About Oubaitori Karate Club

Learn more about our club, affiliations, and activities

We think that it is important to be transparent about who we are and what we do.
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Who are Oubaitori?

We are a non-profit Karate Club, which means any money we make goes straight back into the Club. We teach because we believe it is a sacred responsibility to pass on the lessons of the Senseis before us.

What does Oubaitori mean?

There are loads of articles online that will explain this better, but in very short it is an idiom that means each flower blooms in its own time. Which can be interpreted as enjoy your own journey and don’t compare yourself to others.

We teach and train in traditional Shukokai Karate, also known as Tani-ha Shitoryu. This means we train in the 3 Ks which are; Kihon – basic techniques. Kata – predetermined sequences or patterns or forms. Kumite, sparring and training for sparring. We branch some of this training to include Bunkai (application of Kata), and Sport/Competition Karate.

We train and compete in traditional Karate disciplines, we also compete in Kickboxing/WAKO disciplines, such as points fighting and continuous. Read more about our Competition Squad here »

Instructing Team

Students are the lifeblood of any Karate Club, our Instructing Team is the backbone.

When you train with us, these are the people you will meet.

All Oubaitori Karate Club Instructors are fully registered and insured, and hold valid and relevant First Aid and Safeguarding Certifications and Enhanced DBS Checks.

Our instructors are very experienced, inclusive, and passionate martial artists. They are all volunteers who give up their free time to support the journeys of our students with years of experience training, and are experienced competitors.

These are the instructors you will meet week in, week out with Oubaitori Karate Classes

Sensei Matt JOhnson

Head Coach

Sensei Matt is the Head Coach for Oubaitori Karate Club and has been training since the late 1990s. He is WKU English Champion in Kata and Kumite, and a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Shukokai Karate. He regularly competes at regional and national level in both Kata and fighting disciplines, and will be representing WKU England at the World Championships in Greece in October 2024.

  • WKU English Champion 2023 Kata & Kumite
  • 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • BMABA Level 1 Instructor
  • BMABA Safeguarding
  • Martial Arts First Aid
  • DBS Enhanced Check with Barred Lists
  • Insured and Registered to Instruct/Teach
  • Level 3 Childcare Qualified
  • Former Law Enforcement

Senpai Felicity “Flick” Johnson

Asst. Instructor & Club Secretary

Senpai Flick is the “Club Mum”, and takes care of everything to do with looking after our students and making sure everything works right. She’s been training for a couple of years now and has gained her brown belt, as well as competing in both Continuous and Kata.

  • 3rd Kyu Brown Belt
  • BMABA Safeguarding
  • Martial Arts First Aid
  • DBS Enhanced Check
  • Insured to Assist and Instruct

Ethos & Culture

We work very hard to ensure we create and cultivate the culture at Oubaitori Karate Club

This culture should create the right environment for everybody to thrive, where everybody is safe and welcome, and everybody can thrive.

Sweat, Smile, Succeed

You get out what you put in

Getting to black belt, or winning medals, is not easy. If it was, everybody would do it.

As long as you’re working hard and enjoying it, success will come. Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.

Karate is for everyone

Inclusion is critical

Everybody has different lifestyles, cultures, body types. Every student is unique, and we embrace our differences.

You don’t have to look like the poster, you don’t have to be the definition of peak physical form. Do what you can to the best of your ability on the day. Nobody can ask for more.

We Are All Students

The Journey Never Ends

We believe in “Wabi Sabi” – nothing is forever, nothing is perfect, nothing is finished.

Karate is a lifelong pursuit for those who choose to undertake it. The learning is never done, the techniques are never perfect. The unending nature is beautiful.

Honour & Respect

For one another, and for our art

As students of Karate we must honour our heritage. We must show respect to those who have been before, and those who are coming after.

We must learn to live and train in harmony. Disrespecting our fellow Karateka is to disrespect our art.

ADapt & Improvise

Optimise for Effectiveness

From training drills to competitive medals and self defence and everything in between.

Shukokai means “way for all”, it’s more important to find a way that works for you, than it is to exactly fit the mould of what others look like.


Everything in Harmony

In life and in training, we must find balance. Like the Yin and Yang, we need darkness for there to be light.

One cannot find happiness or progress unless they get their own unique balance correct. Offence and defence, art and sport.

Heritage & History

If you don’t know where you’ve come from, how will you get to where you’re going?

We embrace our lineage and history, we believe it is important that students understand that the instructors of today could not have been there if not for the long line of instructors before them.

Here we tell a very short version of the history behind Oubaitori Karate Club. It would take a book to describe the full history.

In modern times, our journeys cross paths with many, from many other styles of Karate. All of these styles have their own unique histories and ways of training. We embrace their history, and our shared future. These encounters and relationships with other clubs steers our future to a collaborative way, and influences the way we train and compete together.

At the end of each lesson we honour those who came before us, and those who have and will come after us, with the following;

Sensei-ni domo arigatogozaimasu gozaimashita. Rei!
Senpai-ni gozaimashita gozaimasu. Rei!

This translates as;
Thank you very much to the teacher. [Bow]
Thank you very much to my senior. [Bow]

It is worth noting that Rei does not literally translate to bow but instead, to expressing gratitude and respect.

Oubaitori Karate Club formed from within ToriKai Martial Arts Association* and ran inside the association until irreconcilable differences lead to Oubaitori Karate Club’s departure in November 2023. Oubaitori Karate Club was initially run by Sensei Matt Johnson under the guidance of Shihan Brian Whatford and Sensei Neil Flowers. All 3 of these instructors trained under Sensei Dave Ritchie in Falcon Karate Club*.

ToriKai Martial Arts Association* is run by Shihan Brian Whatford (Chief Instructor) and Sensei Neil Flowers (Assistant Chief Instructor), having taken over Falcon Karate Club from Senseis Dave and George Ritchie, when Sensei Dave emigrated.

Falcon Karate Club (FKC) was part of Tori Kai Karate Association*. Sensei George, Sensei Dave and Shihan Brian originally trained under Kofukan International*, run by Sensei Keiji Tomiyama, under Sensei Terry Murthwaite. Sensei Tomiyama was a direct student of Soke Chojiro Tani, founder of Shukokai (teaching Tani-ha Shitoryu).

Master Tani was a direct student of Kenwa Mabuni, founder of Shitoryu Karate, and Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju-ryu Karate. Tani-ha Shitoryu (Shukokai) was therefore Shitoryu Karate, with influence from the hard-soft style that is Gojuryu.

This means our Karate focuses on speed and fluidity of movement, and the light footed nature of Shitoryu Karate, whilst incorporating some aspects of Gojuryu. Following the Shukokai (“way for all”) lead – we prioritise effectiveness over uniformity.

The rest of the history can be, with relative ease, traced back to the 1700s as to where our Karate came from. From the UK back to Japan, from Japan back to Okinawa, and depending on the source, back to various places in China before that.

* Oubaitori Karate Club does not claim any affiliation to any of the above mentioned organisations or individuals. Any current day affiliations are detailed in the Affiliations & Associations section. Naturally, some of this section has been passed down verbally, and we’re relying on the accuracy of what we have been told.

in revered memory & Honour of

Chojiro Tani

Founder of Shukokai Karate (Tani-ha Shitoryu)
1921 – 1998

Kenwa Mabuni

Founder of Shitoryu Karate
1889 – 1952

Chojun Miyagi

Founder of Goju-ryu Karate
1888 – 1953

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