Nelson’s Andy Barber recognised for his seido karate community workJune 8th, 2016
Carly Gooch, Nelson Mail, 6 June 2016
A Nelson karate master who has used the martial art as a force for good in the community for more than 40 years has been honoured for his work.Founder of Nelson Seido Karate Andy Barber has received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to karate and the community.
Originally from Wellington, Barber took his passion for karate to the extreme early on. He travelled to Japan at 19-years-old to train under Master Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin, a style of full contact karate.
Barber has achieved great successes since opening his own club in Nelson in 1974 and has made an impact in the community working with under privileged groups.
He said there had been many success stories from people who had benefited from joining karate.
“The practise has turned people’s lives around by looking at themselves and feeling strong enough to make positive changes. Stopping drugs, reconciliations with their families and being brave enough to go on to educate themselves are just some of the things we are proud of.”
Seido, meaning “sincere way” in Japanese, is a running theme through Barber’s life. His karate programmes cater to all ages, budgets and abilities, including blind and deaf students.
“In Nelson dojo, everybody is just expected to do their best and are not judged on the ability of others,” Barber said. “Consequently we have had many students with special needs and history of failure in the past.”
Barber first took a shine to karate when he was 16, being inspired in the early 1960s by martial arts TV shows like The Avengers.
He said he also wanted to be able to look out for his siblings.
“I felt protective towards my brothers. Once I started, I liked the hard training and the fact that it wasn’t a team sport.”
In 1989 Barber opened Uchi Deshci House for young unemployed people to live in a safe environment away from drugs and alcohol for six months while learning karate and basic life skills. That same year he started the Seido Benefit Fund and since then has raised more than $100,000 for Nelson families in need.
Barber said he was “honoured and excited” to be receiving such recognition through the Queen’s Service Medal.
“Not just for myself but for martial arts generally.”
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