Lee Bindra: Celebrating 50 years of Karate [Part 1/2]

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Blitz co-founder, and International Shotokan Karate’s co-founder and Chief Instructor, Lee Bindra is celebrating his 50th year of practicing the art of Karate. To mark this major milestone, this week we will be looking back at memories of when and how Lee was introduced to Karate, what inspired himself and late wife Pauline to form their own Karate Club – the ISK, when there was a sparked interest in starting their own Martial Arts business – Blitz and, future aspirations or goals to mark another 10 years studying the discipline of Karate.

Today, Lee will be giving us an insight into his early years of Karate, as well as his continued passion to progress in his Martial Art; having been inducted in the USA Masters Hall of Fame in 2015 and awarded his 8th Dan in 2018. We will learn why Karate was the discipline for him, who was his biggest inspiration, instructors he trained under and, why he continues to love Karate just as much now, as he did when he first began training in 1972.

How were you introduced to Karate?

At the age of 14 (1972), I started Judo at the YMCA in Dartford (it was on Westhill in those days, opposite Westhill hospital which, was handy as I found out in the course of my first year of Karate training). I did not like grappling or being thrown so, only lasted three months and started to look for another activity.

Judo was on the second or third floor of the YMCA, below it was the main gym hall, so on my way down I would hear people, what to me sounded like, shouting and screaming at each other. I looked in one day and saw 50 odd students punching and kicking, most in white pyjamas (Gi’s) and, at the far end standing on a table was a small (beautiful) woman shouting in the loudest voice I ever heard at them. That was my introduction to Karate.

Can you name some of the instructors that you have trained with?

I have, over the 50 years, trained with many instructors here in the UK and around the world; and not all were Shotokan. But the instructors who had the most influence on my learning are, Pauline Bindra, Keinosuke Enoeda, Hideo Tomita, Jimmy Patterson, Ticky Donavan, Tatsuo Suzuki, Hidetaka Nishiyama, Richard Kim, Dominique Valera and Taiji Kase.  

Who or what was your biggest inspiration?

Soon after joining Karate, I heard about Bruce Lee and went to see the film ‘Enter the Dragon’. I was hooked and had Bruce Lee posters all over my Mum’s house. I wanted to kick and be as fast as Bruce Lee!

What Martial Artists or athletes did you look up to?

I would say all the instructors I have mentioned. But, also Boxing greats like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazer and Sugar Ray Leonard. Not just for their physical talents but, more importantly, for the way they thought and strategised.

What would you say are your biggest strengths?

I give my best in all that I do. That’s the karate way.

What Karate achievements are you most proud of?

Teaching.

Sensei Lee Bindra (8th Dan), along with late wife, Sensei Pauline Bindra (8th Dan), were inducted into the USA Masters Hall of Fame in 2015

Other than physical fitness, what would you say are the other benefits of Karate?

Karate helps to promote internal and external physical health. It helps in coping with stress and mental health in everyday living. Karate morals is a way of living.

What makes Karate so special or different from other Martial Arts and sports?

I would not say Karate is different in its goals compared with other Martial Arts but, it is NOT a Sport.

Have you ever been tempted to try another Martial Art?

I have trained in weapon’s (Japanese and Indian) to compliment my Karate.

How did you feel when you were awarded your 8th Dan in 2018?

It is one of the greatest honours of my life, especially to receive it from one of the greatest Karate masters of our time, Sensei Ticky Donovon 10th Dan OBE. 

Chief Instructor and ISK Co-Founder, Sensei Lee was awarded his 8th Dan by Sensei Ticky Donovan 10th Dan OBE in 2018

Do you have any personal Martial Arts goals for the future?

I deeply feel that i need to pass on what I know, to as many who want to learn the Martial Art of Karate-Do living. It really is the art to help survive life’s challenges.

Coming Up Later This Week…

We will continue our interview with Lee, looking further into what influenced Pauline and himself to open their own Karate clubs in the UK and, what are the greatest challenges of being an instructor (and role model) to hundreds of students. We’ll also dive deeper into how Blitz was founded! Click here for part two of our interview!

Celebrate With Us!

Join in and celebrate Lee Bindra’s 50 years of Karate with us this week, via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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