History of Shihan Tony Bowden - 6th Dan
My training started on the Gold Coast, Queensland in 1972 at the Miami Dojo of Sensei Frank Everett. I trained there for several years and attaining my Brown Belt (1st kyu) before moving to Geelong in Victoria and training at the Corio Dojo under Sensei Les Pickisgill where I was graded to Shodan in what I thought was the hardest thing that I had ever done. Shortly after I returned to the Gold Coast where I opened the Nerang Dojo and established the South East Queensland Area Committee or (SEQAC) the committee controlled 5 dojo’s from Murwillumbah to Caloundra with Nerang as the Headquarters.
I was also fortunate to have had the opportunity to have competed in Kyokushin tournaments along with Non-Contact or FAKO tournaments as they were called in those days. It was the Kyokushin Tournaments that took my eye and provided me the true satisfaction of competition, one of my first full contact tournaments was held at a small seaside town of Ocean Grove in the old picture theatre this event was held by Shihan Gary Viccars’ in Victoria. This tournament is most memorable to me as during the competition I had my little finger dislocated and at the time we did not have the facilities that we have today so we just used electrical tape to bind it together and fight on, and even today my finger is still not right so it is a constant reminder of that day.
In 1977 I entered the first Australian National Tournament held by the AKKA in the Sydney Town Hall this was the first time that a tournament of any style had been held here, Sosai Mas Oyama was the guest of honour at our first Nationals. That year I was forced to take second place in the Heavyweight Division due to a compound fracture of my finger this forced me out of the tournament, I use this as an example of why when fighting we must keep our fists closed. At this stage I would like to thank our tournament Doctor Dr John Cablehorne who repaired my finger so that it only needed stitching when I reached the Hospital, Dr John has remained the tournament doctor to this day to many a competitor’s gratitude. My greatest disappointment was not being presented my trophy by Sosai Mas Oyama at the time.
I returned the following year in Melbourne to take out the Heavyweight Division and come second in the Grand Champion which was won by Sensei Peter Wolfe the Grand Champion is a competition between the Middleweight winner and the Heavyweight winner. I went on to taking 3 more championships and 3 Grand Championships after which they ceased holding that event.
I retired after the 1981 championships briefly allowing a Swedish Engineering student from Sydney by the name of Hans Lundgren to take it out Hans or as you will all know him know as Dolf Lundgren of the movie fame.
The following year at Homebush in Sydney was to be my last tournament and I was fortunate to win at that event to complete my winnings of 5 Australian National Titles.
In 1979 I represented Australia at the World Titles in Tokyo, Japan to which I made it through to the final 32. With my final fight on the last day of a three day tournament, against a young Japanese instructor Sensei Koichi Kawabata. At first sight I thought that this would be an easy fight, how wrong was I. It was the toughest knockdown, drag em out fight I had ever had. With the fight going for two extensions and the decision going to Kawabata based on weight. I had hit him with everything that I could and I had no disagreement with the decision. In fact it was one of my most memorable fights, it taught me that even if you lose the fight you can gain more recognition and respect. The fight that I had with Kawabata is still spoken of in Japan today.
In 1981 I went to Jakarta in Indonesia as the Coach for the Australian Team.
In 1985 I competed in Asian Pacific Championships in Hawaii where I placed 3rd in the heavyweight division.
Following this I concentrated my energies to expanding and improving the state of Queensland where I have held the National Camp for the past 20 years along with holding the Queensland State Titles. We now have dojo’s in Townsville , Mackay, Gladstone, Ipswich, Kingscliff, Palm Beach and Nerang.
(photo: Shihan Tony Bowden, Kancho Matsushima, Shihancho Gary Viccars & Hanshi John Taylor)