Sensei Austin Birks initially started his study of martial arts at the age of 13 when he started Judo and achieved the rank of green belt before switching to the Wado Ryu style of karate at age 15. He trained at the Temple Karate Club under Sensei Toru Takamizara and Eugene Codrington again grading to the rank of green belt. His first exposure to Shotokan was when his family moved to Brighton and he trained with Sensei Mick Dewey and Phil Elliot both of whom were 2nd dans where he trained for 18 months achieving the grade of purple belt under Sensei Enoeda’s assistant at the time Sensei Tomita.
After returning to Sutton Coldfield he trained at a local club before going to university in Manchester where he joined the university Shotokan karate club. He trained there for four years becoming club captain and grading under Senseis Bob Poynton and Terry O’Neil until he passed his 1st Kyu in 1983 under Sensei Billy Higgins. He was also presented with formal colours by the University for his services to the Karate club
After university Austin moved around with work training and teaching in the New Youk for two months before returning to the UK trainig at the Shotokan Preston Martial Arts Academy and at a club in Hereford. In 1987 he joined the Worcester Shotokan Karate Club and for the first time he visted the Bartley Green dojo and trained with Sensei Cyril Cummins. In November 1993 Sensei Birks passed his shodan under Sensei Enoeda. By this time Austin was training with Sensei Cummins regularly and in March 2003 he passed his 2nd dan again under Sensei Enoeda. Following this he took part in a number of competitions with a large degree of success as well as teaching on Sensei Cummins Fleetwood Course and then assisting Sensei Cummins with teaching when required. He eventually took his 4th dan under Sensei Cummins and Sensei Ronnie Christopher and passed in 2009.
Over the years Sensei Birks has been fortunate enough to train in many countries including England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, the USA, Canada, Hungry the Czech Republic, Malta and Thailand. He has risen to the rank of senior student or sempai within the club with Sensei Cummins bestowing the title of Sensei to him at all times for his dedication to the club and karate, a title usually only reserved for those black belts instructing the class. In 2014 he passed his 5th dan under Shihan Cummins and continues to regularly train with and assist Shihan Cummins.