I first stated at SESMA shortly before turning 5 years old which means I have now been a member for over 20 years!
My mum asked me one day if I wanted to give it a go as the other mums at nursery were talking about it, I think it was a nice way of getting us out the house at the time😅
I started attending some beginner intro classes along with my sister and it was clear from the start it was something I enjoyed.
My journey to black belt like most others was not a straightforward one, I actually had a short break around blue belt for a few months to self reflect on my goals. However when I achieved my purple belt I found a massive drive and passion for martial arts and started training like a madman up until achieving my junior black belt when I was 12 years old.
My favourite classes at this time were with Sensei Chris on Fridays who’s classes I eventually took over later in life which meant a lot to me. After becoming a black belt I found a lot of enjoyment in the extra bits that the grade comes with, I most enjoyed developing my own jump kicks and weapons katas. From here I believe the phrase is ‘becoming part of the furniture’ is accurate.
During my time as 1st and 2nd dan I was very focused on instructing at club level and was in charge of Tuesdays (kata at the time) and Fridays.
When the time came for me to knuckle down and train for my third dan at the age of 18-19, this was around the time Master Wayne was back into competition and was on a mission in various places like Florida, Jamaica and Germany. This was massively inspirational to the club and kicked off the competition boom that is still echoing today.
I had previously competed with SESMA years prior between the grades orange and blue belt achieving the odd medal here and there but competitions were less frequent back then. As a part of training for my 3rd dan I decided to compete at an upcoming east of England tournament and to my surprise ended up coming 3rd place with Master Wayne winning. This was the moment when my drive for competition really kicked off and I was obsessed with becoming the best. The following season I won this event 4 out of 4 times and also had success in many different disciplines winning events in traditional kata, creative kata, point fighting, semi contact, Kumite, weapons kata, team kata and grappling.
I was invited to compete in the 2019 WMAGC world championship and was training martial arts alongside strength and conditioning at the gym 5-6 days a week sometimes twice a day! Long story short the world games was my main goal at the time and I ended up winning 4 gold medals against very talented international competition with under 2 years of competition training. After this I took more of a role coaching the next wave of competitors alongside Master Wayne until eventually taking on the responsibility of being head coach with the freedom to make it my own.
I can say for certain this is my calling in martial arts above competing myself and it’s the highlight of my week coaching young athletes with the same spark for being the best that I had as a competitor. Through coaching I have guided multiple athletes from beginners to WMAGC world champions as well as many more which are well on their way to achieving the same. Coaching has opened up doors beyond club level for me all over the place.
I am, as of writing in my second season of coaching the regional GB team in kata and am invited to assist coaching for associations affiliated with the England Karate Federation which is one of the highest honours I could receive in terms of giving credibility to my methods.
Things I enjoy most about Martial Arts:
Advancing my knowledge of katas, over the years I have learnt and practiced over 28 different katas.
Watching the development of self belief in young athletes.
Seeing my students achieve their greatest aspirations.
Proving people wrong.
A lack of ambition
Goals for the future
One of my goals is to see the competition squad live on for many generations of athletes and ensure it lives on in good hands when I one day, hopefully many years from now can no longer coach as I do now.
Along the way to this long term goal I wish to guide an effective and reliable coaching team so we can better help a growing squad.
The World Karate Federation is the pinnacle of professional sport karate and was the chosen body for karate in the Olympics. I was once told I would struggle to get into the WKF and anyone that knows me well will know I’m one of the most stubborn people on planet earth so this only fuelled me more.
SESMA now have one athlete in the England Karate Federation national team pool and two athletes in the EKF regional team pool. If selected the events they would be competing at are WKF so we are very close to achieving my most aspiring goal.
Other future goals include producing some offspring of my own to hopefully share my passion for sport karate. As much as my spaniel Winnie is the master of fetch… she’s a bit useless at karate.
If my own journey in martial arts can teach you anything it would be to be persistent and use second chances when feeling unsure about your future. If I gave up when I had a break from karate at blue belt then none of my greatest achievements would have happened. Also you must try things if interested. If I didn’t decide to have a go at competition when training for 3rd dan then I would have not found my calling in martial arts within coaching.