Winston Churchill once said that ‘You create your own Universe as you go along’. For us in the AKA the past year has been about creation, realisation and growth. We have pushed on through the year and despite challenges or the occurrence of the unexpected have seen our Association grow and improve.
The Five of us met in December last year to reflect on the progress and map out our aspirations for 2018. It is fair to say that the success of our group is based on honest karate, reflective appraisal, considered planning, genuine friendship, effective teamwork and trust. When planning our events each aspect is considered and we endeavour to appreciate the needs of our wider membership when laying out ‘the plan’.
During this meeting we discussed many things but early on our agenda was our close friend Sensei Chris Carr. As a Karate Senior who we respect dearly we felt that the time was right for the AKA to offer him a home and a platform for him to share his experience and ability. Chris graciously accepted our offer and formally joined us in January focused on leading and developing our referee and judging team.
Also on Sensei Carr’s agenda was to represent us in a refereeing capacity at the competitions we chose to attend throughout the year. Unfortunately Mother Nature hit the UK with aggressive snow storms in February and March and with our Squads safety in mind we decided to withdraw from the Legend Open.
In March we hosted our first combined course and grading day. In the morning the Kyu grades train and grade and in the afternoons the Brown and Black belts do the same. This format ensures that we keep our calendars fresh and consider the needs of many of the families who train with us and have to balance weekend commitments. This event was also the perfect opportunity for us to introduce the Bembridge Karate Club to our wider membership. Mike and Jim are very passionate about their karate and their students. They had seen in our Association the principals and opportunity they craved for their members and after a couple of visits they had joined us.
At our meeting we had recognised that we were outgrowing our competition venues and we needed to provide growth opportunity in a grander setting. When we started the AKA we had dreamed of hosting professional competitions like those we had grown up in, so proudly in May we hosted our Annual summer competition at the Mounbatten Centre in Portsmouth. Our investment plan has delivered our mated areas and equipment so the larger venue was the next natural step. Unfortunately I was unwell and missed seeing the tournament but the strength of our team approach shone through and via the fantastic photography of Richard and Marie Welch the quality of the event and karate was on wider display for everyone to enjoy. I also have it on good authority that Sensei Matt Smith on the PA system was a revelation.
Chris Carr had hosted a successful Referee and Judges course in April which clearly had enhanced the confidence of our team and greatly contributed to the day. Walt Disney famously once said ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’ from now on all of our competitions will be at this larger venue.
May also saw the first of our ‘Fight Club’ events for our Senior Males. The ladies in our Association have their dedicated Female only kumite classes and we planned these events for the Gentleman who are keen to pressure test their combat abilities outside of competition constraints. It was great to see the Sweat-drained images of the guys afterwards, we know from experience that these training sessions breed deep friendships so keep it up guys.
In June we hosted our second successful course and grading event of the year with Oscar Hughes notably achieving second dan at the Cowplain venue. We also attended the HDKI ladies only competition and once again our ladies shone in the competition spot light. The summer continued to be busy as we hosted our first course and grading on the Isle of Wight and a busy School event for 70 plus children hosted by a school in Copnor.
In September we worked through Jiyu Ippon principles during our Instructors class and enjoyed the second of Sensei Chris Carrs Competition focused courses. Then we were proud to welcome Sensei Anthony Asquith and his Lancing based ‘Kensho’ Karate club to our Association. Again this club is focused on student development and collaborative and supportive training and learning. If you build it, they will come!
In October it was time to benchmark the effect of our monthly Squad sessions and it was great to see our team looking sharp in their new squad jackets and performing so well at the 2nd HDKI Nationals. Stand out moments include the emergence of ‘The Cheong’ (a rumoured third generation Samurai) and Sensei Keith’s dignified wearing of the standard referee-issue tight grey trousers.
In November we hosted for the 5th year our course with Sensei Dave Hazard. As always it was fantastically attended and Sensei was on fine form. We also hosted our final grading event of the year and it was great to have Lancing and Bembridge members training away and enjoying the experience. Later in November we accepted the invitation from SKC and competed at Brunel University, once again the Cheong was on fire, the Dome was throwing the odd right hook and the medals were in abundance.
Finally there was no let up in December. Our Christmas competition was as always filled with good will and proved to be the perfect showcase for our ethics and aspiration. Sensei Carr was presented his massively over due Godan along with Emma Williams to the joy of all in attendance. We are proud to be building such a positive karate community and we were happy to toast to that at our buzzing Christmas party. Sensei Dave Galloway and the South Downs team then hosted a vibrant event at the college for a number of local schools.
So as 2018 draws to an end we meet and plan 2019. we have already issued our year planners and were proud to reveal that amongst other developments we will be hosting a special course with Sensei Iain Abernethy next year.
This year we have been joined by like-minded people with similar goals and aspirations.... what and who will 2019 bring?
'Keep away from people who try to belittle, you are your ambition. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.'– Mark Twain