The Late Shihan Cyril Cummins 8th Dan – Club Founder

Birmingham and Weoley Castle Shotokan was originally opened in 1968 by the late Sensei Cyril Cummins 8th Dan under the name Birmingham & Halesowen Shotokan Karate Club (BHSKC). He was a top international referee and grading examiner and appeared on the covers of “Shotokan Magazine”, Combat” and “Traditional Karate” as well as being an inductee in the “Combat” Hall of Fame and “Martial Arts Illustrated” Hall of Fame. Shihamn Cummins was a stalwart of Shotokan karate training and teaching over the course of more than five decades before passing away at the age of 79 years old in 2017 after a short battle with cancer. He pioneered Shotokan karate in Central England and was the KUGB’s senior instructor in the region for many years and one of a select group of instructors outside of Japan who was registered as Japan Karate Association (JKA) Kodansha.

Collage of images of Shihan Cummins with Tonfa, in referee's jacket and performing the kata meikyo

Shihan Cummins originally started training in 1964 gaining his shodan in 1966 with the Budo of Great Britain. After training with sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa he later retook his shodan with the KUGB / JKA in 1968. He continued to grade with the top Japanese sensei within the JKA receiving his 6th Dan from Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda. Shihan Cummins remained with the KUGB / JKA for many years as a senior instructor, grading examiner and national referee. During this time he was a constant fixture at Sensei Enoeda’s Crystal Palace training courses, training on every one of Sensei Enoeda’s courses from 1967 until Sensei Enoeda’s death. He was also a regular instructor in Sweden for the Spring Course for almost two decades. He trained with a number of the world’s top Sensei from Europe and Japan and was graded by many of the senior JKA sensei, travelling to Japan to train at the JKA Honbu Dōjō.

After leaving the KUGB, Shihan Cummins continued to teach his brand of fierce, no nonsense traditional Shotokan karate for which he was famed at BHSKC introducing and inspiring new generations of students in Shotokan karate as well as the bo, sai, tonfa and other weapons.

Sensei Cummins by the sign outside the JKA headquarters in Japan

He celebrated his 50th year of karate training in 2014 having previously being awarded his 8th Dan in 2013 by NAKMAS. As a sign of respect and acknowledgement of his great contribution to karate upon receiving his new rank, his senior students decided to use the honorific title of “Shihan” when addressing and referring to Sensei Cummins in class at BHSKC.  Shihan Cummins agreed to this but was never a stickler for ceremony and was happy for his students to address him as both “Shihan” and “Sensei”.

After receiving his terminal diagnosis Shihan Cummins continued to teach and pass on his vast wealth of experience and knowledge taking his last class at the long standing BHSKC Halesowen dojo where he taught Gankaku with bunkai a few weeks before his death, taking questions from students and demonstrating techniques as he always had. Throughout this period he continued to inspire and embody his and now the club’s motto of “Never give up. Never give in.”

JKA course at Crystal Palace from left to right:
Sensei S. Kato, Sensei S. Miyazaki, Sensei K. Eneoda , Sensei H. Shirai, Sensei S. Asano, Sensei Y. Sumi
Some of Sensei Cummins instructors during a JKA course at Crystal Palace from left to right:
Sensei S. Kato, Sensei S. Miyazaki, Sensei K. Eneoda , Sensei H. Shirai, Sensei S. Asano, Sensei Y. Sumi

Sensei Cummins trained countless regional, national, international champions and world champions with his alumni including many well known karateka including Sensei Ronnie Christopher, Sensei Ronnie Canning and Sensei Slater Williams. This earned him the moniker “The Trainer of Champions”. However despite this and being an accomplished competitor himself and the national and international level he believed that karate was a martial art rather than a sport and should be taught and practised as such, “Karate can never be a sport because it is first and foremost a martial art. Competition is only a part of the martial arts scene. Whilst I admire the top competitors, it is not the be all and end all of karate. – Cyril Cummins”

The club continues to be run by his former students with the Chief instructor Sensei Susan Hessian 5th Dan, Senior Instructor Sensei Richard Amuzu 5th Dan and assistant instructors Sensei Faye Tonkinson 2nd Dan, Sensei Angela Notice 2nd Dan and Sensei Michael Paul 2nd Dan all starting their martial arts training with Shihan Cummins. The late founder of Kenshin Shotokan Karate Club which is now also part of the BWCSK family, Sensei Franklyn Doras 6th Dan, as well as Sensei Austin Birks 6th Dan who many in the club may know were also fellow senior students of Shihan Cummins who trained alongside Sensei’s Richard and Sue under Sensei Cummins for a number of years.

Following in his footsteps we continue to teach the no-nonsense traditional Shotokan karate taught by Shihan Cummins continuing the view that karate should be accessible to all with the main goal being to reach ones own full potential.

Final course with Shihan Cummins in May 2017 attended by many of his current and former students at the time.
Final course with Shihan Cummins in May 2017 attended by many of his current and former students at the time.
Sensei Cummins doing ground work with a kick from a takedown
Shihan Cyril Cummins 8th Dan 1938 – 2017