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Martial arts: IT SHOULD BE A REAL BELTER.

ONE of the oldest and most respected jiu-jitsu clubs in Europe celebrates its 75th anniversary this month.

Skyners of Liverpool is holding a special reunion night for former students and instructors on Thursday, December 18.

Founded in 1928 at 67 Mount Pleasant by Professor Gerry Skyner and his Japanese mentor,Mikonosuke Kawaishi, the college,originally called the Liverpool Jiu-Jitsu School, quickly established a reputation for excellence which was widely acknowledged by grand masters of the art in the Far East.

Prof Skyner was an unarmed combat instructor for the RAF and police, while Kawaishi went on to be a resident instructor at Oxford University and head of the French Judo Federation. While in Liverpool he was famous for taking on all-comers in challenge matches against boxers and wrestlers at the old Liverpool Stadium.

One of the college's long-serving instructors, Ronnie Wright remembers the late Prof Skyner fondly,and still visits his 96-year-old widow Kitty, a proud owner of the British Empire Medal.

Ronnie said: ``A man stopped Skyner outside the club one night and asked how long it would take him to get a black belt.

``Skyner told him: `Half an hour! Catch the bus at the stop over the road and go to Jack Sharps (sports shop) -they sell them there'.

``Basically he was telling him he might never get one -there is no quick or easy way.''

That philosophy is part of the reason why the club built such a solid reputation and has always kept a select group of dedicated students.

Chief instructor Bernie Gavan added: ``I always make anyone who shows an interest come and watch before they join us. Out of the last 17 lads who'vebeen along only one came back the next week and he has really stuck it out and developed.''

After opening in Mount Pleasant in the 1920s, the club moved to Catherine Street and the legacy continues to this day with current instructors having trained,competed and taught as far afield as Japan,China,Thailand, USA and Australia.

Three long-serving instructors were this week honoured with a special presentation of Japanese certificates from Bernie -Ronnie Wright and Ray Davies, who were teaching in the 60s and Tony Hanrahan (70s) were the recipients.

Anyone who attended the club during its 75-year history and is interested in going to the anniversary night or has any old memorabilia, should contact Bernieon 07930 141442.

CAPTION(S):

RECOGNISE ANYONE? Prof Skyner with some of his students in 1950s; CLUB STALWARTS: (front from left) Tony Hanrahan,Ray Davies, Ronnie Wright with instructors (back row) Bernie Gavan,Martin Cunningham and Vinny McSween
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2003
Words:434
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