Stephen began training Wado Ryu style in his teens through Northern Ireland Karate Do Wado Kai and under Sensei Oliver Brunton. After a break to concentrate on other sports such as Tae Kwon Do and Wind Surfing he eventually returned to Karate, joining the Shotokan Karate Club at University of Ulster in 2005 through NITKF, under Sensei Harry Young, 4th Dan JKA.
He trained and graded regularly with Sensei Masao Kawasoe including yearly trips to Edinburgh for the Kawasoe Group International course and in 2013 gained his 1st Dan in front of a panel that included JKA Senseis Mori, Kamino, Kawasoe and Naito. Stephen graded again in Edinburgh in 2015, this time for his 2nd Dan. Throughout his time with the NITKF he represented the association and its clubs at many local, national and international courses and competitions. He then made the decision to further develop himself as a karate practitioner and instructor by seeking a more forward thinking and progressive association where the full potential of the student may be realised. Stephen also wished to rationalise his affiliation to the JKA Headquarters in Tokyo and this was achieved by joining the official representative of the Japan Karate Association in Ireland, JKA WF Ireland under Sensei Noel Casey 7th Dan JKA WF in February 2016.
Since joining he has attended courses led by Japanese instructors(including Senseis Tatsuya Naka & Koichiro Okuma), grading courses all over Ireland led by Sensei Casey himself and has represented JKA Ireland as part of the competition squad at the JKA European Championships twice; in Dublin 2016 and more recently in Sittard, Netherlands April 2017. He also competed in Kata at the August 2017 JKA World Championships in Limerick, Ireland.
In February 2017 Stephen opened his own club in North Belfast, hoping to inspire others to take up karate and to help them develop the discipline in a focused and enjoyable environment. The club now has a steady attendance of parents and children training alongside each other, with new recruits regularly finding out about its presence. At his club, Stephen focusing on teaching the purist form of Shotokan Karate as invisioned by JKA standards, today known officially as JKA Belfast.
As Club Instructor he maintains and can provide evidence of the following on request:
• Enhanced Access NI disclosure.
• Sport First Aid.
• Public Liability Insurance.
• Child Protection Policy.
• Safeguarding Children in Sport.
• Designated Child Protection Officer Qualfication