I have to admit that I spent about a year trying to avoid starting karate. At the time, everyone in my family had tried it except me and being a shy 6 year old, going along to a beginners course seemed like the scariest thing in the world. I can't remember why I finally started, possibly because if I stayed at home Mum and Dad had to take turns either going training or staying with me! I was 7 when I plucked up enough courage to go along to my first lesson at Newport Pagnell with Sensei Kidby who was teaching kata on a Friday night. I had missed the beginners course and so the first kata I ever learnt was Wankan. Needless to say it was not what I was expecting; the phrase 'being thrown in at the deep end' comes to mind!
However, something must have stuck because I wanted to keep coming week after week and quickly realised karate was not scary but something to look forward to. I progressed through the kyu grades as I grew up and to my great amazement, was awarded Shodan in 2011 which was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my life. My original goal if I am honest, was to grade further than my two sisters who had given up due to other hobbies and commitments; becoming a black belt had not even crossed my mind and even now I don't train in order to grade, I train because I want to improve and because I enjoy attending the sessions. I regularly attend gradings, courses and competitions which I feel are important for extending my knowledge and experience.
Karate is and will remain a big part of our family's life as it is the only hobby we all do together, however it is not because my Mum and Dad train that I do-although that does make it easier to get lifts! I enjoy every aspect of my training however my favourite is Kata because it provides the opportunity to improve my technique; no matter what grade you are there is always something to work on.
Thankfully, I have sustained very few injuries training; the only one being when I nearly broke a few toes practising Mawashi Geri in a very narrow hallway! Obviously not a good idea.
I believe it is the most unique activity I have ever been involved with; it is for all ages, genders, body types and what ever you put in, you get back out. If you start training you quickly realise that 'karate is not just for the dojo', it is not just a precept you have to learn, it is completely true.
I can not imagine my life without karate, it has taught me respect and helped me to grow in confidence and meet new friends as well as keeping me fit and healthy. Recently I have found it difficult to attend as regularly as I want to due to a part time job and studying for my A-levels. I realise that when I go away to University I will probably have a long break from karate but I hope that in the future I will continue to train. After 10 years of turning up week after week, there must be a reason why we all keep coming back.