A longtime student of Shotokan masters, Hirokazu Kanazawa and Shiro Asano, Dave Kershaw, was a very successful competitor in both kata and kumite. However, it is as an instructor that he has made his name. With over 40 years of teaching experience, his calmness and knowledge can be seen in the way he teaches.
Dave Kershaw was born on 18 October 1955 in Grimsby, England. At the time Grimsby was a successful port town, and his father was a trawler captain.
Growing up, Kershaw attended Nunsthorpe Primary School. Later, he attended St James and St Mary’s Secondary Schools.
Kershaw enjoyed playing sports, but it was music that gave him his greatest enjoyment. In 1969, aged 14, he began learning to play the guitar. He took tips from his older brother who was a member of a successful local band.
Influenced by many of the top singers and groups of the time, including Elton John, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Eagles, and Roy Orbison, Kershaw became a good musician and songwriter. He had dreams of playing in a band.
Kershaw had always wanted to learn Karate. He got the chance in 1972. He began learning Karate under Brian Woods, who was a 2nd Dan at the time. The club was the only Karate club in Grimsby and was located at Kershaws old primary school.
Initially, because of the popularity of Karate, Kershaw had put his name on a six-month waiting list. Music was a big part of his life, and while it would always remain one of his passions, Karate soon became the main thing in his life. It took up all his free time.
By 1974 Kershaw was a yellow belt and was training under Geoff Green at the Funakoshi Ryu Karate club.
In 1974 Green decided to join SKI (Shotokan Karate International). SKI had been established by Hirokazu Kanazawa after he had left the JKA (Japanese Karate Association). Shiro Asano became the resident SKI instructor in the UK. Green’s club was affiliated with SKI (GB) (Shotokan Karate International Great Britain) training under Shiro Asano.
Kershaw would train with Asano every chance he got. He would train with him whenever he visited Grimsby. He would also go to train at Asano’s Nottingham dojo. He was soon training with Asano on a regular basis.
By 1978, Kershaw was working as a manager in a fashion shop. He had also established his own club, Kanjaku Shin (Ancient and Modern Spirit) in Cleethorpes. Unfortunately, his job had begun to clash with his training and the running of his new club. He decided to give up his job and become a professional instructor. He eventually opened clubs in Grimsby and Immingham.
Kershaw has started to compete successfully in SKI tournaments. In 1981 Asano named him, the captain of the SKI (GB) A-team. That year he and his team won the English Karate Federation All Styles Team Kata title.
Kershaw’s international competitive career started in 1982. He was selected by Asano to compete in a four-nation European tournament in Munich, Germany. England was runner-up in the tournament. Kershaw became a regular member of the British team.
In 1985, Kershaw was selected to represent Great Britain at the SKI World Championships due to be held in Düsseldorf, Germany. However, he had to pull out of the squad due to a debilitating condition which affected his nervous system. It also led to dramatic muscle loss.
Due to the condition, Kershaw lost 2 st in weight and his right hand was partially paralysed. By the time he he got specialist treatment 70% of the nerves in his right arm and shoulder were damaged. He faced a possible, 5-year recuperation period.
As a professional instructor, Kershaw had to find a way to return to teaching. He continued to teach, mainly demonstrating techniques using his left arm. He commenced a tough program of weight training to aid his recovery. After a few months, he began to show signs of recovery.
In 1986 Kershaw managed to compete at the SKI British Championships. In the Men’s Individual Kata event, he finished in third place.
Kershaw’s condition improved as did his results. In April 1987 his Konjaku Shin team won the Team Kata title at the SKI British Team Championships. Later that year in August he became the SKI (GB) British Kata Champion of the SKI British Championships. This was the first of his sixth consecutive titles.
In 1988 scenes from the Hollywood movie Memphis Belle were filmed at the Binbrook airfield. Kershaw managed to secure a position on the film set as an extra for several weeks.
March 1988, saw the visit of Hirokazu Kanazawa to England. He visited the UK twice a year to conduct black belt classes. He would also spend the week travelling to various dojos to teach. Kershaw made it a point to visit all the locations where he was teaching, to get as much training from him as possible.
At the SKI British Team Championships, Kershaw’s Konjaku Shin team won the 1988 Team Kata title. Later that year in August, he retained his Individual Kata title at the SKI British Championships. In November, having recovered from his illness, he was selected to represent the British team at the SKI World Championships held in Utsunomiya, Japan.
1989 and 1990, saw Kershaw repeat his successes at the SKI British Team Championships and at the SKI British Championships.
The 1991 SKI World Championships was held in Mexico City. Kershaw qualified to compete in the Men’s Individual Kumite.
1991 also saw Kershaw travel to Goa, India. He had the opportunity to teach in a temple overlooking the town of Panji.
Kershaw won his sixth consecutive Individual Kata title at the SKI British Championships. He decided to retire from competition to focus on running his dojo.
In 1992 Shiro Asano awarded Kershaw with the Wilkinson Sword of Honour, for his services to Karate.
Kershaw opened a new dojo in Grimsby in 1993. He had bought a three-story building, where the dojo was located on the top floor. The dojo is considered one of the best in the UK. Apart from the dojo, the building has a studio, lounge, kitchen, changing facilities, and a gym.
The SKIEF European Championships was held in Sheffield, England in 1988. The event also commemorated Shiro Asano’s 30th year in the UK. Kershaw came out of retirement to compete in the Championships. In the Men’s (40-44) Individual Kata he won a silver medal. He also won a gold medal in the Veteran Team Kata event.
In 2001 Kershaw returned to India. He was invited by the Punjab Shotokan Association to teach in Amritsar. During the visit, he attended the 1st Punjab Shotokan Karate Championships as a guest of honour. In 2002 the Championships were renamed the Asano-Kershaw All India Championships.
Kershaw later became the Punjab Shotokan Association’s Chief Technical Advisor. He returned to India every year on behalf of Shiro Asano to oversee the development of Karate in the association.
In August 2002 Kershaw was graded to 6th Dan. His grading panel consisted of Shiro Asano and Akio Nagai the Chief Instructor of SKI Germany.
On 17–16 May 2003 Konkaku Shin celebrated its 25th Anniversary. A two-day training course was held. Asano was also present at the course. 2003 also saw Konjaku Shin launch an online store selling martial arts equipment.
In October 2006 Kershaw made another visit to India. At Amritsar, he taught self-defence techniques to a class of girls at the Holy Hearts School, with the assistance of Charles Hannah.
Kershaw was promoted to 7th Dan by Asano in August 2011. That year he left SKI (GB) to form his own organisation, Konjaku Shin International.
2013 saw Konjaku Shin celebrate its 35th Anniversary. A training course was held to commemorate the anniversary.
In June 2019 Kershaw was promoted to 8th Dan by the Konjaku Shin international Dan Grade Board of Examiners. The grade was ratified by the ISKS (International Shotokan–Ryu Karate-do Shihankai) an organisation of senior international instructors.
Dave Kershaw is a qualified examiner and referee. He frequently teaches across the UK and internationally. His aim continues to be to teach quality Shotokan Karate to his students.
Kershaw and his wife Angela have a son and daughter. They have also sponsored the education of two godchildren in Goa, India.
Music continues to be an important passion in Kershaw’s life.