On January 21st 1974, Tameo Mizuno arrived in London with the aim of establishing a Shorinji kempo branch there. In the previous couple of years he had created a dojo in his home town, Nagoya, Japan. He had decided however that he wanted to take the challenge to take Shorinji kempo somewhere new. He spent several weeks doing intensive training in Doshin So's headquarters in Tadotsu and made the journey to the UK. He established his first branches at the start of the 1974/5 academic year at two London higher education establishments, Polytechnic of Central London and City University. Here Mizuno sensei explains what he had to do during 1974 to get up and running.
by Tameo Mizuno, BSKF founder and chief instructor
London was a completely unknown place to me. I didn't have any connection to be a Shorinji kempo instructor in London. I couldn't speak English and found it difficult to understand it when I arrived, but I walked around every day to learn about the area where I first stayed. One day, I visited a Karate dojo where I had understood there was a Japanese instructor. I wanted to talk to him about the situation in London. Although I visited the dojo several times, I did not meet him and someone told me that he had returned to Japan. I presume that he was a language student with a short stay in London.
In the same year, 1974, I heard that Mr Toshiaki Yoshida had started to teach Shorinji kempo in Bournemouth on the South Coast. Mr Yoshida had met a Shorinji kempo student during a trip to Sweden. This student was also on a short-stay and had opened a Shorinji kempo branch in Bournemouth, on the south coast of the UK. He asked Mr Yoshida to take over the the running of this dojo.
At that time [early 1974], I hadn't obtained a work permit in the U.K. so the time I could stay was also limited. I visited the British Karate Control Commission (BKCC) to obtain some advice. The BKCC was an umbrella organisation that controlled all the martial arts organisations that were not in the Olympics. Mr Bryn Williams, the commissioner of the BKCC gave me some kind advice. Mr Williams introduced me to six universities, but I could not teach at all them by myself, so I chose two: Polytechnic of Central London and City University. With Mr Rikizo Yoshida, a second dan kenshi who assisted me at the time, I went to Bristol to show Shorinji kempo techniques in front of a judging committee of the BKCC. They approved of the demonstration, and I became recognised as an instructor of Shorinji kempo in the UK, and obtained an official work permit.
The process of obtaining a work permit took some some, but I received it in 1975. After I had an official work permit, it was a huge landmark and turning point in the development of Shorinji kempo in this country. Most instructors stayed for short periods, like the karate student mentioned before, and no one had obtained a work permit as a Shorinji kempo instructor before me. This enabled Shorinji kempo to gain some stability in the UK.
I explained to Mr Yoshida in Bournemouth how to obtain a work permit, so he tried the following year and obtained his permit in 1976. After that we started to co-operate together and established the British Shorinji Kempo Association. We often held Taikai and Gasshuku together. Unfortunately, Mr Yoshida had to go home to Japan around 1979. I took on the responsibility for the Bournemouth and related branches, as Mr Yoshida had asked me to do.