Zoe McMahon


Read 'My Shodan Experience'!


I started my karate career in 2005 when I was 12 years old with ECKA, an English karate club in my home village of Drayton Parslow. With the belt system different there, I graded my way up to purple, which was three from black belt. During my three/four years training with ECKA I was never really very passionate about it because I lacked the discipline and respect I needed to continue.


In August 2009 after much deliberation I began training at Newton Longville club under CFTS, feeling that I was now mature enough to take the martial art seriously. As my Dad (Sensei Simon McMahon) and to-be stepmum (Sensei Pam Waterhouse) taught at the club I didn’t feel embarrassed when I started the first class. I had seen my Dad train in the past and knew what the art meant to him, so I decided I was going to do my best to make him proud.


The first couple of months passed and in December 2009 I double graded to 9th kyu (red belt). I made two mistakes in takiokyu shodan in front of Renshi Kidby in my grading and vowed I would practise this kata until I was blue in the face for the next grading.


I’ve learned that no matter how many times you perform a kata, practise kumite sets, or go through kihon combinations it will never be perfect and there is always room for improvement no matter what grade you are. It is this mantra that I have continued to tell myself when I train. I enjoy all aspects of Shotokan karate and also enjoy learning about other styles. I particularly enjoyed a Shotokai course and learning their version of Bassai-Dai. My favourite area of karate is kata, and my favourite kata is Sochin. Being able to perform it in my Shodan grading was a particular highlight for me.


I have now been training for five years and can say with confidence I could not imagine my life without it. Karate means the world to me! It has helped me channel feelings into my training and is a brilliant stress-buster. The proudest moment of my karate career so far (besides becoming a Shodan) was winning the ladies kumite competition in 2011. Something I never thought I could enter, let alone win.

Being awarded Shodan was the best feeling I had ever experienced in my life. It is also the biggest achievement I have ever accomplished. I can only hope I live up to the grade over time. I understand that becoming a black belt means training even harder and look forward to challenges in the dojo.


There are three very important people I would like to thank: Sensei’s Simon McMahon and Pam Waterhouse, and Renshi Kidby. Without them I would never have achieved what I have. I have the utmost respect for all Sensei’s and students I train with, and look forward to training with everyone at some point!


Oss!