Our Instructors


Rob Willis (6th Dan) 

Rob Willis began his martial arts journey in 1979, studying Ju Jitsu with Ken Chisholm at the YMCA in Southport. By the end of the year he had switched to Shotokan Karate, training under Sensei Steve Cattle at the Southport Karate Club, based at the same venue. Rob continued training at the Southport Karate Club for the next ten years, representing the club in competition and passing 1st Dan under Sensei Enoeda at Crystal Palace in 1987. In 1989 Rob opened a dojo at Ainsdale which he ran for three years until 1992 when he returned back to the YMCA to help teach at the Southport Karate Club until 1999.


In 1999 Rob opened the West Lancs Karate Academy which is now The Southport Karate Academy, and continued to teach, train and compete whilst working to build the club and continue developing his own karate, travelling the length and breadth of the UK and into Europe to train with the worlds foremost Instructors.


Rob won his first tournament medal in 1983 and continued to compete across four decades in both kata and kumite, taking his final medal in 2012 fighting to help take the West Lancs Team to victory at the BSK Nationals. Through his coaching Rob has also guided numerous students to competitive success, with over two hundred medals won at regional, national and international level.


As a member of the English Shotokan Academy since it's founding in 1991 Rob has been on the Technical Committee since 2005 and has also been a member of the Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha Academy since 2006. Rob was named as Sefton Sports Council's Coach of the year in 2006 and was a finalist for Merseyside Coach of the Year in the same year. In addition to his traditional karate training Rob has worked professionally as a defensive tactics trainer for the Police, along with running a successful self-defence consultancy for over ten years, including the publishing of two books and numerous associated articles.



Hayley Willis (3rd Dan)


 Hayley began her karate training at the West Lancs Karate Academy in 2000 and has trained consistently ever since, including competing successfully at regional and national level, with over ten years of medal success in both kata and kumite. Since passing 1st Dan in 2004 Hayley has been teaching consistently ever since at the Southport Karate Academy, formerly West Lancs Academy, along with being the club's Child Protection Officer.


Along with the other seniors of the club Hayley has trained on countless courses to learn form the seniors of the ESA and the SRKHIA, as well as other top instructors from the UK, Europe and Japan. From 2001 Hayley was actively involved in the PSP system, combining her experience as a teacher and martial artist to deliver self-defence courses for schools and business users, increasing further her knowledge and experience in the application of karate.





Raj Patel (3rd Dan)


 A founding member of the Southport Karate Academy, Raj Patel first started Karate at the Southport YMCA Karate Club in 1995 before working with Sensei Willis to set up the West Lancs club in 1999. Raj was one of the first people to pass 1st Dan at the new club, doing so in 2001, and has been an important part of the club ever since, regularly attending courses to progress his own training whilst assisting with the teaching at the dojo.

In 2013 Raj passes his 2nd Dan grading under Sensei Dirk Heene at the ESA Residential Course, since which he has continued to be involved in West Lancs Academy's development, which is now the Southport Karate Academy, through teaching and the organising of the club events, progressing through to 3rd Dan.



 Dave Barnes (2nd Dan)


Dave was introduced to Budokan Karate in the South East as a junior reaching 3rd Kyu. As a senior, in London, he began Shotokan Karate with Sensei Kawasoe (JKA). Moving to Lancashire, he achieved his 2nd Kyu under Sensei Errington (UKTKF). Whilst studying in Manchester he trained at Sensei Harford's (KUGB) Salford Academy for a number of years, and alongside members of the KUGB England squad, gaining his 1st Dan in 2003 before a senior KUGB panel which included Senseis O'Neill and Brennan. Moving to Merseyside, he was briefly taught by Sensei Higgins (KUGB) before joining Sensei Willis's West Lancs Karate Academy in 2014. He achieved his 2nd Dan in 2023. 



Joy Patel (1st Dan)


Joy Patel started training in 2012 at the West Lancs Karate Academy and despite not wanting to grade and merely joining the club for fitness she soon became hooked on karate, training hard, attending courses, and ultimately passing her Dan grade in 2016 under a panel led by Sensei Dirk Heene at the Lilleshall Residential Course. Joy has since established herself as a key member of the club, consistently training, attending courses, and managing the club’s website, along with teaching in both junior and adult sessions.











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