Sensei Nursey was an original founder of the English Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA) which started in 1979. The Association went from strength to strength and has recently marked its 45th Anniversary. It is today, one of the longest-running Karate Associations in the UK, home to over 150 ESKA Black Belts, 23 associated clubs and with over 700 active members.  During this period, Sensei Nursey established a structured organisation to allow the ongoing and continued success of his legacy. 

We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate his incredible life, his dedication to the World of Karate and his vision for an open and inclusive Karate Association. 

Sensei Nursey started martial arts in 1962 at the age of 13, training in Judo for three years and gaining brown belt    He then practiced Jujitsu for a couple of years in a small dojo behind the old Kings Arms pub in Wood Green north London.  In 1967 he joined one of only two Karate Clubs in London at the time, under Sensei John Van Weenan, Mick Randall and Eddie Witcher, with visiting Japanese Instructors Sensei Enoeda, Takahashi and Kato.

Sensei Nursey’s first Karate grading was at Crystal Palace in 1967 at the KUGB two-week summer camp. After the first week he was graded straight to temporary yellow belt, then at the end of the second week was proud to be awarded his green belt by Sensei Enoeda.

In 1971, Sensei Kanazawa came to reside permanently in the UK, and Sensei Nursey graded to Shodan in 1971 under Sensei Kanazawa and again later to Nidan 1974 and Sandan 1978. By this time Sensei Nursey had opened his first club in Harlow in 1972 followed by a second club in Stevenage in 1973 at the girl’s school Valley Way, later moving to the Stevenage Leisure Centre, becoming part of ESKA when it began in 1979. 

Sensei Nursey has always emphasised the traditional aspects of Karate, following the teachings of Sensei Kanazawa and Sensei Funakoshi, but has also been a strong supporter of the early days of competition.  He was part of the England squad that fought against the Japanese team and won in the early 1970s, later becoming an England competition Referee in 1980 under Sensei Pete Spanton, and has refereed a number of England finals over the years. 

Sensei Nursey has also played a leading role in the creation and development of the England Karate Governing Body, serving on their Technical, Executive and Management Committees for many years, pushing for important changes in national karate governance such as up-to-date Coaching, Vetting, Child Protection Policies, Tournament Structure, and national Squad Training and Selection Procedures.

Sensei Nursey was also well known for his generosity, and he always emphasised how important it is for an Association to also have an active social life.  Together with his wife Rae, also a senior black belt in ESKA, he would regularly hold social events at their home, with BBQs, bonfires, firework shows, slightly drunken games of rounders and plenty of food and drink, as well as Rae’s famous “meat pie” evenings after every Black Belt grading, and trips to his favourite Indian restaurant after kyu Gradings. 

These events were treasured by us all, and ESKA is very much an extended family thanks to the vision, generosity and compassion of our beloved Chief Instructor.   He will be very sadly missed by all who had the pleasure, and honour, to have known him.

Sensei Mike Nursey’s funeral will take place on the 14th June 2024. For further information please email :

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