One of the Selected U.K. Karate Instructors to be Honoured in "Combat's Hall of Fame".
The New Era
Chief Instructor - Welsh Karate Association
Profile Being Updated
Steve Wellington in New Zealand 2006
( "General Info" - Has a very small insight of Unel)
If you don't know who this guy is or what he's achieved in the Martial Art World, What planet have you been living on for the last Thirty Years, These pages are probably not big enough to list what he won. He has gone from Fighter to Mentor.
Below are Extracts from Two issues of
Most Recent -
"PUTTING HIS MONEY WHERE HIS MOUTH IS.."
Over the years Unel Wellington ('Shaft' to his friends) has been called many things, a trouble-maker, a rebel, a rabble-rouser and yes, he is opinionated and can be stubborn but at grass root level no-one can deny that he has a life-long passion for Karate and his beloved WKA Wales.
Unel is also a visionary innovator and this is never more clearly illustrated than with his Welsh Grand Prix series of tournaments, where he has continually given competitors incentives and in the coming year he has stretched himself even more to offer possibly the best cash prizes in the country at this present time. Add to this the strong links he retains with various Japanese Sensei, a top quality support system and the success of proteges such as David Godfrey and it is clear that Shaft and the WKA are clearly back in action in a big way.
Trad: You've Just Come Back From Japan After a Successful Trip with
Some Very Important
UNEL WELLINGTON: As you know, we've worked with Sakagami for many years and through him met Ashihara and Maeda, who we invited over for a tournament last year and they enjoyed themselves and reciprocated the invitation. What I didn't know was that Ashihara wanted me to be a member of the All Japan Karate Association. I went to the meeting and with Sakagami's help this went through. So now that gives us, Wales, (The WKA) a direct link to train for the European Juniors which will be in Dublin next year, the European Seniors in Canada in 2008, so we now have a three year plan with my students for that. Additionally, Sakagami has invited us back to Japan in March, to bring a team to fight in the Ohtsuka tournament. We've decided to hold an open Wado tournament around December and inviting the winners to participate in the trip to Japan with us, so when we go over, we're not just going over as a group, we're going over in strength.
Trad: You've Always Been Passionate About Keeping That Strong Wado Element.
UNEL WELLINGTON: The more I study Wado the more I wish I'd known more when I was fighting because all the great fighters in Britain have come through Wado, for example, Vic Charles, Ticky, Billy Higgins. For me, Wado is the ultimate freestyle; I know what the freestyle boys are all about because they're just working on one aspect of it. and with the Wado we're working on 'freestyle' for competition fighting but also on understanding technique. Wado gives you an insight not only on punching and kicking but on the way you are going to think in a fight, not only in a competition but also in the street. Everything you can think about in fighting is there in Wado techniques, so yes, I'm very passionate about it.
The Years Many Organisations Have
Moved Away From the Japanese But You've
Actually Forged Stronger Links.
UNEL WELLINGTON: When people say they don't need them (the Japanese) any more, they don't understand; they've not just given them the punching and kicking, it's the traditional side, they're giving you a backbone from where the DNA started. You have to mix both - I've married the modern and traditional Karate and its enhanced, otherwise no matter how much you punch and kick there's still something missing, even if you're a world champion if all you do is fight and if you only stick to the traditional side, no matter how good you are in the dojo there's still that something missing. So over the years all of our group have come from a Fighting school and being fighters we're hungry for more because you're only as good as your last fight. The beauty about fighting is that you don't know which way your opponent is going to come at you, so by you mixing in the traditional with the modern you become an 'all-rounder'. I also found that Karate competition has become 'tied-up' with so many rules, they're actually closing down their technique but now, as with the freestyle, they've started adding extra points for head kick sand by taking on board all these different elements I've tried to create a good, all-round martial art.
Trad: For such a Small Area of Wales, You Seem to Have a Fantastic Infra-Structure.
UNEL WELLINGTON: Oh yes, I'm very lucky. All the best martial artists come out of Wales-Denzil Lawrence, World Kickboxing Champion, Spiro McCallum, World Champion Kickboxer, Andy Morgan, World Champion Kickboxer and Karate and as you know, Andy's dynamite ! Those people encourage me to do it and when you have the respect of those people you have the drive. They push me as a leader to direct things properly and when I see things not going right, it upsets me and I try to change it. The only thing we're lacking now, as always, is finance but we're on the right track because we do some fund-raising events and because of that we can take our students a little bit further afield.
Admitted That for a While You (the
association) Went Through a Bit of a 'Sticky
Patch' but you're still (literally) Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is -
£100 for Each Division Winner This Year.
UNEL WELLINGTON: I'm doing it for the love of the art. When I was fighting I enjoyed it but as you get older your bones can't move as fast, so I have to challenge my energy, with the likes of Stephen and the boys around me, and then we have to go through with the ideas-they're not just my ideas-I'm just the mouth! We have Stephen, Cedric and Andy as a driving force and behind them we have a great administration team. We've been holding the Welsh Grand Prix for over twenty years now but we still have that amateur status and when we put on a tournament Joe Bloggs might put one on the week before. When you interviewed me last I said we need a professional circuit - Joe long came along but unfortunately he didn't do a professional circuit, he just took the cream, which is great because he's given another aspect so that the top fighters can fight but I didn't like the Russian winning the money! So we want to encourage home-grown fighters by putting up this money. At grass root level it's wanted and when I saw those boys fighting for that £100 it was like a World Championship and I wish it was a £1,000.
Trad: Are These Incentives Really Essential ?
UNEL WELLINGTON: We've got to (give incentives); You've got the Nationals but then you've got nothing to work up to the Nationals we need grass-roots tournaments where the individual can progress-not so much to win but to get that vital practice. We set up the Grand Prix, not for our students to win but for them to get the practice by encouraging outsiders to enter, squads from England, for example. That way we can produce more fighters like David Godfrey, who just won the Commonwealth Games, moved up to the seniors and came third in the British championships.
"I'm Doing It For The Love Of The Art"
This Year (2006) You're Looking to be Even More Adventurous with the Way You're
UNEL WELLINGTON: I've always felt there's been the potential for a professional circuit but to have the finance is one thing, then there's the planning. We now feel that we have a formula that will work but will also develop and the only people who can make this work are the Karateka themselves.I know I'm going to get a 'slagging' why should Unel do it?' But you're not doing it, so why not me? Now we're taking this great leap forward by doing this prize tournament and I believe we can offer a £10,000 prize fund next year. Patsy, in Ireland, has linked his tournaments to ours and he's giving out prize money too and the winners of his tournaments will automatically be invited to the finals. So we will be franchising our tournament to promoters because without having promoters up and down the country the students have got nowhere to fight. If the promoter can see that they're going to get a return on their investment, then obviously they'll go ahead with it. So if you are a promoter who wants to link up with us, then the door is wide open, just give me a ring.
Trad: You Even Have an Incentive Idea for the Children's Categories.
UNEL WELLINGTON: We've got to give them something back and now we've got all these walkman's, MP3's and stuff that I thought that we need to encourage them because kids really are the grassroots and we need to prime them for the seniors. So we are going to be offering Play stations to the winners, to encourage them to train and develop, so what more can I say?
Trad: What is the Blueprint for the Grand Final ?
UNEL WELLINGTON: It will be by invitation only and that will breed competition at the grass-roots level. Now it's up to the coaches to support it - If they don't, our association is supporting it anyway and our students will get the benefit but it's open to everybody, all they have to do is to do well in the preliminary rounds and then they will get an invitation to the final. Everything is in progress now for that actuality next year. We started the cash incentives two years ago and it has been successful, it wasn't much (money) but it was a start. I know the grass-roots want it and I'm glad I'm in a position to do something about it and I can visualise us taking it to the NEC and simply growing and growing. All of you who want to come in, do it and let's all work as one, no politics, just Karate. So if you like the idea then just give me a ring and let's do it but I'm going to do it anyway!
This relates to an article (July 06)
in a Book by Frank Johnson who writes about an Event in 1978
Where in the All Japan Wado Kai Championships, Unel Finished 4th
Despite breaking his hand in an early bout. (On a Opponent)
(Book Title - Wado-Ryu Karate Uncovered)
Interview From "Trad Mag"
TRAD: You Have Many Instructors from different arts, why is this?
Unel Wellington: I want the best for my students by helping them realise that it's not just about competition or basics, I want them to have a look at what Julian Mead is doing, what Billy Dokes is doing, Allan Tattersall, Alan Petherbridge and without my knowledge, they have recommended me to the Budo society. They awarded me with 6th Dan about two years ago and now they want me to teach on a world circuit. I've been invited to teach in Portugal three times already, I've been invited to Turin next month and for me to be involved with the Budo Society is a great honour that I want to live up to.
TRAD: Is it true to say that you're probably getting more recognition outside of
the UK than within it?
Unel Wellington: Through the work I've done I've had recognition from Canada, the senate of Pennsylvania, we were invited to Portugal and over there we met Sensei Daniels, who invited us on his Shukokai course to meet his master from Japan. There was also a master from Venezuela, who liked the way we did things and he's invited us over to teach next year. The Portuguese want Stephen to help them promote the Portuguese team that's going to Japan in the year 2000, so Stephen's going back and forwards to Portugal and I'll be going to Venezuela. The more you do for other people, rather than yourself, the more people want to mix with you. It doesn't matter how much you can talk, how many meals you can buy, it's what you do on the area and it's important to me that you are there for the people who put their trust in you. The things I do in the dojo are the same things I do on the courses, so in the next couple of years I will be going to New Zealand, Australia, and India.
TRAD: Is it important to you that the Welsh will have their own identity
at the World Championships?
Unel Wellington: It's no good having an identity unless you have winners. My job with the WKA is to produce fighters. If they're good enough, they'll get there. I was told on the continent that Wales are professional losers. I don't believe that. The students give me one hundred percent, so I must give them one hundred and ten percent back. I don't want to produce big fish in a little pond, I want to produce a Welsh champion.
TRAD: In the past you were branded as a troublemaker.
Unel Wellington: I'm not a troublemaker, but when you see something is wrong, you try and correct it, even if it may go against the grain. Looking back, people may see that you were right but at the time it's hard for people to see what you are trying to do. Now I've taken a step back, let others drive, but it doesn't mean I'm less passionate now, simply older and wiser.
TRAD: You certainly seem to have mellowed in your attitude.
Unel Wellington: I remember being called "Shaft" in the 70's and it stuck , but just like there's a new Shaft movie for the 90's (Samuel Jackson is set to star), so I've had to change with the times. When I was a fighter you had to have a certain attitude to win, so when people asked me to teach them I didn't know how. I had to go by what I did, train hard, work hard, no short cuts. Look at the state of the Martial Arts, we should have been developing like the football and rugby but we're still twenty years behind. There's so many TV companies out there now, they can't get enough, but our sport is so fragmented they don't know who to go to. We have to meet them on their terms, and this is what the "new" Shaft is concerned with, To promote the students through these media opportunities and get them recognition.
TRAD: Why you ?
Unel Wellington: The question should be why not? We can talk or can do something about it. I know the sponsors are there, CIMAC is a great sponsor of the WKA, but "they" (sponsors) need to see results, they have businesses to run, so we have to work together to get this in place. I want to create a Welsh Budokan, somewhere for all Martial Artists to meet, to get television involved heavily in the arts and create a professional circuit. Look at snooker and darts, they started low-key but look how much those guys are getting now. I want the Karate Students of this world to be the instructors of the Future and promote the Martial Arts, bring in new ideas. My goal is to look for avenues for the association, promote fighters to Olympic level, and we all work together for this. It's no getting Olympic recognition if the fighter's aren't up to it. My own goals are no longer a priority, I've enjoy myself and although I'm still passionate as the old Shaft, the way I go about achieving those goals is different. It's no longer about me, but I can do to promote the Martial Arts.
TRAD: Thank you for updating us Unel.
Unel Wellington: Thank you, and if you ask people what they think of Unel Wellington, please make it printable.
The Wellington 'Clan'.
Unel Wellington Stephen Wellington Cedric Wellington
Chief Instructor Chief Kumite Coach Assistant Kumite Coach
Courses Are Available With These Instructors, Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Unel with Tak Chan 2nd Dan
(Tak Owns the Best Restaurant in Swansea "The Opium Den")