Lee Costa Bio

Since the early years of 1966 Lee Costa has been learning and teaching Kyokushinkai Karate.

Now a 7th dan Belt, Lee Costa recalls how his journey began; "when I began Karate, a black Belt seemed to be a Mythical target" when Lee started training things were a lot different than they are now, there was no registered Black Belts in Wales, Lee had to depend on learning his skills from an open book. Lee Costa remembers both him and his instructor Howard Collins, who was a Yellow Belt learning the elementary Kata Pinan Nidan from a book by Mas Oyama on the floor.

Lee Costa would train in one of the few dojo's around, it was a disused cinema in Cardiff's Mynachdy area which is now non-existent, the dojo was situated off road from Eastern Ave. If Lee Costa had gone a mile or two down North Rd he may have ended up in David Michell's dojo doing Wado-Ryu instead of Kyokushinkai!

After Training for a while, the dojo unfortunately closed down, and Lee Costa stopped his practices for around 2 years. Walking around the city centre one day, Lee bumped into Howard Collins again. The encounter rekindled Lee's memories and interest, which led him to decide he wanted to start training again, this time he trained at the Corey Hall. With an instructor at the time Mike Watkins, who was a green belt at the time. We progressed to black belt together, though he felt like my instructor because I learnt so much from him, and I still hold him in high respect.

Lee remembers the first time he came across a Black Belt during training, Steve Arneil, then a 3rd Dan came to Caerphilly to do a course and grading. Part of the course was running up Caerphilly Mountain barefooted in extremely cold conditions such as snow. All the students were so enthusiastic about having a black belt training them, that they didn't think anything of what they were being asked to do. When Arneil finished his Course in Caerphilly, he thought the students were "crazy" still wanting further training as he felt he had trained them at the highest standard possible.

Steve Arneil was one of the First ever instructors, of any style to enter Wales, it was that course that convinced him to train students here.

Soon Howard Collins left the dojo for better opportunities in Japan. Mike Watkins took over the running of the club and soon Lee Costa was making a name for himself on the competition circuit.

At that time, there was no Welsh squad to aim for. The setting up of this was delayed until Collins returned from Japan. Therefore the talented Lee Costa Found himself on an English Squad which included such people as Brian Fitkin, Ticky Donovan, Richie Noblett and others.

He recalls that in those days, students were totally brainwashed into believing in the superiority of their own style. Now he has mellowed and will readily concede that no one style is better than any other. Nevertheless, he accepts that some schools train much harder than others and recalls a summer course in Holland when Tadashi Nakamura and Shigeru Oyama tested the courage and spirit of the high grades. He understands the reasons what could appear to others as simple sadism, for him, Karate is not a form of athletics, it is a fighting system pure and simple. To be Black Belt means that you must be a tough boy and a good way of testing for this is to see how you perform against impossible odds. Of Course, this sort of training is only for the totally committed. The average club would never tolerate such a regimen and for this reason, Lee Costa's club remained small for many years. Lee's training is practical and reflects his interest in self defence. Karate must actually work and not just look good.

He took his 1st Dan under Oyama and Nakamura at a summer Karate camp in Holland in June 1974 and followed it with a 2nd Dan in December 1976 under Arneil. His 3rd Dan came in February 1978 and all are validated by Kyokushinkai certificates signed by Mas Oyama.

He is fairly scathing of those who ignore Kata and basic training in favour of a total sport system. These, he says, are not karateka; they have concentrated karate down to a small focus and work on that to the exclusion of its other principles.

Lee Costa is one of those rare people who can fight knockdown or WUKO rules with no difficulty and do well at either. When Lee was a knockdown competitor, he came third in the Lightweight division in the first European Knockdown Championships (1978) and won the 1980 Welsh Open Knockdown Lightweight division. His successful career extends back to 1971 when we won the BWW individual Kumite. He is also skilful at Kata and won the men's kata event in the 1972 BWW championships.

Over the years lee helped build up the second biggest association in Wales, registering the welsh governing body with nearly 600 members (15 clubs) Lee states that Some of These clubs have now gone their own ways and are now associations within their own right within the WKGB, some of the Clubs have closed down. Lee trains in his own club twice a week, he has always tried to maintain a low profile within Karate.

Lee still trains almost every day, he always tried to go for a three mile run, and then practicing basic training and performs kata. On Saturday mornings at 9am he trains in the Kymin Park in Penarth, where his students or anyone who's interested in karate are welcome to come along. It's very rare you'll see him in Rainy weather though!! Lee states that anyone is welcome to come along for training and even advice.

Lee feels Karate is changing; one of the things lee hates is how money is dictating some associations, with franchise setups, where students (especially children with consent of their parent or guardians) have to fill in Bank standing orders to pay for fees. Sometimes when students wish to stop training, for personal reasons, they find they still have to pay charges. This is not what Karate is meant to be.

He feels there are also some instructors who are running associations within Wales who seem to have no karate history. Some of these instructors in their own right are not really karateka. The only way they can establish recognition is through secondary means. Some of these instructors decide to go into the referee system, as it's the only way that they can get onto the karate fighting mats. Few referees have actually been in a fighting arena, the rest have never fought in any form of competition. A question to be asked is can someone judge something they've never experienced for themselves? And how can lower Dan grade referees be judging higher Dan grades than themselves? Lee feels that some Instructors are trying too hard to get into politics as it's the only way they can feel power and get recognised, He believes that this is only an excuse to try and make a name for themselves. This is not Karate either.

Lee knows he never had the opportunities for karate that are available now, which is why he always tries to help his students and anyone in the Karate system to take full advantage of what's available, if there's anything he can do to help his students succeed, he always tries to put them on the right road.



Karate Wales Ltd.  

Registered in England and Wales Karate Wales Ltd. Company No. 09718948.  

Registered Office: 

Gwenhafdre, St Mary Church, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, CF71 7LT

Copyright 2012 ©