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IAIN Rodger started his karate career after leaving his native Oban and moving to Wales at the age of 19. After some investigation, he decided that the knockdown style of karate was what would suit him best.
Iain joined a club in Cardiff and was hooked from the first class, as the hard rigorous training was exactly what he had been looking for.
For the first couple of years Iain took part in many ‘points’ tournaments with some success. These were beneficial in honing distance and timing skills, and he was soon raised to the position of team captain for the Welsh squad.
Then as a green belt (4th kyu), he took part in his first knockdown tournament at the famous British Open at Crystal Palace and never looked back. In the early eighties, these tournaments were graced with competitors such as Dolph Lundgren and Semi Schiltz.
After around six years of training and fighting, Iain attempted and passed his 1st dan black belt at a summer training camp in Denmark.
The test itself took approximately five hours and ended with 31 minute fights against fresh opponents. Iain suffered two broken ribs during the fights but made it to the end. Iain said: ‘This made the coach trip back from Denmark slightly uncomfortable.’
In 1997 and now as a 2nd dan, Iain completed a 100-man kumite test, fighting 100 fresh fighters one after the other with no break. That same year he opened his first dojo in Caerphilly, South Wales. The club quickly became established with more than 40 members.
In 2001, Iain was tested for his 3rd dan, which was a gruelling 14-hour test spread over two days.
After moving back to his native Scotland in 2002, Iain opened two clubs, one in Lochgilphead and one in Oban, and both continue to flourish with new members rising through the grades all the time.
Iain organises beach training sessions each summer with the next one coming up on August 26 at Kilmory Knap.
In 2005, Iain was awarded his 4th dan black belt.
In 2010, Iain organised and ran the first Scottish Open knockdown tournament in Lochgilphead. The interest in this was such that the event was moved to Edinburgh for the following two years and now takes place in Glasgow every February.
The planning has already started for the 2018 event. 2010 also saw Iain being promoted to 5th dan (his current grade) at a major tournament in Wales.
In 2013, after many years at their old union and due to internal politics, Iain, along with two other 5th dans, decided to start their own Kyokushin Karate Union, the IKKU. The union now has worldwide recognition and hosts the second biggest knockdown karate tournament in the country each year, attracting fighters from all over Europe.
During his career to date, Iain has had the pleasure of training with some of the top karateka in the world, people like Hajime Kazume, Kazuyuki Hasegawa, Bernard Creton and many more.
He also had the privilege of coaching the British team at the world tournament in Japan last year.
Iain still makes the pilgrimage to the British Open each year, although as a coach these days, some 30 years after his first appearance there as a fighter.
In summary, Iain said: ‘I have been very lucky. My passion has taken me to places I would not have normally seen and made me some very good friends over the years.
‘These days nothing makes me happier than seeing children coming to the dojo and develop into strong human beings with the help of Kyokushin karate, long may it continue.’