By AIDAN TRIMBLE
Dave Hazard Interview Part 3 of 3 – Traditional Karate Vol 6, Num 2, October 1992
This is the concluding episode in the Dave Hazard interview. I hope you have found it to be as interesting as I found Dave to talk to.
TRADITIONAL KARATE: Mick Dewey and yourself go back a long way?
DH: A long way! More of a big brother scene. I went down to each and he talked to me about the decision he had made with Mervyn (O’Donnell) about starting SEKU. He said if SEKU was a success, would I consider coming in?
I said ‘Yes!’. But it was too early for me and too early for him. He admitted they couldn’t help at the moment but they would like to in the future and still keep our relationship going. I told him there were never any problem of that anyway, as far as I was concerned. So he got on the road for a couple of years and then he invited me to get involved. I was still going down to teach at his dojo and a couple of dojos that would invite me which were members of his group. That was eight years ago.
TK: It’s grown into quite a large association?
DH: We are very pleased. It’s been a small growth but by design. It was in the beginning just a few clubs which were especially loyal to Mick and Mervyn, that grew from within by those clubs going out and starting new dojos. We are about sixty-five to seventy dojos with about four thousand members. It has been a steady growth and a loyal growth; it’s like a family.
For any future growth I don’t think we can look within as enough has been done. We would have to look externally if we wanted to grown any more, but I have been happy to be the Technical Director of the Association.
TK: Did you base your Instructors’ Courses and your Squad Training on your ideas developed in Japan?
DH: Totally. I think we all had reservations but it paid dividends for the quality of technique moving down through the Association and for the people we have in it. It has also been great for us. Yes, it is based on the class in Japan but obviously it is not the same. We have six classes a year, sometimes seven, but the classes last all day. We start at ten in the morning and finish at four or five in the afternoon. We don’t necessarily train all day – we have an hour or an hour and a half going through the basics – we will go into a technique for the day and study that hard for a couple of hours, analyse it. We then get into groups, have a little conference and come up with ideas, what’s happening there etc.
We will have the kata of the day which will take two or three hours and then we will have kumite which will last a couple of hours. I’m not talking about ‘Competition’, none of that is done in the class. We have a couple of breaks of about ten, fifteen minutes each. It’s not seven hours hard work…. Slog…. Slog! It’s progress, helping the instructors to be instructors.
I basically view it as we are hopefully producing the people that will take over from us – it’s what you leave behind that you are going to be judged by. I would hate to think all this is just me and my teaching, and then it stops. To judge any teacher, you must look at what he produces, not himself, because what I am, I am – it’s what I produce. They don’t have to be better now in every respect, but I try and imagine what I was like at their grades or that age. I think as an instructor, that’s how I want to be judged – not by what I’m doing, but what I’m producing!
TK: You spoke about your friend Richard Le Plante. How did you meet Richard?
DH: He’s a very talented man and I met him first on a street corner. I was introduced to him by Cesar Andrews who had met him at Enoeda Sensei’s dojo and he had heard of me and wanted to train with me.
Cesar introduced me, saying ‘This man wants a private session.’ I never used to do that, so I said ‘No.’
He went on about times being difficult for him. ‘I would really like it if you could teach me privately’. We made arrangements to meet at the Budokwai about a week later for a class.
When I went there I asked ‘What do you want to do?’ So he said ‘Can we do some kumite?’
Well, you know and I know, if I went up to Enoeda Sensei and said ‘Can we do some fighting today?’ he would knock my blocks off for asking him and I wouldn’t be really learning much. So I took it exactly the same way, this guy was Nidan at the time and getting ready for his Sandan.
TK: He was a student of who?
DH: Okazaki Sensei in Philadelphia. He went back to take his Sandan and successfully passed and Okazaki Sensei kindly sent me a book, which he had signed, thanking me for my help towards Richard’s progress – which was great.
Getting back to the story; so I knocked him around the hall a little bit and pulled some of his famous blonde locks out, even a bit of a wrestle – he was a strong, tough man – and that was the end of that class. What he got from it I don’t know, apart from a few bruises and me getting a bit excited.
Then he surprised me again by saying he wanted another class. When he came into that one, I expected a different answer to my ‘What would you like to do today?’ but he replied ‘Can we do some more kumite?
I thought, this man really wants it! So we had another little tussle and that was the end of that. He came back again and wanted another class. So when I asked him this time he said ‘Do you mind if we do a bit of kata?’
I said ‘Maybe today you will learn something then? Because you learnt’**** all the last two!’
He said ‘Thank god for that. I thought I had to ask you to do kumite. I wanted to anyway to see what you were going to do but I thought that was the thing to ask!’
I said ‘No, not really mate. You asked to do kumite and it looked like you were saying, how good are you and let’s have a shot!’
TK: He is obviously impressed with you because he based one of his characters in his book ‘TEGNE’ on you?
DH: Yes he did. He is very clever. He will take off people’s characters for his work. .
TK: Didn’t he base a monster in one of his books on Terry O’Neill?
DH: You said that not me! There are different characters, you can judge Terry to be in that book. There are all kinds of monsters and people!
TK: Your character is a bit more obvious, he’s called Max Hazard. I saw the whole chapter. Is it the first ‘TEGNE’?
DH: Yes, it is not much an instructor/student relationship now – we have become very close friends.
TK: His wife is also a famous writer?
DH: Yes, she is very well known and a great personality – a clever lady. Richard and myself train together as good friends now. Either he does some weights and I join him, or we try different stuff out, like bag work, punching pad work, etc.
Richard at the moment, because he is a qualified boxing trainer, goes down the boxing gym once or twice a week.
TK: That was one of the things I was going to ask you – it was Richard who sent Elwyn Hall to you?
DH: No. Elwyn met Richard through me, because I advised Elwyn to go to Enoeda Sensei’s dojo.
TK: People know you had a lot to do with Elwyn Hall because I read that in several places.
DH: Yes but Richard took Elwyn to the boxing gym.
TK: What about before – you taught Elwyn?
DH: Yes, I have done but his Sensei is Jim Patterson.
TK: What I’m saying is that you had quite an effect upon his training?
DH: I don’t know. Elwyn trained with me on occasions, let’s leave it at that. He is a very talented young man.
TK: What do you think about him going into boxing?
DH: A sad loss for Karate! Our loss and boxing’s gain. He is a talented athlete and he had no other form of income and was totally committed to his training. He was looking around to see what was going to happen in the future and couldn’t really see one for himself in Karate.
TK: How do you think he will get on? You have seen him in the gym, haven’t you?
DH: If he has the will to win, he will win. If it’s down to wanting to be the best, Elwyn Hall will be the best. Being in the right place at the right time or a stupid injury can change so much in boxing. If all things go well, he’s got the talent and the determination to be a world champion and I would like to see him make it. He deserves it, he trains very hard.
TK: Has Richard La Plante a lot to do with him?
DH: Yes, Richard helps him a great deal.
TK: Recently the Japanese have had a lot of bad press and the J.K.A. What do you feel is happening with the Japanese and where do you think the Japanese are going to fit into the future of Karate?
DH: The split in the J.K.A. was inevitable after the passing of Master Nakayama. I think it was too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Once he died there were too many personalities. Karate breeds that kind of person and there were too many senior people over there to be led by one.
TK: Going on towards something else; last year in July when we went to Japan together, that was your first time back since 1977. What was it like for you? I know there has been nothing in the mags about the trip!
DH: It was good.
TK: Thanks a lot for that Dave! What about the training?
DH: Very basic. It was a university course, therefore it was students who were varying from just average to quite decent but not very senior. The group we took over were very senior people. Whilst they were not young pups like the university students, they had the skill to cope with them. So, it was very basic for us but all the same it was decent training.
TK: When you went over there, you were certainly treated with a lot of respect. I would imagine Yahara Sensei had mentioned you to his higher grades, and the fact that you did take two of the days’ training when Yahara Sensei was not there.
DH: Yes, that felt strange.
TK: But did you get much chance to talk to Yahara Sensei?
DH: No, not really. Actually he was quite distant. I don’t know the reason why. If there are any politics going on at that time, I don’t know. I never went with any political motives at all and still don’t. My instructor is Enoeda Sensei and always will be, even if we get on or not, it just so happens we get on better now than we ever have.
I still train with him and have a personal relationship that is very strong. I regularly inform him of what I’m doing and where I’m doing it.
When we went to Japan, there had been a split and Enoeda Sensei and Yahara Sensei are on different sides of the fence, or so it would seem as nothing was implied there. Yahara Sensei was distant but then, so are a lot of Japanese.
As the course went on, he became a lot easier to get on with and, of course, my teaching there meant that he couldn’t have thought too badly of me.
TK: Some of his students who were on the Gassahku training have come over since?
DH: Yes, that was very nice, to return the compliment if you like; very good attitude!
TK: It is certainly a different attitude compared to what we are used to over here.
DH: Yes, well it’s a captive audience, dealing with university students in Japan.
TK: Yes, but people who haven’t trained with Yahara Sensei on one of these courses haven’t really seen him work, so to speak.
I mean, even to us he seemed a little brutal at times. He is quite fond of using his shinai on his students. I hasten to add that he didn’t use it on us and he did explain that to us. What are your feelings about that type of thing?
DH: Obviously he has his reasons for doing it, his method, which he did explain to us as disciplining them for the school of life, you know – work!
He is building a strong mentality. He is making sure that they were ready for that jungle which is going to be no worse than being under the pressure of his own shinai. He’s got a point, but not for me and not for this country.
It seems to work for him – again you have to have a captive audience like you have at a university club. Once they join, they have to stay there or suffer a big loss of face. They are there for three or four years and the ones that stay there are very good students.
TK: Would you go back?
DH: Yes, I would!
TK: I’ll see you there then Dave!
TK: Thank you for the interview.