Graham Abdullah was born and brought up on Abbeyfield Road.
He went to Firs Hill and Firth Park schools before moving to Walkley,
where he has lived throughout his adult life.
Graham started learning Lau Gar Kung Fu in the early 1970s
and was helping to teach within a few years. He has run a Lau Gar
class at St James Church on Scott Road for over twenty years and
also teaches in Buxton and Hillsborough.
Several of Graham’s students now have their own classes
which form the Sheffield Academy of Martial Arts. Graham has been
British, National and European Lau Gar champion in forms, weapons
and fighting. He is married and has two children.
What is your idea of happiness?
Contentment within myself.
How do you relax?
If I’m relaxing I’ll read a book or go for a walk.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The greatest love of my life is Lau Gar. Without a doubt.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I think ‘understand it’, ‘learn it properly’
and ‘practise it correctly’. Oh, and ‘no short-cuts’.
Is there anything you dislike/would change about yourself?
I don’t think there’s anything I’d change about
What is your favourite place?
Whitby, I love Whitby.
Having taught hundreds of them, what would your advice
be to young people in Burngreave?
In your life try to have as few regrets as possible. Stay on the
right track – I think everybody gets choices at some point
in their life, if they’ve had the guidance and they’re
strong they’ll choose the right option – but it’s
easy to be led astray.
If you could change something about Burngreave, what
would it be?
I think, give the people what they want rather than let the Council
decide what they want. Oh, we’re getting political now…
Do you have any goals or ambitions you still wish to
Just to keep going, to keep teaching, keep on reaching out to people.
I’m fulfilling my goals, this is my ambition – just
doing it every day. I’m very fortunate in that respect.
What is the achievement that you are most proud of?
I think being able to have an influence on young people’s
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Believe in yourself.
Which living person do you most admire?
I would think my father. The reason is that when he came to this
country he had nothing. There were a lot of doors closed to him
and his kind of people. He battled through it and he never has a
bad word to say about anyone. He gives us the same advice –
just keep believing and keep going.
What saddens you?
The thing that saddens me is the pressure on young people today
– the social pressures. The need to conform, peer pressure,
people being forced to do things they don’t really want to
do – they feel that they must just to move along with everybody,
to be accepted. I wouldn’t like to be a young person growing
Is there anything else?
I’d like to say thank you to Barry Swift and all the elders
at the church for allowing us the opportunity to train here. It’s
become an institution – it’s like my home, my wife says
I spend more time here than at home. We never miss a class and I’d
just like to say thanks for their support. Also I’d like to
thank Betty Smalley and Saleema Iman for the equipment, it’s
been a great help.
Graham Abdullah was interviewed at St James Church
on 27th May by Jack Windle, photograph by Stephen Lang.