Charles Gidley

One should be graded on merit, knowledge, and attitude to the art, as well as one’s capability to pass on the information and therefore maintain a high standard.

Charles Gidley

Described as an instructor’s instructor, Charles Gidley has developed an extensive knowledge of Shotokan Karate. He has the ability to transmit this knowledge to others.

Charles Gidley was born on 15 September 1938, in Manchester, England.

Gidley started boxing in 1945, aged 7. His uncle was Jackie Brown, a former World Flyweight boxing champion.

In 1963 Gidley began learning Wado-Ryu Karate from Danny Connor, Martin Stott, and Tatsuo Suzuki.

Following the JKA’s international tour in 1965 by Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai, Kanazawa became the resident instructor of the BKF (British Karate Federation). The BKF was affiliated to the JKA.

In 1965 Kanazawa’s license was not renewed by the BKF, even though he was a popular instructor. This eventually led to 2/3 of the BKF membership leaving, and the establishment of the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain).

Around 1966 Gidley moved houses. He switched styles from Wado-Ryu to Shotokan Karate. He trained at the KUGB dojo of Terry Eaton, who was the first Secretary of the KUGB.

Andy Sherry would sometimes visit Eaton’s dojo to teach. Gidley learned a lot from Sherry. Also, he had the opportunity to train with Keinosuke Enoeda and many of the JKA instructors invited to teach courses in the UK.

Apart from Sherry, Gidley had the opportunity to train with many of the best English Shotokan talent. This included the likes of Steve Cattle, Bob Poynton, and Frank Brennan.

In the 1970s, Gidley opened a dojo in Middleton, Manchester. It was during this time that he began developing a reputation for being a top instructor. He trained many students who competed successfully at KUGB tournaments. Many of them were selected to attend KUGB squad training sessions.

Gidley was promoted to 3rd Dan by Keinosuke Enoeda in March 1984.

For most of the 1980s, Gidley focused on teaching his students and building the reputation of his dojo.

However, after 24 years with the KUGB, Gidley left to form his own association. He established the BKSI (British Shotokan Kyogi International), which was associated with the BKA (British Karate Association).

Gidley was in charge of the BKA Karate squad from 1988–1992.

In 1992 the BKSI became an independent association.

Following the overthrow of Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, Gidley, alongside George Carruthers, Bob, Maher, and Gerry Breeze, led one of the first Karate delegations into Romania. During the trip, they taught Karate to various students.

In December 1994, Gidley attained an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) in Karate. He became an external assessor for the RSA (Royal Society of Arts).

In 1996 Gidley was promoted to 6th Dan, alongside his good friend, George Carruthers. The grading was conducted by Yoshikazu Sumi, who was visiting the UK from Japan.

Gidley continued to train good students at the BSKI. At the WJKA Championships held in 1997, in Roosendaal, The Netherlands, his team won a range of titles.

On 31 January 1999, Keigo Abe of the JKA (Matsuno Fraction) resigned from the JKA. On 10th February he established his own association, the JSKA (Japan Shotokan Karate Association).

The JSKA practised the style of Shotokan Karate as taught by Masatoshi Nakayama. The JSKA was unique in that Abe didn’t want it to grow into a large association. He wanted to maintain a high standard of Karate and also avoid the politics associated with bigger associations.

Gidley’s BSKI eventually became affiliated with the JSKA.

The 1st JSKA World Championships was held in Germany in 2002.

In 2002 Gidley was inducted into the Combat Hall of Fame. That same year he was inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame as the “Senior Shotokan Karate Instructor of the Year“. The following year he was awarded the Instructor of the Month from the World Traditional Karate Organisation.

In June 2004 Gidley was a founding member of the ISKS (International Shotokan Karate Shihankai) alongside the likes of George Carruthers, John Mullin, Don Owens, Ronnie Watts, and Koos Burger. The ISKS was set up as an apolitical organisation by a group of like-minded international instructors.

Gidley was awarded the title of Kyoshi by the ISKS in 2004.

In May 2005 Gidley was promoted to 7th Dan by Keigo Abe. His student, Marc Leacock, presented him with his certificate at a black and brown belt course at the Lancashire Health and Racquet Club.

The 3rd JSKA World Championships was held in New York in 2006. Gidley’s students won 7 golds, 4 silvers, and 3 bronzes.

Kego Abe visited the UK in 2007. He conducted courses in the Manchester and Lincoln areas, assisted by Gidley and George Carruthers. Over 300 students attended the courses. There were also several black belt gradings.

In 2007 the AIBSKKA (All India British Shotokan Karate Association) was established. Associated with the BSKI and the JSKA, Gidley became the Chief Instructor of the AIBSKKA. In 2015 the association was renamed the AIBSKA (All India Budo Shotokan Karate Association).

The 4th JSKA World Championships was held in Manchester in 2008. The event was organised by Gidley and was held at the Manchester Velodrome. Gidley was the Chief Referee. During the tournament, Keigo Abe presented him with his JSKA Shihankai Certificate. Assistant Chief Referee, George Carruthers, also received his Shihankai Certificate.

Between 21–24 October 2010, the 5th JSKA World Championships was held in Portimao. Gidley was Keigo Abe’s assistant on both a Master’s Course and a Referee’s Course.

On 15 May 2011, Gidley taught on the 1st Accrington Open Shotokan Course.

A fundraising event was held on 30 June 2013. Gidley and Marc Leacock hosted the Martial Arts Madness for Ella The Rose of Rochdale. The event was held in aid of Ella Chadwick, who suffered from a rare condition known as CNS (Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome). The event featured lessons and demos from martial artists from various disciplines.

On 12 June 2016, Gidley and the BSKI organised the 1st Invitational Open Karate Championships. Later that year, on 2 October, the 27th BSKI & JSKA-GB National Open Karate Championships was held.

On 6 April 2017, Gidley was promoted to 9th Dan by the ISKS Technical Committee. The promotion was for his years of continual training, teaching and input into Shotokan Karate. On 13 August he was presented with his certificate.

The Scottish Samurai Awards were held at Broomhall House in Fife, Scotland, on 12 May 2019. The awards are given to those who have made a significant contribution in any area of activity, locally, nationally, or internationally. The OSS (Order of the Scottish Samurai), which was founded by Ronnie Watt, awarded Gidley with the title of Great Shogun.

On 22 December 2019, Keigo Abe died in his sleep, aged 81. He had been suffering from cancer.

Gidley stepped down from the day-to-day running of the BSKI in June 2023. He also stopped teaching courses. He still remained the Chief Instructor of the BSKI.

Now in his 80s, Charles Gidley has been one of the top Karate instructors in the UK. Many of his students who started training with him as children have gone on to attain high ranks in Shotokan. For many years, he was invited to teach around the world.

Gidley is a qualified international referee and instructor. He holds an ‘A’ Class Examiner status with the JSKA. He also holds qualifications in sports and therapeutic massage, reflexology, and shiatsu.

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