Kirkcaldy’s longest established karate club is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Formed after a successful demonstration at a packed Kirkcaldy YMCA in 1971 by founders Ian Dryburgh and Roy Steele, the Redgate Karate Club is now well-known throughout Fife.
Roy (pictured below) was in his early 20s when he started out, and has devoted the past four decades of his life to the club, including the past 28 years in his role as chief instructor.
Roy, now aged 61, told SportsPress: “When we started out in 1971 nobody knew what karate was. People thought it was just something you did to break bricks, but people now have a better idea of what karate is.
“We were one of the first bona fide clubs in the town, and although there’s a lot more martial arts clubs in the town now than when we first started, we’re still holding our own.
“Other than the football team, karate is the longest running sport at the YMCA.”
The club has 11 resident black belts ranging is rank from head instructor Roy at 5th dan, to the club’s newest 1st dan, James McKeown.
Over the years members have enjoyed success at local, regional and national tournaments, and the secret, Roy explains, has been the club’s willingness to move with the times.
“In the early days, club membership was strictly adult males with no women or children, in complete contrast to today’s classes,” he said.
“People were scared of letting women and kids into karate, but now we take in males and females, from ages five up to 50.
“As the years have gone by, the syllabus has expanded to include the Be Safe, Be Aware personal defence seminars and anti-bullying drills for children.
“We’ve diversified over the years which has helped keep us ticking along.”
Roy is hopeful that Redgate Karate can continue to thrive up to its next big milestone – the half century.
“You never know how long clubs will go,” he said. “During the Bruce Lee era the place was packed to the gunnels, but we’re still very busy.
“It’s very difficult now at my age but what’s the alternative? Sitting in and watching Britain’s Got Talent, when there’s all that talent down at the YMCA?”