About ESKA St Albans

Club History

Established in 1991, St Albans Karate Club is a proud member of the English Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA), led by 9th Dan Hanshi Michael Nursey. This is one of the largest karate organisations in the UK with 23 clubs. Over its 30 year history, St Albans has grown from a few members to 80+, including 15+ black belts. It is very proud of its family-friendly approach to karate with many parents and children training together.

St Albans club is run by entirely by volunteers - lead instructor Sensei Graeme Main (6th Dan), Sensei Jo Alexander (4th Dan), Sensei Andre De Roy (3rd Dan), Sensei Ian Drew (3rd Dan), Sensei Sandy Sahota (3rd Dan) and many more from a range of grades. The club is run as a non-profit organisation - all fees are invested in the club's training facilities and equipment in additon to funding events such as summer and winter parties. For this reason, we have no contracts or upfront fees.


Our training sessions are held twice weekly, around the St Albans area. Parking, bike racks and changing facilities are available at both Dojos.


8:05 - 9:05pm
All Grades Welcome
YMCA Gym St Albans
59 Russet Dr, St Albans AL4 0DB


1:15 - 2:15pm
Purple to Black belt
2:15 - 3:15pm
Beginners to Green belt
YMCA Gym St Albans
59 Russet Dr, St Albans AL4 0DB

Grades and Gradings

To progress, a student will undertake many gradings as they advance. A grading is the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skill in front of senior ESKA instructors. A fixed syllabus is learnt for each grade which consists of Kihon (Basics), Kata (Forms) and Kumite (Sparring). All gradings take place in Stevenage, 4 times throughout the year.

The ESKA organisation uses the widely recognised coloured belt system to denote the grade of a student. Starting at white belt, there are a large number of grades between that and reaching First Dan - black belt. Adults and Juniors follow a separate syllabus, and have different grades as a result.

  • arrow_drop_downBelts
    10th Kyu
    9th Kyu
    8th Kyu
    7th Kyu ShoN/A
    7th Kyu
    6th Kyu ShoN/A
    6th Kyu
    5th Kyu ShoN/A
    5th Kyu
    4th Kyu ShoN/A
    4th Kyu
    3rd Kyu ShoN/A
    3rd Kyu
    2nd Kyu Sho
    2nd Kyu
    1st Kyu Sho
    1st Kyu
    Intermediate Dan Grade
    Dan Grade


Our club is run by a large team of volunteer instructors. This allows our club to have small, grade specific classes and ensure students get the most out of their training. Our lead instructor Sensei Main, and senior instructors Sensei Alexander, Sensei De Roy, Sensei Drew and Sensei Sahota are joined by a number of assistant Dan grade instructors, with decades of combined experience. All instructors at the club qualified by ESKA in coaching, along with first aid and welfare courses.

The club also has an army of junior instructors, including senior Kyu grades and Junior Dan grades.

Sensei Graeme Main


Sensei Main served with the BAOR in the 1980's and the TA in the 1990's. He has participated in various sports and recreational activities including winter climbing/expeditions, skiing, backpacking, bushcraft and other martial arts such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Judo.

He was at St.Albans first lesson in 1991 and been training ever since. He currently holds the rank of Rokudan (6th dan), which he received in November 2022. He is the clubs lead instructor, a Senior Examiner/Instructor and Association Judge, and a first aider. Along with the day to day running of St Albans, Sensei Main regulaly helps out at the Association Kyu gradings and competitions.

Sensei Jo Alexander


I am a children's nursery nurse/ manager by trade with over 21 years experience. I have also taught in the further education sector, to the nursery nurses and teaching assistants of the future.

I joined St Albans in 1995 and started training under the instruction of Sensei Nicholas Lower. The skills that I have learned over this time I use everyday in my life . They have  given me life skills such as confidence, self discipline , self defence and most importantly provided me with a second family.

As I moved through the grades it was a natural to give back to my club by supporting the higher grade. I started teaching 16 years ago, and I am now a fully qualified Instructor, helping to run the same club I started at all years ago.

I achieved my Shodan in May 2002. In the same year I was awarded my full karate teaching certificate by chief instructor Sensei Nursey. I later achieved the rank of Nidan in 2005 , Sandan in 2015 and most recently my Yondan in 2019.

I am the St Albans and Redbourn safeguarding officer, and the ESKA designated safeguarding lead officer.

Sensei Andre De Roy


I am a qualified financial markets consultant having working in the City of London, and I also took a City and Guilds course in plumbing and heating as I wanted to do something more hands on on occasion. I run, cycle, played football, until injury prematurely ended that, and a keen motorcyclist. 

I started martial arts 44 years ago in Kateda (school of central power), though changed to training in Shotokan Karate at the St Albans dojo only some 16 years ago. I am a Kata judge for ESKA, treasurer and instructor at St Albans and Sensei of my own dojo in Redbourn.

Sensei Ian Drew


I started training in Shotokan Karate back in 1994 in my home town of Peterborough at the tender age of 17. My first few years (make that 8 years) was spent at various clubs as I went off to University and then in to the real world of work. As I trained at several different clubs it gave me great insight in to various methods and ideas in training Shotokan karate as well as dabbling in Wado Ryu and Korean Karate when Shotokan clubs were not available locally. I eventually managed some stability in training with the KUGB while living in London and gained my Shodan (Black belt). After another move to St Albans and after the arrival of numerous children, I was on the look out for a club that could cater for my own training needs as well as those for my children. I found that with St Albans Karate Club.

The club has the benefit of being very family friendly, socially focussed as well as being part of a larger organisation that offers the opportunity of training every day of the week all over Hertfordshire and beyond. I have since earned my Sandan (3rd level Black belt) and got the kids (and wife) on the grading ladder.

Sensei Sandy Sahota


My martial arts journey started at age 11 when I joined a kung fu club in Wolverhampton. Unfortunately, it didn't last long as I moved house and was no longer able to train in the same place. This short period of training and the benefits I gained was the reason why 25 years later I wanted my children to learn martial arts.

I started training at St Albans in 2013 with my children. I am now a Third dan black belt and my two daughters have also achieved their black belts with ESKA. I am also a qualified ESKA karate instructor, a first aider and support the association with kyu gradings and at the annual ESKA competition.

I like to keep fit by running regularly and doing aerobic exercises. Over the past year I have also started teaching core exercises to students at the club as core strength is vital in karate.

Sensei Neil Fisher


Neil is a husband and dad of 2 children. As a chartered suryeyor he now specialises in commercial property project management and construction. Beyond karate his other passions include cycling, running, good red wine and chips with mushy peas

After a 25 year break, Neil returned to Shotokan in his early 40s. “Karate is great for everyone, whatever your age and ability and ESKA St.Albans is a very welcoming club”. Neil particularly enjoys training hard and the traditional side of the art. He believes it is now a study he will continue with for life.

Assistant Instructors

Sempai Matt Steggles
Sempai Susan Page
Sempai Hans Barnard
Sempai Cameron Harmanmore_vert
Sempai Cameron Harmanclose

I began training after I had turned 40 and recently achieved my 1st Dan (Black Belt), in November 2021. I’m a big guy so I am really interested in the biomechanics involved in the transition in technique. I find the small changes in stance and technique fascinating and try to pass this interest on in my coaching.

Sempai Jake Fairbrother

Dojo Captains

Sempai Theo Price
Alex Dibbs