Sensei Chris began his Karate training in Newcastle, Australia as a young man in 1970. He was graded to Shodan in 1977, by Sensei John Jarvis. Sensei Jarvis had built a Kyokushinkai Karate empire in Australia and New Zealand at that time and when Sensei Higaonna first came to Australia in the late 1970’s, as a guest of Sensei Jarvis and prior to the formation of IOGKF worldwide, Sensei Chris converted to Okinawan Goju-ryu, after experiencing the exceptional strength, technical expertise and humility of a true master and role model.
As a young man, Sensei Chris Larken was a natural athlete, being captain of the local cricket side amongst his many achievements. He worked as a tiler and had his own successful business. His Dojo in the Kotara area of Newcastle, Australia has been in the area for over 40 years and has produced many fine Karate-ka.
He considered himself fortunate to have been instructed and graded throughout his lengthy career by one of the world’s greatest living masters in Higaonna Sensei.
Sensei Chris has always been considered a senior instructor in Australia’s long running IOGKF history. In 2000 following the passing of then chief instructor, Sensei David Lambert sr, he was elevated by Sensei Higaonna to the newly formed Australian Kambukai, where he served until the Kambukai was reformatted to see a joint chief instructorship between both he and Sensei Joe Roses. Sensei Chris has had a large involvement in the guidance of IOGKF in Australia for many, many years.
Sensei Chris was a well-traveled instructor, making the effort to attend many international Gasshuku and world Budosai events during his karate career. In addition, he has also trained at a European Gasshuku’s, Ubuntu & Chief Instructors Gasshuku’s in South Africa, chief instructors and Budosai events in Okinawa and Oceania Gasshuku’s in New Zealand. Many IOGKF members would have experienced Sensei Chris’ instruction at the 2015 Miyagi Chojun Festival in Canada where he was a featured instructor.
Many Australian and Asian Pacific Gasshuku’s have been organised and held in Newcastle, Australia by Sensei Chris, where he hosted world class instructors, including Sensei Higaonna, Sensei Bakkies Laubsher and Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura – forging life-long friendships in the process.
At the 2012 World Budosai in Naha, Okinawa, Sensei Chris was graded to 7th Dan by grand master Morio Higaonna. An amazing achievement for an inspiring 46 year journey in Karate. In 2015 the AOGKF awarded Sensei Chris Larken a lifetime achievement award for his 40 years of protecting and spreading the Goju-ryu Karate of Higaonna Sensei in Australia. The award was presented to him by world chief instructor Sensei Nakamura in front of a full house of Australian IOGKF members and to thunderous applause.
It was no secret though that Sensei Chris’ greatest joy in life came from his wife Kerri, who he adored. Kerri has also achieved black belt status in IOGKF and has accompanied Sensei Chris on his many adventures around the world. They are true soul mates, who many people across the globe admire.
Despite his recent illness, Sensei Chris Larken astounded many people when he arrived in Okinawa in July 2016 to participate in the most recent world Budosai. His efforts to attend this event did not go unnoticed and he received a personal award from Master Morio Higaonna at the official closing ceremony of the event.
Sensei Chris Larken was a true Aussie mate, always with a story to tell and an with an infectious laugh that would light up any room. IOGKF both in Australia and world wide has lost another true, long time character that makes our organisation so iconic. He may now be gone, but he will never be forgotten by the many Karate-ka around the world that shared continued admiration for him.
Our Sensei Chris
by Brett Hogan
I have gathered these verses together With a sad, and solemn heart
His legacy, will live forever Though, this world he had to part
Now listen about Chris Larken And what I have to say
I’ll speak for all that knew him We are all devastated today
He started karate, as a young man With dedication, mastered the art He did what only few can
That sets men like Chris apart
With a vision, for his students
That perfection is a must
But there’s always room for improvement And his wisdom we did trust
He gave us knowledge, and the tools To carry us through life
And quickly sort out fools
If we found ourselves in strife
He trained the world over
He had a world full of friends
A man, I admired like no other I’m not so sure my heart can mend
Although all this may be serious He was a man who loved a joke His laugh, it was infectious
He was a fair dinkum Aussie bloke
He loved a beer, and a tale
You could laugh with him the night through His company, could never grow stale
Chris was one of the world’s great few
So unfair, that a man so selfless This evil, had to be his fate
I feel so sad and helpless
Yet so proud, he was my mate
A way of life, a state of mind
He was fearless beyond measure In life, you’ll meet few of his kind And his memories we will treasure
Now it’s time to say goodbye
Chris stayed stoic to the end
He told us not cry
Cause he seems to think our heart will mend
His spirit will live with us forever Although forever we’ll miss
Our mentor, our friend, our Sensei Chris