The club has very close ties with Keio University Karate Club, the oldest university karate club in the world, founded in 1924. CUKC has exchanged tours with the Keio team many times in the past and members of both will tell you how rewarding the experience is. At the end of each trip, the two teams traditionally participate in a friendly competition, which in recent years has been very closely fought.
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In September 2007 eleven members of the club travelled to Japan in order to train with and compete against several Japanese University teams.
Members of the team were Richard Poole (coach) Ian MacLeod (Men's Captain) Paul Smith, Simon Picot, Gareth Bradley, Adam Tun, Chris Andrews, Andrew Routh, Madeleine Wood (Women's Captain), Stephanie McTighe (Club President) and Katerina Pateraki.
Following in the footsteps of the old boys twenty years previously, the team was accommodated by and trained with the Karate Club of Keio University in Tokyo. The club is 83 years old and has the distinction of being the first University at which Gichin Funakoshi taught. The twice daily training regime included instruction and matches with a number of other university clubs: Hitotsubashi, Housei, Waseda, and Tokyo, and was broken up with training at the JKA Headquarters, and kata with the Mokukai, the Keio Old Boys Club whose average age was 74.
The competition was held in the middle of the fortnight, as a reprieve from the hundreds of squat mae-geris the team went sightseeing in Kyoto, and bathed at Hacona, perhaps the most ridiculous 'hot springs' in the world, featuring overcrowded baths of various colours, representing flavours such as 'red wine' and 'green tea', and a paddling pool where fish could nibble at tired karatekas' feet.
The match itself took place in the main campus sports hall, where kata and block breaking sessions took place before the kumite competition. Each team consisted of six men and two ladies (two of our competitors were injured during training and could not participate). In a very challenging encounter the end result was very close with Cambridge University enjoying a victory by 4 wins to 3, with one draw. Paul Smith was singled out for praise in a speech by the chief referee for his fighting spirit, height and spectacular use of kicking and punching combinations.
Aside from karate, the main entertainment was karaoke, which very quickly grew on the whole team. Even those who were initially sceptical of this ritual form of public embarrassment soon came round to the idea with the help of unlimited sake. The entire team are now experts at classics ranging from the club anthem, Eye of the Tiger, to Kung Fu Fighting, We are the Champions and Barbie Girl.
Members of CUKC were enormously grateful to Miki Waterhouse, Kurono Masashi and the members of Keio University Karate Club for their hospitality during our visit, and also to Steve Mannion, Simon Hastings, Grant Leaity and Jason Purcell, the Cambridge University Old Boys without whose support this visit would not have been possible. In addition thanks are owed to Ken Hori, the Cambridge Old Boy whose Japanese heritage enabled him to prepare us for the intricacies of essential Japanese etiquette.
The team has extended a formal invitation to Keio University to visit us in November 2008. This would provide the opportunity for Keio University to compete at the KUGB Student Nationals and would hopefully coincide with the ESKA championships being held in Sunderland.
Report by Adam Tun, reproduced from the January 2008 CUKC Newsletter.
View the photo album of the tour.