A talented boxer and well-respected martial artist, Viv Nash was at the forefront of Shotokai practice in England, particularly in the Plymouth area.
Viv Nash was born in 1931, in the town of Radstock, near Bristol, England. Growing up, his father, a former boxer, encouraged him to take up boxing.
Nash loved boxing and continued boxing into adulthood. Boxing at all age levels, he won most of his bouts. He sometimes fought in fairground matches lasting three rounds. As an adult, he joined the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association).
In the late 1940s, Nash did two years of National Service in the army. During this time he became the Middleweight Battalion Champion.
However, while in the army Nash was badly burnt in a fire accident. Any dreams he had of becoming a professional boxer, came to an end.
After leaving the army, Nash began working as a plumber. He mainly worked on building sites across England. His work brought him to Plymouth where he eventually settled.
In the late 1950s, Nash began training with Dick Finnet in Plymouth. Finnet was a black belt in Judo. He taught a style that included Judo, Boxing, and basic Karate.
On 19 November 1963, Mitsusuke Harada arrived in England from Belgium. This was at the invitation of Kenshiro Abe’s British Budo Council.
Harada’s aim was to introduce the little-known art of Karate to Britain. He began learning Karate at the Shoto Kan in Tokyo, in 1943. His main instructor was Motonobu Hironishi. He was also taught by Wado Uemura, Yoshiaka Hayashi, and Yoshitaka Funakoshi.
On 23 November 1963, Harada gave a Shotokai Karate demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
To further promote Shotokai Karate, Harada travelled around the country giving courses. Finnet invited him to give a training course in Plymouth. Nash had the opportunity to attend the course, and it opened his eyes to real Karate.
In 1965, Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai, of the JKA, toured England as part of their World Tour. After the tour, Kanazawa became the resident JKA instructor in England.
Nash had the opportunity to train with Kanazawa whenever he visited Plymouth to give training courses.
Towards the end of the 1960s, Nash decided to follow Harada and Shotokai Karate. He opened a Shotokai club in Plymouth.
Through the 1970s, Nash consistently trained with Harada. He was a member of Harada’s KDS (Karate-Do Shotokai) association. He eventually became the Western Area Executive for the KDS.
In 1980, Nash resigned from the KDS. By this time he had been promoted to 4th Dan by Harada.
Nash had mainly resigned because he was not happy with the approach to training some of the clubs in the KDS were taking. Several other instructors also left the KDS.
In January 1981, a meeting was held in Plymouth between the instructors who had left the KDS. A vote was taken to establish the Shoto-Ryu Karate Association.
Nash was asked to become the Chief Instructor of the new Association. During this time, he became a full-time instructor.
As an association, the Shoto-Ryu Karate Association did not compete in tournaments. They felt that they had nothing to prove. This did not mean that they stopped any individuals who wanted to compete. Kumite was still practised, using techniques that would have resulted in disqualification in a tournament. Every year the Association held a Summer Camp for its members.
In 1982, Nash was promoted to 5th Dan by an English Karate committee.
By 1986, like Hirokazu Kanazawa, Tai Chi had become a major part of Nash’s daily training routine. He found that it helped improve his Karate, especially around correct breathing.
As Chief Instructor, Nash included Tai Chi practice, and the Tai Chi broadsword into the syllabus of the Shoto–Ryu Karate Association. He taught both the Yang and Chen forms of Tai Chi.
In May 2009 Nash died. He was survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren. By this time he’d been promoted to 8th, Dan.
For Viv Nash, grades and rank were unimportant. He was more interested in the traditional aspects of Karate. He cared more about training and improving as a martial artist. As a teacher, he wanted to make sure he was able to transmit the best information to his students.
Nashes’s students have continued the legacy of his teachings.
Viv was the best I ever knew, tough as they come, a rough diamond but always a gentlemen too. His senses were outstanding – mentally and physically his teaching pushed me, punished me and has forever inspired me. I am truly lucky and ever grateful to have known him.