The history of Kushido Karate-Do

The roots of Kushido...

KUSHIDO is today a fully international organisation and system. It is, of course, the natural development of and from the founding KARATE-DO and later KARATE-DO INTERNATIONAL which are still the holding organisations. As a separate system, it follows its own principles, concepts and rules as developed by the founders. Additions and improvements are constantly being made and added by all the Masters. The complete story is naturally far more comprehensive and a brief history follows.

January 1st 1963 saw the founding of the school Karate-Do in Cape Town by Hugh St. John Thomson and Marty St. John Thomson together with 7 students. The second dojo opened at the University of Stellenbosch not too many years later. The style was loosely based on Shotokan style techniques but fairly heavily influenced by concepts of Kyokushinkai. The name was selected, simply, KARATE-DO. The name of the school was decided on after careful consideration of the meaning, aims and philosophy of the martial arts. At that time, 'Karate' was widely translated as the way of the empty hand, meaning without aggression, while 'do' is the mystical pathway of life through experience and searching for truth. This to indicate that the school would follow a deeper course - not merely physical techniques. So it is even today.
The badge design is the heraldic depiction of this concept. Simply stated, the fist, representing understanding through discipline and study, is superimposed over a sword, symbolising aggression and ignorance.Kancho Hugh

The year 1965 saw a new turn when the founders brought out two highly qualified teachers from Japan from the Shotokan system, Taiji Kase and Hiroshi Shirai. Training was conducted for some months and was of the highest level available. Both these teachers remain world-renowned. Hugh, however, felt that some element was not present and decided to pursue inner compulsions and accordingly went to Japan. Investigating, he decided to train with the Okinawan Goju Ryu system which he found much more open and fluid. He also trained with the Shorinryu system - which was the system from which Shotokan evolved. He also studied Aikido at the Aiki Honbu in Tokyo and found the system highly compatible with Goju. He was able to include some elements of Kendo at this time. He was unanimously appointed onto the founding World Referees Examining Board in Paris as one of nine. A singular honour. He returned to South Africa with the rank of SHIHAN or master. Karate-Do underwent dramatic alterations and expansion as all the methods and ideas learnt were incorporated.

At this time (1967) he took the step to pursue an independent line and make the necessary adaptations to produce a system catering for Western concepts and build as well as oriental. Grades were consolidated and only grades issued by the system were from that time recognised within the system. However, appreciation is always afforded to recognised systems' grades.
By striving to expand concepts and become more encompassing, the system has encouraged experimentation at all level. Hanshi Denis St John Thomson, who has long been the leading light in development, first with expanding the use of traditional weapons such as the Sai, Bo, Nunchaku, Tonfa and Sickle, has become an authority in South Africa and many other areas. He has since changed focus and moved into the internal or soft system of T’ai Chi Chuan, with his studies taking him to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Britain, where he studied under various Tai Chi masters.

Healing, which has always been regarded as a vital aspect of the system, was first explored by the Kancho in 1963 and he studied under a famous naturopath, the late FO Lawrence. Later, the Kyoshi researched various healing aspects, including massage, shiatsu and reiki. Hanshi Alana van Rensburg expanded her side in healing and has greatly added to the pool of understanding in all aspects of Bio-energy.

1970 - The founder introduced his school and style when he took part in a referee course and became the first and youngest Westerner to became chief referee in Tokyo and refereed in the first Karate World Championship.

1971 - Francis Rink opened a Karate-Do school in Rhodesia Zimbabwe.
1972 - Leon Pantanowitz opened a Karate-Do school in Israel.  History
Both were students of Shihan Hugh from the beginning.

early 1970s when kushido was still called karate-do.  Sensei Dennis Martin taught in Liverpool for many years, those who used to read Terry O'Neill's "Fighting Arts" magazine will know him as the VIP protection expert.

1986 - after studying with the founder Kancho Hugh and Chief instructor the late Hanshi Denis from 1983 to 1986 in South Africa, Paul Baumann founded Kushido Switzerland (then Karate-Do) on 2ndJune 1986 in Stansstad.  Since then three more Kushido schools opened their doors in Switzerland: Hochdorf (1989), Zug (1997) and Lucerne (2000).

Finally in 1988 the big step was taken and KUSHIDO became the new name, an acronym made up of basically the first letters of - Karate-Do's Universal System of Human Individual Development and Order.
Karate-Do and now KUSHIDO has always been, and will remain, a totally and independent and separate system of budo. From its inception and although being founder members of various associations and representing different oriental and other organisations, its separate identity have never been compromised and the founders have never allowed the school to affiliate to any organisations, including those in Japan. As far as is known, this phenomenon is unique worldwide. KUSHIDO continues to develop, grow and expand.

In January 1990, Kyoshi Denis St.John Thomson arrived in the UK with one of his 3rd Dans and a brown belt Sempai to open a Dojo in Camberley, Surrey. Staying for several months he motivated and started a group of twenty or so students on `The Way` before returning to South Africa and leaving the Dojo in the hands of his brown belt. Although the Dojo progressed, things didn’t work out for the brown belt and he left to make way for Sensei John Golby 2nd Dan, who shipped home from Capetown with his wife Leila, to move to Camberley in December 1990 to make the Dojo his priority for the next 11 years. There was a period of a few months before his arrival when a second Dan living in London taught the classes to keep the Dojo running - Sensei Ford Hallam's contribution will not be forgotten.
For this time Sensei John worked all these students hard -  setting the foundations for good growth and excellent Karate-Do. Lots of good solid basics, Kata, Kumite, Kobudo, T'ai Chi Chuan, natural healing and philosophy set the very high standards that all Kushido students have come to expect and enjoy. We thank you Sensei! Throughout this time we saw the development of a serious Dojo (Camberley) and the early structure for what we have now. Regular classes for all grades which obviously increased and expanded as student numbers grew and senior students progressed. We experienced several Dojo premises....from the very small and compact where the `close-quarter` aspect become more apparent, to the large and cavernous which really tested the strength of your centre and lungs when attempting to fill the space with your Kiai! We performed in many demonstrations for local schools and sports centres, even the local police Women’s Awareness and self-defence unit. We have been privileged to have had visits from the Kancho himself, Hanshi Denis, several Shihan and Koshi and senior Sensei’s from around the world to cement relations and further everyone’s teaching, understanding, and experience...perhaps most notably the visits of Sensei Hans of Nederlands, and the Shihans Paul and Juanita Baumann of Switzerland who head the European organisation.

1994 - Paul Baumann became chief instructor of Kushido Europe (including Kushido UK) and runs the promotion courses for all black belts.  Kushido Switzerland has since developed as the centre point of Kushido Europe.

1995 Kushido UK had its first gashuku

1996 Karate-Do Intenational Renmei separates from Kancho Hugh St. John Thomson turning toward a new and independent way, while establishing renewed relations with the historical sources of Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate-Do in Okinawa Japan.

1997 - Paul Baumann was given the title Shihan by the founder, the first in Kushido Europe, thereafter 6th Dan in 1999. This rank has been awarded in Kushido only seven times worldwide.

1998 saw further growth for Kushido in the UK with Sensei Lindsay opening our second Dojo in Windsor, which grew slowly but surely! Like any Dojo of any system many students begin who soon realise it is not so easy....and it is less often the physical aspects that challenge so strongly! Here we have been the subject of local newspaper articles about the quality and depth our Junior (ages 9 - 15) and pre-Kushido (ages 6 - 8) teaching programmes, invited onto the Southern League Kumite Tournament Circuit, contribute to local newsletter (and websites) about Health and Wholism, and even invited onto TV’s Masters of Combat.....which we politely declined!!!

1999 - Juanita Baumann was awarded 5thDan and Shihan.

Kushido Europe made the step to independence in 2000 under the leadership of Renshi Paul Baumann of Kushido Switzerland, in agreement with all the black belts in Europe. The longstanding relationships with chief instructor the late Hanshi Denis in Cape Town, many Shihans in South Africa, Australia, USA and many other instructors happily remained and still remain to this day.

2000 Kushido UK had its second gashuku to cellebrate 10 years

2002 - Sensei Lindsay Jenkins (3rd Dan) took over the reigns from Sensei John (4th Dan) until a back injury forced Sensei Lindsay to retire from Kushido.   Unfortuniatly Windsor dojo closed.

2003 - Sensei Michael Bruce (3rd Dan) became the head of Kuhsido UK and is assisted by Sempai Jonathan Dolbear (1st Dan).
Kushido UK moved the Camberley Dojo to its current location in Deepcut (near Camberley) and became the first 'client' of the newly built Deepcut Village Centre with its superb wooden floor.

2003 Was also the 40th anniversary of Kushido Karate Do.  A gashuku was held in Capetown South Africa which included members of Kushido karate-do and Karate-do international Renmei

2005 - Paul Baumann was given the title Renshi.

2005 Kushido UK has its 3rd  gashuku

2010 - was the 20st Anniversary of Kushido UK. 

2014 Kushido UK is headed by Sensei Jonathan Dolbear, assisted by his 3 1st Dan Sempais.


A history of the late Hanshi Denis who started up the UK dojo in 1990

Gerard Denis St John Thomson was born on 11th of July in Pietermaritzburg.

Denis St John Thomson

One of the pioneers of western karate, Hanshi Denis St John Thomson was recognised not only as one of the most senior Okinawan Goju-ryu instructors in the world but was also an internationally recognised Okinawan Kobudo (weapons) expert. Over the years many well-known senior karateka commenced their training in his karate-do school including Bakkies Laubscher (now the most senior-graded Westerner in Morio Higaonna's IOGKF), James Rousseau (who was instrumental in the establishment of the IOGKF), Leon Pantanowitz, Bob Davies and Len Resnikov, among others.

Hanshi Denis began training in karate in South Africa in 1963 with his brother Hugh in an organization that became known as "Karate-do International" (now "Kushido Karate-do"). They trained in and taught the Kyokushinkai ("ultimate truth") style of karate, founded by Japanese Karate strong-man Mas Oyama.

In 1962 he completed his military training at the 10th Field Regiment in Potchefstroom and was adjudged the best No. 3 Gunner on Special manouevres at Tempe Army Base.

1963 - Joined Karate-Do

1965 - Underwent Special Instructor training under 5th degree black belt Hiroshi Shirai and 7th degree black belt Taiji Kase (both Japan Karate Association)

1965 - Awarded 1st Degree black belt in Shotokan Karate

1965 - Started Karate-Do in all branches of the Defence Force in the Western Province: Army, Navy And Airforce

1966 - Qualified as a therapeutic masseur

1967 - Awarded 2nd degree black belt in Goju Ryu Karate

1969 - Attended Special Instructor training in Tokyo, Japan under Shihan Morio Higaonna (7th Dan Goju Ryu Karate)

1969 - Underwent special training in Okinawan Weapons: Nunchaku, Bo and Sai

1969 - Opened branch of Karate-Do in Claremont

1970 - Promoted to chief instructor of Karate-Do

1972 - Particpated in demonstration of weapons to Portuguese military police (Lisbon)

1972 - Underwent Intensive Instructor Training course under Shihan Morio Higaonna (7th Dan Goju Ryu Karate) and was awarded 4th degree black belt

1973 - Chosen as coach, referee and selector for Western Province All Styles

1974 - Trained All Styles Air Force Team

1974 - Attended Advanced Instuctor course in Tokyo, Japan and Naha, Okinawa, including weapons training.

1974 - Attended World Goju Ryu Congress in Okinawa

1976 - Awarded 5th degree black belt in Karate-Do

1976 - Trained British instructors in Liverpool and held special training for All Styles

1976 - Trained Israeli instructors in Petach Tiqva

1977 - Trained officers and PT Instructors - six week course in close combat at Youngsfield, including nunchaku and knife training.

1977 - Special training course for trainees at Youngsfield and Ysterplaat, Cape Town, one of the few civilian instructors to do so

1977 - Trained Karate-Do Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) Instructors and was chief referee at Rhodesian Championships

1977 - Attended and trained at Special SWAT exercises at Stilbaai

1978 - Attended and trained at Special SWAT exercises at Stilbaai

1979 - Arranged the first ever Traditional Okinawan Weapons Festival (SA)

1979 - Participated in Special VIP Body Guard course

1979 - Trained Special VIP Body Guard and Police group for the Boputhatswana government

1979 - Trained various security companies in close combat

1980 - Graded 6th Dan and attained Shihan ranking

1980 - Trained Special VIP Body Guard and Police group for the Kwa Zulu government

1981 - Awarded Springbok colours. Particiapted in International Gashuku in Israel, Switzerland and Britain

1981 - Conducted all styles training course in Liverpool

1982 - Promoted to Head of Karate-Do South Africa

1983 - Conducted International Gashuku in Israel

1983 - Participated and taught at the International Gashuku in Switzerland

1983 - Conducted special course for Karate-Do British instructors and students. Also conducted courses for all styles in Liverpool

1984 - Qualified as Shiatsu practioner

1985 - Invited to Israel to conduct International Gashuku

1985 - Researched Tai Chi and Chinese weaponry in Taiwan and Hong Kong

1985 - Awarded the title of Renshi for reseach into traditional Okinawan weapons.

1986 - Promoted to Chief Instructor of Karate-Do International

1986 - Invited to Israel to conduct Karate-Do Israeli Gashuku
Conducted first ever All Styles weapons seminar in Israel
Conducted courses in Shiatsu for students and instructors of Karate-Do Israel

1986 - Conducted All Styles weapons seminar in Zurich, Switzerland

Conducted special training for students and instructors of Karate-Do in Switzerland

1988 - Conducted special training in Israel and Switzerland

1989 - Conducted International Gashuku in Switzerland and special courses in Israel

1990 - Established Kushido Karate-Do in Camberley, United Kingdom

1991 - Conducted training in Melbourne, Australia

Participated in Tai Chi course in Hawaii under Chris Luth

1999 - Assisted at International Gashuku at Cave Hill Creek, Australia (10th anniversary of Kushido Australia)

2001 - Assisted at International Gashuku in Stanssted, Switzerland (15th anniversary of Kushido Switzerland)

2003 - Hosted 40th Anniversary International Gashuku in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where 8 countries were represented

2004 Inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame

2005 Organized the first International Weapons Gashuku in Cape Town

2006 Attended the 20th Anniversary International Gashuku of Switzerland, taking Senior Kata training

2008 Hosted the Kushido Karate Do 45th anniversary Gashuku

Renshi Paul Baumann Head of Kushido Europe


1978 Paul Baumann began for the first time with his Karate training in the Shotokan School Karate-Do Renmei in Zurich under the guidance of Koichi Sugimura.

1981, not all together happy with the training he changed to the Karate-Do International in Urdorf, the Goju-Ryu School of Werner Bürgi. This new style was exactly what he was looking for. Already after 2 years he decided to become a professional Karate instructor. For this he would have to go to the head quarters of the school in South Africa

1983 – 1986 during 3 years he trained as an Uchi-Dechi in South Africa with the founder of the School Karate-Do International (later named Kushido School) Hugh St. John Thomson and his brother Denis. He finished his so called apprenticeship as a qualified instructor, graded as a 2nd Dan blackbelt. During this time he also got to know his wife Juanita Baumann. Back in Switzerland, he discovered that his Instructor Werner Bürgi with his school had joined the Goju-Kai Organisation of Yamaguchi. So he couldn’t do much else but start up his own Karate School in Switzerland, which was later named the Kushido School Switzerland.

1986, 2nd of June Paul and Juanita Baumann opened the doors of todays Kushido-Europe Honbu-Dojo in Stansstad. With the help of the black belt team teaching at the Dojo, Paul and Juanita could spent lots of time for their further development with their teachers in South Africa. Especially in the fields of Kobudo and Tai-Chi.

1990-92, during 3 years Paul trained intensively in the Aikido School Kyu-Shin Kai in Lucerne under the guidance of Kurt Bartholet. During this time he participated also in many training weeks with very renowned instructors like; Saito Morihiro, Tomita Takeji, Endo Seishiro, Ikeda Masatomi and Frank Doran. Many seminars and courses followed with: Edward Jardine Ryukyu-Kobudo-Jutsu, South Africa Rao Rao Zhau, Tai-Chi Long Sword, South Africa Steve Arneil and Jeff Wybrow, Kyokushinkai, England Brian Avery, Musoshinden Iai-Do School, England Tony Ward, Tai-Chi works, Push Hands, Australia Chris Luth, Emerald Dragon Qi-Gong, United States of America Hermann Kauz, Tai-Chi Chuan, Push Hands, United States of America Leif Hermanson, Combat Martial Arts Academy, Schweden Nathan Johnson, Ko-do Ryu, England Patrick Mc Carthy, Koryu-Uchinadi, Australia Raymond Towers, Taiji Qigong Foundation, England 2002-03 followed another 2 intensive years of training in the Aikido School Kyu-Shin Kai in Lucerne with participation in various seminars with Jan Nivelius and Frank Ostoff.

1997 received Paul the title of Shihan

1999 followed the grade of 6. Dan

2004 he was awarded the title of Renshi Until today: Participation of over 50 Gashukus International course experience in Australia, Alderney, England, Nederland, Israel, South Africa, Hungary Qualified as med. Masseur Instructor of government teaching program for the youth in Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and of course Karate Qualified in first aid and CPR, and in Life Saving


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