The instructors: Dai Master Rafael Nieto
Dai Master Rafael has always had a passion for martial arts, it began at school when he took up karate at a young age to then go on and take gold in his first karate tournament in Kingsway College London in 1978. This was the seed that started his success, it grew and went on to be the dojos that we love today.
Dai Master Rafael has always had the determination to be the best he can be in everything he does, and this was proven time and time again through his history. Since 1972 Dai Master Raf has won the British WAKO title four time and European WAKO championships. He trained as much as he could alongside holding down a full-time job as a firefighter in Central London as well as helping to raise his family.
You can check out Dai Master Rafael’s full achievements and gold medals through the years on our Club History page. It gives great insight to the titles Master Raf holds and the fun he had at Mugendo with his team under the guide of his instructor, Sensei Meiji.
Xen-Do is Dai Master Rafael, it was just a thought until he made it happen. With huge passion and a first-class curriculum Xen-Do has developed into 5 outstanding martial arts schools within Central London for everyone to enjoy and learn a new skill.
The first Xen-Do school to open was in 1998 when our beloved Marylebone dojo opened its doors. It was then as it is now a great place to be, full of fun, energy and adrenaline. So, of course the natural step is to expand, let as many people come and try this high intensity work out and feel the buzz, we have all come to know and love when we are in the dojo. This step lead to Karmaa opening in 2002 – which, unfortunately, due to a fire in the Camden Stables Market led to the dojo shutting down a decade later, but with one door closing another usually opens. In 2014 Dai Master Rafael opened the Baker Street dojo with Goodge Street dojo following a year later! Xen-Do was growing and building a community of champions. Dai Master Rafael teaches a brilliant team of instructors that bring the same enthusiasm to the dojo as the master himself.
As well as creating these dojos, Dai Master Raf has always associated himself with the martial arts community any way he could. In 1994 he represented Britain at the World Association of Kicking Organisations, as well as founded and developed the Spanish WAKO Organisation. In 2012 he was presented the Henry Cooper Award in recognition of his contribution to the development of young people. He has been involved in TV interviews on regarding his expertise in kickboxing. In 2017 he was named Vice President of World Amateur Martial Arts International (WAMAI) and a year later was honoured and awarded at Mugendo’s 3rd Annual Gala.
Dai Master Rafael has always been associated with Mugendo. It was his team throughout his early years, competing with them and bringing home the gold medals each year. Then continued to be involved when Dai Master Raf’s student then, now Master Ricardo Gress opened the first Mugendo school in Spain in 1999. Since then, both masters have built two schools with multiple dojos based on the same values, friendship and a love for the sport. This is shown each year when Senseis from Xen-Do and Mugendo get together to compete in the Spanish Open in Barcelona. The competition is a great opportunity for our Senseis and the level of respect between fighters is wonderful to witness and is a testament to their training.
It isn’t just martial arts that Dai Master Raf involves himself in, his charity work is admirable. He regularly donates to multiple charities such as, animal rescue, child development, helping the homeless and many more. He believes if you have the opportunity to give make and do something kind for others then there is no question whether it should be done. Back in 2016 Xen-Do supported the charity ‘Homeless Not Hopeless’ the team volunteered their time by collecting supplies, such as, blankets, clothes, basic toiletries etc to distributed to those in need.
It’s not always business with Dai Master Rafael though, yes – he is Xen-Do, yes – he thrives on adrenaline whether it’s fighting fire or fighting to compete it is the same rush, yes – he loves being in the dojo and meeting all the students. However, away from the clubs Dai Master Raf keeps his ‘fit for life’ attitude! He enjoys diving and climbing mountains, he travels to find adventure. All his life he has strived for gold and that’s in all aspects, business, hobbies, family. Dai Master Rafael’s outlook and determination is what makes Xen-Do great.
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