The Caterham and District Independent recently offered local children the chance to either showcase a piece of work they created during lockdown, or carry out some research on a local story which interested them. Nine-year-old Alexander, who lives in Caterham, responded.
Alexander told us his hobbies are karate, fencing and he loves to swim. He asked if he could interview his karate teacher, and we said we would love him to!
When and why did you start your karate school? Is it fun? Do you enjoy teaching kids this martial art?
I started my karate school as soon as I was legally allowed to, at 18 years old. Being a Sensei (instructor) is great fun, it's very rewarding. I get to feel a great sense of achievement every time my students achieve a stripe or new belts, or when they win a competition. Another reason I love teaching martial arts to children is because they all have a completely different way of progressing. Every single one of them brings something different to karate, so no day is ever the same!
What does someone achieve by doing karate?
By doing karate you achieve a number of things: focus, discipline, strength, determination and various abilities that enable you to work both in groups and as an individual. All of these things you can translate to an everyday life skill and take with you into your future. Personally, that is what I love most!
How does it feel to be a Sensei?
It feels amazing to be a Sensei, because I feel I have achieved something that I wasn't sure I could when I was going through the belts myself. And the journey on each belt does become harder each time. So, to even make it to black belt (which, actually, not many people do) was an amazing personal achievement. Going on this journey has given me the best experience to be able to encourage and understand other people's emotions throughout their own journey. I am there throughout the hard times and the good times for every student. I feel very blessed be able to be doing something I love for my job: not many people get that opportunity to turn a fantastic hobby into their career.
When did you start learning karate? What was your journey like through each belt and how does it feel to be a black belt?
I started learning karate when I was eight years old and I achieved my black belt when I was 16 years old! Once I had my black belt I was able to begin teaching in class, and I then moved on to my own club. As I said before, going through the belts really is a challenge and, as expected, it has ups and downs: it's quite a rollercoaster in different ways for each person! I experienced nerves and frustrations but my ultimate emotion was always excitement. I was competitive, always wanted to win! And to finally 'win' a black belt really made all my dreams come true. All my hard work had finally paid off!
How hard is it to teach your students during coronavirus?
That's a very good question Alex. As you know ,during the coronavirus period we have all experienced moments that have made normality completely different for everyone. We've never been in a position like this before, so it has been hard to adjust but very quickly we have managed to make this work. Not just me, but my students and their parents have helped make training still possible because giving up wasn't an option. We now train online via Zoom and right now we are making the best of every session to stay strong! There have been elements that we can't cover for now but this has been the best alternative solution to teaching. I definitely prefer to see my students face-to-face thought: I find it much easier to train that way. I really can't wait to see everyone again and get ready for next year's events, I am so pleased to know our squad will still be strong!