Howard Collins

There are many of us who use exotic titles before our names, such as Shihan or Hanshi etc.  Are we eligible to these titles or is it that some people just give themselves the title. First, what do they mean, perhaps not an easy question because after all, they are foreign words that we assume we understand. For example, Shihan would mean to set an example to others a high-class word for Sensei.

Howard Collins

Welshman Howard Collins is a legend of Kyokushin Karate. A phenomenal teacher, he was the first man to complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge in the compulsory new format of a single day.

Howard Collins was born in Mountain Ash, situated 20 miles outside of Cardiff, Wales in 1949. His father had played rugby as an amateur for Wales. He later played rugby professionally. He died when Howard was eight years old.

Collins’ Karate journey began in 1964 when he began learning Kyokushin Karate at the Cardiff School of Budo.

In 1967 Collins decided to join the Metropolitan Police Force in London. Within three weeks of joining his mother died. He was 19 at the time.

Collins left the Police Force in 1969 to join the Merchant Navy. He decided he wanted to go to Japan to further his Karate knowledge. His aim was to work his way around the world, earning enough money to reach Japan.

By 1971 Collins had arrived in Japan. He travelled to Tokyo where he was allowed to train at Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin dojo. At the time he had reached the rank of 3rd Kyu (green belt). He became an uchi-deshi (live-in student). He lived and breathed Kyokushin Karate.

On 20 October 1972 Collins competed in the 4th All Japan Open Karate Tournament. He made it to the final where he lost to Miyuki Miura.

Impressed by his dedication to his training, Oyama asked Collins to take the 100-man Kumite Challenge. This challenge is unique to Kyokushin Karate. It is a test that challenges a person’s mental and physical capabilities. Previously the challenge could be split over two days. However, Collins became the first person to complete the challenge in the new compulsory format of a single day. He completed the challenge in 3 hours 30 minutes.

Oyama promoted Collins to 3rd Dan is September 1973. Collins returned to the UK when he started teaching. He also taught across Europe.

The 1st World Open Tournament took place between 1-3 November 1975. Collins took part in the tournament. However, he lost to Toshikazu Sato, after several extensions and a rematch, by judges decision. At the 2nd World Tournament in 1979, he finished in fifth place.

In 1977 Collins emigrated to Sweden, where he became the Chief Instructor at Gothenburg Karate Kai (GKK). He had been invited to Sweden by Attila Meszaros, the founder of GKK. Meszaros had been training since the 1960s and had established the dojo in 1965.

Collins was promoted to 4th Dan in 1980 by Oyama. That same year his book, “The Kyokushin Knockdown Karate“, was published.

Collins was promoted to 4th Dan in 1980 by Oyama. That same year his book, “The Kyokushinkai Knockdown Karate“, was published

For the next couple of years, Collins continued teaching and training his students in Sweden. With other instructors like Brian Fitkin, Sweden has become a hotbed of Kyokushin Karate.

In 1993 Collins was promoted to 7 Dan by Oyama. This was the last promotion he received from him. Mas Oyama died on 26 April 1994.

Always looking to teach, Collins has had a number of books published over the years. “The Absolute Karate: Applications of Kyokushin” was published in 1995. “The Shodan” was published in 2003. “The Gateway” was published a year later.

In 2009 the GKK organized a big celebration to honour Collins’ 60th birthday. A dinner party was held, with 120 guests in attendance. Some of the leading lights in European Kyokushin Karate were invited.

At the 11th World Open Tournament WKO (IKO–2), held between 31 October to 1 November 2015, in Tokyo, Japan, Collins was promoted to 8th Dan.

At the time of writing Collins is the Chief Instructor of the GKK. He is also a Technical Director of the World Karate Organisation (WKO). A gifted instructor, he continues to travel around Europe conducting seminars and training camps, to pass his wealth of knowledge on to a new generation.

The following video shows Collins competing in Japan:

Author: Patrick Donkor

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