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Master Tom Carey


Master Tom Carey (early 1970's)

Master Tom Carey was born in 1937 and started his martial arts career after joining the Parachute regiment in the mid 1950’s.

During this period he toured the world including Asia and Hong Kong. Part of Tom’s training included the Japanese arts of Karate and judo as well as the hand to hand combat taught in his regiments. (The Chinese arts were not known to many Westerns at this time.) Tom left the armed services some time in the late 1950’s and started to open clubs in the Coventry and Warwickshire area teaching a Karate style of mixed martial arts based around Wado Ryu taken from his background in the armed services.

In the early days of martial arts here in England, all the main instructors knew each other and would visit and train at each others clubs. In the Midlands Tom and his students would train with notable characters such as Tatsuo Suzuki and Fuji from Wado Ryu Karate, and Bob Johnson from the Chinese arts. Tom Carey continued his education in martial arts by training with these people and became greatly inspired by the Tiger style taught by Bob Johnson. Tom spent two years training with Bob before converted his clubs from Karate to Kung Fu in 1965. He then renamed his club “Shaolin Tiger Ripping Kung Fu.”

Tom started his first club at Bell Green Working Mens Club in Coventry, but by the mid to late 60’s had expanded to include clubs at Coton Church Hall, Hill Top in Nuneaton, the Cottage pub in Nuneaton, the Binley Oak in Coventry and a place in Leicester. (in the early days many classes were held in the function rooms at various pubs and clubs)  Tom had a reputation for not only teaching martial arts in a hard core military fashion but also as fearsome man who was as hard as nails.

In 1967 Tom and his instructors were involved in large scale promotion of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. This was due to the films heavy martial arts contents. The promotion involved many martial arts demonstrations at various cinemas in the areas in which the film opened. This greatly publicised Tom’s club and therefore helped to further expand the association. In these early days, Kung Fu was not yet widely known to the general public who considered martial arts to be either Karate or Judo.

Tom’s association continued expanding in the 1970’s with many new clubs opening as more instructors became qualified and opened their own clubs. Tom continued to be involved with Bob Johnson and stayed good friends. In the 1970’s Kung Fu expanded at a fantastic rate due to the Bruce Lee films and the TV series Kung Fu with David Carradine. At this time Tom with Bob Johnson were involved in forming associations and policing the Kung Fu scene to guard against rogue instructors deceiving the general public. This sometimes involved uncovering disreputable instructors who had manufactured their style and history to cash in on the popularity of Kung Fu. Even if the challenge involved a violent confrontation, then Tom wouldn’t hesitate to get involved and sort the situation out.


 Tom in 1974 (4th Degree Black Sash)

From the mid 70’s, Tom was becoming more distracted from the martial arts because of other commitments in his life. These commitments forced Tom to take a year out in 1977. A year later he made a welcome return however because of work and family commitments, he started to take a back seat and let his juniors take the reins. He finally moved from Bedworth in 2002 and retired to Skegness.

Tom passed away on 16th January 2009.