drinking sessions. You see 1977 was the Silver Jubilee and you seem to get more patriotic when you are away from home, especially when you are away for a while. It was “God Save The Queen” every Saturday night and Beatles songs and beer! Everybody staying had to do it as well, if not they had to move out, if they wanted to live in my shed they had to do what I did! HA HA HA. It’s funny they all took it in good heart.

TK: Most of the time, it was just you and Ray Kerridge?

DH: YES! The south Africans came over and they stayed about six to eight weeks and then they left. Mick and Bob came over and they stayed for six or seven weeks but for most of the time it was me and Ray.

TK: Did Mick and Bob ever get a chance to train in the Instructors class?

DH: No, but a couple of Germans got in, one man named Hoffman, I heard years later was winning everything in Germany. I also remember seeing him win the Europeans, a very good Karateka.

TK: When we were over in Japan last year, some people were saying that you probably had the longest continual stay in the instructor’s class for a westerner?

DH: Yes, I think that may have changed since.

TK: But also hasn’t the Instructors class changed, that’s what I gathered when we were over there?

DH: Yes, it’s changed I think, but I don’t really know because I haven’t seen it, how it is now or how it has been in the last few years.

TK: Was that like a kind of ‘golden era!’

DH: I think the Golden Era must have been when Sensei’s Kase, Kanazawa, Enoeda, Shirai and Asano were training, but it was a time when some great Sensei were still there. We had Sensei’s Nakayama, Shoji, Kanazawa, Ueki, Oshi and Asai teaching us and the likes of Abe, Tanaka, Osaka, Yahara, Iida. Mori, Tabata, Sato and Hiakawa training in the class plus the kenshukai (students training to be instructors). Some are famous names now themselves Imura, Kawawada, Kasuya and Omura, there were thirty in the class. Each instructor would get a couple of the juniors to bring on. He would make it his responsibility to take them under his wing. His kenshukan, if you like.

TK: Who took you on?

DH: Yahara Sensei!

TK: There has been a lot of things said about Yahara Sensei, about how brutal he can be and the way people were battered over there but you said yourself that you never got hurt by him?

DH: I’ve seen him hurt people badly! On the surface of it for no apparent reason, he obviously had his reasons. It wasn’t that I was particularly good, that I wasn’t getting hurt, he just never seemed to want to.

We had sparring sessions in between the gaijin class and the instructor’s class, day after day, he used to pick me. Then basically use me as a run-around and something to fight with but I always had to fight back and if I didn’t fight back then I would get hit, hit heavy. If he took me down I mustn’t stay on the floor. I had to grab a leg and try and bite him or whatever. I had to try and do something and he would roll me around and put a strangle on me etc.

He would do some nasty little bits of work always just short of taking me out of the game and I could always do the next class, which was the instructor’s class and get through it/

He was great to fight, it was like fighting a cat that was playing with you.

Mick Dewey was there once when we fought for 45 minutes: non-stop. He bashed me off every wall and we had a hell of a scrap, but we could both do the next class.

A day off training on Yahara’s Gashuku (summer course). Our Chief prepares Fugu a poisonous fish! Front row Sensei Yahara, Richard Amos, Dave Hazard and Aiden Trimble.

TK: You went to Houston, Texas. When were you there?

DH: About 1982, 83.

TK: What was that for?

DH: I was looking after a Saudi prince.

TK: Had you done any bodyguard work before that?

DH: Apart from working on the door, no! The reason he asked me to go over there was a friend of mine, he was the chauffeur, asked me if I would come and look after him in London, for a couple of days. I think he wanted someone with him because he had, had a few words with someone. I went and worked with him for a couple of days. Anyway this problem arose and I sorted it out. So then he went over to America.

TK: How do you mean, he had a problem and you sorted it out, what did you do?

DH: Let’s just say my English was better than his. So he went over to the States and took the chauffeur with him. When he was there, he had a couple of people with him but he didn’t feel really confident with them.

Remembering the work I had done with him before, he asked Ray, my friend, who was the chauffeur, to contact me and see if I would come over. I said Yes, OK! It was only for six weeks and I did rather well out of it, it made it possible for me to Stay a lot longer.

TK: Were you given diplomatic immunity over there?

DH: No! I arrived at Houston airport expecting to meet a mate and get chauffeured back to his place. I was given the keys to a Cadillac, keys to a flat and a gun, which frightened the living daylights out of me. I’d never used a gun, they scare me to death and they make life very cheap, you don’t need any real training to blow me someone away. I know you can get a lot of training but if you’re close and crazy enough, anyone can make life cheap. So I don’t like them but it was my job to keep it and that was it.

In the conclusion of the Dave Hazard interview next month, discover why Dave was given the keys to a Cadillac, the keys to a flat and a gun?

We also discover why Dave kicked the groin, bit the ear of, and proceeded to choke an American full contact fighter in the ring.

September Traditional Karate on sale August 19th 1992.

Dave heads the British group we prepare a run to the dojo at 6.30 a.m. The course was held on a remote Island called Hachi Ju Jima used in the past for convicts!

Part 1 – Living in the hornet’s nest
Part 2 – Surviving in America
Part 3 – Preserving the Future