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Instructor profiles

John Bruce 5th Dan

Sensei John Bruce began training in 1990 at the tender age of 6 years old. He gained his 1st Dan in 1994 (Sensei Enoeda), 2nd Dan in 1996 (Sensei Enoeda), 3rd Dan in 2005 (Sensei Sherry), 4th Dan in 2009 (Sensei Sherry) and 5th Dan in 2014 (Sensei Sherry).

At the age of 18, he became a qualified KUGB instructor. In 2004 he began teaching Karate full-time at Sendai Kushiro Karate based in the North East of England.

John had a successful competitive career. At the age of 14 years old he was selected to train on the England squad. In 2000 he made his England debut competing at the ESKA Championships in Lucerne, Switzerland.

In 2001, Vienna, Austria, John was a member of the England Junior Kumite Team who won Gold at the European Championships. In 2003 he was crowned World Individual Junior Kumite Champion in Zurich, Switzerland. More international success came with the England Senior Male Team Kumite, winning the European title in 2007 (Porto, Portugal), 2008 (Crawley, England) and 2009 (Wels, Austria) as well as the World title in 2007 (Bydgoszcz, Poland) and 2009 (Cancun, Mexico).

John also had success domestically, winning various junior and senior titles including Senior Grand Champion at the Shotokan Cup in 2009 and Senior Grand Champion at the KUGB Nationals in 2010.

John is currently a member of the KUGB executive committee and Treasurer of the Northern Region. He is the chief instructor of Sendai Kushiro Karate and teaches courses across the UK.


Sensei Enoeda Memorial Trophy, KUGB National Championships 2010.

Marty Olver 5th Dan

Marty Olver started Karate in August 1985 at the age of thirty-four at the Kushiro karate club, after much encouragement from his wife Carol and sons Christian & Stephen who had joined earlier. He is very thankful to them for introducing him to 'the most enjoyable and rewarding sport' he has had the pleasure to participate in.

He took his first grading with Sensei Bob Poynton in December 1985 and passed orange belt. In those early days it was common for people to would sometimes train seven days a week at different Dojo's and was inspired by Sensei's Bill Brazier, Jeff Barwick and Christine Pullen. Marty passed Shodan in February 1989 with Sensei Sherry, Nidan in 1992 and Sandan in 1997 with Sensei Enoeda. In 1997 Marty and Carol took over the running of the Kushiro Karate Club and ran it up until September 2007 when Sensei John James Bruce took over the running of the club. Marty continued training under the guidance of Sensei John James and passed Yondan in April 2008. Although he started karate relatively late in life over the past twenty-five years he has never felt that he was too old to do karate and enjoy it as much now as he did the first time he stepped onto the Kushiro dojo in 1985.

Sensei Marty at the Kushiro Dojo 2010

Holly Sterling 5th Dan

Holly began training in the southern region of England at the age of ten years old. She gained her 1st Dan Black Belt in 1999, at the age of twelve. She progressed to 2nd Dan in 2001 and her 3rd Dan in 2009.

At the age of thirteen Holly was selected to be part of the KUGB England junior kumite squad and in the same year, invited to be on the KUBG kata squad. In 2003 Holly was selected for her England debut competing at the European Shotokan Championships in Sunderland, and has since been a regular member of the England team.

At the European Championships in Wroclaw, Poland, 2005 Holly came 3rd in the Junior Ladies Individual Kumite event and was a member of the England Junior Ladies Kumite Team winning Gold. She continued her success the following year in Lucerne, Switzerland, by winning 2nd place in the Junior Ladies Individual Kumite 2006.

The year 2009 was a great year for Holly on the international stage. She came 3rd in the Senior Ladies Kata event at the World Championships (Cancun, Mexico) and at the European Championships (Wels, Austria) she was a member of the Senior Ladies Team Kumite coming 2nd. The 2010 European Championships (Koblenz, Germany) saw the Senior Ladies team continuing with their success coming 3rd.

Adding to her achievements internationally Holly has continued with success domestically winning various titles including 2009 and 2010 Grand Champion (winning individual Kata and Kumite) at the Northern Region Championships. In 2012 Holly became only the third ever female competitor, in the 46 year history, to win both Kata and Kumite (Grand Champion) events at the KUGB National Championships, Holly then went on to make history the following year (2013) by becoming the first female competitior to be crowned Grand Champion at the KUGB Nationals twice. 

In 2006 Holly moved to the northern region studying Illustration and Design at the University of Sunderland. Whilst studying at university Holly competed at the BUSA/BUCS championships bringing home results for Sunderland three years running. In 2008 she won the Ladies Kumite, in 2009 she became Grand Champion winning both the Kata and Kumite events and in 2010 she took Gold in the Kumite and silver in Kata.

Holly continues to compete at the highest level and has also recently started up a new class at The Freemans Quay Leisure Centre, County Durham, where she is passing on her vast knowledge and expertise to some potential future champions.

WSKA Ladies Kata Semi Final 2009

Mark Henderson 3rd Dan

Having always been fascinated by the portrayal of martial arts in the movies, I decided to give it a go for myself and see if I was capable of pulling off the moves displayed by screen icons such as Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

As a result I started my own martial arts journey under the guidance of Sensei Jeff Barwick and began training in January 1997 at Sunderland Sendai Karate Club, and after almost 14 years of trying, I can say that Hollywood certainly does not have a new action hero!

Despite this career set back, I continue to train regularly at Sendai Karate Club, now under the tutelage of Sensei John Bruce, and achieved the grade of 2nd dan in October 2007 under the watchful eyes of Sensei Sherry and Poynton.

Mark is a talented karate-ka and instructor who practices what he teaches, Mark rarely misses a session and always shows a great attitude. Mark is a regular instructor at the Sunderland dojo's. 

Teaching at Sendai 2010

Sam Light 3rd Dan

Sam began training in 2001 at six years old. He graded for 1st Dan in 2005 at the age of ten, later progressing to 2nd Dan in 2007 and 3rd Dan in 2016, all under the watchful eye of Sensei A. Sherry. Sam became a fully qualified KUGB instructor in 2015, and began assisting within both Sendai Kushiro Karate and Durham University SKC, whilst studying full time. After graduating, he became the chief instructor for Durham University SKC in the 2016/2017 academic year going forward, as well as continuing to compete and teach for Sendai Kushiro Karate, passing on knowledge and passion to the juniors coming through.

Sam was selected onto the KUGB England Kata squad in 2009, and selected onto the Kumite national squad the following year. In 2012 he made his England debut in the ESKA Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. In Belgrade, Sam took 2nd place in the Cadet Male Individual Kata, and was a part of the Cadet Men’s Team Kumite that also placed 2nd. Sam also had medal success in the WSKA championships in Liverpool in 2013 and ESKA in Portugal later that year, placing 3rd alongside teammates in the Junior Men’s Team Kumite at both championships.

Sam has also had competition success domestically, with various medals and titles at local, regional and national level both individually and in the team events with Sendai Kushiro. Some particular highlights include being Northern Region champion in both Kata and Kumite in 2013 and subsequently awarded the Randolph Williams Memorial Trophy for Most Outstanding Competitor. A personal competitive highlight however took place at a more local level after being awarded the Sammy Light Memorial Trophy for Most Outstanding Competitor at the Sunderland Karate Championships in his father’s memory, on more than one occasion.

Sam began studying at Durham University in 2013 and represented the university when competing at the BUCS Karate Championships mixed styles event, taking 5th place in the Senior Male -67kg Kumite in 2014 and 2016. He now coaches the Durham University tea, and hopes to lead them to future success.

Sam continues to learn and improve with each session, to develop as a competitor and an instructor. He has begun to have consistent success in the Senior category, placing regularly in both kata and Kumite events and is hoping to take this success forward to represent England at senior level. Meanwhile, he continues to teach at Sendai Kushiro Karate and at Durham University during term time, in order to foster the new generation of karate-ka.

Sensei Sam Receiving the Sammy Light memorial trophy at the Sunderland Championships

Bethaney Miller 2nd Dan

Bethaney started training with Sensei John Bruce in December 2007 at Sunderland Sendai and achieved her 1st Dan in 2011 and my 2nd Dan in 2013, both with Sensei Andy Sherry. In 2014 she was selected to be on the KUGB England Kata squad and the following year selected on to the KUGB England Junior Kumite squad. Bethaney competes regionally and nationally throughout the year and has achieved numerous titles.

Bethaney is a very dedicated member, training across all of the dojos in Sunderland, Durham and Easington. Alongside training and competing she is an excellent instructor and covers various classes passing on her skill and knowledge. 

Sensei Bethaney competing at the National Championships

Simon Brown 1st Dan

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