The Saxon Karate Club is a Shotokan karate club based throughout West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester & Lancashire, although the club also extends to Wales and many countries Worldwide. Saxon is headed by Sensei Leigh Smith, a highly respected 7th Dan black belt. Training sessions take place in Bradford, Halifax, Sowerby Bridge, Manchester, Burnley, Rochdale, Oldham, Norden, Chadderton, Denshaw and Littleborough. More areas and venues are being added yearly.


Sensei Leigh Smith

Sensei Leigh Smith

Saxon karate was formed 32 years ago by Sensei Leigh Smith, November 5th, 1981. The club itself started with 6 members and on its initiation, was first known as ‘The Pennine and Wesley Self Defence Club’. Within a year, the club had grown to 25 members and had changed its name to ‘Saxon Martial Arts Club’. In 1983 the club made a further change of name to the now famous ‘Saxon Karate’. In 1991, a final change was made to the name and it became ‘Saxon Karate International’.

To date, membership world wide is in the thousands. The North West of England arm of Saxon encompasses Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire, with classes in those areas catering for hundreds of members. At present, the club boasts over 100 brown and black belts, men, women and children, on its register. Many of these are top quality instructors in their own right. and examinations were taken under the auspices of ITKCA JKA WSI ITKF UKTKF. Sensei Leigh 7th Dan has certifications under all the aforementioned organisations. in 2012 Sensei Leigh became ‘a Greater Manchester Sportsman of the year’ during that year Saxon was also  recognised & praised by the Greater Manchester & West Yorkshire  Police divisions and the club received letters of recommendation.

Sensei Leigh takes great delight in now witnessing the success of the organisation and had the full support of his own instructor of almost 40 years, Sensei Masao Kawasoe, 8th dan.  Saxon karate has been one of the most successful clubs in the United Kingdom Traditional Karate Federation (UKTKF), with its members representing their club, counties and country both at home and abroad.

If you are considering taking up karate, or already have training but are looking for an outstanding club, simply turn up to one of the many weekly training sessions, details of which can be found on the training page.

The club caters for all ages, from young children (Tiger Cubs – age 4-6) to seniors.

What better way to learn karate than from a man like Leigh Smith. His karate CV is quoted as being ‘like a James Bond film’ – having been shot at in Russia, seen the apartment next to his blown up in Latvia when he was teaching there and spent time evading hitmen after offending the local Russian mafia. His student lists include: Presidential, Papal, VIP Bodyguards. Stars of TV, Stage & Screen. Civil dignitaries including a Prime Minister, Security forces across the World. (At an unbelievably high level) The list goes on & on. In all these years Sensei Leigh has had no other job making him a very rare and genuine Karateka Professional who has trained in Japan many times in visits in that started back in 1984.

Leigh’s life experience is reflected in his teaching. He concentrates on mastering effective technique, with an emphasis on being able to defend yourself and defeat an opponent in a street fight through speed and power (not necessarily strength) of moves. However, lessons are always fun as Leigh’s sense of humour is projected throughout, in his words. “What is the point of wasting your life in having a bad time”?

His memory of his club members is also outstanding – he recalls names, faces and attendance very quickly. This mental ability is also reflected on his teaching – he remembers each student’s flaws and errors and concentrates on removing them. He doesn’t miss a thing. Perhaps this is the reason that  past members even from many years ago remain firm friends and in contact with the man and the club that will always mean so much to everyone involved.

Sensei Masao Kawasoe 8th Dan of the JKA  Said  : ” Whatever Leigh says he will do, He does”.