Rushden man Dennis Graves is celebrating 50 years of practising karate and helping more than 150 people gain their black belts along the way.
The Kyu Shin Ryu dojo in Robinson Road, Rushden, has held karate and self defence classes for 25 years and owner Dennis Graves and his wife Paula have trained thousands of children and adults.
He said he gets huge satisfaction from training people and has no intention of retiring, joking that he’ll probably give up when “they’re throwing the dirt on my coffin”.
He added: “I get a lot of satisfaction in training people, particularly the children.
“With the children you can watch them grow as people and it is nice to think that you may have had some impact on their progression, it is rewarding.”
Mr Graves took up judo back in 1962, when his father was part of the British Aircraft Corporation.
However, he was unable to carry on with the sport but eventually joined a karate gym, or ‘dojo’.
He tried his hand at the martial art, fell in love with it, and the rest was history.
He trained for a number of years in Luton, before making his way to Rushden in 1987.
The nimble 62-year-old has taught in the town ever since and still has a few dedicated students who train with him, 25 years later.
He eventually moved into his premises in Robinson Road in 1994.
Mr Graves, who is an 8th Dan black belt in karate, said he gets messages from people many years after he has trained them.
He added: “I had an email the other day from a man who has moved to America.
“He said thank you for giving him the confidence in his life to get over the fear of bullying.
“It is so nice to think I’ve had an impression on their lives.”
Join the club
The Kyu Shin Ryu dojo in Robinson Road, Rushden, teaches lessons in karate, boxercise and self defence and holds a number of sessions throughout the week.
The dojo’s sensei Dennis Graves said that people of all ages are welcome, with all sessions costing £5.
Karate sessions are held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Email for details.