Sensei Stephen first started karate in 1984, at the old Millfield Gymnasium in Belfast at the tender age of 19. After several months, he was asked by Sensei Andy McAvoy to join his Bangor dojo to train alongside the senior grades even though he was a beginner. The Bangor dojo was under the K.U.I. (Karate Union of Ireland) at that time, under Sensei Tommy McGrane (RIP). In those days there was a close link with the K.U.G.B. and Stephen attended regular training courses in England, especially the renowned University of Lancaster summer camp and Crystal Palace, under Sensei Eneoda (RIP).
Having completed his studies in Belfast, Stephen moved to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to attend University. There he studied and trained at the University club as well as Eldon Square club which had regular guest instructors such as Bob Rhodes, Bob Poynton and Harry Cooke.
After his time at University he returned to Belfast where he continued his training with the Bangor club. Having attained black belt in England, Stephen regularly cross trained in other martial arts including Tae Kwon Do, Mu Gen Do kick boxing, Muay Thai, JuJitsu and full contact karate.
In 2010, Stephen was transferred to Moscow, Russia, with work for 3 years. During this time Stephen regularly trained in the Olympic Stadium with the Russian Traditional Karate Federation under the instruction of Vladislav Eloyan and Sensei Masoe Kawasoe.
On his return to Northern Ireland in 2013, Stephen started the Lisburn club with 3 students. Through hard work and dedication the club now boasts 47 members of all ages, grades, abilities and gender. It really is a family orientated club, with parents training alongside their children.
Stephen has continually competed at all levels including Regional, National and International level, achieving many accolades and medals for both Kata and Kumite. He now at the age of 52, still competes at Veterans level both here, across the water and on European stages.
The club is affiliated to JKA Ireland (Japan Karate Association) and to the JKA World Federation and Irish Martial Arts Commission and all grades are recognised both here and in Japan and across the World. Stephen is also a licensed JKA Instructor and Referee as well as having the additional qualifications
· Access NI Disclosure
· Safe Guarding Children in Sport
· Designated Child Protection Officer qualified
· Sports First Aid
· Public Liability Insuranc
Krav Maga is a close combat defence system, devised by the Israeli Special Forces and is used by military all over the world.
Gillian's journey in Krav Maga started actually as a little girl. Her grandmother was from Israel and used to show her some moves , that's when the passion began.
Having moved around England with work and having children she then decided to take up Krav Maga, a little over 6 years ago.
Gillian took to her training with vigour and worked through both the military and then the civilian syllabuses.
To ensure that all her belt gradings were to a very high standard Gillian undertook all her belt gradings a year apart and after 5 years attained the coveted “Black Belt”.
Another 12 months of continual training along with several three day intensive, specific courses she undertook her instructors qualification.
Once again, Gillian achieved her second goal – a fully qualified Krav Maga instructor. This was no mean feat as it is primarily aimed at the male population, but Gillian has shown that the system works well for both women and children.
The women’s classes are a great success as it teaches women to retake control, empower themselves and gives them the necessary skills to help protect themselves. The children’s classes are geared towards anti-bullying and to use safe zones to keep themselves safe.
Gillian has continued to cross train in other martial arts, she currently holds purple belt in Shotokan Karate, and continually attends seminars including Silat, Kali / Escrima, Improvised Weapons, Bowie Knife, Close Protection, as well as ground / floor work with JuJitsu and Brazilian JuJitsu seminars.
Krav Maga means close combat, it teaches our flight or fight scenario it's real life street defence . Fantastic for women to learn anti rape drills and basic techniques which will one day save their lives. Gillian believes it's not just the techniques and skills achieved, it's far more, it's mental health and physical health.
As a Krav Maga instructor Gillian is fully insured and has Access NI and Safeguarding Children in Sport documentation – she is currently working though the Safe Haven for Women programme.