Ray Parker

Sensei Ray ParkerRay started training in martial arts in 1968 aged 13 at Professor Jack Holt’s club in Accrington, the headquarters of the Tegatani Martial Arts Organisation (TMAO). He was awarded student of the year in 1969 by the TMAO. The following year 1970, he won four competitions at two different events. He was first in sparring and board breaking TMAO event and was again first in sparring and first in kata at the Isle of Man championship.

At the end of the year while he was training for his black belt grading in kempo/Ju Jitsu at his local youth group building he founded our club there. He continued to successfully compete at national and international level until one year later he was graded at Sensei Phil Milner’s club in Sheffield. There, he was awarded his 1st dan by Professor Holt and Sensei Milner. He followed this in 1972 with an entry into the Guinness book of records has part of a local martial arts team who demolished a house with their bare hands.

In 1974 he was graded 2nd dan ratified by the TMAO and the BJJA. Each year following, he continued to establish his reputation as a skilled martial artist with further success in competition, public demonstrations and raising money for charity.

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Here in 1974, we see him winning 1st in Kata & coming 2nd in display at Belle Vue, Manchester.

In 1976 he was introduced to kickboxing when he fought a pro from the USA. Four years later he incorporated this with its own syllabus into the club in Blackburn. In the meantime he had graded 3rd dan in kempo (1976), kenjutsu (1977, way of sword) and Ju Jitsu (1977) winning a special award from the BJJA. He also attended international courses at Waterloo in Belgium and had taught in Spain.

He received consecutive special awards from the World Ju Jitsu Federation when attending their international courses in 1981 and 1982, the same year he co-produced a kempo training video. In 1983 he graded 4th dan Ju Jitsu from the BJJA again receiving a special award and started to train in Kyudo (way of bow) the same year. Three years later in 1986, he won an international competition in Scotland with the bow and gained class 3 coach with the society Okinawa Ko-Budo (weapons). In 1987, he became a member of the token society (sword), received a Martial Arts Commission (MAC) coaching award and the WJJF recognised him again with a special award. He followed this in 1988 with a MAC senior coaching award. However, the main event for Ray that year was his visit to Soke Munetoshi Inoue in Japan where he trained for a month and presented mayoral letters to him from Blackburn.

In 1990 he taught in California and Mexico and the following year 1991, he produced the kickboxing video, ‘The Kicker’. In 1992 he attended the United Nations of Ju Jitsu course at Roses in Spain. The following year while grading 5th Dan in Ju Jitsu BJJA, he taught in the Isle of man and continued these courses for the next two years.

In 1995 he and Simon relocated the club to the bigger venue of the Albion Mill were they celebrated their silver jubilee. Over the next five years, Ray continued has always attending and competing in international events, raising money for charity and introducing new systems to the club. He introduced a ladies self defence course and in 1997 dedicated an entire syllabus to kempo. In 1998 he was awarded 6th dan kempo by Nippon Dai Budo Kai (NDBK) association.

In 2000 he also gained his 6th dan Ju Jitsu from the TMAO and BJJA. Both disciplines bestowed the title of Shihan to Ray on acheivment of this level. Its primary definition is “One who brings water” but it is a title, used in Japanese martial arts to mean model teacher. After thirty two years of dedication to training, competing, collaboration with a mixture of the most reknowned martial arts organisations both nationally and internationally, Ray had earned this honour.

Ray has continued on his chosen path since 2000. In 2001 he established links with the head of the Hankyo kempo/Ju Jitsu association (HKJJA), Kancho Brian Wrightson. He had discovered through an article in a martial arts publication on Kancho Wrightson, that he had been one of his former students thirty years previously. Annual exchange training courses were run between the club and the headquarters of the HKJJA in Shrewsbury and in 2003, Ray gained his 7th dan from Kancho Brian Wrightson.

By 2004, Ray and Simon had seen their club grow year on year at its new location so much so, they had to open a second room at the club dedicated to Martial arts. Sadly, Kancho Wrightson’s premature death in 2006 took one of the UK’s leading exponents from the world of martial arts. Shortly after this, members of Brian’s association honoured Ray when they nominated him for his 8th dan and Professor Tony Smith head of NDBK awarded this at their headquarters in Shrewsbury.

In 2005 due to family commitments, Ray decided to reduce his responsibilities towards running the club with Simon, leaving Simon in full control. Simon continued the open door policy of the club that embraces different styles and bonds with different associations. In the summer of 2007 after a weekend course run at the club by local lad Michael Bisping, Simon introduced the teaching of mixed martial arts. At the end of the same year, he agreed a deal with one on Lancashire’s oldest Judo clubs. They relocated to train at the Albion Mill and so increased the range of training available under one roof. Not only is range extensive but the combined experience of all the instructors exceeds 200 years

In October 2009 after months of planning and organisation, Simon expanded the club for a third time in its history. He relocated to the new larger premises a mile away from the Albion Mill to the Queens Mill in Lower Darwen.