A legendary karateka coaches Jeremy Clarke in head buttsby Jeremy Clarke / April 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
Published in April 1997 issue of Prospect Magazine
Last weekend Billy Higgins came to Torquay. Higgins is a world famous karate expert. He is a black-belt, sixth dan. He is also a full-time representative of the Karate Union of Great Britain; and it was in this capacity that he held a training session for all grades of local karate students at the Torbay leisure centre. I was there, standing in the front row, spotless in my white gi, which had been especially washed and pressed for the occasion. At the moment I am very addicted to this most martial of the arts.
Usually the KUGB sends down Andy Sherry, a seventh dan, whose ascetic, menacing presence reminds me of Satan himself. It is said that even the Japanese karate champions are afraid of him. When it is announced in our karate club that Sherry is coming to the area and will be holding a special training session, a palpable frisson passes through the ranks. We roll our eyes and say to each other, “Good heavens, not him again.” But we go, because by golly he makes us learn.
I had not trained with Higgins before. While we waited in the corridor for an aerobics class to vacate the sports hall before his first session, I took the opportunity to study the legendary karateka at first hand. He is dark, short and square shaped; so broad across the back in fact that if he wanted to make a public telephone call he would have to insinuate himself into the kiosk sideways. Even his thick, powerfully arched feet were intimidating. We filed into the sports hall, lined up in rows and bowed.