I realise it’s been a while since my last post. In fact the whole site has unfortunately had a bit of a go slow with regards to updates and for that I apologise. It feels like I’ve hit the time again that I once remembered as a teenager entitled “Not enough hours in the day.” In the past this used to be a case of two rugby training sessions a week plus match day whilst adding in karate 3 or 4 times a week. Add to this a sprinkle of badminton training and a bit of scouts and before you know it something had to give. I wish I was in that same position; Instead I now find myself juggling not only hobbies that I love, but work commitments in order to pay the bills and a new venture in band practice. I guess with this I notice that times change in day to day life and coincidentally so has my karate.
From the age of 7 all I’ve known is Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) and whether this is due to an ignorance on my part or not feeling the necessity to have to venture further afield than within those 4 walls, I don’t know. My knowledge of anything external was unknown. People I would call as the greats consisted of the likes of Sensei Enoeda, Andy Sherry, Frank Brennan, Ronnie Christopher, Terry O’Neil to name a few. In fact I could probably have just grouped any instructor from the Red Triangle from back in the day to just one collective to save writing space. The competitions for me consisted of the Central Regions (usually held at Grantham or Chesterfield), the coveted National Championships held at the NIA in Birmingham and occasionally the student championships. In these times I had some moderate success with a few third place finishes. I was never a renowned great at karate and never will be, but I give my all and most importantly I learn from competition and any mistakes. It’s comforting to know that karate isn’t about you vs everybody else, it is you vs yourself. A personal development and acknowledging that you can only be the best that you can be.
Anyway to get back on track, the KUGB set up for me worked well, maybe it was for an ignorance that I didn’t see anything outside of this organisation. If it wasn’t for my training club’s directional change outside of the KUGB then I would still have been just as ignorant. Never had I heard of the names Wayne Otto, Junior Lefebvre or anybody else. I’d go as far as to say that my mind has a problem with change, the thought that there is something different to KUGB and to be able to accept it. I lived in a comfort zone that the KUGB was the biggest Shotokan karate organisation in the UK. I was fighting to 1 full ippon, if it’s over it’s over. Back then there were no mitts, a gum shield and a groin guard and your karate then separated the “men from the boys”.
Now I find myself almost lost in a world of karate sport. Competitions with 3 full Ippons to decide the winner. With this allows room for error and a completely different style of competition to what I was once used to. Another thing I’ve noticed has been the difference in control and no longer is there any room for moderate contact. I’ve entered two competitions so far and been disqualified from the first in the team Kumite before being beaten very fairly by Wales and European squad member Luke Howard (another unknown to me until after the event.)
Another item on the agenda? All this equipment I’m having to carry around (borrowed at the moment). Blue mitts, red mitts, white mitts, this colour belt, that colour belt, shin guards, foot guards. A weight training session has definitely been ensured by just arriving to events! I find myself questioning is it a ploy for money as these pads aren’t cheap when looking at sets of 3 different colours? I really don’t know, so what can I do about all these thoughts spiralling on through my head?
I guess I could moan about it. Make excuses and put it down to a different kind of competition that’s holding me back, moan about the costs and argue the politics. Or better still?
Embrace the change. My old KUGB is not coming back unless I want to relocate a good 25 miles away. This organisation to me may be gone forever, lost in to a vortex that unless I chase will be a thing of the past. Relocating isn’t an option, leaving Ruach karate clubs isn’t either so I’ll stay here and think positive. What have I gained? A chance to broaden my karate horizons, learn that there are other practitioners out there that aren’t just KUGB. A chance to pit myself against karateka of all different styles. Longer rounds or more explosive rounds owed to more points giving an opportunity to improve my stamina further still. The added bonus to experiment more with techniques knowing that a failed attack may not have worked, but I tried, I experienced, I learnt. The multiple opportunities I now have to enter tens of hundreds of competitions all across the country. A chance to build my mat experience up even further.
So, I may have lost the KUGB, but I’ve just started to appreciate that I’ve gained a lot too.