5th Dan - September 1999
4th Dan - November 1995
3rd Dan - November 1992
2nd Dan - September 1989
1st Dan - August 1983
Les Lacey is a 5th Dan Karate Black Belt, with a direct lineage to Shigeru Egami and Gichin Funakoshi, the latter being regarded as the father of modern Karate. Les has trained in the martial arts for over 30 years. He has run clubs teaching adults and children, as well as competing. Although his initial training focussed on Shotokai Karate, he believed cross-training in other martial arts was essential in developing a more rounded skill set, perspective and philosophy.
His influences and teaching come from a variety of Asian arts. Specifically, Les has received training in Shotokai and Shotokan Karate, Aikido, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Tae-kwondo, Kick Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. More recently, Les has been exploring Filipino Martial Arts.
Les was born in Stoke Poges in June 1960. Aged 20, he first took up training Shotokai Karate at the Bushido club in nearby Slough. The club was part of KDS (Karate-do Shotokai, headed by Mitsusuke Harada) and run by Ziggy Boban and Phil Glennister who were 4th Dan and 3rd Dan respectively at the time.
Les was awarded his 1st Dan Black Belt by Harada Sensei himself in 1983. Les continued training under the late, great Vincent (Vinnie) Strachan (5th Dan, Shotokai / Shoto Budo) in Maidenhead. During that time, he also trained with William (Billy) Haggerty (now 10th Dan Shoto Budo) and Colin Reeve (5th Dan, Shotokai). Both served as Technical Directors of Harada Sensei's organisation, KDS. Billy Haggerty, along with other senior Shotokai instructors, founded Shoto Budo in 1992.
During this period, Les began his exploration of other martial arts, giving him a deeper understanding of various practice methods. Les regards this cross-training as crucial to his development as a martial artist. It underlined the importance of being open to new ideas, and the need to be effective in a broad range of contexts. He went a step further and competed in a number of semi-contact and full-contact sparring matches to test the effectiveness of skills learnt.
"It wasn't about winning or losing, it was about gaining honest feedback of
where you were at, recalls Les. My most valuable lessons came when
I was thoroughly tested and even beaten."
Les was awarded his 5th Dan Black belt in 1999 (the highest grade attainable at the time, under a 5 Dan system) by Billy Haggerty. Les has been known to have practised up to 8 days a week, or least it felt like it, especially in his early years. This included attending weekend courses including the notorious Spring, Summer and Autumn training camps.
Still today, Les continues to explore new ideas while consolidating the foundation built over years of training.