David Francis

Read 'My Shodan Experience'!


I first began training in Karate in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s at Dunstable Leisure Centre. As I was only 10 or 11 at the time I have to say that I don’t recall the style or the name of the Sensei, although I do remember that we were taught by a brown belt and only the adults were taught by a Dan grade. I graded up to 4th Kyu before switching to competitive swimming at a county level. I still remember that you didn’t get a new coloured belt when you graded but had to go to the chemist for some Dylon clothes dye to change the belt colour yourself.


After a gap of nearly 30 years, it was over Christmas 2009 that my children were searching for a different hobby and inspired by one of my favourite films (Kung-Fu Panda) asked if they could join Renshi Kidby’s beginners’ session at Bletchley Leisure Centre. After a few e-mails with Renshi I took my son and daughter for their first lesson on the 21st January 2010. Naturally Renshi asked if I was joining in too but I said no as I was concerned about how well I had recovered from a small operation. However, I did stay to watch.


As I sat at the end of the dojo I started to recognise moves; yoi, gedan-barai, age-uke, oi-zuki. Getting into yoi was a bit different to how I’d remembered but everything else looked familiar. At the end of the lesson my children kept asking if I would join them the following week and so at the age of nearly 41, with considerably less flexibility than I had aged 10, my Karate journey began again.


I’ve entered a few competitions where I’ve been lucky enough to win a trophy and a medal for Kata and I try to attend every extra course that CFTS puts on. If you’ve not been to one then you’re missing out.


There have been times where I’ve picked up injuries that have prevented me from training for quite some time but I’ve always come back. They say that a Black Belt is just a White Belt who wouldn’t give up and after a very tough grading I achieved Shodan in March 2015.


Back in 2010 I never realised what a big part of my life Karate would become but I’m glad it did and I look forward to many more years of training and supporting CFTS in whatever way I can.


Osu!