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Hi my name is Steve Prior.  I am Head Coach / Chief Instructor of Golden Serpent Martial Arts.  I have been training / instructing for over 35 years and in this time have been lucky enough to meet and train with some very special people.  I have given below a brief training history of my martial arts journey to date.

 

Steve Prior

Many martial artists of my era say it was the Bruce Lee films that got their training started, for me it was the film "The Seven Golden Vampires" staring David Chiang.  Having seen this I was keen to train but at that time could not find any clubs locally.  My mom bought me a book on teach yourself Kung Fu.  I started to train alone from the book but knew I needed regular classes.  I wrote to Chee Soo the author of the book who advised me that his group the International Wu Shu Association did not have any clubs in my area at that time.
 
With school friend Billy Frisby I started to look around.  We found two clubs within our range, Alan Whites Shukokai club in Wednesfield and the Willenhall Radiator Club in Noose Lane, Willenhall.  We first went to Alan's club for a look and were very impressed, both by him and the standard of his club.  However, we were told we would have to come and watch for several weeks before being allowed to join.  This was not what I wanted to hear as a teenage boy and the next night we went to the Willenhall club.  In reflection the Willenhall club was very lacking compared to Alan's dojo but they allowed us to train from week one and so began my formal training.

John Poxon

Willenhall Radiator Karate club was based in their shooting range at the back of the social club.  It had just joined the BKA and was changing to Wado Ryu style having previously taught Tibetan Goyaryu under Fred Smith.  The club was run by Kyu grades John Gutteridge and Eddie Hinde.  I stayed at the club for several years training and grading at both the main club and the satellite club at the Castle pub in Wednesfield.  I trained along side Derek Ridgeway and John Rickhuss, learning from and grading under Roy Partridge, Peter Spanton and Toru Takamizawa.
 
When I left Willenhall club I had a short spell at the Bradley Warrior club, Bilston run by Gordon and son Alan Downing.  Instruction was given by Josh Johnson and Roger Vickerman.  I followed Josh when he set up his first Wolverhampton club and became a founding member of the Whitmore Reans club at the Three Crowns pub training alongside Robert Heath, Oliver Price, Lincoln Edwards, Danny and Neville Nelson.  The training at the club was hard but competition based.  I was looking for something more and caught up with Roger Vickerman who was now running his own club at Kings Hill, Darlaston.  Roger's club came under Toru Takamizawa's Tera Karate Kai, teaching his unique version of Wado Ryu utilizing short range snapping kicks and techniques which were a little kinder on the joints!  Roger was / is a great Kata coach and I feel I learnt a lot from my time with him. 

David Hipgrave with Jason

I trained for a while with Alan Harris at Walsall Martial Arts in Yari jutsu, this is the Japanese spear art and involves wearing the full protective armour.  The training was very traditional and very hard.  Alan had trained Bu jutsu in Japan for many years and upheld their training methods.  He went on to teach at Wulfrun College and Kendo at Wolverhampton University.
 
It became quite clear to me after just a short time training that I had a real interest for locking techniques and so began my search for instruction.  I joined Tony Hughes English Ju Jitsu Federation / Kanokwai and travelled several times a week to Rushall, Walsall to train in Ju Jitsu, Atemi Jutsu, Kempo, Atado Kung fu, Aiki and in fact anything that was on offer.  Initially I was not too hot on the throws but knew I had to learn the systems to be able to study the locks.  I did get the throws sorted and went on to multiple Dan grades.  I trained over 15 years with some great guys; Adrian and Roland Birch, Simon Ford Powell, John Poxon, Bill Bayliss, Kenny Murkett, Steve Williams, Dave Lilley and Gary.
I could not get enough training; I attended as many seminars as possible, took private tuition, ran study groups etc.  I also pursued my early passion for Kung Fu and joined the new Shotokan club set up my a work friend Paul Carter (See Martial Arts Memories page).
 
I was asked by old school friend John Rickhuss to help him set up a new Wado Ryu club.  This was the beginning of the Zanshin Karate Association and the famous Wombourne Karate club.  Once again please see our memories page for further details.  I trained at the Wombourne club every week until I set up my first Golden Serpent club in 1993.  I stayed a member of Zanshin KA until 2005 when I first decided to form Golden Serpent into a stand alone Association.  Whilst training at Wombourne I had the chance to train with some great martial artists;  Tatso Suzuki, K.Sakagami, K.Tomiyama, Julien Mead, Steve Cattle.  I also trained elsewhere with Senseis Sakai, Shibamori, Gary Spiers etc.
 
My interest in Chinese martial arts eventually took me into Tai Chi.  I started at Peter Durham's Rushall club and stayed the 5 years until it closed when Peter moved to Ireland.  I managed to train the full Lee style syllabus including Kaimen and Tao Yin / Chi Gung.  I also started to train with David Atkinson in Wing Chun, Thai boxing and Kali and also had chance to train briefly with both Lucky Madahar and Jon Roberts.
In more recent years I have managed to further my Kung Fu interest as well as promoting Shaolin Chin na (Qinna. I continue to train and teach both Chin na and Korean Hapkido.  Please see our applicable pages for more details.  I have also been lucky enough to train in Kyusho Jitsu.  Jim Hulse was kind enough to introduce us to Kyusho Jitsu and through Jim we got to train with Evan Pantazi and Jim Corns. I have managed to teach nationally on seminars plus fronting classes and workshops for both South Staffs. and Shropshire Councils.

Roger Vickerman with Shiomitsu Sensei, Len Jay and Pete Hill

Steve, Ben, Penny and Barney with Jim Corn and Jim Hulse

I have made some great friends through my training.  I met my partner Penny through training.  I also met lifelong friends David and Nin Hipgrave, Jim Hulse, Stuart Carter, the list goes on!!  David and Jim have always been there for me, they lift me when I am down and always have been kind and generous in their praise of what I do, they are true friends.  Dr. Peter Lewis has been a great help to my group in recent years, he has offered good advice freely and backs us to the hilt with any ideas I have.  We are very proud to be members of his FSKA.
 
I was recently asked my likes and dislikes in the martial arts.  They happen to be the same as in life general; I like people who try hard regardless of their natural ability!  I like people you can trust!  And my dislikes - bullies and egos.
 
I hope to be training at least another 30 odd years.  I am currently learning as always and continue to promote what we already have.  I have found it quite hard to condense 35 years of hard but enjoyable graft into this small space therefore if you require any further information or have any questions, please ask! 

 

Yours in Budo
 
Steve Prior
Golden Serpent Martial Arts
6th. Dan Karate, 6th. Dan Kempo Ju Jitsu
Dan grades in: Kano ju jitsu, Hapkido, Kung Fu
Teacher of Shaolin Qinna

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