Within Gima-Ha those holding the grade of Seventh Degree Black Belt or higher are entitled to hold the “Shogo’ or title of Shihan (Master Instructor).
The honorary “Shuseki Shihan’ is Narumi Hidetada of Kushiro, Japan, due to the longstanding relationship between him and our ‘chief instructor’ in the UK, Rob Sidoli.
As eluded to above, the Shibu-Cho for the U.K. Branch is Rob Sidoli. He has trained extensively in Shotokan Karate since 1968. 2023 has seen his 55th year of training in Karate-Do.
Born 1956 in Cardiff, Wales, his family emigrated to British Columbia, Canada in 1967. He commenced karate training in 1968 with the Vancouver JKA (Sensei Hiroo Yamashiro – Powell Street) via its satellite dojo in Mission City.
In 1970 Shihan Hidetada Narumi visited Vancouver and the dojo. A two- week sojourn became one of the most important 10 years in the history of British Columbia Karate – the era of the Shisei-Kai (志誠会).
It was in the Narumi Dojo that Sidoli’s true passion for karate began. The lessons learned would stay with him, although for personal reasons he left the dojo and migrated to back to the JKA where he was fortunate to receive training from notables such as James (Ryo) Yabe and Shihan Hidetaka Nishiyama, plus a multitude of others on a lesser level. One such notable Shihan Toru Iwaizumi (Yamaguchi) gave Rob the dojo name Seikukan (誠空館).
In 1987, due to family reasons, Rob Sidoli left Canada and returned to the UK. Due to the influence of Shihan Toru (Iwaizumi) Yamaguch,i Robert aligned himself to the Japan Karate Association (Mastsuno/Asai faction) spending many happy years training with the likes of Tetsuhiko Asai, Toru Yamaguchi, Keigo Abe, Masao Kagawa and particularly Mikio Yahara.
In 1999 The JKA (Asai) fragmented with the leaders all creating their own associations. Rob followed the teachings of Mikio Yahara until the end of 2009 when he resigned from that organisation, Robert held posts as one of the senior examiners, senior referees, and sat on the ‘supreme council’.
Notably Rob organised three European Level and two World Championships during his tenor with the Yahara/Abe connections.
He also held positions as a senior examiner and instructor with the Japan Shotokan Karate Associations of Keigo Abe.
Co-incidentally (or perhaps not) Sidoli’s UK dojo name changed to Shisei-Kai in honour of Hidetada Narumi whose teachings Robert continued to incorporate within his karate.
In 2002/2003 contact was re-made with Shihan Hidetada Narumi. The rest as they say is history.
In 2006 a serious and life changing shoulder/arm injury requiring three surgeries curtailed Robert’s karate career. This was followed by a heart attack and again further surgery. Osteo Arthritis raised its ugly head, and a full Left Hip replacement occurred in. 2017. Rob. Is awaiting the same procedure on his right hip.
Although currently ‘semi-retired’ due to these health issues, Rob will not hang up his Dogi. He feels it important that he continues guiding students, both senior and junior to the ‘bottom of the mountain’ in order that they can make their own way up (Shu, Ha, Ri).
He is a renowned and sought-after coach in Traditional Shotokan-Ryu Karate, having taught in Japan, Canada, The USA, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Belgium to name a few.
Rob has taught many notable names, either directly or had influence/involvement with them – many have became International and World Champions (in both Kata and Kumite.
Robert (Route 66) and Shihan Narumi keep in regular contact, and jokingly have endearing nicknames for each other based on their ages.