Sensei Robert Welsh - 7th Dan

Sensei Robert Welsh

Rob was born in Dudley, West Midlands on 5th February 1955.

He trained as a Maths teacher at St. Luke’s College, Exeter where he joined the karate club. In fact, he chose this college because two of his friends, who were already there, told him there was a karate club there! This was in September 1974.

Rob had always been interested in sport but found that his interest in karate quickly surpassed all the others. Wanting to train during holidays from college, Rob looked for a karate club near home and came across the Wolverhampton Shotokan Karate Club. Watching the first session he was awed by the “electric” atmosphere and decided to join on the spot. The instructor that night was Neil Thomas and over the next few years Neil, Mick Wragg and “H” Halford were his main instructors at Wolverhampton.

Back at Exeter Rob knew he had to find a shotokan club to train at and was put in touch with Dave Collacott who ran the Exeter Shotokan Karate Club.  At the same time Ron Hicks started at St Luke’s College so over the next few years Rob was able to train 2 or 3 times a week with Dave Collacott and twice a week in the college gym with Ron Hicks. As Ron was already a 1st Dan it was like having a personal tutor and Rob sites this time as being most important in his formative years.

During these years, whenever sensei Sherry travelled down to the Exeter club, he would stay in the area for the week, instructing at the local clubs, and Rob would follow him around, training most nights. Rob feels that sensei Sherry was a very strong influence to his training at this time. Another strong influence during these years was sensei Poynton. Whenever sensei Poynton was taking a session at the Bath club (Ron Hick’s home club), Rob would travel the 80-odd miles to go and train.

Over the years, Rob was regularly seen competing in National and Regional competitions in both Kata and Kumite. He gained most success in Kata, winning the Central Region Championships in 1986 and getting to 3 National finals, his best position being 3rd .

He passed his judging exam in 1980 and then his referee’s exam in 1982. He has been seen every year since, refereeing in all National and most regional competitions.

Rob has worked “behind the scenes” in karate since the early ‘80s; as Central Region Squad manager, as Regional Treasurer and now as the Central Region Chairman. He is also a member of the Championship committee, helping to organise all National championships as well as International  ones that are based in England.

He cites his training as the most important part of his karate life and will still be seen training on most Black and Brown Belt courses as well as all of the other National Courses. He is lucky enough to have a family who share his interest in Karate, all of whom are now Dan grades.

Rob’s greatest influence in more recent years has been sensei Frank Brennan who he trains with several times per year, but Rob cites the great teaching ability of all the senior instructors as being a real strength of the KUGB. This is evidenced by the fact that at the time of writing, there have been 36 Lancaster Summer school courses and Rob has been to 34 of them!

Rob is now the senior instructor to the Tamworth Shotokan Karate club and is proud of the fact that he has seen many of his students rise to senior Dan grades. His ambition is to train for as long as is physically possible and to continue to support the KUGB.

Rob passed his 1st Dan in 1978 and his 6th Dan in 2006. He was awarded 7th Dan at the National Championships 2015.  In 2020 he was appointed as a KUGB grading examiner.

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