Ben (2nd from left in the image below) started training at Newtown Dojo in 1998, at the age of 12, when he started high school at Fort Street High School.
He graduated in 2004, the year that Senpai Alexander (far right - BB 2009) started at Fort Street, and went to University of Sydney where he got a degree in IT.
Senpai Ben got his black belt in March 2008, at a gruelling grading that included 40 fights against other black belts. In March 2013, he successfully graded for his 2nd Dan, which included 30 fights.
At an IFKKA tournament in Bankstown, ca. 2000
In 2014, Senpai Ben also tested and passed the certification for a Australian Martial Arts Championships (AMAC) Class A Judge and Referee, thereby qualifying him to be an international level referee in the World Martial Arts Championships circuit. The testing involves having been a referee at State and National Level for at least a year since he obtained Class B, and the passmark is no less than 100%. In 2015 he took on the job as NSW Technical Commissioner for AMAC.
In 2016, after 17 years of training, he decided he needed to take a break and focus on other priorities for a while. We wish him well and hope he decides to come back soon!
Receiving one of his first trophies from Shihan Doug. Sensei Barry West is in the background.
Ben is in the middle of the picture, competing as a yellow belt at the IFKKA Bowral Tournament.
Here he is with his high school classmate Kosta Tzioumis, also a yellow belt, after a tournament. Pictured also are blue belts Vlad Shurupov and Gareth Poole from left to right respectively.
Now as a 3rd kyu, after another successful tournament (2004 Kempo Ryu), here is is together with Shigemi and Shahnaz. Ben is in his final year of high school here, and the two yellow belt boys in the picture with him are in their first. Alexander Yussof (Sensei Shah's son) is the 2nd from the left. The cycle begins again
Alexander got his black belt in March 2009, Shigemi is a white belt in at the left. She received her black belt in March 2012.
A group photo after an eye-opening Ashihara seminar with Shihan Hoosain Narker of Ashihara Karate International
. Senpai Ben is far right, and in the background are Davinder Dolku (BB - 2006) and Ali Aryan (BB - 2007)
Senpai Aysha Harnekar, of Ashihara Karate International, demonstrating to Ben the application of biomechanics
Above, his sparring trophy at the Kempo Ryu Karate Tournament in March. Everyone in the picture except for Sensei Shah (who didn't compete) won a trophy at the tournament - some just forgot to bring it!
Ali Aryan (at the back of the picture), got his black belt in 2007. Alex Vij (blue belt) got his black belt in 2013
Ben with his Kata trophy at the 2005 National All Styles Round 3
March 2008: The new Senpai Ben, looking somewhat worse for the wear after having done the grading and his 40 fights, with a proud Shihan Doug and Sensei Shah flanking him.
November 2012 - Senpai Ben having just been the Chief Referee for the Junior State of Origin team point sparring competition.
March 17, 2013 - Ben's second Dan grading.