My first experience of karate came almost 50 years ago, when I was still at school in London’s East End. Like so many, inspired by Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon and the Kung Fu television series a couple of friends and I signed up for a beginners’ course at my local club. The memories are now extremely hazy, but I believe there were well over 100 people present on the first night, such was the “kung fu craze” of the time.
The training I can recall, based as it was in Kyokushinkai, was tough and intense, even brutal at times, but I was captivated by it, at least until life and all its demands took over and my life moved on in other directions: career and career changes, marriage, children and numerous relocations. Life was always full and demanding, but there was a lasting regret that I had not stuck with it and progressed further all those years ago, especially regarding the philosophical and spiritual side of karate-do.
Fast forward to 2014. I was very ill, having suffered life changing surgery and post-surgery trauma. The career I loved ended in ill-health retirement. For a long period I was sedentary, left rather vulnerable and in a bad way, both cognitively and physically.
To cut a very long story short, in 2016 I chanced upon Clapham Karate Club. I felt a pull back into the dojo, even if at the time it seemed an impossible step. Since then it has been a constant challenge, at times against the odds.
Under the expert tuition, care and tremendous encouragement of Shihan McClagish and Sensei Saunders, and the support of numerous others, it has been a truly transformational experience, with karate-do playing a definitive role in my ongoing recovery and rehabilitation on all levels. I am a different person today to the one who stepped into the dojo to enquire if they would be prepared to take me on as a student. I cannot thank them enough.