Nick Adamou

Karate is all those things that it has been reported to be by the many great Japanese senseis. i.e. self-defence, art, way of life, and so on and so forth. Personally I see Karate as a fantastic art-form, that’s also a perfect sport and form of yoga.

Nick Adamou

One of the highest-ranked Shotokan instructors in Europe, Nick Adamou has been practising Karate since its early days in England. He provides a direct link back to the early days of Shotokan Karate in Britain. He was a longtime student of Hirokazu Kanazawa.

Nicholas Bernard Adamou was born on 17 February 1947, in London. He had a brother Chris, who was older than him by two years.

Growing up Nick Adamou suffered from asthma attacks.

In 1964 after completing his O-level exams, Adamou came across a poster advertising a Karate demo and classes. He was intrigued. One of his reasons for wanting to learn Karate was that he had faced some bullying.

Adamou and his brother Chris managed to get in contact with the BKF (British Karate Federation). However, they had to wait four months before they could train as there were no vacancies at the dojo. The brothers went on a six-week holiday to Greece. During this time they practiced Karate using Hidetaka Nishiyama’s book, “Karate The Art of Empty-Hand Fighting“.

After leaving school in 1964, Adamou began working as a solicitor’s clerk.

On 26 November 1964, Adamou and his brother Chris applied to join the BKF. On 13 December, they began training at the Kentish Town Bath’s dojo. Some of those training at the time included, Eddie Whitcher, Ray Fuller, Royston Merrick, Michael Randall, Mick Peachy, and Pauline Laville. Jimmy Neal and Terry Wingrove, who were Brown belts, were the instructors at the dojo.

In April 1965, a touring party from the JKA, consisting of Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai, arrived in the UK as part of a world tour. The tour aimed to promote the JKA’s version of Shotokan Karate.

On 17 April 1965, Hirokazu Kanazawa, assisted by the other JKA instructors, gave the JKA’s first official Karate lesson at the BKF’s Lyndhurst Hall dojo. This was the first time that Adamou and his fellow students had seen Karate practised to such a high level.

On 21 April 1965, the JKA touring party gave the first of three official demos at the Kensington Town Hall in London. Adamou and several other students, including his brother, were selected to perform at the demo.

Following the JKA tour, Hirokazu Kanazawa became the resident instructor of the BKF, who had become affiliated with the JKA. The BKF contracted him to teach for one year. He held three classes a week at the Lyndhurst Hall dojo. He also held an extra class at the Kentish Town Baths dojo. Adamou attended all four classes with each class lasting around an hour and thirty minutes. He eventually started training five times a week.

Kanazawa’s teaching style made him a very popular instructor. Students like Michael Randall and the Adamou Brothers trained relentlessly with him. They and Eddie Whitcher, Mick Peachey, Will Mannion, and Jack Johnson were playfully referred to as the “Seven Samurai” by Kanazawa. They were devoted to Kanazawa. They followed him from dojo to dojo to learn as much as they could from him. They also socialised together.

Between 28–29 July 1965, Kanazawa held his first official grading in London at the Lyndhurst Hall dojo. Adamou and his brother were promoted to 7th Kyu. At the second official grading held on 8 November, they were graded to 5th kyu.

Vernon Bell and the BKF did not renew Kanazawa’s contract when it was up. Many students were unhappy with this. Eventually, 2/3 of the BKF membership left and joined the newly established KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain). Kanazawa was the Chief Instructor of the KUGB.

By 1967 Adamou and his brother had been training for over three years. That year they were promoted to 1st Dan by Kanazawa. In December of that year, they began teaching.

In 1968 Kanazawa left the UK for Japan, by way of Germany. Keinosuke Enoeda became the new Chief Instructor of the KUGB.

Adamou competed at the 3rd KUGB National Championships, held at Alexandra Palace in 1969. He reached the Individual Kata final, where he lost to Andy Sherry.

With Kanazawa gone, Adamou, his brother Chris, and Michael Randall became disillusioned with their training. During Kanazawa’s time in the UK, they had trained with him almost daily. However, they did get together and trained in the manner he had shown them. They eventually set up dojos in Walthamstow and Winchmore Hill.

In January 1971 Nick Adamou was promoted to 2nd Dan. He was graded in front of a panel comprising Kanazawa, Sadashige Kato, Hideo Ochi, and Shiro Asano.

Adamou and his brother Chris, alongside Eddie Whitcher and Michael Randall, left the KUGB in 1973. They joined Kanazawa’s SKI (Shotokan Karate International). Shiro Asano was appointed the Chairman and Chief Instructor of SKI (GB).

In 1974 Kanazawa appeared on the BBC’s Nationwide news program. He was joined by Asano, Sadashige Kato, Eddie Whitcher, Steve Cattle, Michael Randall, and the Adamou brothers. They gave a demonstration of Karate.

Nick Adamou authored, “Karate Basics for Beginners” in 1974.

The Harrow Leisure Centre opened in Northwest London in 1975. Adamou opened the Harrow School of Shotokan Karate at the leisure centre.

In front of a grading panel including Hirokazu Kanazawa, Adamou was promoted to 4th Dan in 1978.

In 1981 Adamou, co-authored the book, “Kanazawa’s Karate“, with Hirokazu Kanazawa.

On 11 November 1983, Adamou was promoted to 5th Dan by Kanazawa. He was the first person in Britain to be awarded the rank by Kanazawa.

After a long association with the SKI, Adamou left the association in 1989. He established the NSKA (National Shotokan Karate Association). In the same year, he organised a course that was open to all styles and associations. Kanazawa was a guest instructor on the course.

In 1991 Adamou produced the “Shotokan Karate Training” video. It featured stances, basics, combinations, kumite, and 11 Katas in Shotokan Karate.

Adamou was invited to Calcutta, India in February 1993. He held a six-day course and grading for the IFSK (Indian Federation of Shotokan Karate). The IFSK became affiliated with the NSKA and the IASK (International Association of Shotokan Karate) was established.

Around the early 2000s, Adamou moved from London to Luton. He continued teaching at his club in Harrow.

In 2007 Sri Lanka became affiliated with the IASK.

15 June 2014 marked Adamou’s 50th Anniversary in Shotokan Karate. The Harrow Karate Club marked the event by holding a special training session and a competition. Adamou performed a demo with his student Riza Yehiya. Yehiya presented gifts to Adamou on behalf of club members. This included a commemorative photo book and a portrait of him on canvas.

Harrow Leisure Centre celebrated its 40th Anniversary on 15 July 2015. The Harrow School of Shotokan Karate was the longest-serving club at the centre. Adamou was the guest of honour at the celebrations. He was presented with a special plaque by Harrow Council for his Services to the Community.

In October 2015 Adamou held a special black belt class for current and past members of the Harrow Karate Club. Several of his students have gone on to establish their own clubs. Over the years he has graded over 500 students to 1st Dan or higher.

Adamou was promoted to 10th Dan in 2022. He was presented with his certificate and special embroidered black belt by the Deputy Mayor of Harrow, who gave a speech. A speech was also given by Will Mannion. Mannion was a fellow BKF student at the Kentish Town Baths dojo in the 1960s. He was also a member of Kanazawa’s Seven Samurai.

Nick Adamou has always aimed to teach traditional Karate as taught to him by Hirokazu Hanazawa. His love of Karate has enabled him to practice Shotokan for almost 60 years.

Away from Karate Adamou is a lover of classical music. He is a self-taught classical pianist.

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    • Anonymous on March 25, 2024 at 4:21 pm
    • Reply

    I was fortunate to train under Nick and Chris Adamou at the Walthamstow dojo late 60’s and early 70’s. I’m 73 this year and still remember the Shotokan stances, strikes and blocks even though I migrated over to Wado Ryu training with Peter Spanton at Forest Gate East London.

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