Terry O’Neill was born in Liverpool on 27th February 1948, the son of a Police Officer. From an early age he had always been fascinated by stories of people with great physical strength – the ”super-heroes”, and this soon led to an interest in the martial arts.
He first started to train at Judo, but soon applied to join the Liverpool Karate Club, and like many of his contemporaries, he had to be less than truthful about his age to get into the club.
His first teacher was Andy Sherry, with occasional visits by Murakami Sensei, Veron Bell, and Terry Wingrove and later, Kanazawa Sensei.
His first job was working as a security man at various venues where such stars as the Rolling Stones and the Walker Brothers were performing. He then worked at the Cavern Club and continued to be employed in security work for the next 17 years.
His introduction to Kumite was in the 1967 KUGB National Championships, where, he says, he was soundly beaten in the Individual event due to inexperience. This state of affairs didn’t last long, as he won the KUGB National Championships Individual Kumite Kata title in 1972, 73, 74, 75, 77, and 1978. He was three times the KUGB Grand Champion and from 1967 to 1981, he was a member of the Red Triangle Team who were KUGB National Team Champions on no less than 13 occasions.
A member of the KUGB International Squad from 1968 till 1982, he was also a member of the highly successful British All-Styles Squad who defeated Japan to win the 1975 World Championships held in Los Angeles, USA. It is not generally known that he was joint third in the 1974 World Championships that were held in Japan.
At his fighting peak in the early ’70s, he was recognised as one of the World’s most fearsome competitors. A master of innovation and tactical surprise, he had a dynamic and flamboyant fighting style that few could beat.
He always considered himself as a kicking specialist, but many opponents have fallen prey to his exceptionally fast Uraken/Empi combination and he out-punched Danny Bryceland to win the 1969 KUGB Individual Championships.
Whenever he fought, the audience followed his every move, expecting the unexpected. Few were ever disappointed – for example – the unique rolling Kakato Geri that he used to defeat Steve Cattle in the 1977 KUGB finals was one of the most spectacular and innovative techniques ever witnessed at a championship.
Tragically, his run as a competition fighter came to an abrupt end in 1982, when he seriously damaged the ligaments of his knee in an International match against Italy.
In 1972, he founded the premier UK Martial Arts magazine ”Fighting Arts International”, which achieved a world-wide reputation as one of the few really serious and influential magazines on the subject.
Another aspect of his life is his work with international film star Arnold Swarzenegger, having appeared in several of his films. He is currently much in demand as an actor with recent appearances in ”Civvies”, ”Comics”, and ”The Governor.” He has also acted as martial arts consultant on many other films.
A senior member of the KUGB, he is also an International Referee and a KUGB Grading Examiner. he has been a member of the KUGB since its inception, and he says, ”that it is one of the great organisations”, and he hopes that it will continue to develop along the same lines as it has grown and developed over the last 50+ years.