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Brief History Of Master John Holden


John started training in 1972 in the style of Shaolin Tiger Ripping Kung-Fu with Master Ted Harris. John was training six and seven times a week in his first year, including the style of Shotokan Karate. John was studying so often that by 1974 he was able to open his own club, at Keresley under the guidance of Master Harris and fellow senior student Mick Proctor. A Kung Fu craze was sweeping the country at this time due the "Kung Fu" TV series starring David Carradine that had recently aired on television, and to cater for these needs John had been allowed to set this extra class up. The Keresley club attracted fellow martial artist Ted Buswell (who in time became a Hung Gar instructor), and new students Pete Steptoe and Bob Jones who eventually opened up clubs of their own.

It was at this time that John gave up Shotokan Karate, but was still training five times a week in various styles including Shaolin Mok Gar with Master Charlie Chan and Wado Ryu Karate besides Shaolin Tiger Ripping.



Master Ted Harris And Master John Holden  


In 1978 John started to train with Master Steve Humphreys in the style of Dook Sau (which was a variant of Feng Sau taught by Chee Soo, who was Steve’s Sifu), and in the years to follow John was awarded
his black sash grade from Master Humphreys. During this period John opened clubs in Leamington Spa and Bedworth, which attracted former students Jim Nesmith and Dave Porter. In 1982 John formed his own association, incorporating aspects from different styles of Shaolin Kung-Fu with the aid of Master Humphreys. This system was called Shaolin Fist Chinese Boxing Association and incorporated both
hard and soft styles of Kung-Fu. John realised that a multi style system would benefit all students allowing them to make the most of their natural abilities. John affiliated his style with Master Humphreys'
United Kingdom Chinese Boxing Association and the Amateur Martial Association. The association started to grow, when Jim Nesmith and Dave Porter opened clubs in the years to follow. After achieving success in the National Team Demonstration Championships in both 1987 and 1988, the association became known around the country. John continued to grow in the United Kingdom Chinese Boxing Association and gained a ' National Coach ' award.



Master Steve Humphreys And Master John Holden

In late 1990 John nearly lost his life when he needed a triple heart by-pass operation. Doctors and surgeons informed John that his superb fitness aided his outstanding recovery. Several weeks after
his operation, John was again training. Unfortunately John was again to suffer a set back when he started to suffer from Osteo Arthritis, which severely hampered his training. It was at this stage that
John was on the verge of retiring from Kung-Fu. He was persuaded to continue teaching by his students.


Master John Holden Perfroming Crane Stance At Annual Camp 1999


In 1997, John was approached by former student, Sifu Paul Burkinshaw, who wished to invite John to be involved in his association. John accepted and was given the title of 'Master ' (Si-Gung) of this system, and a position as a grading examiner. In 1998 John’s Shaolin Fist club also merged with Paul’s Sil Lum Kune Chinese Boxing Association. As a sign of respect Paul still used the Shaolin Fist Chinese Boxing Association name (S.F.C.B.A.) as the name of his multi-style association.


Master John Holden Receiving 7th Degree August 2000

In 2000, Sifu Paul Burkinshaw approached the A.M.A (Amateur Martial Association) to reward John for his dedication in martial arts, and charity work over the years. In response to Paul’s recommendation John was awarded his 7th Degree Black Sash in August 2000.

In March 2001 John and Sifu Paul Burkinshaw continued their education in Kung Fu by travelling to Hong Kong to study. While Paul trained at the Chin Woo, John met and was befriended by Tong Shing Chi, who started to teach John his family style of Beggar Kung Fu.

In March 2002, after achieving 30 years within the art, John decided to take a break from the association at club level. John wanted time to concentrate on other aspects of the art and developing his own abilities further. This included spending more time dedicated to teaching students privately (closed door). It was during this period Sifu Paul Burkinshaw continued his studies as John’s only Inner Chamber disciple.

In November 2004 John returned to the club environment and from time to time visits various classes to offer advice and share his knowledge and skill demonstrating techniques.


In March 2005 John travelled to China with Sifu Paul Burkinshaw on Chen Lei's cultural trip. This included trips to the usual tourist sites as well as various martial arts training and visit to the Shaolin temple in Honan province. While at the Shaolin Temple John and Paul conducted a training session for the students which caused alot of interest and attracted a large crowd of tourists. During this session John awarded Paul his 6th Degree Black Sash.

In April 2006 John again travelled to China with Paul and visited Shaolin sites at Putian, Quanzhou and Honan, as well as Wudang, Emei Shan, and Hua Shan.

In November 2007, John celebrated 35 years in martial arts. This party attracted students from as far back as the early 1970's, and up to the present day, all gathering to celebrate with John on this fantastic achievement. 

In December 2012, a party was organised to celebrate John's 40 years in martial arts. John was presented with two trophies at this event. One was from his current students of Shaolin Fist and the other was from Sifu Paul Burkinshaw and the Siu Lum Kune Association.