My karate journey began when my daughter, who was 6 at the time, came back from school one day and asked about the sport. As she was a bit unsure about joining a new club all by herself, I offered to accompany her. Well, that’s the official reason anyway…the unofficial reason is that a significantly younger, smaller and weaker little sister (who used to be pretty good at karate) sent her overconfident teenage sister flying into a gorse bush, and a certain big sister has been building up the skills/confidence to take her revenge ever since… Motives aside, I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it! Which on reflection, probably means that I should thank my little sister for deftly despatching me into a gorse bush…

Anyway, as my profile is supposed to be about the benefits of karate, how it is good for fitness, all the fabulous things the club has to offer etc. I should perhaps bring my journey of self-realisation/therapy to an end and get back to the job in hand.

So, what are the benefits of karate? 1) the ability to enact revenge on your little sister 1) It’s fun. Genuinely fun. I think I laugh more during my lessons than I do at any other time of the day; 2) It’s good for you. It doesn’t matter what your fitness levels are, you can participate and benefit from karate; 3) It gives you a sense of achievement. As you move through the belts you’ll be really proud of yourself. I’ve kept every single one of my belts – they are a reminder of how hard work and perseverance pay off. It’s also quite satisfying when you occasionally manage to outshine your offspring…although it is probably worth adding a word of caution here – the older your kids get, and the older you get, the harder it becomes to outshine them and get your leg high enough to execute a jodan miwashigeri (round kick to the head); 4) You connect with your family. Both my children do karate with me. I also like to think it might make me a little bit “cool” in the eyes of my kids (…although my son has just proofread this and given me “the look” which might suggest that I’m over-egging this point…).

The other thing I really do need to mention here is the club itself. It’s a family-run club that truly embraces new members. I’m not usually one for sentiment, but I would go as far as to say they are like a second family to me (that’s not a queue for sensei Paul’s head to start growing by the way). The children (and adults alike) are the most supportive, encouraging, motivated bunch of people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Together we have built (and continue to build) a dedicated team of junior instructors – motivated children who are encouraged to develop leadership and teamwork skills, who embrace and make allowances for individual differences, be they emotional, social, physical or cognitive. They are proven leaders who guide and build the confidence of their peers, and quite often do a better job than the official sensei’s (sorry sensei Paul, Amanda, Martin, Ray, Chris, Prak and Charlotte!) of getting the important messages across.

In summary, this is more than your usual after school activity. If I was rating it on Trip Advisor I would give it 4.999999999 stars (deducted the 0.000000001 because I’m yet to challenge my baby sister…).