Its sole base in Scotland is in the Merchiston area of the Capital and was founded by Turkish-born Shihan (Grand Master) Metin Tuncay 18 years ago.
He arrived on these shores in 1993 after spending 15 months in Japan, where he achieved his black belt and first Dan (first grading). His skills in martial arts stretch to other forms of karate and Thai kickboxing, but it is the niche style of Ashihara that fulfilled Tuncay with a passion to open his own club, Ashihara Karate Scotland.
This particular style of karate is focused on circular movements and the individual’s flexibility, where speed and control are fundamental. There is an implicit assumption that practice of Ashihara also helps promote spiritual awareness.
Tuncay explained: “The style is more practical and is very effective for self-defence. Ashihara uses a combination of other martial arts including judo, Thai boxing and aikido, so it is quite a mix. But it’s completely different from karate, which a lot of people don’t realise and the teaching methods are very different from other schools. Personally I have been quite successful within this style of karate but it brings great pride to teach and seeing how well both the kids and adults are developing is really satisfying for me as their mentor.”
Tuncay’s experience in Asia laid the foundations for the career path he would follow, with his strict training regime taught by the late Master and creator Hideyuki Ashihara. He admits it was an honour to learn under such a prestigious figure and it is a period of his life he reflects on with sincere humbleness. “I started at white belt (beginner level) when I went to Japan so I achieved so much within the time I was there. But to gain my black belt under the person who created the style Ashihara was such a big achievement and a real honour.”
Tuncay is not envious of the support or publicity from which alternative karate styles benefit, but he does stress that Ashihara requires a more public platform to help raise its awareness. The progression of some of his students has provided the Grand Master with a fresh air of optimism leading to a belief that a new chapter could be about to unfold next year with an aspiration to take a Scottish Ashihara Karate squad to a world championship event for the very first time.
“I have really big ambitions to take a Scottish Ashihara Karate national team to a world championship and we have an invite to the competition next Easter in Denmark so I’d love to take a team over there,” he said. “But there needs to be more marketing of this style and it would be great to secure some kind of sponsorship or grant which would really help us because just like when I competed in this competition, I had to self-fund the entire trip. I’m also hoping to open a club across in Fife maybe next year sometime. I’m a fitness instructor and a personal trainer as well so it’s very busy with teaching at the North Merchiston Club too.
“We have managed to keep the club going for 18 years and we have quite a mix of both adults and kids who attend on a regular basis.”
Classes for both adults and children are available throughout the week as well as a Saturday morning. For more information contact Shihan Metin Tuncay on 07812 381 266 or e-mail [email protected]