World karate champion returns to his roots

Sensei Richard Heselton (back row, far right) with some of the black belts at Whitby Shotokan Karate Club
Sensei Richard Heselton (back row, far right) with some of the black belts at Whitby Shotokan Karate Club
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A Whitby karate student who became a world champion returned to visit his old friends at the Shotokan Karate Club, to take a trainin g session.Sensei Richard Heselton, who lives and trains in the well-known Taishijuku Universoty in Tokyo, started his karate training at the club under the guidance of Sensei Mike Howard, then in 1993 under Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda.

He gained his first black belt around the same time as this he was invited to train and join the Karate Union of Great Britain’s Junior Squad with Senseis Andy Sherry and Sensei Frank Brennan – Frank later became the first non-Japanese world karate champion.

Richard won the KUGB Junior Karate Championships. At the age of about 17- 18 Richard’s burning ambition to become a karate master and his desire to reach perfection in martial arts led him to pack his bags and fly over to Japan for a few months to train with the Masters.

Twenty years later, Sensei Richard Heselton –now a 4th Dan Master of karate – is still in Japan and is the team captain of the famous Taishijuku University Karate Team.

Each time Richard comes back to his native town to visit family and friends he always pays a visit to his old club.

He recently returned and Sensei Mike Howard handed over the club to Richard for the training session.

The intermediate class was in for a real treat when Richard took the warm-up exercises Japanese style,

He then demonstrated various attack and defence techniques he then taught and demonstrated some advanced balancing exercises much to the delight of the students.

Next it was the turn of the advanced karate class to get some Japanese training.

Richard concentrated mainly the skills of gaining distance at rapid speed to overcome the opponent.

He demonstrated some powerful punching and blocking techniques and some advanced fighting moves to the young black and brown belts at the Whitby club.

An educational evening was enjoyed by all and at the end of the session Sensei Mike Howard thanked Richard for giving the club some of his valuable time and experience.

The club trains twice weekly at Airy Hill primary School, Monday and Friday, Novices 5.30-6.30pm; intermediate 6.30-7.30pm and advanced 7.30-9pm.

For further information call Jim White on (01947) 820378, or Mike Howard 01947604861. You can email