Shi­han Iain Rodger: 5th dan Kyokushin karate

The Oban Times - - Sport - WITH IAIN RODGER

IAIN Rodger started his karate ca­reer af­ter leav­ing his na­tive Oban and mov­ing to Wales at the age of 19. Af­ter some in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he de­cided that the knock­down style of karate was what would suit him best.

Iain joined a club in Cardiff and was hooked from the first class, as the hard rig­or­ous train­ing was ex­actly what he had been look­ing for.

For the first cou­ple of years Iain took part in many ‘points’ tour­na­ments with some suc­cess. Th­ese were ben­e­fi­cial in hon­ing dis­tance and tim­ing skills, and he was soon raised to the po­si­tion of team cap­tain for the Welsh squad.

Then as a green belt (4th kyu), he took part in his first knock­down tour­na­ment at the fa­mous Bri­tish Open at Crys­tal Palace and never looked back. In the early eight­ies, th­ese tour­na­ments were graced with com­peti­tors such as Dolph Lund­gren and Semi Schiltz.

Af­ter around six years of train­ing and fight­ing, Iain at­tempted and passed his 1st dan black belt at a sum­mer train­ing camp in Den­mark.

The test it­self took ap­prox­i­mately five hours and ended with 31 minute fights against fresh op­po­nents. Iain suf­fered two bro­ken ribs dur­ing the fights but made it to the end. Iain said: ‘This made the coach trip back from Den­mark slightly un­com­fort­able.’

In 1997 and now as a 2nd dan, Iain com­pleted a 100-man ku­mite test, fight­ing 100 fresh fighters one af­ter the other with no break. That same year he opened his first dojo in Caer­philly, South Wales. The club quickly be­came es­tab­lished with more than 40 mem­bers.

In 2001, Iain was tested for his 3rd dan, which was a gru­elling 14-hour test spread over two days.

Af­ter mov­ing back to his na­tive Scot­land in 2002, Iain opened two clubs, one in Lochgilp­head and one in Oban, and both con­tinue to flour­ish with new mem­bers ris­ing through the grades all the time.

Iain or­gan­ises beach train­ing ses­sions each sum­mer with the next one com­ing up on Au­gust 26 at Kil­mory Knap.

In 2005, Iain was awarded his 4th dan black belt.

In 2010, Iain or­gan­ised and ran the first Scot­tish Open knock­down tour­na­ment in Lochgilp­head. The in­ter­est in this was such that the event was moved to Ed­in­burgh for the fol­low­ing two years and now takes place in Glas­gow ev­ery Fe­bru­ary.

The plan­ning has al­ready started for the 2018 event. 2010 also saw Iain be­ing pro­moted to 5th dan (his cur­rent grade) at a ma­jor tour­na­ment in Wales.

In 2013, af­ter many years at their old union and due to in­ter­nal pol­i­tics, Iain, along with two other 5th dans, de­cided to start their own Kyokushin Karate Union, the IKKU. The union now has world­wide recog­ni­tion and hosts the sec­ond big­gest knock­down karate tour­na­ment in the coun­try each year, at­tract­ing fighters from all over Europe.

Dur­ing his ca­reer to date, Iain has had the plea­sure of train­ing with some of the top karateka in the world, peo­ple like Ha­jime Kazume, Kazuyuki Hasegawa, Bernard Cre­ton and many more.

He also had the priv­i­lege of coach­ing the Bri­tish team at the world tour­na­ment in Ja­pan last year.

Iain still makes the pil­grim­age to the Bri­tish Open each year, al­though as a coach th­ese days, some 30 years af­ter his first ap­pear­ance there as a fighter.

In sum­mary, Iain said: ‘I have been very lucky. My pas­sion has taken me to places I would not have nor­mally seen and made me some very good friends over the years.

‘Th­ese days noth­ing makes me hap­pier than see­ing chil­dren com­ing to the dojo and de­velop into strong hu­man be­ings with the help of Kyokushin karate, long may it con­tinue.’

Iain Rodger with some of his black­belts from Ar­gyll. L-R: Wal­lace Simp­son, Iain Rodger, Chloe Mac­Don­ald, Stu­art Mac­Don­ald, Katie Mac­Don­ald and Jodie Robert­son.

Iain coached Mark Welsh to a first place at the Oyama Memo­rial tour­na­ment in Ed­in­burgh.

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