In the IOGKF, one has to achieve the level of Sandan (3rd Dan) to earn the title of Sensei. Below this everybody is referred to as Senpai
Sensei John Marrable, Rokudan (6th Dan)
Sensei John became interested in martial arts in the early 1970’s due to the Bruce Lee movies and “Kung Fu” series. As a paraplegic, since the age of 11 due to a fall while climbing, he felt vulnerable in various altercations whilst growing up so he was keen to learn some form of unarmed combat. He approached various martial art clubs in his area of North London, England but was told that because he was in a wheelchair he “couldn’t” do it. This made John more determined and he taught himself from books and trained with friends who did kung fu.
In December 1974 John emigrated to NZ and in January 1976 he started formal training in Kyukoshinkai karate. The Club was a member of “The Rembuden Institute of Martial Arts” whose chief instructor was Sensei Jarvis. John held the rank of 3rd kyu in Kyukoshinkai when Sensei Jarvis invited Higaonna Sensei to New Zealand which resulted in “The Rembuden Institute of Martial Arts” being accepted into IOGKF.
One of the biggest highlights in John’s karate training was when Higaonna Sensei presented his own black belt to John at his first training visit to New Zealand. Higaonna Sensei told John that it was not a grading but an acknowledgement of John’s training spirit and determination and that he was to put the belt on his wall and look at it each day.
John was graded to Shodan in July 1980 by Higaonna Sensei at which time he told John that he could now wear “his” belt. John still has the belt and wears it on special occasions.
Higaonna Sensei has graded John at each of his gradings:
- Shodan: 1980 – Dunedin, NZ
- Nidan: 1983 – Spokane, USA
- Sandan: 1989 – New Plymouth, NZ
- Yondan: 1995 – Wellington, NZ
- Godan: 2008 – Okinawa, Japan
- Rokudan: 2016 – Okinawa, Japan
He has been to Okinawa five times and at each occasion has been personally asked by Higaonna Sensei to do a demonstration.
He was inducted into the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame, in Sydney August 2017.
John’s other sporting achievements are: 1st paraplegic in NZ to complete a full marathon. Represented NZ and Otago in paraplegic sport, has been active in wheelchair basketball and is still active in table tennis.
Adele Sinclair, Nidan (2nd Dan)
Senpai Adele is the cofounder of the club. She started training in 1989. She graded to Shodan just 3 years later in 1992 in Dunedin. She graded to Nidan in 1999 in Christchurch. She has also trained in Okinawa.
Geoff Preston, Nidan
Nick Biggin, Nidan
Senpai Nick graded to Shodan in 2008 in Waihi and to Nidan in 2015 in Dunedin.
Lee Hart, Nidan
Senpai Lee has been training in karate for 11 years. He graded to Shodan in 2014 in Dunedin and to Nidan in 2016 in Okinawa, Japan. He also holds Shodan in Judo, having trained in that discipline for over 30 years. He runs our children’s program.
Wendel Broek, Nidan
Lucas Storm, Junior Shodan
Simon van Gelderen, Shodan
Senpai Simon started training in Goju Ryu at the Karori Dojo in Wellington in 2000. He has trained in some other styles during this period and had some breaks. But he got back to it. Simon graded to Shodan in Dunedin in December 2018.
From non-IOGKF styles of Goju Ryu
Sensei John Swain, Sandan (3rd Dan)
Cheryl Farquhar, Shodan