This post was written by Will Ng, 3rd Dan. The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the Central London branch, its associates, or the BSKF.
I have only started getting to know Paddy in the last couple of years, mainly through training together at BSKF seminars like the summer camp or UTS. He has organised one-day seminars in Dingle for a few years already, but it wasn't until last weekend that I visited him for the first time, along with Mizuno Sensei. (You might say, Ding-what? Yes, that's right, Dingle is a small quiet town on the south-western tip of Ireland, with a population of around 2,000, yet boasts a remarkable count of 54 pubs! It also had some buzz recently when filming crews descended on nearby locations to film for upcoming episodes of Star Wars. Anyway, I digress...)
I had an absolutely fantastic time.
The training seminar took place on Saturday 4th June, from 10-4pm, followed by a grading the next morning. Apart from taking taiso, I also assisted Mizuno Sensei with demonstrating kata, and taught the three junior kenshi's (11 years old) when we split up by grade*.
Paddy is quite a remarkable man himself, yet fantastically humble. Before starting to teach Shorinji kempo, he had trained and taught karate for over 25 years (and yet he still found inspiration from Shorinji kempo to defect!) He has even dedicated half of his living room for training purposes, with a wooden floor and punchbag in his self-built house.
But what impressed and humbled me most from this visit, was how Paddy takes a personal and heartfelt interest not only in his kenshi's training in the dojo, but also their welfare and livelihood outside in their personal lives. From the few days I spent with him, you could see that he genuinely cares how his kenshi's get on in life - whether it is building more confidence, getting a job, or their general attitude. He is friendly with everyone in town and always carries a smile with him. Perhaps I've lived in a big city for too long, but for me such a human connection seems rarer and rarer nowadays, which makes Paddy's sincerity and authenticity even more precious.
Then again, that's what Shorinji kempo is all about isn't it? The ideas of riki ai funi (unity of strength and compassion), the strong shouldering the weak, and creating an ideal world - all of which can be exemplified by and embodied in Paddy's actions. At an age where most people would be retired, he continues to devote his time and energy to training and teaching; his energy, spirit and thirst for further learning and development are extraordinary and would leave many much younger people envious.
I would absolutely encourage anyone to visit Paddy and his kenshi in this small yet buzzing corner of Ireland. Not only will his kenshi benefit from visitors (Dingle is pretty small after all), I genuinely believe that you would benefit immensely too, probably in ways that would surprise you.
Travel arrangements are simple - you can take a direct flight from London Stansted or Luton to Kerry, which takes about an hour. From there it is an hour drive to Dingle. Paddy had kindly drove me and Mizuno Sensei, but I think you could also get the bus if you wanted.
We also did some sightseeing around Dingle on the Sunday afternoon, and went further west towards Dunquin and saw the Gallarus Oratory which was a 1,400-year-old Christian church. We also had excellent seafood, and lots of silky smooth Guinness (obviously).
*Teaching juniors was quite an interesting experience, one I've never really had before (other than the odd occasion I went to Sensei Rob's kids class several years ago). As I found out, I could not just explain techniques with plain and rational science, as I would normally do to an adult - this approach did not capture the juniors attention and imagination. I did end up using a couple of everyday analogies and some humour (unbelievable I know!) which worked to some extent, but I think I could probably do better next time.