An interview with Sensei Cyril Cummins 3

Interviewed by Matt Russell 3rd Dan

Matt_RussellI find karate is the main focus of my day, to what extent and how does it affect yours?
I find it impacts a great deal, I have to think of my students and
set a program out for that evening to teach them, it is very im-
portant to me. In terms of my personal training, I supplement
my karate with weight training and good nutrition, but regular
training is so necessary. It certainly impacts on my life a great

Who was your favourite sensei to train under and why?
There was no favourite, they were all important. But the most prominent one was of course master Enoeda. Kenosuke Enoeda Sensei, he was very famous, a very strong man. There was also
Kanazawa Sensei who was brilliant. Another was Nakayama Sensei, who was the Head of JKA. As well as Osaka and Sensei Ohta, there were also British Senseis such as Andy Sherry and the hierarchy of the KUGB.

What was your most memorable fight?
For my fifth Dan grading perhaps, it was the nastiest, but mostly because it was so dangerous, so nasty, so painful. There was also my Shodan grading where I received a broken nose and some broken teeth. But all the fights were hard. Most of my opponents controlled their techniques but they were still hard and frightening, but we overcome that through training.

What is your favourite aspect of Shotokan Karate Do?
Kata. Kata and Bunkai. It’s the very essence of Karate-Do. Interwoven into kata are all the different techniques of karate. It is very important to understand your kata for self-defence. Freestyle fighting is also important to keep you sharp and strong, but kata is the soul of karate.

If you could repeat any of the past fifty years, and do anything differently what would you do?
Probably nothing, because the way I’ve come forward has led me to the knowledge I have today. It’s taken almost 50 years, but it’s been a voyage of discovery, some of it was hard, some of it was good, some of it bad but you’ve got to overcome these things, Never give in, Never give up.


An interview with Sensei Cyril Cummins 2

Interviewed by Steve O’Reilly 2nd Dan

at the Halesowen Dojo on Tuesday 5th March 2013


Steve_OReillyOver the years, you have trained thousands of fellow karate ka, visiting many different countries. What do you consider to be your most memorable experience over this time?

“Taking my 5th Dan examination at Crystal Palace under the Japanese Sensei. It was a very very hard grading and I prepared for it all the week by training every day with the Japanese Sensei. So at the end of the week I took the grading and I passed it.”


How do you think karate has changed over the years that you have been training and teaching?

“Traditional Karate goes on and on forever and there are many other types of martial arts coming out now like mixed martial arts etc. but traditional karate goes on and on.”


What is your favourite Kata to perform and why?

” I don’t have any favourite Kata. All Kata are important and so I practise them all.”
As one of your students, I have always been amazed by your vast knowledge of the history and origins of karate. How did you gain all of this knowledge?

“Research and training. Thinking about it and working out the bunkai etc. A lot of research!!


An interview with Sensei Cyril Cummins

Interviewed by Yvonne Skalban 6th Kyu

Yvonne_SkalbanHow did you first get into karate?

I killed someone! (laughs) No, I saw a film called “Mondo Cane”. It’s a film about different rituals in different countries, for  example, the Ghurkas cutting the head off an ox with a single blow, and, of course, the Japanese sensei have always inspired me, seeing Kanazawa sensei performing tameshiwari, breaking wood, in early 1964.

Was there ever a point where you thought about quitting karate?

No, not really. Obviously it’s something that goes through your mind sometimes, but you just shrug it off. You know, everybody thinks that at some point about work and everything else, that’s normal. But no, I wouldn’t have quit and if I had, I wouldn’t be here for you now!

One of the things I love about training is that the advice you give us often applies in everyday situations, the best example being “Never give up, never give in”. If I have a bad day, that’s what I remind myself of and then I feel stronger and more optimistic again. Has karate done the same for you? 

Oh, definitely. If I am teaching it and saying it, I am going to have to believe it. Enoeda Sensei always told us that. Never give up, never give in.

Is there any other advice you have for us karateka, maybe something that has helped you personally?

Always be focussed on what you are doing. And try your best. Karate can be very hard sometimes, but you must keep going. Hence, never give up, never give in!

What is the best and the worst memory of your karate career?

The best and the worst? That’s hard to say, there have been so many things over the last 50 years! I think one of the highlights was achieving my 5th Dan. It was just after the national championships at Crystal Palace. And the examiners were the top Japanese instructors, including Master Enoeda. I don’t have any bad memories, really! I guess the only thing is the injuries.

Thank you very much for the interesting interview, Sensei! Oss!