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Robert Starck

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

I moved to Milton Keynes in April 2014 where I attended Newton Longville school.

Later in July of 2014, I was at my first school fete in Milton Keynes and there was a karate demonstration by Sensei Waterhouse and Sensei McMahon and a few of their students. This prompted me to give it a go as it looked incredibly fun, and I always want to give everything a go. So, my mum and I went and asked them about the days, times and how much it is. And she agreed to let me go. My mum also decided to join in as she thought it would be a nice thing to do as a family. However, we could and still cannot persuade my dad to give it a go and my brother was too young at the time. But he joined not too long after when Sensei McMahon and Sensei Waterhouse opened a new class called Tiny Tigers, which was for people who were not quite old enough for the proper classes.

My mum and I decided to go through the belts together so we could always help each other out when the other was stuck. And so, on the 21st of September 2014, I got my blue belt (10th kyu) which I was ecstatic about.

When I got to Orange belt because I was only 8 at this point, I had to do something called tagging which is where you get intermediate grades between full belts to slow the younger ones from progressing too quickly. So, with that, I attained Orange with yellow tags (7th int) on the 14th of June 2015. And yellow (7th kyu) on the 20th of September 2015.

After this, I attended my first karate course on the 14th of November 2015, and I enjoyed this very much and it gave me more of an insight into what true karate is. Soon after on the 18th of April 2015, I was now a yellow belt with green tags. I attended my first competition in which I did kumite and kata, both of which I enjoyed, but I took more of a liking to the Kumite side of karate. Later in the competition, I saw some black belts doing (a long staff) kata and it looked incredibly fun as well. And then sometime after that between this competition and the next one, we did bō training in class. I asked the Senseis if I was allowed to do it in the competition. They said there is no rule saying I cannot, so I entered. Although I did not win anything I was awarded a medal by Renshi for trying and being the only non-black belt to try and do it for a while. This was also the competition where I dropped normal kata as I preferred to do Kumite.

Then in March 2020, I was first kyu by this point, all clubs were closed due to covid-19 which I was very sad about as I did not think I would be able to train for a long time. But thank you very much to Senseis McMahon and Waterhouse who set up zoom sessions which I am very grateful for as it helped me to keep my karate going even through lockdown which helped me stay on track for what I needed to know. And then because of this, when we came back to training, they offered me a chance to go for Black belt which I was very excited about as without karate on zoom, I would not have been anywhere near ready.

And then on 13th of November 2021, I, with four of my close friends and thirteen other people, all attained our black belts. Over my journey through the belts, I have realized that karate is not just how hard you can punch or how high you can kick, it is more a way of life than I originally thought. Although my opinion of karate has changed, I feel it has changed for the better. As Gichin Funakoshi once said, “Transform everything into karate. Therein lies its beauty”. Karate has also taught me how to respect other people and how to develop self-control. Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me especially Sensei McMahon and Sensei Waterhouse, and helped me to get where I am today.



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