Mr DAVE TURTON : Mr KNOWLEDGE INTERVIEW by SFUKA
SFUKA Could you please tell us a little about how and why you first got started in the martial arts? (sorry for the poor opening question but it is tradition).
DT. I started Martial Arts for one very simple reason, I was getting hammered a bit too often at school. I was short, thin and had RED hair, I looked like an unstruck match. So although I wanted to fight I couldn't.. I tried it once and got hammered by a kid who was actually a Ballet dancer ( Mind you he was also a Boxer)... So I thought "SOD THIS", and joined both the Boxing and Wrestling clubs whilst still at school. This was the HEYWOOD GRAMMAR SCHOOL, and the year would be 1963, I was 15. On leaving school I couldn't continue with the school clubs, and moved on to JUDO, with the BJC. This was JUDO for self defence as opposed to Judo for sport. I managed to hold my own with the higher grades in Randori, due to my wrestling practise, so I started combining these skills even back then. I moved through KARATE, KEMPO & SEVERAL FORMS OF JU JITSU before finding the GOSHINKWAI back in 1970, and been with it ever since.
SFUKA I heard that you trained at Billy Riley's infamous "Snake Pit" Gym, was the training really as hard as legend has it?
DT. Yes I trained at the "SNAKE PIT" .. Both to my pride and my shame.. I was a 18-19 years old HUNGRY combat man, with several years of JUDO, BOXING WRESTLING & JU JITSU behind me, and because I lived in a VERY rough are, I thought I was a hard man (what a plank eh ?) Although I did train at Billy's, I eventually copped out due to the severity of the training. I simply wasnt man enough to keep going, much to my shame these days. When I felt that I should go back, Billy had died and the club had closed. So opportunity knocked just once and I lost out. me training was in all truth probably HARDER than any stories you may have heard. I was totally wiped out every session and ached for weeks even months, I thought I was in trauma. m e conditions were austere, and you had only TWO things to remember.. BILLY WAS ALWAYS RIGHT, AND YOU CAN NOT TRAIN TOO HARD. m at was it .... An example .. On my first visit I noticed red fire buckets all along the walls, half filled with water & disinfectant... Like a plank I asked WHY ?.. To be told by a sixty plus member, Tha'll soon find out laddy.. I did, the buckets were to VOMIT in when you trained HARD. They were emptied EVERY session and renewed simply because they were used by some one EVERY session.
SFUKA Your interest in wrestling and weightlifting led you to meet historic figures such as George Hackenshmidt and Bert Assirati, how did you come to meet them and what did you think of them?
DT. Yes I met those mentioned and many others besides .. You have to remember that I was born in 1948, and became involved in the early 1960's when most of these guys were between 50 & 70 years old and still around. I was told on many occasions that although I had decent technique I was a ''TREACLE BENDER" by this they meant I was as weak as a kitten. So I was advised to ~ do weight training at a gym frequented by most of the wrestlers at that time. It was at HAROLD WRIGLEY'S GYM in FAILSWORTH MANCHESTER. Harold was a former Weight Lifter & wrestler (fought as RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK).. Here I became embroiled in the weight world as well. I became the STAGE MANAGER for most of the top body building shows at that time .. In a lot of shows, they also had 'novelty' items, such as Lifting, Wrestling etc, and often the top men presented prizes etc. It was at these that I met the names mentioned. Hackenshmidt was a wonderful old man, full of life and vigour, and my undoubted favourite .. Highly intelligent, very humble and pleasant. Assirati, was a bit more brash, he KNEW he was great and told people so. .. Immensely strong, massively built.. He was the BEST ever BRITISH wrestler in my book. No bull with this man, called a spade a spade.. Stood his ground, and was a little bit overbearing.. But you could forgive him anything. He was shorter than most people would have believed.. about 5ft 6ins, but coming in at around 19 stones. Oakley .. Well you never knew when to believe him.. He had a twinkle in his eyes at all times, was always winding people up, but was quite ill when I met him, and didn't live much after that.
SFUKA You are one of the few instructors in this country to still teach Lancashire Catch wrestling, could you please tell us a little about this neglected style of fighting?
DT. LANCASHIRE CATCH .. Oh what- a BEAUTIFUL ART ... It was centuries old when I first saw it... Had similarities with CATCH AS CATCH CAN, but was rougher. It originated via the LANCASHIRE COTTON MEN AMD COAL MINERS ( m e predominant trades in the old days).. Men would pool cash in a flat cap, go onto the top of a coal slag hill or similar, and fight until there was a loser. Winner took all. It came via the VIKINGS and the ANGLES & SAXONS, it was mainly a submission art, pin falls weren't as common as holds that caused a man to quit. Lancashire wrestlers were banned in many inter county matches centuries ago because they were too rough. When the invading Romans brought their version of GRECO ROMAN, the Lancashire men thought it was bit tame and sissy. There were originally no rounds, so you just kept on until there was a winner. The ref could BREAK holds and get re-starts, but often it just carried on. The rules were VERY lax in that other than biting and gouging, just about every thing else was allowed.
SFUKA You spent some time working as a doorman, are there any stories you'd like to share from this period?
DT. I was only on the doors about two years, I really didn't have the mental state to be a good doorman, I was always worried about what I had done to folk. Thinking maybe he was really a decent guy, who had just had a temporary brain storm or something. So I was often sorry for the violence I handed out. I had a very busy start to my career on the doors, as most doormen then were BIG. I was about 5ft 7 ins and about 12 stones.. So I was often looked down on by the bad boys, and had to work a bit harder than my colleagues If you really want some tales I will give them, but it's not a period I often look back on really .....
SFUKA You've taught some of the biggest names in UK martial arts, are a successful columnist and have recently released a series of instructional video tapes; what's next for Dave "Mr Knowledge" Turton?
DT. I will be doing a book I have been working on for a while.. It is titled ."THE ESSENCE OF PER:SONAL COMBAT" and it's not a how to do it book, but a study on man's involvement in personal fights as opposed to wars etc. I also will be adding to our lists of videos, trying to cover some areas not yet done by others. My main concern is that at 52 I need to establish the GOSHIMKWAI SYSTEM. , I will not always be around to teach, and so we are getting as much on tape of the methods and syllabuses etc as we can while I can still stand up. I have some GREAT lower Dan graded members, but no one as yet high graded enough to take over...so I am establishing a system.
SFUK would like to thank Mr Dave Turton, questions to Mr Turton can be addressed to him at the SFUK Forum
Thanks SFUKA, great job. Copyright SFUK April 2000
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