Alfie Lewis


Published August 2012
Alfie Lewis

ALFIE Lewis is one of the most famous martial artists that has ever graced the semi-contact mats.
As a competitor he was feared and respected by his opponents in equal measure - not for nothing was he nicknamed The Animal. Why? because he was a ferocious fighter with a winning instinct second to none.
Off the mats he is a true gentleman and a great ambassador for free-style Karate.
He runs the Mushin Kai Freestyle Karate Club in Liverpool where he trains both today's and tomorrow's champions.
Phil Doherty: Hello Alfie, thank you for agreeing to do this interview...
Alfie Lewis:Thank you for asking me...
PD: Could you tell the readers a little about your background?
AL: I first got started at the early age of six in boxing, then I quickly moved on aged seven to Judo. The actual age of joining was 10 but I lied about my age. It was held at the local YMCA. I reached my Black Belt in Judo. Fortunately for me at the end of my street there was a famous Ju-Jitsu club which caught my eye. It was in the basement of a big old three storey brick house. I wandered in one day and as I went down the stairs I could hear smashing and groaning and could smell the sweat so I quit Judo and joined there. This was I later learned the original school of hard knocks. Because I knew no better it seemed like the norm to me. Over the years I have practised and trained in Shotokan Karate - which I love to death - Wing Chun, Praying Mantis and Hung Gar plus numerous other styles again some of which I didn't like.
PD: Can you explain in a bit more detail about training in some of those systems? And what attracted you to the semi-contact fight scene? 
AL: In competition my first one was Judo age eight, again I lied I was a big lad for my age so they had it. I won a few contests and made the regional squad but then came Ju-Jitsu as they had kicks and strikes. I never competed in Ju-Jitsu but then Enter the Dragon hit the big screen and I wanted to do exactly what was happening on the screen. I trained in China Town in Hung Gar and was lucky to do so as non - Chinese weren't allowed but as half my family are Chinese they persuaded them to let me in.
Alfie Lewis
It was held in a restaurant called the China Luna. All the chairs were pushed aside at closing time for us to train. All the instruction was in Chinese so I never had any idea what was being said so I just copied the moves until I found a friend who could translate for me. I then moved on to Shotokan at the age of 13 then I ended up doing Lau Gar.  
I gained my black sash at the time Lau Gar was the only style that did semi-contact so that was my up bringing.
Along the way after winning my 1983 world title in London I parted ways with Lau Gar as I found the hierarchy to be pompous. Being from Liverpool I have always been taught no one is better than you so I moved on and formulated my freestyle fist fighting system. Since I was now banned from all Kung Fu semi-contact competitions, which was petty if you ask me, I then turned to the Karate circuit, this was the best choice I could ever had made as every technique had to be clear and precise with good focus and technique had to be impeccable to score a point. 

Alfie Lewis 
Once the F.S.K. was introduced I was asked by the owner of Combat Magazine Mike Haigh would I take part in the new league the F.S.K. since I was at the time winning all the open Karate comps. He saw it was right that one of the leading fighters should be part of it. We agreed and the rest is what dreams are made of, we became a big hit since all the team who took part were association teams and we were one of the few club teams yet we would beat all these national teams.
PD: Can you tell readers some of the great fights you had and who with?
AL: I have had loads of great rivals come and go yet the only one people know about is Kevin Brewerton since he was a Lau fighter and shared a flat with then Combat Magazine editor Bey Logan. So Logan made us rivals through the magazine. This was great since with an objective it drive me on to do great things.
Yet I had more than Kevin to contend with since I was now a scalp which other fighters wanted to take. This was not a problem to me since I always love to have a challenge, yet I never felt the pressure. Another great fight was with a guy whose name is Rudy Smedley who I fought in the semi-finals of my first W.AK.O. World Championships. He was very hard to work out since it was the first time I had to deal with the blitz. There are lots of great names who I fought and beat over a 20-year period on the circuit. 
Alfie Lewis
Yet the one I wanted was Steve "Nasty" Anderson as every time I would win a world W.A.K.O. title so would he! In the end I won five W.A.K.O. world points titles. I am the only person to do this and the record still stands nearly 20 years on. "Nasty" won four world titles, in fact if he had not won four I would never of gone for my fifth. Any way I got my wish and it was for me the icing on the cake. Unless you fought him you will never understand how good he was, so clever and with great timing.
The only fight that never happen was a fight with another American Super Champion called Ray McCallum. It was a shame as that would have been a war. All the named fighters are now my friends and I respect them with the whole of my heart.
PD: Before a contest, what did you do to prepare for a fight? What was your normal daily training? Can you take us through a normal day training wise?
AL: It always shocks when I attend a tournament and I see fighters blowing try to get oxygen in their lungs, not just in local ones but sometimes in National Tournaments. It makes me want to slap them soft as they are so out of shape it's sickening to think that they will not give my sport the effort to at least get ready for the event. They treat it as a pass time yet it is such a dangerous sport to take part in. I have seen cheek bones crushed, jaws and noses broken, ribs broke, arms broken, yet some how they can't see the danger. Yes now they wear more pads so to me they will hit harder.
When I was at my peak getting set for a big one I would almost live in the gym. It would start at 5.30 am with a run. My running partner, I had different people for each part of my work out to save them burning out, was a PE teacher at a college and was sick fit and each day he would push me to beat him over a distance of three miles. From there I would go to my gym, eat some tuna, shower then all my people who I did my fitness program with would turn at 7 am. We would skip, bag, pads, shadow, sprints, shuttle runs and loads of jumping up and over objects.
Alfie LewisThen I'd get down to different exercise routine each day, after I would shower have some pasta get into my ski suit and go a sleep on the gym floor from 10.30 am till noon then I would jump on the weights with my new partner and we would do high reps. The program was built around building striking power and to be able to take shots. I never did weight on my legs ever. That would last about one hour then more pasta, shower, sleep or just chill. Then at 3.00 pm my sparring partners would turn up and we would do skills for an hour then bang heads, spar for about an hour then relax again till classes started at 5.30 pm. Then I would do everything the class did, both of them, then home about 9 ish, sleep and repeat for five days over six weeks. As I got closer to the event I would fine tune everything...I loved every second of it.
I would always plan the next day's training in my head then write it down so I was then committed to doing it. You see while you're all pumped up it sounds great yet next day when your tired it does not sound as good. So my idea was write it down when I was all pumped up so next day I had no choice since it was in front of me so I would get stuck into it and it would be great to know I had just killed that work out.
I am not the sort of person who looks for short cuts as my aim is to be "The Best Bar None" and to be that you have to go that extra mile plus when you think its finished think again. While you can push then push all the way without thinking of stopping, since you can't stop in a fight or in the street, so don't stop in the gym. Take my word for it I would train over all the holidays since in my mind they were all doing nothing and I was getting in extra time in front of them, your fighting career only lasts a short time so in that time be "The Man" not one of the men.
Master Ronnie ColwellPD: What was your worst fight you remember? Why?
AL: In all the time I fought I can't say I had a bummer fight since I would always try to take something out of any fight. Let's say I was not at my best then tactics came into play, moving around and making them create gaps for me to score or if my timing was out, of doing as much work as I could to hide the fact with lots of combinations to help me find my timing from a greater distance to give me more time or using fakes to draw them out then finish them off. The days that it was all out there I felt sorry for one and all since I got really kinky with my skills. For me the biggest turning point for my direction I took with my fighting was Gary Spiers and Steve Cattle who both gave me the last piece of the jigsaw to complete my all round game. Gary gave me the "switch", the ability to go from 0 to 1000 mph, not just physically but mentally, and to be able to tap into it any time and also to look at things from 50 different ways in seconds. Steve gave me evasion and punching skills with angles.
Steve and I would talk for hours at a time and just through our conversations I evolved. This was also the case with Gary, they were both so in tune with life and for me to have them guide me was the best thing in the world. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart and I will never forget you both RIP.
PD: Who do you respect the most? And who is your hero?
AL: As I mentioned both Steve and Gary are my heroes. On losing both my mentors I was sort of in limbo yet now I have another great mentor Master Ronnie Colwell. He is like them both in so many ways, he understands life and loves to educate. I could listen to him all day, thank you Ronnie you are a fantastic person and I love you dearly. We all need to have mentors who can guide us.
Alfie Lewis
Another friend of over 25 years is Peter Lewis PhD. His knowledge on the martial arts is so extensive and we talk on the phone most days. He is a wealth of information and I love history from as far back as you can go. I always tell my students to learn their history since if we forget it then we are just punch-kick without any substance. Think back to all the great warriors from 20 years ago to 2000 years ago and you will find a common thread, they all took an interesting history then made their own. Look back to learn from greats such as Musashi and Sun Tzu to name but two then you will understand yourself.
PD: What would you do differently if you had your time again?
AL: Life has had lots of ups and downs yet more ups than down yet I would not change a thing since all that we do makes us the man we are. Yes there are things that people regret, yet I have none since anything the young man did was done by him at this stage in my life. I look and just smile at the good, the bad and the in different since to carry guilt around would only make what's left of my life a waste of time so am happy with life and with my martial arts. What's the future got in store for me no one knows yet. I will carry on trying to get the young not to make the mistakes I made so to make them good solid adults...
PD: Thank you for taking time out to do this interview Alfie, I really appreciate it.
AL: Thank you Phil, its been a pleasure...
To contact Alfie visit his Facebook page: Mushin Kai Liverpool
First Published in Martial News North 3rd August 2012

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