top of page




Ronin karate club Washington is based at Washington Leisure Centre. We train on Wednesdays at 6pm. All of our sessions are suitable for both adults and children and we have several family groups who regularly train together. Classes are divided into smaller groups, each with its own instructor, to ensure that members recieve tuition at an appropriate level. The instructors at Washington, Sensei John Holdsworth and Sensei Julie Nicholson, are amongst the most senior and successful coaches and competitors within the KUGB. 

For more information about classes at Washington please contact Sensei Nicholson on:


Sensei Holdsworth has produced several articles for publications such as Shotokan Karate Magazine. He has also delivered seminars on subjects such as performance, reducing injuries and communication. A selection of his articles are listed below, please click on the icon to access each article.


Classes at Washington are held on:

Wednesday 6-7.30pm

Friday          6-7pm (low grades)

                   6- 8.15pm (high grades)



We train at:

Washington Leisure Centre,

Washington Town Centre,

NE38 7SS



John Holdsworth was born in Sunderland on the 1st August 1947. He was not particularly sport minded and was constantly bullied at school as he was quite small at that time. John initially tried Judo and Aikido in an attempt to learn self defence but neither Art was suited to John's personality. John later found his niche when he joined the Sunderland Martial Arts academy in January 1966 and began karate training under a 2nd Dan judo instructor.

John's first grading was in 1966 with Sensie Kanazawa where he was awarded 6th Kyu together with three other students who had graded previously. This meant that John was one of the four highest grades all of whom started to instruct shortly afterwards when the Judo instructor left the club. John has instructed ever since that time.

John later joined the Sendai Karate Club in Newcastle and from that started the Sendai Club in Sunderland. Johns competition days began with other Sendai members when they would travel the country entering every tournament possible in order to gain experience. Over the years John has achieved numeroustournament successes in both Kata and Kumite and has qualified as a referee with both the KUGB and EKGB. John is the only grading examiner in the North East of England, a position he holds with great pride.

John's passion is coaching others and he has attended many coaching courses and has a vast library of coaching books. His great love is working with others and is equally happy coaching for gradings or competition. Over the years John's students have achieved at the highest levels including coaching a number of 6th Dans, two world kata champions, and numerous European and National kata and kumite titles at both senior and junior level.

John currently teaches at the Ronin Karate Club in Washington and has trained and competed with many different styles over the years including competing in a local Karate league with two Wado Ryu students. Despite Johns friends from other organisations he will always be a strong supporter of the KUGB and believes it is by far the best organisation in the country. In Johns own words "the KUGB has more senior grade instructors and long standing members than any other organisationwhich shows its strength in depth. The KUGB has always produced quality throughout its membership for over forty years and I strongly believe that this will continue for years to come".



Julie was born in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear on the 12th November 1964.

She began her Karate training in January 1975 at the Sendai Karate Club in the YMCA Sunderland under the guidance of Sensei John Holdsworth and Sensei Jeff Barwick. She started training with her father Tommy, who mentioned that he was going to start Karate, Julie did not have a clue what it was but thought that it sounded good and asked if she could join as well. Julie was 9 years old at the time but had to wait until she was 10 before being allowed to join the Dojo- the demand being so high that there was a 4 months waiting list.

Julie began competing in 1976 and was a member of the KUGB national Squad from 1983 until she retired in 2000. During her time on the Squad Julie achieved many successes including 1st place in the Ladies individual Kata in the World Shotokan Karate Championships in 1999. However her championship highlight came in 2001 when she finally achieved her dream which was the first woman to become Grand Champion, winning both the Kata and Kumite events at the KUGB NationalChampionships. As a result of this Julie also became the first woman to be presented with the Wilkinson sword as the most outstanding competitor. She was also the first woman to become Grand Champion at the KUGB Shotokan Cup in 1999. Julie was an outstanding competitor and very well respected by Sensei's Enoeda and Sherry.

Julie and her husband John Holdsworth now run the Ronin Karate Club at Washington Leisure Centre which is very successful and has produced many high level students.

Sensei Enoeda was a major influence on Julie's Karate, she spent 17 years as a KUGB Squad Member and his instruction and guidance contributed to her many tournament successes.

bottom of page