Garry Harford, full time instructor and KUGB grading examiner, was born in Salford in 1960 and was introduced to Shotokan Karate by a family member back in 1972. He took his KYU gradings under Sensei Sherry then graded to 1st Dan on the 14th March 1976 under Sensei Enoeda. Garry continued to grade under Sensei Enoeda up to his 6th Dan and gained his 7th Dan grading under Sensei Sherry on the 19th May 2007. Garry was awarded his 8th Dan (Hachi-dan) by Sensei Sherry at the KUGB National Championships in May 2015.
Garry trained every day prior to retirement from competition and believes there are no hidden secrets or easy ways to achieve excellence as a karateka. The only way to achieve your best is to train regularly and hard with the best instructors available. Garry regularly travelled to Liverpool to train under Sensei Sherry and Poynton and maintains this practice by training twice a week with Andy Sherry, Frank Brennan and other senior grades.
His introduction to Karate competition was in the last BKCC All Styles Championships back in 1977. Garry was selected as a member of the first Junior KUGB Squad and competed at the 1980 European Senior and Junior Championships held in Bregenz, Austria. He won 1st place in the Junior Team Kata, 1st place in the Senior Kata and was part of the Team Kumite winners too.
His list of achievements include 1st place in Kata and Kumite in the Shotokan Cup and EKB All Styles Kumite Champion in 1987. Garry was also a member of the KUGB team that won the EKB Championship in 1985-88 inclusive. He is very proud to have been a member of the team that for many years dominated European Shotokan Karate Championships.
The highlight of his career was being a member of the team that spectacularly won the 1990 World Shotokan Championships held in Sunderland.
As a fighter, Garry's style focused on speed, timing and quality of technique which was often displayed in his performances. He was very comfortable using both feet and hands to fight his opponents. Being very agile, he would maximize his kicking ability by making use of Mawashi-geri Chudan and spinning Ushiro-Mawashi-geri.
As an Instructor, Garry's personal sense of fulfilment was achieved in 1987 when his club team, Poynton SKC, won the KUGB National Championships after reaching 3rd place in the two preceding years.
Following on from the success in the Nationals, Garry set up his home club, Salford Academy SKC, in Salford in 1987 but has recently re-located to Hulme close to Manchester City Centre under the new name "Shotokan Karate Academy".
Garry is also the resident Karate Instructor for Manchester University and has been since he was just 16 years old. The University have won the KUGB Student National Championships on numerous occasions since the late 1980's. The club has also had success at the KUGB National Championships, notably dominating the Team Kata in 2000 to 2011, with the partnership of Stuart Gordon, Vicky Phillips and Dean Field.
Alongside Stuart, Dean and Vicky, Garry has produced many members of the KUGB England and Great Britain squads over the years. Stuart Gordon has won the National Kata several times. Vicky Phillips was winner of World Team Champion - Kumite, Kata and Kumite Grand Champion of which only one other female member of the KUGB has achieved this great accolade.
Garry is a loyal supporter of the KUGB and is keen to contribute to the future success of the organisation. Garry is well known and liked as an Instructor, Grading Examiner and Referee. He often travels to other KUGB clubs and is part of the KUGB Referee contingency for both National and International Competitions. When asked what does Karate and the KUGB mean to him, Garry said:
"The KUGB is an integral part of my life as I have studied and trained Shotokan Karate for the past 39 years. I train and teach almost every day and hope to continue to do so until the day I die. I experience the same desire today to achieve my best as much as I did in my younger years. I truly enjoy training and being challenged by Andy Sherry and Frank Brennan as much as in the early days. I feel I still have a lot to offer students who aspire to gain the expertise and experience that I have gained over the years. Long may it last!"
Vicky Phillips took up karate in 1988 at the age of eight at West Kirby Karate Club, training under the instruction of Sensei John Bolton. Luckily for us she was too young for Kendo when she was looking for a sport to take up! Vicky's talent for kata was evident as early on as 8th Kyu when she started entering kata competitions. Upon taking her 1st Dan in 1991 with Sensei Enoeda she was immediately invited to join the KUGB England Kata Squad.
In 1997, having already achieved her 2nd Dan, Vicky moved to Manchester to attend university and commenced training with Sensei Garry Harford. This was to be a turning point in her competitive career having thus far earned silver and bronze medals in kata. Vicky commenced sweeping up gold medals in both kata and kumite, starting with her individual kumite gold in the National Student Championships in 1997. She was selected for the KUGB England Junior Squad in 1998 and picked up 3 medals in her first European competition, ESKA Prague.
Since then, Vicky has won gold medals at regional, student and National championships for kata, kumite and team events making her one of the most successful all-rounders in the KUGB. In 2006 Vicky completed a clean sweep of golds in Individual Kumite, Individual Kata and Team Kata at the KUGB Nationals and at the Shotokan Cup, earning her the Grand Champion title, only the second female competitor in the KUGB to have done so.
Her proudest karate moment was when she won the World Shotokan Karate Association Team Kumite Gold medal for England in Zurich in 2003, scoring Ippon with a mawashi-geri jodan as the final fighter.
Vicky, now a 5th Dan which she achieved under Sensei Sherry in 2011, continues to train and teach at the Academy, as well as teaching on a guest basis at other clubs.
Vicky became proud mum to Jessie in June 2012!
Dean first started karate in 1985 at the age of 6 whilst living in Market Drayton. After moving to Manchester to study Architecture at the University of Manchester in 1997, he joined the KUGB under the instruction of Garry Harford. Dean has graded under Sensei Enoda and Sensei Sherry and is currently a 4th Dan.
Dean’s first competition in the KUGB was in 1997 at the student national championships where he won the individual kumite title. After attending his first Junior kumite squad selections in 1999, Dean began focusing more on competition training and went on to win the 1999 KUGB National under 21 kumite event. In the same year he narrowly missed out on the WSKA world under 21 individual kumite finals in Moscow, when he came 5th after a tied decision went against him allowing Alexandre Gizenko of Russia to progress into the finals.
Dean’s highest senior individual European achievement came at the age of 21 whilst competiting in Austria at the annual european ESKA event in 2001. On his way to the finals Dean beat off Afrim Latifi of Germany (EKF & ESKA champion), Simon Adolfsson of Sweden (the reigning double ESKA champion) and Dimitri Formiakov of Russia (multiple ESKA & WKSA champion) as well as others. Dean had to settle with 3rd place in individual kumite event after losing to the eventual winner, as well as 3rd place in team kumite and team kata.
Unfortunately, alongside sporting success Dean has suffered numerous injuries between 2003 and 2008 which have required a total of 6 operations. However during this time he continued to return to the sport. In 2009 all the dedication and determination to get back to karate paid off when alongside his 4 other team mates, he won the European team kumite title in front of a home crowd in Crawley beating Austria in the Final. This success rolled on in 2009 when Dean won the KUGB national individual Kata title, the world team kumite title in Cancun, Mexico and the European team kumite title in Wells, Austria.
Since the start of 2010, sadly Dean has been struggling with debilitating health problems but he has continued to do all he can to enjoy his sport. At the National Championships in May 2010 again his natural ability shone through when he achieved a place in all four finals. Here with the team he won Gold for team Kata and bronze for team Kumite, and achieved a bronze in the individual kata event, a result owing to fatigue and which could have served as a warning as to what was about to happen. Dean suffered a spontaneous collapsed lung in the final of the individual kumite event against JJ Bruce and was unable to continue. Despite continuing health issues, Dean came back to claim the 2010 Shotokan Cup for individual kata later that year.
2011 has already had some success for Dean also, with a gold and silver medal for team and individual kata at the National Championships, Birmingham, in May. We sincerely hope that Dean can continue to enjoy training and achieving well into the future, and also continue to be the inspiration he is to the youngsters at the Shotokan Karate Academy.
Brooks began his training at the age of 11 in his hometown of Forfar, north east Scotland; grading to 2nd Dan at the age of 16. In 2000, Brooks began studying law at the University of Edinburgh and joined the EU Shotokan Karate Club. Over the following 5 years he was a member of the successful team which won the British student championships 4 years in a row, including appearances in 3 consecutive male team kumite finals from 2002 – 2004. In light of his success in British and Scottish student competition, Brooks was awarded a full Blue from the University in 2004.
Upon completing his studies in 2005, Brooks re-located to Manchester and joined the Manchester University Karate Club, under the tutelage of Sensei Garry Harford. It was at this point that Brooks felt his karate truly began to develop and improve. While he had trained under good instructors previously, he had not encountered anyone with the same commitment, insight and attention to detail as Sensei Harford.
Brooks re-graded to 2nd Dan in the KUGB in 2006, before moving to Newcastle for 2 years for work reasons. At this time Brooks trained at the Sendai Karate Club in Sunderland, instructed by Sensei John James Bruce. During this period Brooks also became a member of the KUGB Scotland Team, trained by head instructor Sensei Gordon Mathie. As part of the Scotland Team, he would compete in kata and kumite at European Championships in Portugal, England and Austria; as well as World Championships in Poland and Mexico. Brooks has also achieved a variety of success in the KUGB in both individual and team events at British, Northern Region and Scottish Championships.
Brooks returned to Manchester in 2008 and now trains regularly at the Shotokan Karate Academy. He successfully graded to 3rd Dan under Sensei Sherry in 2011. In April 2015, Brooks achieved 4th Dan at the KUGB Special Dan Course and Grading under Sensei Sherry.
Michael started training in karate back in 1999 at the age of 7 in South Wales where he grew up. This was with a non-KUGB organisation and he reached Sandan (3rd Dan Black Belt).
Michael moved to Manchester in 2010 when he commenced a Computing for Business Applications degree course at the University of Manchester. It was at this time that he was looking for a karate club to train at in Manchester and duly joined the Manchester University Shotokan Karate Club, training under Sensei Garry Harford, the club's senior instructor. As well as being a dedicated part of the club's committee, he attended several competitions such as the KUGB Student Nationals, KUGB Northern Region Championships, KUGB Nationals and BUCS. Michael still continues to participate in many competitions both as a competitor and as a coach.
Whilst at university, Michael also practised Jiu Jitsu and he became fascinated with the intricate techniques and instantly relatable applications of techniques found in may Shotokan kata.
Michael joined the Shotokan Karate Academy, Sensei Harford's main club, when it re-located from Salford to Hulme, Manchester. This gave him a chance to both keep up his own training while starting to teach at the university club, under the watchful eye of Sensei Harford. Michael now regularly teaches at the university and the Academy as well as occasionally visiting other local clubs with links to the Academy to lend a helping hand.
In 2013, when he turned 21, Michael re-graded to Sandan, this time with the KUGB, which was the earliest he could confirm his grade within the KUGB. In 2016, Michael was selected to the KUGB England Kata Squad and now competes at the Grandslam competitions held throughout the year alongside the other KUGB competitions.