Anyone who reads TSW often enough will be well aware of my opinion of the work of Dr. Clive Layton. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to read and share my thoughts with you all on a variety of his texts, including ‘Ronnie Watt, 8th Dan’, ‘Masao Kawasoe, 8th Dan’, and ‘Shotokan Dawn, volumes I & II’.
When I received Dr. Layton’s most recent text ‘Scotland’s First Karate Club’, you can just imagine my excitement. Now I don’t want to ruffle any feathers here, but as a Celt, I think it’s just great that a book be dedicated to Scottish Karate and its first ever club. It is not uncommon really, for a variety of well deserved reasons, to hear about England and English Karate. As a Welshman however it’s great to hear of fellow Celts practicing karate.
Here, in Clive Layton’s most recent offering of historical information we are given a unique insight, not simply into the first club in Scotland and its development, but to the events surrounding the ultimate beginning of the art in Scotland.
The heart of this book, as the title suggests, surrounds the significance of the first dojo in Scotland, on the North Ayrshire coast. This dojo, established by Edward Ainsworth (now a 7th Dan Judoka) was to be one of the first seven BKF dojos throughout Britain. As with The Shotokan Dawn Volumes 1 and 2, Layton uses the BKF archive records as the ‘backbone’ of the book, he is able to thoroughly dismantle the history of Scottish karate, track it back to its beginning and present an essential glimpse into the events that shaped the development of Scottish Karate.
Layton is nothing if not detailed; sifting through tons of records to reveal not only early correspondence between Vernon Bell (founder of the BKF and the man recognised as the leader of karate in Britain) and Edward Ainsworth in his early training and subsequent establishment of karate in Scotland, but even goes back to analyse early correspondence of enquiries into karate in Scotland. Whilst some cynics may suggest that reading about enquiries lacks ‘substance’, it does in fact reveal much more than it initially appears. It demonstrates the level of public knowledge of the art, and how far back it went. This interestingly points our viewing to the extent to which judo was practiced in Britain. It is so common to read interviews with karateka who speak of their initial steps in the Martial Arts in Judo before embarking on the path of karate-do, and this book most certainly supports the trend in Scotland. The role, it has to be said, that Sensei Kenshiro Abbe played in the promotion of public awareness of the Martial Arts is undoubted.
Through wonderful extracts of interviews with Ainsworth, Layton depicts the early steps made by Scottish Karate. This is supported so beautifully with the wide range of superb archive photographs that help set the scene, put faces to names and give the audience a real atmospheric sense of the time.
We are given the excellent offering of photographic evidence of BKF licences from early members, Edward Ainsworth’s signed BKF Declaration and Oath of Allegiance from 1961, and photographs depicting significant moments in time – of training, of demonstrations and of links with the likes of Sensei Abbe and Murakami.
It’s a well known motto, but one that really makes sense and is so accurate. To predict the future, we must study the past. In this aim, careful reading of this text is essential. It is undoubted in my mind, that there is no Martial Art historian as important as Dr. C. Layton, and this most recent text is a great example of his detailed and meticulous approach to presenting historical events that shaped the experiences we, as modern karateka, are lucky enough to have.
Whilst being short in length, this book is a real gem and I think anyone interested in learning more about Scottish karate, karate in Britain or the lineage of where it all started, then this book will be loved by you all.
To purchase this excellent book, please visit www.monabooks.co.uk