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Perhaps surprisingly, I mark the start of my karate career before I set foot in a dojo as a student. In 2004, when I was 9, my brother attended the twice-weekly after school karate class our mum hoped would drain the energy from him. At first, I was merely there to save our mum a trip. I remember watching the class go through their razor-sharp techniques – always starting with a bow and ending with one – it planted a seed of unrealised respect. It actually took around a year for my parents and the sensei to convince me to try this disciplined new sport, Washinkai Karate, and even then I only really remember attending because we played playground games to warm up – games like British bulldog and dodgeball. Only when my sensei brought in wooden boards for us to break did my perspective change. I saw some of the more senior grades break thick boards that were layered onto one another and I had to try for myself… I couldn’t do it and wasn’t able to write the next day in school, which I see as a win!

I practiced Washinkai in Spain from age 10. When I was blue belt grade, I trained for and entered my first national competition in 2006. This sparked my love of the technical origin of karate, Kata. I practiced in my room late into the night (don’t tell my mum). All that practice rewarded me with gold medals in single and team Kata 3 years in a row and a few silver and bronze medals for kumite.

In 2010, at the age of 15, and with special permission as I was under the age limit, I reached 1st Dan – Shodan-Ho. Then, when I came of age, I was awarded my Shodan certificate a few months later. Sadly, I wasn’t able to continue practicing Washinkai for much longer as I was set to move back to England for my education. Upon the recommendation of my sensei, I found Higashi Karate Kai in Luton

For about a year while I studied for my A-level exams, I also studied Higash along side Sensei Hurley who introduced me to the pain of real squat-kicks, among other things. After a 6-year break to complete an engineering degree and having gone through a few graduate jobs, I now find myself back with Higashi relearning and uncovering the things about karate I first fell in love with as a junior grade. The differences in Washinkai and Higashi have allowed me the lucky experience to see many sides of the origins and methods of karate. I hope to always improve my performance and value to my club.

I end with a maxim from my original style –
Tsuyoi Seishin Utsukushii Kokoro Kenko Na Karada

(Learn with your soul as well as your body)