Spotlight: Dave Hazard – Born Fighter

Dave Hazard has earned legendary status in British Karate. He has trained under some of the true legends of Shotokan Karate. Keinosuke Enoeda was his long time instructor. He also trained in Japan under Masatoshi Nakayama in the famed “Hornets Nest” of the JKA Instructor Class alongside a who’s who of Shotokan alumni.

David Frederick Hazard, the oldest of three children, was born on 4 March 1952 in Bow, East London. A self-confessed scrapper, Hazard attended tough secondary school, Ruckholt Manor, where he frequently got into fights. While at school he started practising Judo.

Hazard left school in 1968 and got an apprenticeship with a local hairdresser. It was here that he first heard about Karate through a client, who had broken his hand during a training session. The young Hazard was intrigued.

In August of 1969 he went to the British Karate Federation’s (BKF) Blackfriars dojo to watch a training session. During the session he saw some yellow belt students training. He signed up to classes, with the sole aim of being as good as the yellow belts he had seen.

The resident Japanese instructor at the Blackfriars dojo was Keinosuke Enoeda, aided by Sadashige Kato. The senior grade at the club was Ray Fuller who had started training in 1964 under Vernon Bell. Fuller would take the classes if Enoeda and Kato were unavailable. Classes typically consisted of kihon, kata and kumite practice, each lasting around thirty minutes.

Hazard’s love affair with Karate had begun. Apart from training at the Blackfriars dojo he would travel to West London to train at the Budokwai Club based in South Kensington. During this period he was training four times a week. He would sometimes also travel to Portsmouth with Fuller and Pauline Laville (Fuller’s wife) to train. It was during this time that he met and formed a life-long friendship with another young karateka, Mick Dewey.

Hazard failed his first ever grading.  He had to perform the kata Heian Shodan during the grading, which was conducted by Enoeda. However, he performed just knife hand strikes during the kata. The failure was just a minor setback for him. He dedicated himself to training even harder.

In 1971 Hazard was selected to take part in his first KUGB National Squad training session, as a brown belt. He got to train with some of the best KUGB karateka of the time, including Andy Sherry, Terry O’Neill, Bob Poynton, Billy Higgins and Steve Cattle.

1972 was a big year for Hazard. He took and passed his 1st Dan grading, conducted by Enoeda. Of the five people to attempt the grading he was the only person to pass. At his very next training session Enoeda took off his own belt and presented it to Hazard. The belt had Enoeda’s name embroidered on it. Hazard would go on to pass his 2nd Dan grading, again conducted by Enoeda. That same year he made his debut for the KUGB National squad, when he was picked to face Belgium.

Hazard was selected in 1975 to represent England at the IAKF World Championships held in Los Angeles. He was a finalist in the individual kata event. That same year at the KUGB National Championships Hazard lost to Terry O’Neill in the final of the individual kata final. The following year he returned to the final, this time winning against Steve Cattle. At the same tournament he was runner-up to Bob Poynton in the kumite final. During the year he was also a bronze medallist in the kata event at the European Shotokan Karate Association Championships. The year culminated with a team bronze at the IAKF World Championships held in Japan.

In March of 1977 Hazard, with a letter of introduction from Enoeda, fulfilled his ambition by travelling to Japan to learn Karate at the JKA Hombu in Tokyo. He started training in the International Class held for foreigners. By April he had been invited to train in the Instructors Class run by Masatoshi Nakayama.

Training in the Instructors Class was three times a day, six days a week at the JKA Hombu and sometimes at Takushoku University. He trained a lot with Mikio Yahara with whom he developed a mutual respect. He also trained with a who’s who of JKA Shotokan Karate. This included Hirokazu Kanazawa, Hiroshi Shoji, Tetsuhiko Asai, Maasaki Ueki, Toru Yamaguchi, Keigo Abe, Takeshi Oishi, Masahiko Tanaka, Norihiko Iida, Yoshiharu Osaka and many others.

As expected, training in the Instructors Class was tough. Training was full-on with no backward step taken. Apart from the physical exertions there was also mental pressure to perform at one’s best. Sparring sessions tended to be very hard. Injuries were common place. On one occasion Iida broke Hazard’s ribs during a training session with a well placed front kick.

Hazard stayed in Japan for around a year. During that time he was graded to 3rd Dan by Nakayama.

In 1978 Hazard returned from Japan under somewhat of a cloud. He had left after an altercation with an instructor who had been trying to bully him. The incident led to a falling out with Enoeda on his return to the UK. This meant Hazard was no longer officially part of the KUGB. In the years to come both men would eventually iron out their differences. It could be argued that Hazard might have won more KUGB titles, especially after his stint in Japan.

No longer a part of the KUGB Hazard became a full-time instructor. He helped out at a dojo based in Brighton. He did some teaching for Masao Kawazoe. He also travelled around the country teaching at various dojos as a guest instructor.

In the early 1980s Hazard worked as a bodyguard for a Prince of the Saudi Royal Family. Based in Houston, Texas, he was responsible for organising the security detail for the Prince.

In 1985 Hazard was asked by his long-time friend Mick Dewey to join him at the South of England Karate Union (SEKU) as the Technical Director. SEKU, later renamed to the Shotokan of England Karate Union, was a Karate association of twenty clubs led by Dewey, that had broken away from the KUGB.

Hazard moved to the coastal town of Hove and took over the training at the SEKU’s Brighton dojo. The dojo was an adults only dojo allowing those 16 years and above to train. As Technical Director he instituted an Instructors Class similar to the JKA model he had attended several years earlier.

In 1990 Hazard returned to Japan at the invitation of Mikio Yahara to attend a gasshuku (a summer training camp). The camp was held on the island of Hajijojima, off the coast of Tokyo. The island had previously been a concentration camp during the Second World War. Hazard took a group of twelve experienced karateka with him. The group include his good friend Aidan Trimble and Simon Oliver. The other members of the gassuku were mainly Japanese university students. At the event Hazard was the next highest grade behind Yahara.

“Fundamental Karate”, a set of instructional DVDs were produced in 1993. They were the brain child of Hazard and Trimble.

In 2000 England Head Coach Ticky Donovan invited Hazard to join him and Assistant Coach Wayne Otto as a part time assistant coach specializing in kata. He accepted the post and held it until 2006.

2003 saw some major changes in Hazard’s life. His long time teacher and mentor, Keinosuke Enoeda died on 29 March from stomach cancer. Hazard had trained with Enoeda since the age of seventeen. They had reconciled their differences several years earlier. Hazard would sometimes help teach at Enoeda’s Marshall Street dojo in London. There was no one in the world of Karate that Hazard admired more.

After a nineteen year association with SEKU left to form the Academy of Shotokan Karate. There was no ill-will between Dewey and Hazard. They still remain the best of friends. Hazard wanted to evolve his own personal approach to Shotokan Karate. He wanted to develop a place where members could evolve and eventually exceed the abilities of their senior instructors. He eventually relocated from the south coast to Nottingham, in the midlands.

2007 saw the publication of Hazard’s autobiography, “Born Fighter“. The book is a warts and all account of his life and his training. It is a must read book.

In Masatoshi Nakayama and Keinosuke Enoeda, Dave Hazard has trained under two true legends of Shotokan Karate. He trained in Japan in an era when the JKA’s Instructor Class was known as the “Hornets Nest” and training was not for the faint of heart. Through training under and with some of the greatest Shotokan talent, he has amassed a wealth of knowledge. This knowledge has made him one of the most in demand instructors in the country. He continues to be invited to give seminars and courses, which are always very popular.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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