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Ken Hyland

Master Ken Hyland started his martial arts in late 1962 at Bell Green Working Mens Club in Coventry with Master Tom Carey. Initially this involved Wado Ryu Karate as well as other various aspects of the Japanese arts and military hand to hand combat that Tom was teaching at this time. By early 1965 Ken had become an assistant instructor and was in a position to take the classes for Tom Carey. It was in 1965 that Ken was continually asked to cover his instructor’s classes while Tom was away. At the time Ken was unaware of the reason for Tom absences until one evening Tom turned up in a black suit and informed the class he had been studying Tiger Kung Fu with his good friend Bob Johnson. The clubs were then converted to Kung Fu and Ken was then taught Shaolin Tiger Ripping that Tom had learnt from Bob Johnson.

Ken found the change of style suited him better. He preferred the faster more fluid movements of the Kung Fu compared to the style he had originally being studying. When his Sifu opened a new club at the

Binley Oak in Coventry in 1967, Ken was involved with setting it up and then teaching the novices. One of these new students was Ted Harris. He taught at this venue until 1971, when he opened a club at Balsall Common. It was in the mid 70’s that Tom’s commitments forced him away from the martial arts and so Ken set up his own association with the blessing of his Sifu. They remained good friends and also maintained a mutual involvement on a martial arts basis.

From the mid 70’s Ken started to run weekend training courses once a month at Wetton Mill in Derbyshire for his students, which Tom would also occasionally attend. These involved Kung Fu as well as military training and survival techniques. It was during this period that Ken achieved his 4th Degree Black sash from his Sifu, Master Tom Carey. Over the period 1975 and 76, Ken’s association expanded when his assistant instructors (Joe Bates, Phil Packham & Chris Lozetsky) starting open clubs in Coventry at Tile Hill, Stoke and in Solihull near Birmingham. Ken also taught Kung Fu to 5th year students at Lode Heath High School twice a week as part of their options curriculum.

Ken had built up strong ties with the Chinese community in the Coventry area. Sunday evenings would usually be spent with these Chinese friends eating and drinking at the Dragon restaurant in Earlsdon, Coventry before rounding off the night at the pictures to watch a film at midnight with the Chinese film society. During the late 1974/5, one of his Chinese friends asked him to look after Charlie Chan, a Chinese Hong Kong friend that was coming to England to live. Charlie Chan had studied Mok Gar in Hong Kong before coming to England. Once in this country he started training with Ken in the Tiger Ripping. Unfortunately twelve months later Charlie was invited to leave the club after issues were brought to Ken’s attention regarding Charlie’s intentions with that club.

In early 1978, Ken was involved in a bad car accident. One night after training while driving back to one of his assistant instructor’s homes, the front wheel and suspension collapsed on his car. The car then veered into a wall. Ken went through the windscreen fracturing his skull and hip, braking both cheek bones, jaw and several ribs as well as losing part of his nose. Ken was out of training for 6 months recovering. A couple of months after his return his students and assistant instructors surprised him one evening after training with an award and trophy for his safe return and dedication to the association.

The next few years were spent performing endless demos raising money for charity and the normal day-to-day running of the association, which had now grown to a membership of approximately 250 students. As the 1980’s progressed Ken became more and more disillusionised with the martial arts scene. More clubs than ever were suddenly springing up as people were breaking away from the traditional bodies forming the new freestyle to do their own thing. By 1982, Ken had decided that he had had enough, and so retired from Kung Fu.