2000 Champion - Des Murphy


Des Murphy stepped into his first dojo less than a decade ago. Within this time he has become a dominant karate fighter, the NAS 2000 champion and opened up his own successful school.

It was Des Murphy's wife Linda who found a club and encouraged him to start training. Studying a martial art was something they both wanted to do, but neither of them realised the effect it would have on there lives.

"We started studying Ishin-ryu about nine years ago and as soon as we started we were pretty much doing five classes a week."

It was the competition part of martial arts that struck Des. In the beginning he joined for the fitness aspect, however fate stepped in. His instructor Sensei Bruce Hyland was the Victoria AKF karate coach and with the level of competition available he was intrigued by competing.. "I was really surprised I was training so much, but Sensei Hyland was such a great motivator and he didn't push us. His enthusiasm for the sport really rubbed off on me," he says.

When asking Des about his first competition he laughs and admits he was pretty shocking . However, there was passion there and after about eighteen months of sparring and working in the gym he started to win fights.

Earning his black belt in three and a half years, Des was competing regularly in the AKF. In 1993, his instructor handed him forms in regards to the NAS competition and mentioned he might like to try this one.

"I did battle from the start in the NAS, even though I had been doing a lot of other competitions. The different styles and refereeing, the techniques that can be thrown and the different angles that come in, does take time to get used to. I eventually got there and I enjoyed it so much I have competed ever since."

Having the NAS nationals earlier in the year worked well for Des as, like most of us, he is far more tired towards the end of the year. Training quite heavily in the gym, he didn't have as much time to focus on his style as he would have liked, but had the chance to do a lot of boxing.

"I always work on my boxing because it helps me move a bit better and I can really judge where a punch is coming from. I'll also do a bit of Aikido and grappling, but my main focus is Ishin-ryu."

With a successful NAS competition record behind him including four national team titles and a number of runner up places, every year he also tries to enter as many categories as possible and this year competed in the Veterans, the Men's Open, the Under 70kgs and the Teams Event.

"Without a doubt it is better to be in more divisions that just the one. It was a bizarre day though, the person I lost to in the Open was the same person I lost to in the Veterans and I only had my weight division left. I got through there but to tell you the truth I really just wanted to go home, luckily I had a few friends to help me along and they got me back up again."

Coming up against Simon May from Victoria, Des had both wins and losses against his opponent, but was confident he could take out the fight. "It was actually a hard fight. He is a very fast and quick fighter and comes from a traditional style as well," he reminisces.

The traditional style of Ishin-ryu Karate originated in England by Sensei Tiggy Donovan and is one of the only styles founded outside Japan that is a recognised martial art in Japan. It is based on three styles Kyokushin, Shotokan and Wado-ryu and is a very good competition style all over.

Des has been running his own club, Ishanryu Karate Cranbourne, for over four years and believes it is something he has always wanted to do. "Since I became a brown belt I really likened to the idea of teaching and it all started from there."

With students ranging from five to forty-five, although his interests were based in the competitive side of the art, he doesn't like to push his students. "If you push your students to compete you will lose them all. If you keep them strong in the style they will be good competitors anyway."

Running a competition course in January for all styles and all levels, Des believes his time to step out of the ring is now. After years of competing in the NAS he wants to retire on a great win. "I'll still be involved in the NAS for sure, but I don't think I will compete next year. Going out on a high is definitely the way to go about it."