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March 2014 Regional Tournament

The first tournament for 2014 took place on Saturday 1st March at Westcroft leisure centre in Surrey. Region 20 had 16 students make the drive around the M25, for their chance to represent themselves, and their dojo against students from all across London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The day was hosted by region 18 and organised by Sensei Karl Eccott, the regional instructor for the region. The day ran incredibly well and it was great to see so many region 20 students come and show me their medals throughout the day.

I would like to congratulate everyone who entered, but a special mention to the following students for bringing home medals.

10-11 years, 6-4th Kyu Male – Silver for Kata

10-11 years, 3-1st Kyu Female – Gold for Kumite & Bronze for Kata

12-13 years, 6-4th Kyu Female – Gold for Kata & Silver for Kumite

18-34 years, 6-4th Kyu Male – Bronze for Kata

18-34 years, 3-1st Kyu Male – Silver for Kata

Open Black Belt Female, Bronze for Kata, Silver for Team Kata & Gold for Team Kumite

Female Instructors, Gold for Kata & Silver for Team Kata

35-44 years, 3-1st Kyu Male – Silver for Kata & Silver for Kumite

55+ years, 6-4th Kyu Male – Gold for Kata

Yours in Karate-Do
Sensei Matt Leach

Cerebral Palsy and Karate

My name is Matt Owen and I train with GKR Karate twice a week at classes in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage. I have been training for eight years now and I have recently managed to achieve the grade of 1st kyu – the second black stripe on my brown belt.

When I was about 17, my then 5-year-old sister took karate classes at a local club in the village my family lived in at the time. I had always had a curious interest in what went on, but I had made the assumption that my physical limitations would make it a waste of time, as I have cerebral palsy.

Ten years later a chance knock on the door from a GKR representative offered me the opportunity to attend a class with GKR Karate. I was curious, so I went along for what I assumed would be my first and only lesson having come to the conclusion that karate wasn’t for me… However, a combination of enthusiastic instructors and friendly students, as well as the exercise I was getting, meant I found myself going back week after week.

Having my disability makes some of the moves particularly difficult, though I try to believe not impossible. I think that I first believed that I might be able to do something at karate when I came away from a grading four months later with my yellow belt!

With the help from Senseis (instructors) and other students around me that I trained with, I’ve slowly managed to improve my techniques. Of course, due to my physical restriction it is difficult but I try to not limit myself.

As time has gone on, I have managed to find new ways of improving and adapting my techniques. This has helped me overcome my physical restrictions. An example of this is when I need to learn a new combination or a whole Kata, I write down each move as bullets points to help me memorise them.

Even simple combinations will take me a bit more time to get used to, slowly working through two or three moves in my mind while many of the other students have managed to go through the sequence many times already. A simple combination such as punch – turn – kick – block will take me noticeably longer than the other students around me.

I tend to break down kata in a similar way, needing a written list of bullet points to learn even the easiest moves. It sometimes winds me up when others pick up these combinations so easily, but I usually get there in the end!

One of the benefits is that you are allowed to learn and develop at your own pace. If it takes me longer to learn combinations than others around me, repeated efforts for Senseis to teach me the combination isn’t treated with a negative response. As kata is taught in stages this helps me learn. The continual repetition to show better technique has helped me acquire knowledge and experience.

I found karate is beneficial to both the body and mind. This has helped me in other parts of my life. My disability sometimes causes me to trip and fall when my legs are tired, but karate has helped me with thinking more about my physical movements without feeling the need to look down at my legs, so I tend to stay upright more. In addition, karate has sped up my reaction times, so I can now move my hands quicker to protect myself if I need to! Other small improvements in my thinking and reaction speeds has helped me in other scenarios where I may have fallen in the past!

December 2013 Black Belt Grading

Having passed their assessments the previous week, Sensei James Cronin from Ware and Turnford Dojo’s and Becky Andrewartha from Welwyn Garden, Hertford and Turnford Dojo’s were ready for their chance to become Region 20’s next Black Belts.

The grading was held on Saturday 14th December at Birchwood Leisure Centre and started promptly at 1pm. The standard was very high with everyone showing excellent technique throughout the basics section of the grading.

Students where then put through their paces with kata. Starting at Taigyoku Shodan. Everyone had to go through all kata up to and including Empi before being divided into regional groups for their individual grade kata.

Finally came kumite which lasted for some time. Both James and Becky did incredibly well throughout the grading and did themselves and the region proud.

It was a pleasure to see these two achieve such a high grade and I’m sure they will both go on to much higher Dan grades in the future.

Yours in Karate-Do
Sensei Matt Leach

National Championships 2013

This years National Championships where held on Saturday 23rd November at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield. Twelve students from region 20 made the trip up the M1 to compete for their chance to become National Champion.

The day started with competitors entering the competition area grouped into zones to line up for the bow in. It was an exciting day for all, and everyone competed in the true spirit of Karate-Do. It was great to see a new structure for the Open Kata events using a system of flags for the judges to vote for the best kata performance.

The atmosphere throughout the day was truly amazing and it was a pleasure to see so many of Region 20’s students enjoying the experience of competing against the best of the best of GKR Karate in the UK.

Everyone did extremely well, especially considering that to even be there, required qualifying earlier in the year, but the following students went one step further and earned a medal in the process. Well done to the following:

5-7 years, 6-4th Kyu – Bronze for Kata

10-11 years, 6-4th Kyu Female – Silver for Kumite

16-17 years, 6-4th Kyu Male – Silver for Kata & Bronze for Kumite

16-17 years, 3-1st Kyu Female – Gold for Kata & Silver for Kumite

55 years & above, 6-4th Kyu Male – Gold for Kata

Female Instructors – Silver for Kata

I would also like to mention the fact that one of these champions did so despite having tonsillitis. Well done Kobie Richmond for showing a true fighting spirit.

As always, DE photo where there on the day. If you want to see if there are any great shots of you in action, click the icon below.

Yours in Karate-Do
Sensei Matt Leach