SENSEI CLIFF WITCHER VIII
Soke (Lit. ‘head of family’ in Japanese, denoting the founder of a school) Cliff Witcher started his career in martial arts in 1974 at Bedford Judo Club. Soke Witcher found that judo came naturally to him after just a couple of weeks of training and was entered for his first grading accordingly. He received his yellow belt which set his course for martial arts on track. He was hooked.
It was not long into his martial training that Soke Witcher started entering competitions and placing in the top three in them all.
Soke Witcher’s father was one of the club instructors (Grand Master Bernie Witcher 10th dan) who now runs clubs in Ju Jitsu in the south of Ireland. Grand Master Witcher encouraged Soke Witcher to keep an open mind and study more than just Judo. So, after achieving 1st dan black belt in Judo, Soke Witcher went to train in Ju Jitsu under his father. With a strong Judo background, Soke Witcher found Ju Jitsu a great compliment to his throwing and ground work, combining the two styles effectively.
After studying Ju Jitsu for 5 years Soke Witcher added Aikido to his portfolio of styles under a close friend of his father, Grand Master Steve Stevens 10th dan. Soke Witcher continued to cross train in his styles as well as studying the science behind the movements of martial arts.
Cliff was introduced to Professor Martin Rogers and started working on dim-mak (pressure points) as well as starting his own group: Zen Kenpo Ju-Jitsu in Bedford. Soke Witcher’s group quickly grew in popularity and several clubs opened over the following months growing to over 300 members strong.
In 2001 Soke Witcher was inducted into the USA Black Belt Hall of Fame and his services were in demand as he taught seminars and hosted gradings all over the UK and Ireland. Soke Witcher was also involved in refereeing for his father, Grand Master Witcher and his good friend Professor John Ward of Ward Kenpo Karate.
Whilst teaching in the USA in 2002 Soke Witcher was introduced to Grand Master Gary Wasniewski 10th Dan of Ty-Ga Karate. Soke Witcher and GM Wasniewski became good friends and Soke Witcher began working with GM Wasniewski on training and seminar delivery in London. In 2006 Soke Witcher was inducted into the London Hall of Fame.
By this time Soke Witcher had an elite team which entered many competitions and won many titles and medals all over the country. With his team Soke Witcher continued to build his group to become one of the UK’s top instructors of his art.
Soke Witcher has been inducted into 20 halls of fame and worked with top instructors in Engalnd, Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, Europe and the USA.
Unfortunately, Soke Witcher developed a back injury and was advised not to continue with martial arts. Soke Witcher sadly stepped aside and left his clubs in the hands of his senior instructor Master Kevin Frank.
Over the last 15 years Soke Witcher has only carried out a small number of guest visits and seminars for some of his friends and run clubs close to him.
For Soke Witcher the fire has always been alight inside and he has now decided to come out of retirement having regained adequate fitness to effectively teach. Soke Witcher has adapted and improved his syllabus to move with the times. Zen Kempo always has and will be a strong and useful system and with the support of close friends and family Soke Witcher is focused on rebuilding the Zen Kenpo Ju Jitsu School again.
Soke Witcher has teamed up with Adam Gold from CODE Combat Arts. Sensei Gold is a close friend that has always supported Soke Witcher and encouraged him to get back onto the mats.
Addition from Adam Gold:
I first experienced the teaching of Soke Witcher maybe 20 years ago when he taught a seminar at a club I attended. His fluidity of technique and clear knowledge of the arts astounded me back then as someone with only a few years’ experience in martial arts. Now that I have a quarter of a century of experience behind me I can confirm indeed that Soke Witcher’s knowledge, ability and passion for the arts really is unique. You simply do not achieve an 8th degree black belt for no reason.
Truth be told, I badgered Soke Witcher for some time to try and get him back on the mats to teach. I knew how much this man had to offer and how many people that it could benefit. So I badgered. And Badgered….. and I’m delighted to be able to work with Soke Witcher to grow our clubs together. I, for one, cannot wait to put on a white belt again and start another journey.
I encourage everyone to try Ju Jitsu. You won’t be disappointed.