This week came the long awaited announcement that karate had been accepted as an Olympic sport, a sport that will be showcased on the highest stage. Fantastic news, ultimately hand to hand (and foot) combat is the original definition of sport. Karate offers so much to its spectators in the precise and controlled execution of techniques in the unpredictable kumite arena and the grace, power and poise of Kata (my personal favourite).
Why do I care? This announcement brings together my two childhood passions. The olympics, the ultimate proving ground for any athlete, the history and the psychology surpass that of regular competitions. For me nothing beats the Olympics the ability to plan training and competitions to not only gain selection but peak performance for those few days. It’s a feat of genius from the coaches but also unbelievable resilience, strength, ability and work ethic from the competitor. As a teenager I earned my black belt a week before my GCSEs but limited competitive opportunities affected my motivation. After finishing my rugby career I returned to the art I loved (Shotokan Karate) reigniting my passion after 10 years break. I was training at Leeds Karate Academy’s Hombu dojo in Farsley. The club boasts an impressive honour role of international athletes with the uncanny ability to share knowledge and experience as effective Sensei. Lining up at this club and you are often rubbing shoulders with high level international karateka yet the friendly, welcoming nature of the club provides a safe and unassuming backdrop for those new to the art.
Life, injuries and work have restricted my training to independent practice away from the dojo, but I still watch out for LKA results at major competitions. My competitive involvement was heavily restricted by circumstances but for youngsters around the country just getting involved in karate it is exciting times. Oh how I would love to have those competitive opportunities again, to see how far I could push. Those dreams may not be a reality for me, but having seen, taught and applauded some fantastic young karateka who now have the opportunity to follow the path marked “Olympic Dream” it’s an exciting time for all involved in the sport/art that offers so much to the social, physical and psychological development of its participants.