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PHIL SNEWIN - KAMISHIN-RYU

Sensei Phil Snewin first began his Martial Arts Career back in the late 1970s almost by accident. The class he attended was fairly successful in that Kanazawa Sensei used to occasionally frequent the dojo and would, from time to time, take the training sessions. After a period of six months or so, a class closer to home was located and Sensei Snewin then began a close relationship with the teacher who was to shape his early approach to Martial Arts, and instilled his passion for a traditional approach to training, Sensei John Scott of Ishinryu Karate.

Sensei Scott ran a number of classes in the Aylesbury Area and these were very popular providing very demanding training and hard workouts. John was a product of Ticky Donovan's schooling and a contemporary of such notables as Tyrone White and Timmy Francis, however he began his training in Wado Ryu with Tatsuo Suzuki. Even though Ishinryu is a hybrid modern system, Sensei Scott's approach was very old-school and great attention was paid to behaving the right way and cultivating good awareness.

Right from the offset, Sensei Snewin had a passion for training and used to train a number of times each week. His progress through the grades was slow and sure as Sensei Scott's approach was concerned with quality of product rather than quantity.

Sensei Snewin & Sensei Morihiro Saito 1991

Even as a young man, Sensei Snewin's enthusiasm for training was apparent and when there was not a class available with Sensei Scott he would visit other clubs in Aylesbury for some spirited Kumite practice. This stood the young Sensei Snewin in good stead throughout his teenage years growing up in Aylesbury as the nature of the town was quite rough, and he was frequently involved in confrontations and fights. It was during 1979 that Sensei Snewin also began training in traditional Aikido at Aylesbury Aikikai. This was under the tutelage of Sensei Chas Haywood, the father of one of his close friends and only served to increase his taste for Japanese Martial Arts.

In 1981 Sensei Snewin began to assist in teaching at a Karate Club at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. It was during one of the sessions that a visitor came into the class who was later to have a profound effect on Sensei Snewin - Hiroshi Kamimoto. Sensei Kamimoto was a very strict traditionalist and was a student of Sensei Eiichi Kameyama, the founder of the little known "family" system of Karate called Kamishin Ryu. He was also an expert at classical swordsmanship and this was evident in his teaching of Karate as he often would relate the movements and application to sword techniques.

It was not possible for Sensei Snewin to practice with Sensei Kamimoto at this time, (Sensei Kamimoto lived in the Midlands), so Sensei Snewin continued his training with Sensei Scott in Karate and Sensei Haywood in Aikido until 1982. Fate seemed to take a hand in what was to follow, as a family relocation brought him to Staffordshire. Failing to find a Karate class in his area that was suitable, he contacted Sensei Kamimoto holding out little hope that he was still at the same location, let alone would be willing to take him on as a student. Much to his surprise, not only was Sensei Kamimoto still at the same location but he remembered Sensei Snewin and agreed to meet him to discuss his training.

The consequence of this was that Sensei Snewin became a personal student of Sensei Kamimoto for the next three years. Training took place once or twice a week with Sensei Snewin travelling to visit Sensei Kamimoto where training would take place in the converted cellar dojo at his house. These sessions were very intense with each one lasting a minimum of four hours. As the sessions were physically very demanding, it was not uncommon for Sensei Snewin to find it difficult to walk the following morning. Sensei Kamimoto was very strict and the method of training was such that Sensei Snewin was not permitted to move on to another exercise until the standard of the one being worked on was performed to Sensei Kamimoto's satisfaction.

OTHER INFLUENCES

In addition to Karate training, Kamimoto Sensei also coached Sensei Snewin in the fundamental use of the sword in order for him to better understand the fundamental principles of distancing, entering, timing etc. The Kamishin Ryu karate system also includes aspects of older Japanese combat systems incorporating joint and vital point techniques, something which would stand him in good stead when later he was to experience the teaching of Sensei Morihiro Saito of Iwama Ryu Aikido. Whilst a slightly different form of Aikido to his previous experience, Sensei Snewin's understanding of Kamishin Ryu meant that the intensity of practice in this harder form of Aikido was not unfamiliar to him. Addtionally, Iwama Ryu places great store in weapons training and this approach also helped him to understand Ryukyu Kobujutsu when starting out with Sensei Julian Mead as the fundamental principles are common to all 3 methods. In addition to training with Saito Sensei in Aikido, Sensei Snewin also trained on numerous occasions with Sensei Higaonna of the IOGKF on his regular visits to Britain, and other visiting Japanese instructors in order to pit his skills against those of other systems.

In 1991 he began training with Sensei Julian Mead of the Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai. His formative training with Kamimoto Sensei had a beneficial effect on his approach to Kobujutsu practice and gave him some insight into the principles of movement involved. The common method of moving between Karate, Kenjutsu and Kobujutsu proved useful in establishing a new passion in the shape of Okinawan Kobujutsu which meshed in terms of approach and movement, almost perfectly with Kamishin Ryu Karate. In Sensei Mead, he found a mentor who helped to fill the gap left by Kamimoto Sensei and although remaining completely faithful to the Karate system taught to him by Kamimoto Sensei, Sensei Mead's guidance and instruction helped to unlock some of the more complex issues he had been wrestling with since his teacher's return to Japan and continues to do so.

MODERN TIMES

During the second half of the 1980's Sensei Snewin concentrated on developing the club [as it was then] and contact with other organisations was limited as Sensei Snewin had a very insular approach to the club, wanting only to produce good quality students. Due to the extreme nature of the training (a legacy of Sensei Snewin's own past training with Sensei Kamimoto) , nearly all his early students did not last much past 1st Kyu and left to find clubs which were not so fanatical in their training methods.

In 1989 after an invitation to a National Open Knockdown Championships, a contingency of Kamishin Ryu students went along to take part, never having before experienced anything other than regular dojo kumite. The result was a National Lightweight Championship win for one of Sensei Snewin's students and all of the other Kamishin students went through to either the Quarter or Semi finals. This started to generate some interest in Kamishin Ryu Karate and over the following few years, Sensei Snewin opened other dojo throughout his immediate area in order to develop the school.

In 1996, Sensei Snewin gave up his professional career to concentrate on teaching Martial Arts and since that time has taught Karate all over the UK.

Since becoming a professional Instructor he has had much more time to dedicate to developing the Kamishin Ryu in the UK and now has at least one class each night during the week and a branch dojo in France. His unique background and knowledge of Japanese fighting systems have made him a teacher in much demand and in addition to teaching Karate and Kobujutsu during the week, he teaches at numerous seminars and courses all over the UK and as a result, the Kamishin Ryu Karate-Do Association UK continues to grow.

With courtesy Sensei Phil Snewin Kamishin-Ryu Karate-Do Association.

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