15th July 2009
Bob Sykes: Why Karate?
Greg Wallace: Well, I was always interested in Martial Arts but the reason I started was because of a bad shoulder injury, sustained while boxing. I had to retire from boxing so I needed an additional sport or substitute and Karate was the thing, it was a second interest at that time so I started at the local club.
Bob Sykes: So that was after how many boxing bouts?
Greg Wallace: That was after 40 fights at amateur level, in the light heavy weight category.
Bob Sykes: With having a boxing background had you ever thought about the kickboxing side of the Martial Arts?
Greg Wallace: Yes I used to be in kickboxing, I was the British and European Champion, in the first days of the kickboxing, I fought Steve Babbs for the title and I was the only one to beat him. I was reigning kickboxing champion for about 3 years before I packed it in, after Geoff Douglas died.
Bob Sykes: Who was your first instructor?
Greg Wallace: I trained firstly at Alexandra Palales for about six months but I didn't really get anywhere. Then I changed to my local club in Stratford, East London, there I trained under the guidance of Mick Hawkins, the style was Kyukoshinkai and it was there I got really stuck into it.
Bob Sykes: So how long did it take you to achieve black belt in Kyukoshinkai?
Greg Wallace: To achieve my black belt took me two years, I graded under the BKA panel, on that panel were names like, Ticky Donovan, Danny Connor and John Smith.
Bob Sykes: So your own style Greg is Renshinkai, could you tell me how this style came about?
Greg Wallace: Renshinkai came about because we had one team, who travelled and fought all over the country and we felt we needed a name, so we approached the chief instructor, Takamizawa and asked him about a name that would suit our purpose and he came up with the name Renshinkai, which actually means strength and unity. The motto catches on because we passed it on to our association, which is BASKA. We got the name from TAKAMIZAWA, but the style became further in my own interests. After parting with Dicky Wu, we parted company sadly, but then I pursued the changing of the style. So I changed the basics, the Katas right down to the way we fought so the style had really come round to my own experiences.
Bob Sykes: Then tell us a bit about BASKA?
Greg Wallace: When Dicky Wu left us, the chief instructorship was open, because we parted under certain circumstances which were a bit misleading, but it was nothing to effect Dicky Wu’s standard of Karate to this day, or his status, in my eyes Dicky Wu is still a great instructor, there is no doubt about it, so I took over the running of BASKA and we had about 1500 people in it then. I set about reorganising, restructuring and associating. We do preach the strength and unity motto and non politics, which is what a lot of people go for and just pure Martial Arts, so I then became chief instructor of BASKA, through my popularity as an instructor and everything just went from there.
Bob Sykes: Just recently we have seen another split in BASKA, could you give me your views on this?
Greg Wallace: This, unfortunately, is our second split, it came about through unscrupulous people I was working with, because I looked at these people as my friends and that was my mistake. I trusted these people, but then found out that there were preconceived plans to take over the running of BASKA, certain people were approached and offered positions and I only stumbled across it because I was going along blindly really just being interested in courses and teaching of Martial Arts I wasn’t too into the politics. When I discovered this and I was being told by these people, you must do things this way and you must forget about executive committees and the three of us can really pull this thing together. They wanted to dominate what I had to say and thats how the split came about. I was very fair about it because my intention was to leave BASKA anyway, since I was just gutted by what had happened. So I was leaving but the members decided that I should not leave, lots of calls and letters came in which said as far as they saw, I was BASKA and I had built it so why leave it, since it was the Renshinkai Karate students that started BASKA. We were the founder members, so I said OK lets go about this thing properly. We then approached the chairman and asked him to call a meeting, which he refused to do, because he knew what it was all about. So we set about calling a meeting which any set of three representatives are entitled to do. We called a meeting, they did not turn up so we suspended them, in order to get them to come to the following meeting which in fact they did, it as a big AGM. We had two meetings in one day, would you believe, and they were found guilty of misconduct, because they had done quite a lot of ridiculous things to try and get me to back down, so they could take over. So the AGM found them 350 votes to 10, or something ridiculous like that, to leave BASKA. Mr. Barker, who was at the time the chairman, accepted it, in fact he broke down in tears and then he left. A month later they popped up again, saying, we are not expelled, we are the official BASKA and laid claim to the title. Like I said, we set about doing this properly by sending a letter to the EKB, who in fact, let us down badly because we were an association who had expelled members. All they had to do was acknowledge it because we were, in fact, paying the EKB to belong to them, they were not our governing body, as such, to tel! us you cannot do this, and ‘what they did in fact, instead of accepting the AGM vote they listened to the story of Mr. Barker and Mr. Dinsdale who were old friends of theirs. They decided that we should then have another meeting, which would be our fourth meeting, which would have been ridiculous, we cou|dn't go back to our three and a half thousand strong members and say sorry, we have to have another meeting. You see, we are an association and we had voted and thats it, they should acknowledge lt. But then they decided to give the vote, our vote would you believe, to Mr. Barker who was then, they claimed, representative of BASKA, so they took it that he was the representative, so he was the association. Then we said, look you have got your wires crossed, we cannot stand for this. We will not sit at the same table and be told that we have three and a half thousand members and are not allowed to say anything, somebody else must speak on our behalf, who is not with us. Then we set about leaving the EKB and in fact, the MAC has welcomed us and the EKC, we now feel, where have we been all this time. Now the MAC are benefitting from our membership. We have only been with them about nine months and we have licensed about two and a half thousand members. Within the last year, fifteen clubs have joined us, so we have obviously done the right thing and the other BASKA have nothing to lose, that's why they tend to pursue this political thing, as we are the official BASKA. They have about a hundred members and nowhere really to go. They have not organised anything since we left and they set about appeasing their members by giving everyone, high dan grades, which is well out of order, they have even gone as far as to give cut rate competitions, where the members can now hold BASKA tournaments and the cheques are now payable to the members, instead of the association.