'Origins of Kevin O'Hagan's Total Combat Systems'
The first official class opened in 1985 at Sturminster Road Community Centre Stockwood. The club was originally named the 'Bristol Self Defence Combat Academy.' The founder members were Kevin O' Hagan, Tina O' Hagan, Brian Barker and Mark Fortune.
The emphasis of the class was a cross sectional art purely aimed at Street Self Defence. The above people pooled their knowledge together and then continued to work to develop the system more. They traveled extensively across the UK to train in many styles and learn from some of the top UK, European and Japanese instructors.
Sensei O' Hagan at that stage got more involved in Ju Jutsu and Atemi Jutsu and decided to guide his fellow instructors to grade in this art and give the club a more solid foundation.
As the club grew and word spread, more new faces joined the ranks. Neil Bartlett, Martin Williams and Mike Griffin all went on to become the second generation of black belts. Many more good students didn't quite make the grade. At the time the class at Stockwood was a 3 hours long!
It was very much old style blood, sweat and tears. One hours conditioning and exercise, one hour drilling and one hour of freestyle training and sparring. The instructors were experimenting and testing various things: some of the training was brutal in its nature, the motto being 'Take no prisoners.'
Another class was opened in 1987 at the now closed Bristol Budokan on Chalks Road St George. Kevin had trained there back in 1977 to 1981 and decided to return. These classes operated on a Thursday night and became the legendary 'Thursday Night Sessions.' The training was more advanced and extreme. Many people dreaded the walk up the 3 flights of stairs to the top floor mat. The Budokan was a typical old style training Dojo, with 3 floors, canvas matted areas. In its heyday it was packed everyday of the week as a full time Dojo, ran by Mr Ray Jenkins and his family.
In 1989 the Stockwood Club moved to Whitchurch Sports Centre and this bigger and more published venue brought more members.
In the end, Brian Barker a 3rd Dan at this stage, ran the class and Kevin ran the Budokan, these were the only two sessions running but the work was intense and uncompromising. A youthful and dare I say 'pony tailed' Matt Sperring started his training at the Whitchurch Venue, as did Andy Wintle.
In the mid 90's, the Whitchurch Class began to lose members and Sensei O' Hagan never one to let things slip, closed the class. But by then in 1997 he decided to go 'full time' and attempt to teach professionally after being made redundant from his day job.
This provided a turning point for the now named Bristol Goshin Jutsu Combat Academy.
Clubs opened at all major sports centres in Bristol and again new blood was picked up and eventually 3rd generation instructors like Paul Flett, Rob Cannon, Phil Davis, Matt Sperring and Andy Wintle would emerge.
As they went from strength to strength, another 2 classes opened at the Budokan. A Tuesday 'Open Training Session' and the infamous 'Sunday Morning Session' where hard conditioning, Boxing, Vale Tudo and Submission grappling spawned and developed. The early pioneers of these sessions have the scars and nightmares to prove the point. (I joke not; look at Paul's ear sometime!')
More new faces began to get involved in the advanced training: Ross Mackenzie, his brother Nick and ex members like Danny Lloyd and Dave Fedick. Also Tony Watt, Bryan Watts and Paul Hirst, now had become solid and long-term members of the classes.
In the late 90s, unfortunately the Budokan was sold and now it is student flats. The classes there moved to a new venue: 'Lifestyles Fitness Centre' at Clouds Hill, St George in the Basement Room. The class was located underneath a body building gym where the descent down the stairs got the adrenaline pumping and the nerves jangling. The Budokan may be the spiritual home but Lifestyles 'Impact Dojo 2' had gone on to produce further results.
On to part 2