Sensei Raj Soren - 6th Dan

My family and I had faced regular racial abuse while growing up in North Wales and Liverpool in the early 70s. Ever since then I had been keen to take up martial arts as a self defence. I remember watching the Kung Fu TV series with David Carradine, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan movies as well as Hong Kong Phooey cartoon.  My parents wanted me to focus on my studies so I waited till university  before looking for a martial art club. 

In 1984 I was looking to join Karate or Kung Fu club at Freshers fair at Manchester Polytechnic (Manchester Metropolitan University). However before I could to sign up for these other martial arts I met a very  enthusiastic George Nicola a dark blue belt at the time who talked about how effective and versatile jiu jitsu was and he talked me into joining.  Ever since my first session with sensei Jeff Thompson a first dan I was hooked on jiu jitsu. Jeff Thompson was a  direct student of Shihan Brian Graham. The organisation was called the National Samurai Jiu Jitsu Association (NSJJA) and we had around 10 clubs in the UK. Gradings only took place once a year with Shihan Graham and Sensei Peter Farrar.  I was impressed by how you could take control someone  with a simple but effective technique like a wrist lock or arm clock and then take them to the ground with a throw.  

A year later George Nicola took over the club as a brown belt as Sensei Jeff went to study at another university for a post graduate degree. George was excellent at both judo and jiu jitsu and with his help I quickly got the hang of randori and ground work. I went on to win numerous golds for several years in my weight category. I also went on to  win gold in atemis in my early years.  I trained three times a week and  remember cycling 12 miles round trip to get to one of the weekly session in Didsbury.  The club also became national champions during my time there.     

In 1988 I gained my brown belt and started a new club at Manchester University at the Armitage sports centre with the help of Sensei George Nicola. One of my fellow brown belts Steve Allison took over from George at the Polytechnic. I was also joined my Lee Baker who was talented young brown belt and we taught for  a few years together. We had students such as Richard Goulding and Gareth Horgan in our club at the time and we know the important contribution these individuals have made to TJJF. As a brown belt I became the NW regional chairman  and in 1990 I set up Salford University Jiu Jitsu club  and also helped set up the YMCA club in Manchester. In 1991 I  gained my black belt and  then moved to Sheffield for a new job but travelled to Nottingham University club to help teach there and later becoming the club instructor for several years. While in the East Midlands I also a taught at  Nottingham Trent University and Loughborough University and I also became the regional chairman. I passed the Nottingham clubs over to Gary Grimsby and Ian Goodfellow.  

In 2001 I moved to Bradford with 3 children all under 6 years old. I was keen and motivated to start a town club as my children were at an age at which I could pass on my knowledge.   In 2002 I set up Baildon Jiu Jitsu club which became one of the most  successful town clubs and grew from 1 club to a point where we had 10 venues in schools and community centres under the Bradford jiu jitsu club banner.  We had 10 sessions a week which included 4 after school clubs and we grew to 150 students. I couldn’t have done this without  the support of  the of a number of instructors Gavin Naughton, Rob and Emma Ashcroft, Rachel Smith, Graham Williams, Will Meehan, Sean Higgins. The Bradford club went on to win over 17 junior randori and atemi shields as well a number of international competitions. Over the years at the Bradford club alone I have been privileged to teach over 25 juniors and seniors to become brown belts and dans including  my children Suraj, Chandni and Lukhi Soren who I am all very proud of.

In 2003 Shihan Brian Graham passed on the running of junior jiu jitsu to me which was an honour. For 17 years I was the director of junior jiu jitsu with the support of many individuals such  as David Walker, Ady Tredwell ,Nigel and Nicola Price,  Tony Gill, Colin Moritmore, John Harquail, John Hanrahan, Adam MacQueen, Rob and Emma Ashcroft, Martin Shaw, Jyoti Soren, Natalie Lockyer, Charlie Miranda, Will Meehan, Andy McDonnell, Katie Bickerstaff and many more. A massive thank you to all junior instructors for a marvellous job they have been doing over the years.  We managed to grow numbers from 125 to over 600 juniors at its peak. In 2019 I passed the role of Junior Jiu Jitsu director in the capable hands of Ady Tredwell. 

I  have also been an active member of the promotions board for 15 years , the tertiary board for 8 years as well  the coaching and teaching and supporting  international jiu jitsu events. Over the last 12 years I have continued my journey in martial arts and gained my second dan in Aikido and teach an aikido club. I have also started  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and HEMA - Historical European Martial arts which I also compete in. 

In the last few years I  have published books on Coping with Stress, Confidence building and a Children’s anti-bullying martial art book which I co-wrote with my wife Jyoti. Since being made redundant in November 2022 I have set up a training and coaching company working with organisations improve performance and well-being.  I have still managed to do all this on top of my jiu jitsu and aikido commitments. Its amazing what you can fit into a week if you have the passion, drive and commitment to pursue the things that are important to you in life.     

Some of the many proud moments include seeing my children grow in confidence  and gain their black belts, helping numerous clubs win at national competitions, being junior TJJF director, involved with the promotions board , gaining each of my dan grades and joining the Tertiary board and most recently my  Rokudan promotion.         


Club instructors and and Assistants 


mike Linney


I started to train Ju Jitsu in 2000, aged 18 at the Sheffield University Club. I had never trained a martial art before and wasn’t particularly interested in fighting or self-defence. But at a university freshers fair during my first week in Sheffield I picked up a flier for Jitu and thought I would give it a go along with some others sports and social clubs.  


To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Jitsu. But from my very first introductory session I immediately fell in love with training Jitsu! I found that it was fantastic exercise, a brilliant way to switch off from the normal day to day and, simply, it was great fun. Additionally, the club was a great environment to make friends and as a university club there was a very vibrant social and party atmosphere away from training.  


During my four years training with the Sheffield club I had a great time and I made lifelong friends. Jitsu also had a huge impact on my future as it massively improved myself confidence and made me much more outgoing and willing to try out new experiences outside of my comfort zone. The confidence I gained from Jitsu combined with the skills as an assistant instructor such as leadership and team spirit helped me get my first job and subsequently start to build a career in finance.  


In 2004 I stopped training Jitsu when I moved overseas. For many years I considered re-starting Jitsu but my job involved a lot of travelling and I couldn’t commit to regular training.  


By 2018 I had settled down in Bradford and I had a 4-year-old daughter. I really appreciated the benefit Jitsu given me in my late teens and early twenties, and I wanted my daughter to have a similar benefit at an even younger age, so I took her to the Bradford club. At her first lesson she was very nervous and wanted me to join in with her. So I got back on the mat and immediately I was hooked again.  


Several years has now passed and all three of my children train with the club. I have achieved my dark blue belt (2nd kyu) and I have qualified as an instructor. I find the ethos of the Jitsu Foundation, including the Bradford club, to be really positive with instructors giving back their time on a voluntary basis to pass on the skills, experience, attitude and respect as their sensei did for them. Being able to help the young kids, the teenagers and also our adult students grow and develop their skills is an immensely rewarding and fulfilling experience.  


There are many reasons to train Jitsu. This can be a desire to learn self-defence; or to participate in competitions; for exercise; to improve co-ordination, strength and general health. Personally I just find it really good fun.  

Alexander Junior Brown BELT

It wasn’t always flips, rolls, throws etc. I was about 6 years of age. Others were kicking footballs, throwing basketballs, running races, I was, though, doing absolutely nothing.  

I didn't have an interest for any of the usual sports. I still don’t. My parents wanted me to be more athletic, I suppose, to meet new people. Perhaps a club of some sorts. Somewhere where I could relax, have fun, something to look forward to.


Fast forward nine years, I am an assistant instructor. I am loving life. I have great friends in secondary school, some I can relate to since they are training in other martial arts. 


It's normal Saturday morning training. I come on the mat leaving my brother to his “businesses” on his phone in the cafe’s sitting area. I am lucky enough to be asked if I want to do the breakfalling, bellowing out orders when people roll. I of course accepted.


I still get plenty of training and while training with a chap who at the time was an orange belt we get talking, we have plenty of conversations each week. Sensei decided we should spend our last ten minutes of the session practicing with knife defense. We have fun with that, I share some knowledge, he shares some questions, I share the answers, we share the moment. 


At the end of the session he asks me about my craziest stories in my nine year martial arts career. I had a few, okay maybe more than a few. You acquire a lot of stories in nine years. After I tell a couple interesting tales we get off the mat and start gathering our stuff ready to leave. When I finished my last sentence, he replied with something that made me really think about how much I love this sport. Something that Will stick with me for a really long time. 


“Your an inspiration”


Almost a decade gave me more confidence than I ever imagined, but this was like a whole new lorry delivering a ship load more.