A karate teacher is bowing out after five decades of helping thousands of Sheffield students master the martial art.
Dave Bettles, from Ecclesall, estimates he has taught karate to more than 2,000 people over his 50 years of teaching.
Now a 66-year-old grandfather, the former fireman is retiring from teaching because of a forthcoming hip operation.
Dave is one of the most qualified instructors in the UK, achieving the rank of Seventh Dan – a qualification that takes years of mastering karate to achieve.
And current pupils at his Concord Sports Centre club in Shiregreen threw a special retirement party for Dave at his last training session just before Christmas.
Members of the Shotokan Karate Club – where he has taught for 40 years – presented him with a cake and presents to thank him for his help over the years. Grandfather-of-one Dave said: “They sent me off in style. It would have been my last training session of the year, so I don’t think it will hit me until the New Year that I’m not going back. I felt quite emotional – 50 years is a long time. I will miss it.”
Dave started karate in 1962, when he was 14 years old, having originally been doing judo.
He said: “I went to a judo club and was about to take my black belt and the club folded because it didn’t have the membership. In judo a lot went on size – if you put against a big guy, he used to knock you all over the place.
“With karate, it is on more of an even keel. It took me three years to get my black belt, training five or six times per week.”
He went on to start his own karate club in Stannington, but the available facilities presented something of a problem.
He said: “Unfortunately, the church hall we were doing it in was about 300 years old and when you finished a session, you had to dig the splinters out of your feet.”
The club eventually ended up at Concord, where it has been based for 40 years.
Dave said: “I ran the club myself and when other black belts came through, I chose a couple and then trained them up as instructors.”
Teaching people from age eight upwards, Dave said he has taught adults as old as 65.
In his working life, Dave was a senior fire officer for 32 years.
After leaving the fire service about 12 years ago, he has dedicated more time to the club.
He said he is sad to say goodbye to teaching the sport, although he will still be helping the club on the administrative side.
He said: “I found out this year I have to have a double hip replacement and that is going to be a year out. I thought I have got to pack up sooner or later.
“I have done this longer than I have worked. It has been a huge part of my life since I was 14.”
Phil Moxon, who will be taking over from Dave as the main teacher at the club, said he had big shoes to fill.
He said: “Dave is an excellent karate teacher. I have worked with him for over 30 years and seen it through to the end with him.
“How do you emulate somebody who has been so successful?
“It is quite daunting and quite a job.”