logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 33 - August 2003.

The Interview

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 myself. No.

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 fulfil?
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 lives.

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 up now.

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.


Graham Abdullah. photograph by Stephen Lang.