After a brief spell in boxing as a boy, Sensei Stephen joined the Chadwell St Mary Karate class, part of the Essex Martial Arts Association in 1980 at the age of 11. This class was headed by Sensei Peter Button along with assistant instructors such as Sensei Mick Griffin, Sensei Ken Children and Sempai Will (Nobby) Clark and had been established for about 10 years. Along with this class he would often join the class that was run by Sensei Jim McAllister that tended to cater more for the adult student and was very physically demanding.
Over the coming years the class would take on many changes as the Essex Martial Arts Association disbanded, it was handed down from Sensei Button to Sensei Children and become part of Sessen Ryu Karate under the Chief instructor Sensei Albie O’Connor. In 1989 Sensei Stephen achieved his Shodan but was to see the class disband from Sesen Ryu Karate. Sensei Stephen continued to train and teach at the Chadwell St Mary Dojo under Sensei Children for a number of years but during this time took the opportunity to look into different disciplines and classes but always continued to attend the Chadwell class. In 1991 the dojo that had been used for the previous 20 years had fallen into desperate need for repair, unfortunately the owners of the facility could not afford the repairs and the dojo closed, Sensei Stephen sourced another location for the class and they transferred the club to the alternate location.
In 1993 Sensei Stephen alongside Sensei Danny Howard was graded to Nidan by a panel of instructors from the Nippon Dai federation headed by Sensei Dave Hodgson. Then in 1995, Sensei Danny sought out Sensei Jim McAllister to further develop his skills, after very little encouragement Sensei Stephen followed suit but both remained training and teaching at the club. The training with Sensei McAllister introduced Sensei Stephen to kickboxing along with a number of other arts including Silat , the British Fudoshin Association , traditional Chinese medicine and Shiatsu massage, all of which he was keen to embrace.
At the end of 1995 Sensei Children decided to take his Martial Arts studies along a different route and after some minor disagreements decided to pass the club onto the two senior students, Sensei Stephen and Sensei Danny. After some discussion it was decided that Sensei Danny would take the chief instructors role and Sensei Stephen would take the role of senior instructor. With the new structure in place the new name was developed for the class ‘Zenshin do’, meaning progressive way. The idea being that the class would continually move forward and embrace concepts that are workable, rather than remain stayed and out dated like some disciplines had become. With this concept now in motion both instructors engaged in their search to progress Zenshin do.
Along with the private tuition that he was receiving from Sensei McAllister, in 1996 Sensei Stephen started training in British Fudoshin martial arts, along with Karate it offered Ju Jitsu, Kenjutsu and Kobudo under Sensei Gary Porley and later Sensei Chee Chan and also allowed him opportunities to train with Soke Robert Lawrence. He continued these studies alongside his instructing at the Zenshin do dojo, being awarded his black belt in Fudoshin Karate in 2004 and achieving a number of weapon grades along with this.
During this time Sensei Stephen progressed with his studies and in 1999 was awarded his Sandan by Sensei McAllister.
Then in 2004, without warning, the committee running the premises that housed the dojo, decided to serve notice to the class in favour of business opportunities from other directions. Sensei Danny contacted a local Kickboxing instructor who had managed to source a Lottery grant to restore the original dojo back to a usable facility. At this point Sensei Danny decided to hand the Chadwell class over to Sensei Stephen, whilst he conducted classes at the Malgraves dojo. Sensei Stephen continues to head the class and in 2006 was awarded his Yondan by Sensei McAllister.
Over the years Sensei Stephen has been fortunate to train with a number of notable and well respected instructors such as Shihan Jim McAllister, Soke Robert Lawrence, Sensei Danny Howard, Sensei Tatsu Suzuki, Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, Shihan Nishiuchi, Master Kam, Sensei Albie O’Connor, Lincoln Boney, Sensei Geoff Thompson, Sensei Vic Charles and John Longstreet to name but a few and continues to look for ways to increase his knowledge.