A new feature to start of the season will be on the Karate Jutsu Coaches who operate at the Dojo. The first feature will be on the current UXC Lightweight Amateur Champion Rowan Prendiville….so a good introduction to Rowan, the character that Karate Jutsu builds and the total skill levels involved in the old fighting art of Karate Jutsu here is Rowans Title fight against the tough skillful Conor White…pull up a chair and enjoy. I guarantee you will go a long way to see a better more exciting fight.
So who is Rowan. Roughly about 17 years ago, Rowans father dragged two brothers into a wee parish hall in Glengormley, St Bernards to take up Karate. They trained two to three times a week, nothing special to start but it wasn’t long before it was obvious that they both were something special. That special something came mostly from the fact that their parents invested all of their time and energy into the two boys and even when the boys felt like quitting, like all children do, their parents knew what was best for them and dragged them along.
Skip a few years and Rowan and Garth became assistant Coaches and began their role of inspiring the younger kids (enough of Garth, he’ll get his own feature next)
They wont forgive me for this but what the hell
Throughout these years Rowan competed in karate leagues and tournaments and excelled in all of them, but the training and fight scene was changing and the skills Rowan was developing through Karate Jutsu, meant that the standard Karate style tournaments were not testing his skills properly.
In 2006 the club was invited to become part of the Sport Jujitsu scene, a fast paced fighting sport which was very like MMA but was on mats and exponents wore gi’s, perfect. In 2007 the World Sport Jujitsu Championships beckoned and two of the Zanshin Karate Jutsu exponents were selected, two from both ends of the spectrum 41 year Old Danny Corr and 17 year old Rowan (we cheated slightly he was supposed to be 18) but he was so tough at this stage that didn’t matter.
The venue was in Jersey and the Irish Squad was at its first ever tournament, but it was a tough skillfull team with the right balance of Youth and experience, Paddy Ritchie was the main man of the squad he led us through the quagmire of rules and strategies and led also in the fighting spirit stakes. But the youngest of the squad Rowan got his Chance against the Canadian World Champion, a massive debut and one which Rowan showed the resolve and toughness that is standard throughout his career. The fight went the full distance with only a point between them. As a coach my heart was in my mouth and it was to stay in my mouth every single time Rowan fought from then until now!
That team launched some massive friendships and a couple of not to shabby MMA champions..Rowan Prendiville and Andy “Taz” Young.
The world championships gave Rowan a taste for the bigger competitions, when you fight on the world stage there needs to be something to keep that hunger going and the world of MMA was one that Rowan wanted to get into. So we put a plan in place and when he turned 18 he took a fight in the famous Ramble in under Davey Pattersons fantastic EFR show. We trained hard, harder than I think anyone else has witnessed since (but something we will be bringing back to the current breed of fighters). It was twice a day everyday, Rowan was in the shape of his life and although this was a debut amateur fight he was as fit as any professional…the fight lasted around 27 seconds, Rowans debut was a disgrace. There were some snigggers when people heard there was a karate guy fighting..the sniggers turned too gasps, Rowan and Karate Jutsu had made their first mark on the MMA scene.
I don’t want to make this into a list of Rowans career fights, however his fight with Decky Dalton is almost legendary now and in my opinion made both fighters what they are today. As a coach on the night I hated the fight it was brutal and violent but highly skilled, neither fighter took a backward step and Rowan smiled through a blood soaked grin and kept moving forward, 3 rounds of mayhem and still a fight which Decky Dalton talks about to this day as one of his toughest. Rowan went on to take on some of the best in his weight category Peter Quealy, Conor White to name a couple.
But unlike a lot of amateur fighters today you will here no smack talk out of Rowan, you will not see him boast and bluster on facebook but when you step into that cage with him you better be prepared and ready for a war.
His MMA career does not define Rowan, far from it he is a Karate Jutsu exponent in every way. He has earned his Blackbelt the hardest way possible and presents a Role model to everyone that comes his way. He does not take breaks, he does not make excuses he just trains to be as good as he can be. In the Dojo you will be lucky enough to avail of his coaching, coaching based on 17 years experience as a child, a teenage tournament competitor and as a competitor at the highest level in his chosen sport.
Rowan will be coaching regularly at the Dojo this season so keep posted for lists of his classes.
I will leave you with the following two pictures which best describe the Karate Jutsu Fighter and Rowan Prendiville.
Apologies to my fan for not posting sooner. But It’s Friday Night so for those with no life to speak off here is part 4 of the Journey to Rio. We land in Brazil, not Rio but Sao Paulo, again for some reason we seem to love the early hours of the morning, its around 3am I think.
We get sorted at the BA desk with a hotel for 5 hours before our next flight, so we all grab some taxis, lucky for myself and Chris and Mark our Taxi driver is completely pissed, the stench of hard liquor was actually burning my retinas…great sure why not we survived an aircrash why not try and see if a boozed up taxi driver can end our days…this documentary W**kers in Brazil was a geg.
Right enough of this travel sh*t it’s getting ridiculous, fast forward a night in Sao Paulo, still no clean jo monks, flight to Rio the next morning bobs yer uncle we all land in Rio 56 hours after we started…oh yes Chris’s bag was still in portugal…oooops. The cool, calm Chris, nearly, nearly lost it but I gave him a Kids teeshirt I was going to give to one of the Favela Children, so he was happy, in fact he wore it for the week;))
There we met some of the Fight for Peace Team, My good Friend James Baderman was leading the gang, who were slightly worried the mad Irish contingent may just let rip on them after the disastrous Journey, nothing of the sort it was all smiles and happiness, well apart from the 1%.
Off to our hotel with our bags we went, the joy the happiness….now I know you are wondering, how the feck did he scrape them y fronts off, well I had to get some help..again got a wee recording of the episode
We were in Rio it was hard to believe, it was Monday and we had a few hours sleep and some fresh cloths, the world was good again. I felt totally invigorated and ready to go.
The team came and collected us and took us to a fantastic facility used by the youth for samba and capoiera to begin the Course introductions and briefings. We met Seth and Byrony and my old honorary Irish Man Bali. Fair Play to Seth he was able to get a group of weary, worldly travelers performing some weird but fun “ice breaker” games which made the last 3 days disappear for a bit.
Then we headed of for Dinner and a stroll along the Copacabana…yes the wee north Belfast fella who wasnt/isnt good at much else but throwing a few kicks and punches is being hosted and valued to be part of the Fight For Peace Global alumni…in my head all I kept thinking was that surely they have made a mistake…anyway what a Night, sitting on the most famous beach in the World drinking a cold, cold beer all in the name of our martial arts and its benefit to children. PERFECT.
Some of the Team, Chris and the Lovely TeeShirt…Rockn it
Sunset at The Copa
After dinner we strolled along the Copacana strip, children played football at 11pm at night in organised sessions, volleyball was being played under the nighttime sky and people jogged, ate dinner in the many restaurants, the sound of samba music was coming from every outlet..it was idealic.
Well until the next morning when the training began in the wonderful Mare Favela. Wonderful not because of the fancy restaurants, plush hotels and seemingly untold wealth of the Copacabana, but wonderful because of the people, the community spirit and the strength of character we were to witness from every single person we met.
Part 3 – Lisbon it was then, ferried with over 300 strange and fairly sober Brazilians and the rest of us even stranger and perhaps not so sober to a fancy hotel in the centre of Lisbon. It could have actually been Lisburn for all that mattered, 5:30am and I really didn’t give a sh*t where we were, I was just happy to land and even happier that there was a bed and a shower waiting for me. Although still no change of Jo Monks, turning them inside out was looking like a good option at this point. I had a great sleep albeit just 5 hours worth, although that is a good nights sleep for me, so things didn’t seem so bad now..so far. Unfortunately missed breakfast so myself and Chris and a new friend Katrina from Aston Trust took a leisurely saunter out to see Lisbon, we had about 5 euros between us, courtesy of Chris, so he bought us all a coffee alfresco..very cosmopolitan.
Then the phone call from the Fight For Peace team came through, there was a flight to Rio at 1pm, if we moved fast BA would have us on it. Superb, we moved fast and tried to assemble the group, the leader emerged, Chris. He was calm, collected and had the right temperament to get us organised. Now here is where the next series of craziness erupted. We all grabbed taxis and raced to the airport, we made it, so happy, well most of us were.
There we met the BA rep..probably the most unhelpful, excitable, ignorant rep you could imagine, her line to take was more BA Baracus than BA Airlines, luckily I recorded her for the claim,
she just wasn’t letting us on the plane as she was “too busy”.
Chris did well to keep his head, especially when one of our own started to rant and rave at Chris for basically getting him out of bed..really WTF, but this was a sign of things to come and was already evident in some behaviour at the airport. More on that in part 4, as this kind of behaviour really, really made it hard to dispel the myth that those of us involved in combat sports are aggressive, macho types who get their way through strong arm tactics and frightening all those around them. I mean really I couldn’t be more camp if I tried;)
So Back to the Hotel we went tail between the legs, seriously pished off and now an atmosphere because some misplaced anger had added to the misery. But we had a flight to Sao Paulo booked that evening and if all went to plan Rio awaited…a day or two later.
So part two of the Fight For Peace Adventure is mostly based around Airports and Aeroplanes and seriously cacking myself at the thought of how to survive without a parachute!.
It all started early Saturday morning, thankfully I already knew Chris Quinn well enough so the thought of making acquaintances with 9 other new people on what I thought was a 13 hour journey wasn’t too daunting. Believe it or believe it not I am quite shy and have to really work hard to behave half human when I meet new people, one to one I am not too bad but new groups I dread! I suppose there is a test somewhere I should really take for this and get myself a diagnosis but its probably too late for that now. Anyway the series of misfortunate events began when we heard there was a slight delay on our flight from Belfast to London. No biggee you would have thought; but ooh no it meant that there was a severe possibility that we would not make our connecting Flight to Rio.
We didn’t make it, by about 5 minutes…good news though our bags did! In my head I really cant work out why a bag can make a flight and something with two legs cannot, but then as I have said I missed being tested years ago!
Anyway British Airways decided that we would have to have a 10 hour wait in the airport and that instead of Rio they would put us on a flight to Sao Paulo and then get us a connection to Rio after that..simple enough you would think, so did we.
Ok 10 hours in Heathrow with a grand £10 voucher to spend from BA, nothing for it than to grab a seat and start sampling some beer. If nothing else this would help with the “Get to Know You” part of the course and save time in Rio for real work. Little did anyone of us realise that this would begin a 56 hour trip to our final destination. I promised George the Stroke City Rep that I would give my thoughts on the group so throughout these posts I will try my best, however it was becoming clear that this group would make a great TV documentary, we all agreed the best title would have been “W**kers In Brasil” and I guarantee it would top the ratings.
We found a great spot to sit and eat and spend our £10 voucher and after 10 hours of waffle, craic and beer a clear group dynamic was forming, most of which was very positive, I say most… but like any group there is always a negative connotation that eventually only serves to bring the group closer in the end.
10 hours pissed, sorry passed very quickly and we were bound for Brasil on a 747 jumbo jet to Sao Paulo. I sat in a row with 3 of the funniest guys I have met in a while, Chris, Colm and Mark and behind me Johnny McClurg from Monkstown got an even better seat beside 3 nuns, I sh*t you not, little did we know he got the best seat of all! We were ready to rock.
The takeoff was grand the Air Stewards were very accommodating, especially to myself and Mark for some reason, I was even offered advise on dying my beard by my new friend Paul! However the fun was to change to uncontrolled panic when the lights went out, the stewards started to panic offering us unlimited drink to ease the pain and the Captain ( the only fecker with a parachute) told us we were making an emergency stop in Lisbon (not Lisburn as I first thought). When the plane started dumping all its fuel the reality kicked in. Typical Irish though we drank more and started singing, we even made a video just in case, Johnny behind me was holding onto the nuns and I swear I heard him ask for some RoseMary Beads:)
After 25 minutes of noise and darkness, Colm standing on pish in the pitch black toilets..we made a crazy, bumpy landing followed by ambulances and fire engines..We landed in Lisbon Portugal at around 4am in the morning…nearly 24 hours later and still no sign of Rio..it seemed like the 2 years of work with Fight For Peace was not meant to be.
In part 3 Portugal, Sao Paulo, mental, drunk taxi drivers, tantrums and still no clean trunks!
Part 1 – I hope to post a series of stories about the trip to Rio and what it means to us all, hopefully this will stop me completely boring the life of you all and at least you have the choice not to read on rather than suffering my waffle face to face….
Fight for Peace is an organisation I have been almost dreaming of working with for the last two years or so. When the opportunity actually arrived I was excited and almost in awe of what was about to happen. So many questions, why my wee gym, were we good enough, am I good enough to represent them? Well I am going to try and post a few write-ups explaining the mad journey, the emotional events of my trip and what it all means for our Future.
Almost 2 years ago I spoke to a guy called James Baderman, he was inspiring and really keen to come and see what we did. Being the cynic I doubted a lot of what was said and actually thought it all seemed to good to be true. I was wrong thankfully. From that first phone call, there then followed loads of questions, emails, more questions almost interview type phone-calls which culminated in James and his colleague Marigold from the London Acadamy arriving on these shores just before Christmas 2013. Jesus this is getting real…was my only thought. On arrival I arranged some meetings for them with Chris Quinn of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Barney Thomson of Seaview Enterprises and Steven Corr in the Falls Council. I actually forgot to leave time to tell James and Marigold about our own organisation…in fact worse than that after escorting them all around Belfast for more than 12 hours I had to rush back up to the Dojo to dress up as an Elf for our kids Christmas party…strangely enough this actually impressed James and Marigold, so maybe my disorganisation was fateful!
The next day I met the guys to take them up to the airport and drop into the Dojo on the way…I think I freaked them out a bit by wearing one of my work suits..I do clean up ok and I think the suit completely threw them but it does most people who only know me through the gym. The conversations then got serious, I got the feeling they loved the contacts they met, loved the country and even better loved The Dojo and all it stood for. Hopefully it was successful and we were moving a step closer to becoming part of this wonderful organisation. www.fightforpeace.net. There was to be another trip back to Belfast arranged in June and hopefully it was then that we would be confirmed as part of the contingent to travel to Rio and into the Favelas to train and work.
In Part 2 I will attempt to describe the absolute trip from hell to get to Rio..near death experience, a tour of Europe and 56 hours wearing the same underwear! Landing in Lisbon Portugal at 4am in the morning…I ain’t smiling!
First up, a massive congratulations to Rowan Prendiville who on Saturday night became the new UXC amateur lightweight champion. I’m not surprised Rowan won, I’m not even sure if it’s really fair to let Rowan fight humans as the man is at least superhuman and potentially actually a cyborg or cylon or something.
Despite being superhuman or a robot, he trains harder than anyone and his dedication is unquestionable. He can also take a hell of a punishment. You can see from the photos that this title was not an easy win. It went the distance and was announced by the promoters as the amateur fight of the night.
The next day, Danny, Rowan and the whole squad were back in the Dojo for the future generation of champions. It was grading day for the ZKJ minion squad, as Carl so aptly named them. I took a few photos on the day which you can find on The Dojo Facebook page. There was a fantastic turnout, so good in fact that they had to be split into two groups.
The youngsters were in the matted area
and the older ones were in the cage.
At the end they were all brought in together and did some kata as a group. It was great and the kids really enjoyed it.
I think the grading is a great thing for the kids, and for me there are three main reasons why. These three reasons are not clearly distinct things that are unconnected, more like three facets of the same thing.
First of all, it’s a sense of achievement and accomplishment for them. Unlike school, going to karate is mostly a voluntary activity. Some parents, like me, will undoubtedly have to kick the little critters asses to get them to go once in a while, but you know what I mean. Most of them are there because they want to be and the grading awards them for undertaking something they enjoy. It’s a lot more tangible than going up a level in an Xbox game. At least I hope it is!
The second thing that I particularly like about the grading is a little more intangible. The idea behind the gradings in martial arts is that it creates a path to be followed. Following this path requires a level of discipline and teaches kids that they can work towards something and that sometimes getting where you want to be requires time, effort and many stages. I’m sure all the kids down there want to be black belts. I know my kid does, but the grading teaches them that there are things in life that take time. Although maybe Xbox games teach them that too.. I don’t know.
The final thing I like is that in some ways, the grading is like a rite of passage. Rites of passage have existed in many cultures globally since the dawn of time. Or at least since long before we learned to write stuff down. In our society today, however, rites of passage are sadly lacking. Rites of passage are part of growth and maturation and I think for the kids, having these gradings that show their growth and development in Karate should help them to understand growth and maturation in themselves.
I have to commend Rowan for coming along on Sunday. After his battle on Saturday night, most would have felt they deserved a few pints and a day of relaxing, but he was there, with his belt, showing the kids what you can achieve if you set your mind to a path and work towards it. The bruised face showed them that it’s never an easy ride. But his happiness and pride in his success showed them that it’s worth it.
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Tonight two of our club stepped into the octagon and made us all proud. For those of you that missed it, you missed some excellent performances so here is just a short update for you on what happened.
Clan Wars XVII was an opportunity for Carl and Aaron to take their place as ulster champions and they both did the job beautifully.
Carl was up first fighting for the place of best bantamweight in Ulster facing Ross Corriston from NGNI. I was talking to Carl beforehand and he was confident and focussed. To be honest, I had no doubt he would win and he did so in a decisive manner with a fantastic armbar about 20 seconds into the first round. There isn’t much to be said about the fight.. Only so much can happen in 20 seconds, but it was clear that Carl had a game plan and he executed it perfectly. The setup for the armbar was perfect and it was fully deserving of the submission of the night.
Carlos “The King” McNally
Aaron stepped up shortly after to face Glenn Irvine, also from NGNI, to find out who is the best welterweight in Ulster.
I don’t think anyone in our club would ever have believed there was much doubt on this, though Aaron’s opponent put up a hell of a fight. Irvine was a heavy hitter and landed a couple of solid rights on Aaron in the first before hitting him with an accidental kick to the groin. The fight stopped for a few minutes as Aaron recovered and at this point my heart was in my mouth. I don’t know how the hell he got back up but he did and he finished the first round well. The second round was a total war with both fighters exchanging heavy blows. Aaron was taken down twice, but Irvine didn’t do much to capitalise on the takedowns and Aaron seemed unphased. By the start of the third round, Irvine looked tired and Aaron came out strong and hard. He dominated the third round taking Irvine down and unleashing some gruelling ground and pound. Respect is due to Irvine who took it and kept going. After a few takedowns and GnP onslaughts by Aaron he eventually cinched in a beautiful rear naked choke and an exhausted Irvine was forced to tap. It was an incredible fight and was, rightfully, named the fight of the night.
Aaron Kennedy (Picture courtesy of Bobby Sheppard)
My throat hurt from shouting… But not as much as my ears hurt from Tom and Pete’s equally enthusiastic cheering. Two great fighters and two great champions. A credit to the club and a credit to the coach who helped them get there.
The Champs and the Coach who made it happen (picture stolen from Carls facebook)