A brief history of how our style and the name SAMA came about with Hanshi.
Part of the front cover of the SAMA Allsports Magazine May 1982
Picture of Hanshi showing flying kick (Lewes Rd. Dojo)
Jumping front kick Lewes Rd. Dojo around 1981/2
Having lived and trained in London I then moved down to Brighton around mid 1960.
It was there that I found a karate instructor called Sensei Joe Robinson who had the only full time karate & judo dojo situated in a large damp basement room in Rock Place, Kemp Town.
"TIGER" JOE ROBINSON
A Wrestling Champion, Actor, Karate and Judo expert, known to have the fastest leg sweep in the World. He once danced with Bardot, dined with Frank Sinatra, was good friend of Kirk Douglas and the one who fought James Bond
Sensei Robinson was 6ft 2ins tall with a very large muscular frame. He was a World 8th Dan judo champion, a weight lifter, and in his youth became known as the tiger after winning the European wrestling champion. He was also a black belt in karate under Wado-Ryu master Sensei Tatsuo Suzuki achieving 5th Dan. Hisgrandfather and father were wrestling champion, and his father ran a gym in South Africa and sensei Robinson grew up within the envioroment.
Sensei Robinson was an actor, starring in 37 films during the 50s 60s and 70s with 5 of them being Italian epics
starring along-side stars such as Errol Flynn, Diana Dors and Anthony Quinn. He also starred in and choreographed many television programs, such as "the Avengers" and "the Saint". His roles were mainly strong man roles and his last film was no different when he played the assassin in the fight scene in the lift with Sean Connery in the James Bond "Diamonds are Forever".
Away from the cameras he rubbed shoulders with everyone in the movie industry, from Frank Sinatra to Kirk Douglas and many other stars.
Sensei Robinson was renowned for having the fastest leg sweep in the World, and has been stated that he beat one of the Worlds top Japanese Judo masters with this technique.
He hit the headlines in 1998 when he fought off a gang of eight muggers single-handed. He was getting off a bus in Cape Town, South Africa when the gang struck with baseball bats and knives. 6 ft. 2 ins Joe poleaxed two with flying kicks, karate-chopped one hard in the chest and broke the arm of a fourth. The rest fled!
It was reported later in the media he was "the most dangerous man in Britain"
After a few years training at the Kemp Town dojo we moved to a larger one in Vine Street, Brighton. I trained under sensei Robinson for around 4 years, then in the early 1970s I decided to open my own karate dojo in Brighton.
It is with sad news to me that sensei Robinson whom I respected very much passed away after a short illness in 2017
Hanshi in fighting stance wearing the famous SAMA red/white/blue belt 1970s
The belt at that time was used for competitions and demonstrations before it was introduced into the
SAMA grade system
Kobudo - Sai weapon Kata practice
Lewes Rd Dojo 1980's
Although I now had my own dojo my quest for training and my thirst knowledge has always been far greater than teaching and I often commuted up to London to train at other martial art dojo's.
It was when I was training at Meiji Suzuki's dojo in Judd Street near Kings Cross that I heard one of his instructors, sensei Sfetas was moving to Brighton to start his own karate dojo at Hove Education College, Connought Road.
For me it was another opportunity to train instead of teaching, so I was there the very first day. As a black belt in Shotokan karate with around 15 years training under my belt with experience of other styles of martial arts and had my own club, I was readily given the choice to wear my black belt in class. This is something that I have always declined to do when starting at a new dojo or style as I prefer to follow martial art tradition of starting from the very beginning and wearing a white belt out of etiquette and respect.
For some reason the class did not stay long at that venue and another was found in the center of Brighton. Sensei Sfetas then opened a full time dojo where I trained for around 3 years until he moved away from the area.
Here we are L-R sensei Chris Kent and myself around 1978/79.
Taken at the Bedford Street hall dojo, Brighton before we opened our full time SAMA dojo in 1981
No, my belt is not round the wrong way. It was not a rule then to have the red at the top and blue at the bottom as we have now at SAMA. The fists placed on my thighs come from my Kyokushinkai training days.
I then formed a partnership with sensei Chris Kent who had started later on after me with sensei Sfetas. Having both achieved our black belts in Wado-Ryu under sensei Sfetas we then went on to teach in a couple of school halls. Later we both opened a full time dojo in Lewes Rd., Brighton, calling it SAMA Karate. Being the one with the longest history and the most experience in traditional karate I naturally became the SAMA chief instructor. The name SAMA became the place for strong karate and later kickboxing, producing many champions over the years, a few being:
1984 Phil Von Lathem PKA British Pro Wel. Wgt 1986 Roger Silsby European Pro Mid.Wgt
Many other talented young fighters came to us such as Fashid, Andy Silsby along with Nick Clark, and Tom Montgomery who later became champions.
I decided to open other SAMA satellite dojo's and founded the Meridian Centre dojo in Peacehaven and Hangleton Community Centre dojo in Hove. These two dojo's quickly became very successful under my guidance.
Hanshi Gibson at the Brighton Lewes Rd Dojo with some of the Black Belts - mid to late 1980s
Around the start of the 1990s sensei Chris and I decided to part company. From then on I decided to continue to develop the SAMA style of karate and kickboxing. As my membership was then around a thousand I now called my group...
A lot of my own principals, idea's and traditional methods that I have learned from many of my past teachers and from past experiences have gone into the SAMA ORGANISATION which has steadily evolved into its own unique style of training and teaching.
After over forty years of involvement in martial arts, the title of "Hanshi" was awarded to me. "Hanshi" is a Japanese word that indicates someone who is the highest black belt within an organisation. Therefore you could say that "Hanshi" is a chief instructor and one who has developed and understands their own particular method or style that they teach.
I would like to think that my long experience, knowledge and philosophy as well as my commitment to the strong mental and physical side of karate has helped my organisation grow and help my senior instructors go in the right direction. Also the commitment and loyalty of my assistant chief instructorShihan Jacobs and Renshi Klus and all the other senior SAMA instructors of the organisation who relate to my older traditional principal's of the martial art code of loyalty and respect along with my strong feelings about how a real traditional karate person should behave, teach and train continues to push the organisation forward.
This attitude is then passed down throughout the ranks to the other instructors and in turn passed on to the students.
Hanshi jumping over a 6ft long bed of 6in nails placed on the backs of 4 students at a SAMA competition
at the Marmion Centre, Hove to smash a wooden board with flying side kick (early 1980s).
(supporting the wood at the back is renshi Tim Klus, sensei Chris Kent & sempai Bob Grindon)
SAMA ORGANISATION has become the largest single karate and kickboxing group in the UK that has spread right across the south of England with over 12,000 students and scores of dedicated instructors. We continue to grow larger and stronger every year.
SAMA has been developed into its own unique style, "SAMA KARATE" and "SAMA KICKBOXING" has become completely synonymous with me, my instructors and students.
At the British kickboxing championships at the Brighton Centre around the mid 1980s, doing a demo in the ring.
The picture left is of me with jumping spinning kick breaking a board which actually flew outside the ring and hit the mayor of Brighton/ right- doing sanchin kata with sensei Chris Kent breaking a wooden post over my shin.
sensei Chris Kent and myself at the old Bedford Street dojo, Brighton 1970s
Double leg flying kick at the Brighton Dojo around 1983/4
Jumping Kick (Yoko geri) against front snap punch 1980's
High jumping kick (Yoko geri) against side kick attack 1983/84
High spinning wood break kick, captured at the point of the break.
Seconds after the kick the black belt holding the board was
knocked of his feet by the impact
Side kick (yoko geri) breaking 2in board, mid 1990s
not an easy feat when kicking (jodan) high
SANCHIN NO KATA (1984)
Hanshi showing the old traditional tension Okinawan breathing KATA, Sanchin at Worthing community centre. Wooden posts are smashed over the arms. stomach and shins to test the internal breathing power of the person doing the KATA. Shihan is clearly enjoying himself for having the opportunity of smashing the wood over Hanshi.
I have always been involved with Kobudo (traditional Okinwan weapon training)
Such as Sai - Kama - Nunchaku - Jo - Bo
I also trained a little in the tonfa and Katana as-well as training in the Escrima
Below: With Kobudo Grandmaster Kisho Inoue and his shihan after training
These High & Low kicks were our trademark in many a demonstration and is an adaptation from the fighters of the
High jump wood break- held above
head on chair, University building,
around late 1969 -1970
At the Brighton Dojo 1981
4 photo's of cliff top training early 1980s
luckily showing good balance on cliff edge
Showing a strong side kick (yoko geri)
HIGH JUMPING BACKFIST
FLYING SIDE KICK OVER STDENTS TO BREAK WOOD
LEWES RD DOJO EARLY 1981
Jodan ushiro mawashi geri (head) spinning kick
Unfortunately flying kicks are very hard to take with a camera, especially one that does not have a sport action function. On my way down on his one, unfortunately it missed the final point of neatness of feet & hands.
As well as Okinawan Kobudo I also have trained with Escrima sticks. Techniques I had learnt along time ago from a master of this weapon.