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Hajime Hiro Blog - Aimee Sell Interview

August 2015, following my new partnership with Hajime Hiro, the Martial Arts Store, I was interviewed for their website blog.

 

Some interesting questions on how I started Karate and how I became a Kata specialist. An interesting read if you already haven't read through my website.

 

Read the interview here. www.hajimehiro.com/blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

2014..... What a year!

I've had a very successful year, and a great boost for my senior career.

 

One of my highlights, In March, was when I won Gold at the English Championships in Senior Ladies Kata. I then went on to win the British Championships, a short while after making me English and British Senior Female kata Champion in the same year. After a lot of hard work, I was Selected to represent England for the senior World Championships in Bremen, the most pinnacle event for karate. I made 7th place, which was my first time competing in this event. Since 2002, I placed further than any other female English Kata competitor has at this level.

 

 I've had the opportunity to teach some fantastic students in different places from Sweden to various places around the UK, and have run my own Successful kata workshop with great feedback from participants and can't wait to run my next one in January! I was very excited to be given the opportunity to work with the BBC and appear on the BBC TV News and other news/sports channels, with fellow team mate Kate Karwacinski which was great promotion for English Karate.

 

Another Fantastic year for ISHINRYU too and the legendary Summer course by Sensei Ticky Donovan OBE, looking forward to next years 40th Anniversary! I also had the wonderful opportunity to attend Yoshimi Innoue's kata Seminar in Sweden again, which has inspired me not only as an athlete but as an Instructor too. As a karate coach, I have witnessed a great deal of improvement from students I teach both privately and on the Wednesday Class, which has gone from strength to strength, and I'd like to congratulate you all on how far you have come this year, especially those at Barking Abbey Ishinryu. It has certainly been a busy year.

 

However the end of the year doesn't mean the end of the karate season for me. I look forward to more opportunities teaching around the country and around the world, to representing England at the Junior European Championships, and to competing at my main goal the Senior European Championships in March! So much to look forward to and train for! I'd like to end the year on this note.

 

In life, there will always be obstacles and people ready to destroy you on your road to success and stop you from achieving your dreams, but in order to reach your goals, and to stay true to yourself which is something I greatly believe in, the only things that can get you to where you want to be and who you want to be, is by surrounding yourself with the right people, hard work, determination, staying focused, and a correct attitude.


I look forward to another challenging, yet promising year to come. Bring on 2015!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Aimeé Sell


 

Aimee_Jon_Samuel1st March 2014 - Supporting Samuel's Charity

Recently, I went with my coach, Jonathan Mottram, to visit a very inspirational and brave young boy named Samuel, who was suffering from a terminal form of cancer. He was raising money for St George's hospital where he was being treated. As Samuel used to practice Karate we had the opportunity to visit Samuel in St. George's, spending the day with him sharing some Karate stories and leaving him a few gifts. It was a visit that filled his day. Sadly, Samuel passed away a week later.

For me the visit was special, not only because Samuel was so inspiring with his wish to help others through his charity, Samuel's Charity, but also because my younger brother, Edward, was also treated at St. George's Hospital, in the same ward, Pinckney ward, where he underwent two operations for a brain tumour. Edward was lucky and came through both operations, whilst Samuel lives on through his charity. I know first hand what a fantastic job the hospital and staff do and what the patients, family and friends go through. Samuel's Charity is all about supporting Samuel's wish to bring some comfort and escape to the really sick children at St. George's by helping to improve the time they have there.

Susan Dixon, a fellow Karateka, has been following Samuel's story and to support Samuel's Charity, she has arranged for some Karate items to be auctioned on Samuel's Charity Ebay page with all proceeds going to the charity. These items consists of signed T-Shirts and signed Black Belt from Luca Valdesi, a 'How to Coach Disabled People in Karate' course, private Kumite lesson with Alton Brown, training with Luigi Busa, and many other amazing items. I will be offering a one-to-one 2 hour Kata lesson at my dojo which will also be included on the auction site shortly.

Please take a moment to look, bid and share this page and spread the word of this remarkable young boys charity.

 

The link to Samuel's Charity Facebook page is:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samuels-Charity/547081408698629?id=547081408698629&sk=app_149115948441659

 


10th December 2013 - WKF World Junior Karate Championships

 

After one month, finally got around to blogging my experiences at the Junior Worlds. It was a phenomenal experience and I hope you enjoy reading the blog.

 
World Karate Championships, the biggest stage for Karate, whether junior or senior the world’s best come together to compete. Each country picks just one representative for each category, everyone’s expectations on their shoulders.

I was selected to represent England in the Female Kata U21 years category.

My preparations for the Worlds started in July. I wanted to wait until I had completed my ‘A’ levels and College had finished before kick-starting my world quest. Although I had been training most days already, I wanted to increase my training to at least twice daily, either at home and then club or all at home when there were no club sessions. I felt I needed to be prepared for the worlds 4-6 weeks before the start of the competition. I’ve been there before when training is interrupted for whatever reason and you don’t really get that time back, so this time I was way ahead of the game. Not only would I be physically prepared, but also mentally prepared for any disruption, change of plan, hiccup, anything, I had it all covered. The funny thing is that I hadn’t actually been selected yet, selections weren’t until the end of July, I didn’t want to wait and waste a month of intense training before selection, either I would be selected and I’ve got a good head start, or I wouldn’t be selected and I still would have improved my Katas. Either way, win-win.

 

During the pre training out in Spain, it was going really well, I thought for once I am going into this competition fully fit with no injuries, yes! Then two days before I competed I went over on my ankle AGAIN! I couldn’t believe it, my first thought was, what if I can’t compete? So the squad physio worked his ‘Mr Miagi’ magic on my ankle, iced it, taped it and I was told to rest. One of the hardest parts of the championships was sitting there, watching everyone train later on that day when I wasn’t able to. But I knew how much I wanted to win, nothing was going to stop me, and so I got up and started practicing arm techniques. At least I kept my mind sharp and focused that way. The next day was the moment of truth..., could I do a training Kata with the tape on my foot? Well I did it in Konya and luckily I managed to get through the whole training Kata this time too. Somehow, through people believing in me, I did the whole training session with full on Katas that went really well. Just what I needed and back in the game!

 

The night before the championships I was given my draw sheet, having just got over one crisis comfortably I was feeling confident, then I saw my draw... and saw that I had the unbeatable (sorry, meant invincible...) Japan first round and the home nation Spain in the second or third round. So the current World Champion followed by the current triple European Champion. Just great. I knew that if I was going to medal, it was going to have to be the hard way. I knew in my mind, after that draw, that I was realistically going for bronze, and I intended to get bronze.

 

The day the competition began, I was relaxed and I had my strategy worked out. The plan was to save my good Katas for repechage as I was confident Japan would make the final and retain her title. I lost first round... as expected, and went straight back into the warm up room focused and ready to fight my way through to bronze. This was all about turning a negative into a positive; I didn’t focus on the loss but focused on route to the medal knowing I’d get my chance.

 

I planned my Katas with my coach, kept ready and then it was a matter of waiting. I was surprised to see home nation favourite Spain lose out to Croatia in her opening round but she made a couple of mistakes and at this level even less can result in a loss. Maybe it was too much pressure on her shoulders, the weight of expectation, whatever it was my second round of repechage was now no longer against Spain as planned, but against Sweden who knocked out Spain’s conqueror, Croatia, in round two.

 

When I went out for my first round of repechage I was fully prepared to perform Nipaipo, but my first round repechage opponent didn’t show. Really strange at this level, and to this day I still don’t know why she failed to show. So as soon I walked out of the arena I was turned around and marched back in for round two of repechage against Sweden. We had competed against each other before and I planned my Kata accordingly. She threw her big guns at me, Suparinpei but I had one of my most confident Katas to reply with, Annan. After that round, and with no break, I had to go straight into Chatanyara Kushanku against Vietnam. Now I knew I had to beat Vietnam, and this was the round I was most worried about. Vietnam have a huge reputation at world level, they’ve boasted a senior World champion and both U21 and Junior girls reached the finals at the last Worlds each facing Japan in the final. I said to my bag buddy in the warm up room ‘I have to win this round, I have to’. I knew it was Kata for Kata and with me red I had to nail it! When I won that round, it was like winning the bronze there and then, from that round I now had the confidence to smash my final Kata, Suparinpei, and had no nerves, none whatsoever, complete confidence.

 

All I can really remember from doing this Kata on the mat is thinking ‘I NEED A DRINK!’ when I was half way through as I had just done Annan, then Chatanyara Kushanku, and then Suparinpei back to back! .

 

It was all a little bit of a blur now, but suddenly I there on the edge of the mat waiting for the judges to vote. When the flags went up my direction I felt relief. I had done it. I was a World Bronze Medallist. I had made it, through all the polava with my ankle, and probably the toughest draw I could have had, I still made it. It’s not always just about the result, sometimes it’s about the journey and who you beat along the way, and for me, this medal represents the journey of the championships. This medal shows me, you can get through anything both physical and mental!!

 

I did my first Worlds when I was just 14 years old, even though I had competed abroad quite a bit back then I was surprised with the enormity and intensity of the tournament. Now at 18 years old I’m the third best U21 in the World and the youngest ever World Kata medallist from England. Putting England on the Map! Wo.

 


2nd November 2013 - Hola Spain!

Well, I'm finally off to the WKF World Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Spain. it's been a mad 4 weeks leading up to the competition with training in Wales at St Pats Club, Ishinryu Course with Sensei Donovan, Scotland Karate Fun ltd, course at TMAC Braintree, teaching my Swedish friend Louise as well as Toni, Billy, Adam, Dahni and Lilli, club training and my own training. It's been a great build up to this competition and can't wait to get on the tatami. Good luck everyone see you in Guadalajara Spain :-) Below are some photos from the last 4 weeks.

 

 

 


4th September 2013 - 3 Become 4

England's Kata GirlsWow, where did that year go??? This time last year, Natalie, Mel and I were training as the England Kata Team for the WKF Senior Worlds in Paris, then continuing training for the WKF Junior Europeans Championships in Konya. What an experience competing at the largest WKF tournament ever in Paris and then making the final in Konya, making English history becoming the first Junior Kata team to achieve this. Good times, but all good things come to an end. As I am now 18 years old and too old for the junior team events it was time for someone else to fill the spot in the team. Abbie Cook was selected for this honour and she was also selected for the individual cadet (14-15 yrs) Kata event too.

 

There is nothing like being selected to represent England and she's straight in at the deep end with the World Championships as her first competition for England. There was a sense of déjà vu as that is exactly what happened to me back in 2009 when I was selected to go to Morocco for the Junior World Championships. Seems strange that back in 2009 I was the youngest on the squad and for this championships I'm now one of the oldest!

 

Natalie, Mel, Abbie and I had spent most of last week training together at Mel's and at club before we went to the EKF open squad session at the weekend. There's more training and competitions planned over the coming months so I will be busy right up to the championships and I am really looking forward to the Worlds.

 


28th August 2013 - Teaching Swedish Students

I recently was very lucky to teach a group of students from Sweden who travelled to London for 3 days of Kata training. I’d met one of the students earlier in the year when I attended the Swedish Open competition and they were keen to come and train with me. So with the help of my Sensei, Jon Mottram, we arranged a time and place for them to come and train. Arriving Wednesday we met up that evening with the students and parents that had come over and went over our training schedule.

 

The first day of training for the group was at Barking where they were they got their first taste of some intensive training to set them up for the next two days. We were very fortunate that David Wilson, who owns the Martial Arts Centre in Braintree, let us use is Dojo for the next two days. It’s an excellent dojo fully matted and with lots of equipment that we could use. Friday’s training was a morning and afternoon session in Braintree, followed by an evening training session at the Barking Abbey Ishinryu Dojo, this is where the group got to mix and train alongside with some of the Barking Abbey Ishinryu students. Saturday was the final day and all the training was held in Braintree. They got to go over some Kata drills and work on techniques before a final intensive workout completed the day.

 

It was quite an intensive few days but I really enjoyed my time teaching and training with our new friends from Sweden who were really nice and enthusiastic throughout. Am really looking forward to our next course with them later in the year.

 

 

 


15th July 2013 - My Trip to Denmark

So after turning 18 years old, I decided to go to Denmark for a week to celebrate (well it was already planned but more of a chance to train). As it turned out, I did train but it was much more of a relaxing and enjoyable break than anticipated.

I stayed with my friend Rikke Linck from the Danish National Team. She had stayed in England with me last year and was kind enough to invite me over to Denmark to her house. I got a chance to train with the Danish National coach Tejs, he was very technical and full of useful advice. It was great to see how training in another country differs to how we train in England and I really enjoyed learning new things and feel it really benefited my Karate.

I also had the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Denmark and experience the relaxed Danish culture. On my first day in Denmark, I went shopping… in Sweden in Malmo! I never realised how close Sweden was to Denmark and that you can actually see it from the beach. This was one of the most fascinating parts of my trip, along with going to Kronborg Castle and learning about Holge Danske (and attempting to say some Danish Towns on the way.) I of course got to meet the famous ‘little mermaid’ and enjoyed some Danish ice cream by the beach. I also experienced going around the whole of Copenhagen on a canal boat, which I didn’t think you could do, and I never realised how interesting Denmark was.

Whilst in Denmark we met up with Johan Samsom who runs Kaze Northern Europe and supplies my Kata Gi’s (Kaze Rebel). We had dinner at his house with Rikke and her family too and had an enjoyable evening talking about Karate and about different cultures, etc.

Rikke’s family was great and took great care of me, taking me sightseeing and ensuring I tried plenty of Danish cuisine. I actually tried sushi there, never actually tried it before but they made a lovely sushi evening meal.

This is one of the reasons I love Karate, because you get to meet such great friends and visit different places, one of the great things Karate offers, great friends and experience.

Looking forward to going back to Denmark in a couple of weeks for some more training with some club mates, Kira, Mel, Denis and my Sensei.

 

 

 


21-24th June 2013 - Ticky Donovan's Open Summer Course

- Female Student of the Camp . . .

I recently went to my association Ishinryu's Summer camp. The weather wasn't great but it didn't stop me or my friends having a great time at training and socialising. ;-)
Got to camp on Friday afternoon and did some light training before meeting up with everyone in the evening. Didn't stay out too late as I had a really early (7.30) morning training session. I trained mostly with Sensei Dave Hazard and we worked on Gankaku Kata. The final session was Fit2Fite with Sensei Greg Francis, great workout. Had a great evening firstly some friends came to my parents caravan for drinks to celebrate my 18th birthday. I was really surprised when Lillie, Ronnie and Toni gave me an 18th birthday present for my Dojo (see pics).

Next day was grading day and I was to be part of a grading panel with Sensei Gavin Foster of Durham Ishinryu. Well done to everyone to graded. More training followed in the afternoon watched by Sensei Ticky Donovan. In the evening Mel Williamson and I got ready and met up with everyone for our last night together. Camp was almost over but we had one more training session in the morning.

 

Monday morning we all went to the venue for the last time and this is where Sensei Donovan hands out diplomas and awards. This is where I found out I was to be awarded Female Student of the camp, I felt really privileged and very surprised. John 'Guns' Gardner was awarded male student of the camp. John and I was asked to perform a Kata. each, John went first and performed Gankaku then I performed Chatanyara Kushanku for which we both received applause.
It was a great weekend and can't wait for next years summer course have booked the caravan already.

 

 

 

 


25-26th May 2013 - 8th International Karate Seminar, Cieszyn, Poland

Bobooshka! This was my first Seminar abroad where I would be teaching along side Jonathan Mottram and Christian Gruner from Germany. I was very excited and hoped that this would start off my career as a senior in Karate. I had to be up at 2:45 am on the morning I left and leave by 4am. Although really early, the traffic on the way to the airport was delayed; this didn’t give us much time to get through leaving us with just half an hour! So myself and Jon had no breakfast and we were very tired. Fortunately the plane journey went quick. Oh yes, I had gotten a cold just before we left and one of my eyes watered the whole journey, so it looked like I was crying out of one eye the whole time, typical.

When we got to Cieszyn in southern Poland we were met by Karolina, who would be our translator and who also took part in the seminar. We were driven to the dojo with the accommodation upstairs, it looked amazing! I met Piotr, who had organised the course, who was very welcoming and showed Jon and I to our rooms. Still a little tired from the early start I decided to have a quick nap and set my alarm for 2:00pm to meet at 3:00pm… however… I didn’t wake up and only had 10 minutes to get ready!!! Typical. At 3pm we met up for lunch and went to a small restaurant which was lovely. There I got to try a warm beer with Honey and Ginger… very different but very nice. After a later dinner that night joined by Dennis from Germany and Christian Gruner, I got some sleep.

The first day of the seminar was very exciting; I assisted Jon Mottram who taught a technical class. Every body trained really hard and it felt very strange to be standing out the front of the class instead of taking part! I took my KAZE Gi with me and I was very worried that it would get really creased after all these training sessions, however this is another great thing about the my trusty Kaze Gi, it even keeps itself ironed! That night we had a barbecue indoors. The food was very nice and I tried something new… a plum on a stick wrapped in what I thought was ham. Later I was told it was Hedgehog meat. Poland has some weird and wonderful food and drinks ha ha.

The second day of the seminar I taught a class myself, and I really enjoyed teaching. It was nice imparting some of my knowledge and experience to a large group of people, different from teaching one-to-one, but equally enjoyable. It was a new experience for me and I also learned some new words whilst I was there which is always helpful. I think one of my favourite things about the seminar was that everyone was so welcoming and hospitable, and Sensei Piotr was very kind and modest, it was lovely to meet such nice people, and this Poland course has been my favourite part of 2013 so far! Thank you Sensei Piotr for inviting us.
 

 


9-12th May 2013 - 48th Senior European Karate Championships, Budapest, Hungary

So I had been to Paris last November for the Senior World Championships, then in Konya for the Junior European Championship in February, now I was in Budapest at the Senior European Championships. I was very excited, after coming off of two Junior European Silver medals and I was feeling quite confident.

The England Kata squad all travelled out together, a very relaxing journey with no stress at all. The first day after our early arrival we did some light training in a room that had been matted out in the hotel. For a first session after a long journey it went okay. When we arrived we were the only people from England on our floor (Mel, Nat and myself) so we were a little upset at first, but the hotel soon had loads of countries checking in including Turkey, Italy and Hungary. Usually we never have any or just a few countries in our hotel so it was really good to have loads! Then we found out we had Holland, Slovenia and Hungary on our floor, so we were happy again!

The next day we travelled to Hero’s Square in Budapest city centre where we went to take part in the ‘K is on the way’ 2020 Olympic bid flash mob event. It turned out to be a really hot day to be doing Karate punches in the sun! We were told to stand in a circle and were given red pieces of paper, we then had to do 10 reverse punches to a count, kia on the last one and wave the papers in the air... good fun. Also, as the camera was filming, I accidently kicked my blue bottle into the middle of the circle; hope they didn’t see that on the video!

Throughout the days before the competition we trained in the matted area with our England Coach Jon Mottram and chilled round the indoor pool when we weren’t training. We competed on the Friday, so we got to see some competition on Thursday before we competed. The training session the day before we competed went really well, and we were feeling good; in competition it is all about how you feel.

The day we competed we tried to stay relaxed, and on the journey there Natalie and I listened to ‘Cruel Summer’ by Bananarama, because of the original Karate Kid film, hoping it would give us some motivation! Ha ha. The transportation system was not brilliant, therefore the coach we were on was slightly late, and the male Kata team from England were not even on our coach! So when we got there we had to warm up on our own, and only 15 minutes after we arrived they were calling out the teams also asking for the mens team, so it was a very rushed start to the day. We had to wait behind a curtain before we went out on to the mat, and we waited to see if we would be against Belarus or Turkey. Unfortunately we did not go through losing out to Belarus, but we learned from the experience, and can only get stronger. In comparison to my first senior trip in Paris, this was much more fun and enjoyable and I’m glad to have taken part and been part of the 2020 Olympic bid event, at least we got to see some of the city as well as we don’t normally get the chance.
 

 

 


1st April 2013 - Swedish Adventures . . .

Three weeks ago I had a great opportunity to go to the Swedish Kata Trophy in Stockholm, and take part in a seminar with the two World Champions, Antonio Diaz and Rika Usami. When I saw the seminar advertised I definitely wanted to go, my two big Shitoryu idols hosting a joint seminar is a dream. I would have gone just for the seminar but with the Swedish Kata Trophy competition too the day before made for a perfect weekend, one that I couldn’t miss. The competition was good with people from Japan in my senior category. It was great to win the junior category but even greater to get bronze in the senior category with Antonio Diaz and Rika Usami World Champions watching with her Japanese teammates. It felt like an honour just to perform in front of them. The course held the next day was so interesting, their knowledge of kata and karate seemed so superior to anything I have known before and I told my mum I want to train in Japan from now on! Well it would be nice to go at least once, maybe next year. I learned so much that I can apply to my own Katas and of course I would say more but I don’t want to give away any secrets ;-) So it was a great weekend, competing and training. Superb.

The next weekend I was back in Sweden this time in Malmo. It was freezing there, and I was still very tired from all the travelling from last weekend and training for this competition. It was good to see my friend Rikke from Denmark who I have not seen since the Europeans in February. Looking forward to staying with her in the summer to do some training. Last year I won the juniors and got bronze in the seniors losing to Anne Sophie Sorensen. This time, as I will be turning 18 in June, I was very focused and aiming to win both junior and senior this time. I did win both in the end beating Anne in the final. It was very satisfying winning and knowing I was on good form. I had to fly back home that evening and take part in England selections the next morning so no time to rest. I had also injured my back in Sweden pulling a muscle which added more pressure for the next day! A hectic few weeks for me, so now, its time to chill a little bit and concentrate on some team training for the senior Europeans In Hungary.
 

 


27th March 2013 - European Junior Championships, Konya, Turkey.

It's been a while since I last blogged, it's been a busy few months, never enough time to slow down and chill. I've got a lot to catch up on so I'll make this blog worth reading.

 

I was told by the worlds most successful Kumite athlete ever Wayne Otto O.B.E. ‘Konya is good to you’
 

What a phenomenal start to the year. Firstly Let’s talk about the build up for the European Championships in Konya. I was really prepared for this competition, I had no worries or doubts, I was familiar with Konya as I had previously competed here for the children youth games in 2011. My preparation had been going very well; I was fully fit, training for both individual and team kata, a mission in itself. A week or so before, I sprained my finger in pre-training, a minor set back, a little while later I slightly injured the back of my knee but I pushed through this too. However disaster struck 3 days before we were due to fly out for Konya, I landed a jump badly in the kata Chatanyara Kushanku, and ended up on crutches! I could not walk, and I thought it was all over. Then 2 days before we flew out, I went to the hospital. The doctor dropped the worst news, and advised me not to fly let alone compete! I rang my team Natalie and Mel to break the news, every one was on a low. Nonetheless I was determined to walk on the mat and perform a kata, and with the support of my parents, team members, coach and John & Jane De Bono, I was slowly managing to walk. It’s very scary 4 days before you compete to not be able to walk. Throughout the journey there, the Squads Physio Mo, was looking after my ankle. We arrived late Wednesday night, and on Thursday we were due to do our last bit of training. By this point I had not been able to do anything full on for 6 days, including team kata. The moment came on Thursday to see whether I would be able to do anything. The expert Physio Mo tapped my foot up in a certain way so that I could not go over on my ankle. With this I completed my first combination full on in 6 days… a moment of relief.

 

This relief was short lived… as disaster struck once again. I was beginning to catch a cold and lose my voice. I could not believe my luck. So after a successful training session, I was then struck down. The competition started on Friday, and I wanted to cheer for my team mates, however, by the end of Friday my voice had almost completely gone and I was fully ill. There was nothing I could do and I was due to compete the next morning. The night before I competed I could not sleep as I was in much pain with my ankle and coughing and sneezing. I woke up at 4:30am from my flu. I realised I was competing at 10am and tried to go back to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. I tried to speak, to make sure I was able to kia and call out, but I couldn’t! I panicked, and worried. So the day I competed came, once again Mo was there to support me, I prayed I would have a good warm up but this was not the case. My Phyiso Mo tapped my foot up again before I began to warm up. I got into action and all of a sudden, the tape was becoming unstuck! I couldn’t believe it, so I sat down again, and Mo taped it again, by this time everyone had their gi’s on and I had still not stretched, I tried again after it was tapped and again it still did not stick. I wouldn’t be able to compete without it. Natalie and Mel told me to relax and not worry and we tried one last time, third time lucky, and this time it stuck (after being sprayed with alcohol). I then had 10 minutes to warm up. Throughout this I was blowing my nose coughing and feeling sick. However, I didn’t let it phase me and I was still determined to perform to my best ability. One of my England squad teammates and friend, Kate Karwacinski, stayed down on the area with me.

 

I walked out for my first round against Sweden feeling very nervous, I wasn’t sure how my foot would hold up, if the tape would stick or if I would be able to kia, but the adrenaline must have pulled me through and somehow I managed to shout. Thank god. So I came out waiting for my next round, I knew it would be hard as I was against Turkey and right before I went out I started heaving because of my cold and almost threw up! This was not what I needed, but once again I ignored it, and with the support of Kate and belief from her, I took Turkey out. After another round and I got through to the semi final, I put my hands on my hips looked up and thought… “I’m in the semi final”. I couldn’t quite come to grips that my foot was holding up and I was still kiaing! As I waited anxiously to compete in the semi final.. I kept saying to myself “One more round, one more round”. I had to think positive before I went on, I didn’t think I would be in this position after everything and I had to make the most of it. I performed my kata and when the flags went up 4-1 red.. I dropped to the floor. I wasn’t emotional because I had won that round. or because I had beaten my opponent, I was emotional because I couldn’t believe I had actually done it, after everything, after being on crutches and told I couldn’t compete four days before, I made it to the final. I tried my best in the final but just didn’t have enough to beat my opponent, she was on form and didn't make any mistakes. Silver, but I still made the final.

The next day saw team kata and I wanted to make history again. This warm up was much better, we were focused and ready. After winning our first round 5-0 we were on a high. We had trained so hard for so long, we weren't taking any prisoners. We stormed through the next round 5-0 again. Once again I had made it to the semi final, this time with two of my closest friends. However, this round, we had to do Chatanyara Kushanku which has 76 moves, there was so many opportunities to go out of time and as the jump approached, I had a flashback to when my foot went. But this motivated me and we nailed the jump. We waited for the flags to go up and what should of been 5 second turned into 20 as the head ref had to find a whistle! Again 5-0 we made it to the final! After not being able to speak and carrying an ankle injury I had just made two European finals. Many people can make a final, but I hadn’t just done that, I had made two, with a cold, with no voice and a sprained ankle. This is how I roll. Oh, we lost the final against the host nation Turkey 4-1 but felt it should have gone our way. Next time.

 

I was told by the worlds most successful Kumite athlete ever Wayne Otto O.B.E. ‘Konya is good to you’. After all I went through, to make two European finals,  I guess it was in the end.

 


6th February 2013 - Konya, Turkey, here we come!

Well it's been a while since my last blog but basically been training, training, training in preparation for the 40th Junior European Karate Championships being held in Konya, Turkey this weekend. The competition starts on Friday ending on Sunday.

 

Myself and the team have worked really hard since competing in Paris at the World Championships and cant wait to compete.

 

After Paris, Konya has come round so quick can't believe we go today! The squad is leaving from Heathrow and we should get to Konya about midnight. So looking forward to this trip with my girls Natalie, Mel and Kira.  I'm competing on Saturday in individual Kata and on Sunday in team Kata with Natalie and Mel. Hopefully we going to bring lots of medals back with us!!

 

 

 


22nd December 2012 - Barking Abbey Ishinryu Christmas Party

The Christmas party this year was a great end for Barking Abbey’s successful year. It was nice to see all the kids enjoying themselves and to celebrate all the awards given with everyone at the club. The atmosphere was great, and after a successful competing year I was awarded Senior Female competitor of the year, and an instructor award to top it off. Well done to everyone at Barking Abbey and Merry Christmas to you all.
 

 


10th December 2012 - WKF Karate1 Premier League - Austria

Austria, just two weeks after Paris! After competing in such a huge stadium, Austria suddenly seemed so small in that I had no nerves. It was nice to see people that were at Paris, but very strange too. The weather was below freezing and the warm-up room was a heated tent! I made it to the Pool final only losing 3-2 to Hong Kong which gives me confidence for Konya. It wasn’t as busy as the usual K1 events, but it was a good end to a good year.

 

 


1st December 2012 - WKF Senior World Karate Championships

Paris was my first ever senior trip and it was great to be chosen to go to a Senior World Championships in the first ever English Senior Female Team Kata team for over two decades. Being only 16 and 17 we had no pressure so we could relax a little more.


After catching the Eurostar to Paris we took the metro to our hotel …the Holiday Inn Express. I was sharing a room with my team members and the room was only really big enough for two people, they had simply put a camp bed in the corner! Not World Championship standards. After we met our head coach we were told we wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without an over 21, because we were u18 even though we were on a senior trip, so my mood was deflated.


We did some pre training in the hotel conference room as we had nowhere official to train, but none the less it was a good session as we mainly focused on our first round.
The day before the competition started myself and my team and another member took the metro to the stadium, and got to see it completely empty, and it was huge. It was the biggest stadium I have ever competed at, and not many athletes got to see it empty and from that perspective.


The first day of the competition was exciting as we were around many World Champions, and I got the opportunity to witness them all warming up together, only when I was with an over 21 of course.


The highlight of the trip for me, was being in the warm up room watching the female Japanese team Kata warming up before the final.. Seeing their preparation and Bunkai before everybody else and it was very inspiring, a moment I won’t be forgetting any time soon. The night before I competed I was told along with my two teammates, that we weren’t allowed to the after party being u18, which upset all three of us in the team, . An appalling decision to tell us then! However we were determined not to let it affect our performance and our day competing at a World Championships.

It was a great experience to walk out in such a huge stadium. After we completed our first round, we went back to the warm up room to watch the men’s team against Spain with a deflated mood. The warm up room was pretty empty and there was a big screen inside. When England won our mood quickly changed to excitement as we cheered inside and we hugged the boys as they came back to the warm up room. The next round unfortunately they lost so again the mood dropped and I was half changed out of my England gi when suddenly we heard “England female team?” At first we kind of ignored the call, and I ran over to see what was going on and we had repechage! None of us realised Italy, the team who beat us, had got to the final so in the space of 5 minutes everybody was happy again, and we quickly got our gi’s. With no warm-up we had to go on and perform Annan Kata. We were very proud of our performance considering the circumstances, and before I walked back into the tunnel, I looked up at the stands and the stadium and tried to take it all in for 2 seconds knowing this opportunity, in this stadium, may never come around again. Brilliant.
 

 


13th November 2012 - Final World Championship Training

This weekend our girls kata team had its last training session in preparation of the Worlds.   Mel & I travelled up to Manchester early on Saturday morning to train with our teammate Natalie. The journey went quite quick but that's probably because we both had college home work :-( ' Russian Revolution' anyone?

We spent the whole of Saturday going over all our Katas at a local gym in Manchester. Training in team is not only physically demanding but mentally demanding too, we've trained so hard, possible harder than anyone else that's going but its now in the hands of the gods, we know we've done all we can.  We had a bit of a giggle Saturday evening having got matching onesies, (don't ask!)  maybe they should be the new kata outfits :-)

We trained again Sunday morning at Natalie's Club Dojo in Sale where we drilled our katas one after the other for the last time. It wasn't long before we had to say our goodbyes to Natalie and her family and head for Home. I Can't believe we go to Paris in a week it's come round so quick.

Have to say a big thank you to all the parents Sean & Janet Payne, Neil & Marie Williamson & my mum & dad who have put the team up over the last few months and for helping us with the travelling and all the costs involved, its been expensive but the team couldn't have done it without your support.

The Next time the team all meet up will be in London on the 19th November, whatever happens, I can't wait it's going to be great!

 


 

 


5th November 2012 - Pre World Championship Training

Last few weeks have been tough with team kata training for the senior WKF worlds every weekend, club & individual training, oh and college too. Natalie, Melissa & myself (team England) have been training as much as possible in my dojo. We've been training, eating and practically living together and it seems strange when Natalie goes back to Manchester and Mel returns back to Kent.


Last week we all really pushed it, training for nearly 30 hours in just 4 days. This weekend we trained at my dojo in the morning followed by training with the men's kata team on Saturday afternoon and followed that up by training at Sensei Mottram's course the next day (photos of the course below). At the course we also performed in front of the students performing Bassai-Dai and the bunkai to our kata which we hope to perform in a medal round at the competitions we've been selected for.


During the school break I managed to fit in some training with my club mate Kira who has also been selected for the Junior Euros 2013 in the Cadet kata event. A good session where we both worked well. Can't believe that when we return from Worlds it will only be two months to the Junior Europeans. Am really looking forward to these two competitions as are my team mates Natalie and Mel. Bring on the senior worlds, training and 2013 I'm ready.

 


 

 


6th October 2012 - Kaze Sponsorship Anniversary

It has been a year since I was first introduced to Kaze and their range of Karate equipment, specifically their Kata Gi's. There was one stand-out Gi that was new on the scene and lots of people were starting to rave about it, the Kaze Rebel. I was in Finland and some of my Karate friends from Denmark were wearing them. I was then introduced to Johan Samson from Kaze Northern Europe who spoke to me about the Gi. Seeing it up close, feeling it and trying it on I was hooked. From that point on, I've been extremely lucky to be sponsored by Johan and have been proud to wear the Kaze Rebel in training (because it's so comfortable) and more importantly in competition.

 

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Johan Samson of Kaze Northern Europe for allowing me into the Kaze family and I'd urge anyone, everyone, to seriously consider Kaze for their next choice of Gi not only for Kata but for Kumite too especially with their new Viper Kumite Gi just being released.

 

 


29-30th September 2012 - England Team Kata Training and Demonstration

I spent the whole day on Saturday, from 10:00am through to 7:00pm training in my dojo with my fellow England Kata Squad teammates, Natalie and Melissa. We worked and worked on our bunkai finalising the techniques and working on the timings. Having a full on cold didn’t help as I was streaming throughout the day, but managed to see the day through. The girls were staying round my house over the weekend and although we worked hard it was a nice relaxing atmosphere.

The next morning we up early and off to train and perform at Dartford at the North Kent Martial Arts club with Sensei Jonathan Mottram who had been invited to hold a course for them. When we arrived we were greeted by an enthusiastic Sensei Saj Desilva who explained the day’s sessions.

The course was split into a number of sessions starting with the younger students building up to the older and more experienced students. Whilst Sensei Jonathan Mottram taught the first group of enthusiastic young students, my team members and I trained on our Katas in the background, starting with Bassai-Dai.

At the end the first session we had the opportunity to perform Bassai-Dai in front of the students. It was good to put into practice what we had trained on. The positive reactions from the students was amazing and it felt really good being able to give them something back, something to watch and to inspire them. After the session a few of the students wanted to take pictures with us and even asked us for our autograph!

The next session soon started and we practiced our final round Kata Nipaipo. Once again at the end of this session we had the opportunity to perform this Kata to the next group of students. Again we received more positive reactions from the watchful students which was fantastic encouragement for us too. It was nice to demonstrate Nipaipo, this is one of my favourite Katas, I perform it abroad quite often but it’s rarely seen in England. After the session ended we were again asked for some photos with the students. We were more than happy to oblige.

The course ended with a bit of bunkai practice for us to round off a good day. Although I was feeling rotten with this cold, it felt great to be able to perform to an audience and it gave us a huge confidence boost.
 

 

 


8th September 2012 - When Denmark's Rikke Linck came to stay

I had written most of this blog a month ago and needed to just tweak it so I parked it for a while. I finally got round to finishing it after I ended up adding more bits so I've put it into a separate page. It was a fantastic week and I really enjoyed Rikke coming over. I hope Rikke enjoyed it just as much. Read my blog on how we spent the week.

Blog: >>> When Denmark's Rikke Linck came to stay <<<

 

 


9th May 2012 - English Karate Federation National Championships

It's been two weeks since the nationals, finally had a chance to sit down and do my blog. This year I had plenty of time to prepare for my two individual categories, and then a rush to prepare for the team Kata. This was my first attempt in the juniors (16-17yrs) in the English Nationals, and my first attempt in seniors in English Nationals too so was looking forward to the challenge. The most exciting and pleasing event for me personally was team Kata, this was because we only had two weeks to prepare for this event and had to prepare the majority of it all by ourselves. We didn’t know how many rounds we had, and when we got there we were put against a senior team. All our hard work managed to secure us the senior team gold. I am pleased that I succeeded in my aim to win my own category, and make the final of the seniors. All in a days work.

 

My next competition is another big one, the British Championships in Glasgow followed by the Austrian Open, one of my favourite comps. Then it’s Ticky Donovan OBE’s weekend training course in Clacton. It’s going to be another very busy month in June. Now off to train in my dojo.

 

 


15 Apr 2012 - England Kata Training Session

Just getting over the mammoth England Squad Kata training session held yesterday in Barnsley. The 3.5 hour trip to Barnsley was worth every mile as the training session was just amazing. The England National Kata coach, Jonathan Mottram, split the day into three sessions, 10:30-12:00, 1:00-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 with each session getting harder and harder. There were quite a large number training, well over 30, and we completely filled the sports hall when spread out. The first session went through basics, consisting of drills working mainly on just stances and hip movements. The second session involved working in small groups of threes on teamwork and timings. This culminated in a number of team performances in front of the squad. The final session was a killer Kata session, this involved us all pushing ourselves to the limit as we performed numerous Kata after Kata whilst keeping form, concentration and technique. If the saying of 'No Pain, No Gain' is true, we've all improved 100%!  That was one of the hardest England Kata sessions I've had, and it felt good.

 

Now, although I practice Karate but compete in just Kata events, this Kumite guide written by England's most highly decorated Karate athlete, Wayne Otto OBE, has just been released and is highly recommended. I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Sensei Otto and have watched him coach on many occasions. The 9 times World Champion medallist, Sensei Otto, now works as a Karate Kumite consultant following his spell as England National Coach and has finally had the opportunity to document some of the techniques and drills that make World Champions. 

 

Click HERE for more details.

 

 

 

 

 


10 Mar 2012 - Dutch WKF Karate1 Premier League

Just competed in Holland at the Dutch K1 Premier League event. It was another great experience just being able to warm up in the same area as such well known competitors and champions such a Rika Usami, people I have looked up to, people I admire. During my warm-up I had to quickly switch my game plan as they decided to change the rules from no compulsories (as was happening in the mens Kata at that time) to full WKF rules, meaning mandatory compulsory Katas. I was already quite nervous competing at such a prestigious and high profile tournament and this last minute change was just what I needed!!!  I didn't make it through to compete against Rika Usami, shame, would have been terrific, never-the-less the experience at just being there was worth it. Only mid March now but still so much happening.......

 

  


28 Feb 2012 - Swiss Open

A great weekend at the Swiss Open. It was a very enjoyable competition and eventhough not many people from England went, three in total including me, I had the company of the Luxembourg competitors and the Danish team to talk to and to help coach me, lol.!  I coached my little club mate, Toni, in the U12 Kata, she finished 5th overall just missing out on a medal, but pleased for her efforts.

 

It was good to be able to practice my compulsory Katas as many internationals don't strictly follow WKF rules and are 'any Kata any round', just a shame I had two byes in the Junior category so had to wait for senior category to perform them. Doing two categories was very tiring, especially having 3 rounds of repechage one after the other, but it was a challenge I enjoyed.  My Katas felt very good (eventhough my Bassai-Dai was beaten), I've been training well and can feel improvements and hope to keep this standard up for the rest of the year!  The competition was very well organised and although it is my third time there I hope to return next year.

 

It was my first time wearing my new KAZE belts with my Gi, and they were perfect. I really love the light blue belt colour too and am looking forward to wearing them at my next comp, the Dutch WKF Premier League.

 

 


5 Feb 2012 - New KAZE Gear

KAZE Northern Europe have kindly sent me some new products.  I was lucky enough to receive two new competition belts red and the highly sought-after light blue, something I was after for a while. I also got a cool KAZE sports bag, some T-Shirts and a great red Polo Shirt that says it all really, 'My life is Karate'. Big thanks to Johan Samson for sending me these items.  I plan to use them at my next competition in Zurich Switzerland.

 

 

 


1st Feb 2012 - Busy few months ahead

'Pinch-Punch, 1st of the month'.  Had a bit of an illness end of last week, beginning of this week so eased up on training to recover. Staring to get back into it now in preparation for my next competition, the Swiss Karate Open being held on 25/26th February. It's actually a little quirky but a still a good standard. I've been there for the last two years and now it's getting really popular.

 

Following the Swiss Open, I have the Dutch Open booked. I've waited for ages to be old enough to do this comp and then they've changed it to a Karate1 Premier League tournament lol. I did plan on doing the Italian Premier League tournament but this has been cancelled with the Dutch Open replacing it. Following that I have the Swedish Karate Open booked. I've never been to this competition but a few of my club mates went last year and enjoyed it and as the flights are relatively cheap it's an ideal comp for me. Looks like its going to be a busy few months........

 

 


16 Jan 2012 - ParIs Open

I have just finished my first ever official senior WKF event, the Karate1 Premier League event in Paris. I lost 3 flags to 2 to Mexico who is a Pan - American senior Bronze medallist, so for me getting two flags was an achievement. Of course I would have liked to progress but small steps...This was also the first opportunity I had to wear my Kaze Gi to competition and I felt very comfortable in it, it wasn't restrictive and I had swag. The standard of the Premier League event was exceptional, and being able to compete in the same competition among some of the best competitors in the world was an amazing experience. Just watching the competitors in my category inspired me, and demonstrated how hard I have to work to reach the same level, so now the real training begins....

 

 


9 Jan 2012 - London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer

Check out the Latest News where I've received a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer offer. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a small but significant part in the greatest show on Earth (after the WKF World Championships that is).  I can't wait to carry the torch in my home town, just hope the flame doesn't go out!

 

 


8 Jan 2012 - Preparing for Paris

Sunday now and by this time next week, the Paris Karate1 Premier League competition will be all over. This will be my first ever Karate1 Premier League event. I'm looking forward to competing against the top senior athletes in the world and getting to experience what a senior event is really like. The list of entries has been published and it is by far the hardest line-up I've seen. Just have to register now on Friday and wait for the draws. Can't wait to compete.

 

Just seen my friend's new website, Tom Hickman. Tom won the World Karate Federation Junior U76kg Kumite category to become the 2011 WKF Junior World Champion. It was great to see him win so please check out his new website www.tomhickman.co.uk.

 

 


18 Dec 2011 - Christmas Party

What a great night at the Barking Abbey Ishinryu Club Christmas party

Lots of friends and families attended. I got a couple of joint awards on the night for assistant instructor with Emma
and joint runner-up senior female competitor with Kate, not bad considering I only turned 16 in June.

The awards were presented by Club Chief Instructor Jonathan Mottram aided by Natalie Williams and EKF Director John DeBono.

 

Next competition will be Paris Open in January, first one of the new year and a big one.

Hope everyone has a good Christmas :-)

 

 

 


21 Nov 2011 - England Training

First England training session since Malaysia and I get an injury, my toe!

Was good to see my friends on the squad again though. The session was for selections for the Junior Europeans for next year but due to the cost being about £1400 can't really afford to do it especially, as with the rest of the squad, we are all self funding. Can't believe the Euros are going to cost more than the Worlds I've just been to. So I didn't select :-(

 

 Am going to try to do a few more internationals this year, just got to work out when my College exams are. One more session of England training in December then a rest before 2012 starts.