Sensei Ivan Birch - 6th Dan

Ivan started training in 1975 at the University of Salford, under the instruction of Mike Toze and Carl Douglas and was rst graded by Sensei Sherry. The following year he became secretary of the club, and started his competition career representing the Univer- sity in regional and national events, reaching the kata nals of the Student Championships in 1977. In 1978 Ivan helped organise the National Student Championships, hosted by the University of Salford, where he rst met Sensei Poynton.

Having left the University of Salford Ivan moved to Eastbourne and began working at the University of Brighton. There was no karate club at the University, but after seeing a hand written note pinned to a notice board in a corridor asking if anyone wanted to train, Ivan, then a 5th kyu, met Mac Afzali, a KUGB dan grade, and became a founding member of the rst University of Brigh- ton karate club. As the University club grew in strength, Ivan and Mac opened another dojo in the nearby town of Hailsham. The clubs thrived and Ivan, now a 1st kyu, trained and taught at the clubs four sessions a week, training at regional and national events at weekends.

Ivan gained his shodan in 1984, with Sensei Sherry, at the grading held at the Army Barracks in York, and in 1985 Ivan, Jane Birch and Chris Williams started their own club at Stone Cross in East Sussex. The only available space was the function room at the local pub, and the Red Lion Shotokan Karate Club was born. Sensei Poynton took the rst grading at the club in 1985, and has taken every grading at the club since that time.

Ivan competed in the Southern Region Championships, the National Championships and the Shotokan Cup from 1976 to 2004, reaching the last four quali ers in the male senior kumite at the Nationals, and was a member of the Southern Region Kumite team, competing in the KUGB’s inter regional events. The high point of his competition career was in 2004 when he competed with his two eldest sons in the male team Kumite at the Southern Region Championships, nishing third.

By 1990 Ivan had established a strong working relationship with Sensei Poynton and became increasingly involved in supporting the KUGB’s national leadership in the development of guide- lines for instructors and recommendations for warm up and stretching exercises. Ivan started lecturing at the Train with the Champions Spring course in 1992, and has done so on every Torbay course since, more recently also lecturing at the Summer School at Lancaster University.

Ivan was elected as Southern Region secretary in 1996, and as Southern Region O cer in 1999.

All of Ivan’s immediate family are karateka, with a current total of 24 dans between them. A third generation are already on their way to the dojo!