Sensei Julian Mead Part 1: Early Training
Sensei Mead started his martial arts training at the age of 16 years old in 1974 with Sensei Kitamura studying Wado Ryu. Having had some involvement in boxing and enjoyed fighting, martial arts seemed the obvious vehicle to use to channel this energy. After taking several grades, Sensei Mead was introduced to a student of Sensei John Sullivan, who invited him to the Yui Shin Kai and Ryu Kyu Kobujutsu club. Sensei Mead accepted the opportunity to train with Sensei Sullivan and quickly became a serious and dedicated practitioner of the Yui Shin Kai Karate system.
It would be a lie to say that Sensei Mead did not enjoy the hard kumite lessons run by Sensei Sullivan, being 6ft 3inches proved to be very useful. Having a teacher of similar size does allow a natural absorption and understanding without the adjustments required for varying heights.
In due course Sensei Mead was invited to the Kobujutsu lessons, which predominantly were held on a Sunday morning. The timing of the lessons proved to be a failing for many after the Saturday night indulgences, and attendance varied accordingly. When you’re between 18 and 20, having to get up early to train is hard enough, but practicing Kobujutsu in addition to Karate, demands a great deal of commitment. Sensei Mead?s evolving gritty approach allowed him to progress, but at that stage Kobujutsu did not have the same appeal as Karate.
Sensei Mead’s enthusiasm and desire to improve involved him in many karate championships for the club. Sensei Sullivan produced some excellent fighters both Wuko and full contact compliant. There were many occasions when they would visit other clubs to fight, something which is not considered appropriate today. Nevertheless it provided the excitement of not knowing what you were up against and taught the need to come to terms with opponents to defeat them as quickly as possible.
Desire for further challenges then led Sensei Mead to join the marines, something Sensei Sullivan found abhorrent. His philosophy was that a martial artist grows to be independent and individual whereas the forces cultivate group dependence. His suggestion, or perhaps demand was that before being posted Sensei Mead should consider going to Japan to continue his training. Sensei Inoue accepted Sullivan’s request for him to train at the Honbu dojo and much to the displeasure of the forces, Sensei Mead set off for Japan.