Bob Poynton has been involved in the upper echelons of British Karate as a top competitor, a respected instructor, and one of the top administrators in British Karate. Alongside the likes of Andy Sherry and Terry O’Neill, he was a pioneer of Shotokan Karate in the Liverpool area. A long time member of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) he has always been passionate about Karate.
Poynton was born on 30 July 1949 In Walton, Liverpool. He was educated at the De La Salle Grammar school. On leaving school he worked for the HMRC Customs and Excise as a civil servant.
In 1965 aged 15 years, Poynton started learning Shotokan Karate at the Liverpool Red Triangle Karate Club. The minimum age for joining the club was 16, so he lied about his age. The day he joined Hirokazu Kanazawa was teaching at the club. This was Kanazawa’s first visit to the Liverpool dojo. Poynton had started learning Karate because of the character Oddjob who appeared in the James Bond film “Goldfinger”. He received a lot of help from Andy Sherry. He also looked up to fellow student Terry O’Neill.
By 1965 Keinosuke Enoeda began teaching at the Liverpool dojo. Initially, the club lost members due to his militaristic approach to training. However, his discipline would make Liverpool dojo one of the strongest Karate clubs in the UK.
For the next couple of years, Poynton diligently trained under Enoeda and Sherry. In 1968 he was awarded his 1st Dan from Enoeda. That same year he left his job working at the HMRC Customs and Excise to become a full-time assistant and instructor to Andy Sherry. His mother had wanted him to become a Roman Catholic priest.
Poynton was known for his very good kicking techniques. His prowess soon earned him his first selection to the KUGB National squad, to compete at the IAKF European Championships in Austria. He was so excited by his call up that he forgot to pack his gi and had to borrow one.
From 1968 to 1985 Poynton represented both England and Great Britain. He was called up to various KUGB and All-Styles squads.
Poynton’s competitive career was often plagued by injury. At the 1974 European Championships held at Crystal Palace, he broke his shinbone on a German opponent’s arm while throwing around a roundhouse kick (mawashigeri). The following year he broke his shinbone while competing at the KUGB National Championships. This setback encouraged him to concentrate on developing his hand techniques, making him a more well-rounded fighter.
Poynton, as a member of the Liverpool Red Triangle Club, won numerous KUGB team kumite titles. He won his first individual KUGB title in 1976, beating Dave Hazard in the National Individual Kumite final. In the same year, he became Shotokan Black Belt Grand Champion. He repeated the feat in 1977 and 1978.
On retiring from competitive Karate, Poynton involved himself in the administrative side of Karate. In 1974, during his injury layoff, he began taking a more active role in the administration of the KUGB. That same year he was appointed the Affiliations Officer of the KUGB. In 1999 he was appointed KUGB Administrator and Finance Officer. In 2002 he became the KUGB’s National Administrator. He eventually became the General Secretary of Karate England, a governing body for all Karate styles in England.
Poynton qualified as an international referee. He has officiated in events held by the European Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA) and World Shotokan Karate Association (WSKA). He was also involved in the development of ESKA and WSKA competition rules and procedures. He is a member of the ESKA’s list of qualified referees. He is also a Director of Administration for the WSKA. In 2013 he helped bring the WSKA World Championships to his home city of Liverpool.
Poynton’s 2nd to 6th Dan grades were all awarded to him by Keinosuke Enoeda. In 2004, at the KUGB’s 38th National Championships held at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, he was awarded his 7th Dan, alongside Terry O’Neill and Charles Naylor. They were presented their grade by Andy Sherry.
At the 47th KUGB National Championships Poynton and O’Neill were both awarded their 8th Dan. They received their certificates from Andy Sherry.
Poynton has been a stalwart of the KUGB. Starting as a student, then competitor, he has transitioned to an instructor and administrator. Alongside Andy Sherry, Terry O’Neill, Bob Rhodes, Billy Higgins and Frank Brennan he is a member of the KUGB’s Technical Committee. He continues to be an active member of the KUGB, running several clubs and organising gradings and various events. He continues to be an active member of English, European and World Karate through ESKA and WSKA. He remains passionate about wanting to see the growth of Karate around the world. He also wants to see proper governance for the art he loves.
Bob Poynton sadly died on 11 March 2020. He was survived by his sister Doreen and brother Jim.