History and Aims of MarFest

After many years participating in demonstrations at the odd Fete to raise money for local charities,  I often thought that a more positive and organised approach for martial artists to become involved with raising funds for charities and also promoting the many positive benefits of the ‘Martial Arts’ was needed.  So in 2001, I contacted friends from various Martial Arts groups in my area (some national, international and world champions included) and organised the first ‘Sunderland International Festival of Martial Arts’.  We demonstrated our arts, - Aikido, Aikijitsu, Judo, Karate, Jujitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Jojutsu and Kenjutsu, before an audience of over 300, raising nearly £1000 for Cancer Research.  (A friend of mine Mrs Edna Ford, is local area Hon Secretary).  (In the past ten years thanks to everyone involved the event has raised thousands of pounds for Cancer research UK).

From this start I have organised an annual festival at which many artists/groups from all over the UK and even from China, have demonstrated their varied arts, including: Capoeira, Gung Fu, Kung fu, Shorinji Kempo, Karate, Aikido, Aikijitsu, Ninjutsu,  Jui Jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Escrima, Judo, Taekwondo, Fencing, Kobudo, Kenjutsu and Wrestling.

Its aims are:

·         Most importantly: To raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK as well as public awareness of the role the North East plays in international research into this disease which has now taken over from heart disease as the number one killer in this country.

Newcastle University Research Centre is one of the foremost Cancer Research Centres in the world.  They are in the forefront of groundbreaking research and treatment into many forms of cancer, notably research to devise new and more effective cancer treatments for children and adults as well as research into inherited forms of cancer and clinical trials at hospitals in Newcastle and the North East.  Also the very hard work that dedicated volunteer’s do all around the country and especially locally, organizing collections, events and more, to collect funds and foster awareness for Cancer Research UK.

  • To bring together various Martial Arts groups from the local area, nationally and internationally and in a very positive way, demonstrate their arts and foster friendship and an awareness that they are part of a much larger Martial Arts ‘family’.

  • Increase public awareness as to the variety and very high standards of Martial Arts practiced both locally and also in the wider arena.
(We have many local Martial Artists who have attained national, international                     and world champion status),

  • Provide a forum for young Martial Artists to display their skills and develop pride and confidence both in themselves and their respective arts.  Also encourage people to become involved in the martial arts with its many positive benefits.

  • Have an entertaining, educational, spectacular and fun day out for everyone.

The past eleven events have featured many senior grades/experts in their arts including national, international and world champions in a variety of arts, as well as some celebrities: Danny Ho from Sky TV’s Fight school has taken part.  Escrima, Kali, Arnis Champions Sensei: John Harvey 8th Dan, 5 X World Champ, Jude Tucker 4th Dan. 4 X World Champion. Christine Pullan 7th Dan Karate, former British, European and World champion.  Dave Reavely former world Judo kata champion.  Professor Peter Grufferty – Capoiera.  John Atkins 10th Dan Ninjutsu and many more Senior Instructors who are foremost in their arts. Also for two years we had the privilege of featuring Master MA BOA GUO who is an authentic Chen style Kung Fu master from China.

The event also allows the younger members of the various arts to take part and demonstrate their skills and discipline in front of an audience.  This helps them to develop confidence in themselves and a sense of pride and commitment in their chosen art and group.  All participants willingly give their time and expertise to demonstrate their individual arts with tremendous skill, providing an excellent performance, which is not only impressive but also very entertaining.

Last years event also included unrivalled opportunity for both martial arts students and members of the public to take part in mini seminars in over ten arts taught by senior instructors.

As mentioned all money raised goes to the Sunderland branch of Cancer Research UK, whom I believe last year raised over £30,000 through all their various fundraising activities.  This money will be used to help fund the research currently being done at the Newcastle Research Centre.

In short, everyone wins and much-needed funds and awareness are generated for Cancer Research UK.

It would be nice if this locally generated (North East) event were publicized by the media, as there are many newsworthy angles to this event, which I am sure you will recognise.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the event in any way, (even donations for the raffle), please contact:

Mrs Edna Ford (Sunderland Branch Secretary, Cancer Research UK).
Tel: 0191 5362669 or make your donation via our Cancer Research UK page.


Peter Seth  (Founder/Organiser).


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