Nick Da Costa

If you can control distance, you can control the fight.

Nick Da Costa

One of the most successful British Kyokushin competitors, Nick Da Costa competed in what many people consider to be the golden age of Kyokushin Karate.

Nicholas Antonio Constantino Da Costa was born in January 1961 in London. Growing up, he was a naturally athletic boy. He did gymnastics, basketball, table tennis, and cross-country running.

Always wanting to learn martial arts, Da Costa was influenced by Bruce Lee and also the Kung Fu television series.

In 1978 Da Costa left school. He got an engineering apprenticeship and was a tool maker for a company based in London.

Aged 17, Da Costa began practising Kyokushin Karate, with the encouragement of his brother, who had started practising before him.

Da Costa and his brother trained at the Millwall dojo of Bill Walsh, and his assistant, Glenn ‘The Animal’ Sharpe. Walsh had represented Great Britain at the 1st World Championships held in Tokyo in 1975. The Millwall dojo was affiliated to the BKK.

Da Costa trained at the Millwall dojo twice a week and one day a week at a non-Kyokushin dojo. From day one of his training he began sparring and found that he enjoyed it.

In 1979 Da Costa competed at the National Championships for green belts and below. He won the Individual Kumite and Team Kumite titles. This was after only six months of training. Even more impressive was that he was selected to be a member of the All-Styles Karate squad.

Bill Walsh left the Millwall dojo in 1980. Glenn Sharpe took over the teaching.

In 1981 Da Costa competed at the English Open Championships where he finished in first place. Later that year he competed in his first knockdown tournament at the British Open. He was a brown belt at the time. He won his first two bouts by knocking out his opponents. In his third bout, he faced his instructor, Glenn Sharpe. Their bout ended in a draw. However, Sharpe won by breaking more boards in the tamishwara section. He went on to win the title.

Da Costa competed at his first international knockdown tournament in May 1982. He represented England at the 2nd European Championships held in Wembley, London. He reached the final where he lost to Fleming Jensen of Denmark.

In the summer of 1982 Da Costa was promoted the 1st Dan by Steve Arneil. He was aged 21 at the time.

1982 culminated with Da Costa winning both the English and British Open Championships.

1983 was another big year for Da Costa. He won another English Open Championship. He was also selected to represent Great Britain in a three-country tournament against Holland and Switzerland. The tournament was held in Lichtenstein and was his first tournament abroad. In his second bout, he faced Gerard Gordeau of Holland. Their bout ended in a draw.

The 1st Ibutz Oyama Cup was held in Budapest, Hungary, in 1983. Sixteen countries competed in front of a crowd of around 12,000 people. Mas Oyama was in attendance. Da Costa finished in third place. He withdrew from the tournament due to a knee injury. Had he continued he would have faced Andy Hug in the semi-final.

Da Costa reached another British Open Championship final. This time he lost to David Pickthall.

The company Da Costa worked for decided to relocate from London. He decided to take voluntary redundancy. This enabled him to commit to his training and in preparation for the following year’s World Tournament.

Between 20–22 January 1984, the 3rd World Tournament was held in Tokyo, Japan. In one of Da Costa’s bouts, he placed Gerard Gordeau. This time he won the bout. However, after winning four bouts, he had to withdraw from the tournament injured. He had been due to fight Keiji Sanpei in the quarter-finals. Sanpei lost in the final to Makoto Nakamura. The Costa finished in respectable sixth place.

Da Costa reached another British Open Championship final, losing to his instructor Glenn Sharpe.

In 1985 Da Costa was promoted to 2nd, Dan by Steve Arneil. That year he won his first European title, defeating Stanislaw Gwid in the 3rd European Championships held in Barcelona, Spain. He also won the 2nd Ibutz Oyama Cup, defeating, teammate and instructor, Glenn Sharpe, in the final

Da Costa began dating his future wife, Maria, in 1985.

In 1986 Da Costa won his third British Open title. He also retained his title at the 3rd Oyama Cup.

Da Costa and his partner, Maria, opened the Docklands Karate Club in 1987. It was located in the East End of London.

Da Costa reached another final at the 4th European Championships held in Katowice, Poland, in 1987. However, he lost to Peter Smit.

Between 6–8 November 1987, the 4th World Tournament was held in Tokyo, Japan. During the tournament, Da Costa injured his left instep and his right shin in an early bout. In the subsequent bout, he knocked out his Japanese opponent with a hook kick. He eventually finished in eighth place, losing to eventual champion, Akiyoshi (Shokei) Matsui.

Da Costa was promoted to 3rd Dan in 1988 by Steve Aneil. That year he competed in the 1st Commonwealth Championships, held in Australia. He finished in first place.

The 5th European Championships were held in Budapest, Hungary, in 1989. Da Costa defeated Miroslav Zuzlak in the final.

Da Costa retired from active competition in 1989. He was aged 28.

In 1990 Da Costa married his girlfriend Maria.

Having retired, Da Costa began coaching the BKK British Women’s National Team. His wife Maria was a member of the squad. He continued in this role while working in the jewellery trade and also running his dojo.

In September 1999 Da Costa and his wife opened a second dojo in Ilford, East London.

Da Costa was appointed the Kyokushin National Team Coach for both the Men’s and Women’s squads in 2000. He held this position until 2004.

By 2012 Nick and Maria Da Costa had three sons, who also trained with them. That year their son Chris became the British Champion in the Men’s Individual Kumite event.

Da Costa’s three sons made history at the 2015 British Championships. In the Men’s Individual Kumite event, they became the first family in the tournament’s 40-year history to complete a clean sweep of the event. 23-year-old Christ Da Costa won the title, with brothers, Jordan, 19, and Max, 16, claiming the other positions on the podium.

In 2016, Da Costa was appointed Clicker Chief Referee by the BKK.

Da Costa was promoted to 7th Dan in 2018.

Between 5–7 December 2019, Da Costa was invited by IFK Kuwait to conduct a training camp. There were participants from different organisations and groups in Kuwait.

In 2020, due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic, Da Costa had to shut down his dojo and take classes online using Zoom.

In May 2022, alongside Felix Ntumazah, Darren Stringer, Graham Warden, and Jeff Whybrow, Da Costa established the WKG (World Karate Guild). It was a new organisation. He was appointed Chief Instructor.

Argentina, Sri Lanka, Chile, Canada, and the Cayman Islands, joined the World Karate Guild.

Between 25–27 May 2023, the 1st WKG International Kyokushin Karate Seminar was held in Argentina. This was followed later in the year by the British Karate Guild’s First Summer Camp. The Camp was held between 9–11 August.

The 1st BKG British Open was held at Crystal Palace on 11 November 2023. During the tournament, Jeff Whybrow and Stuart Wright were presented with their 6th Dan promotions. Da Costa, alongside Felix Ntumazah, Darren Stringer, Graham Warden, and Jeff Whybrow, performed the kata Tensho, in honour of Mas Oyama, and Arneil.

With a wealth of experience, Nick Da Costa has gone from being a top competitor to being an excellent instructor. These days most of his time is spent teaching at his dojo and being the Chief Instructor of the BKG and WKG.

Permanent link to this article:


    • Anonymous on July 18, 2024 at 1:46 am
    • Reply

    On his way to winning the BKK 3rd Kyu clicker competition I met Nick in the quarter finals and lost on weight after extensions and I am very proud to have given him a good fight.
    So pleased to see he went so far in Kyokushin and became a great Martial Artist ….Osu.
    Mike Doyle

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.