Tag Archives: Ohta Sensei

Decisions

“I’ve had it. If anyone sees me near a boat they can shoot me.”
Sir Steve Redgrave, Atlanta 1996

Probably one of the most famous quotes in British Sports history, Sir Steve Redgrave defiantly uttered after winning a forth Gold Medal at the Atlanta Olympics, he officially retired only to make a come back and win yet another Gold in Sydney four years later.

I made the decision to retire from competition karate over three years ago, well before I started to sink, I knew this year would be thirty years of competing in the National Championships, I saw that as a landmark, probably a record here in the UK and a benchmark for those that follow, it was a significant number and at 39, it seemed the right time to retire.

On the day of the competition as I spoke with people about it, I used my own version of Sir Steve’s quote, if anyone saw my near a competition mat with my karate suit on, they could shoot me! I honestly had my mind made up, a decision made over three years before, that was it, it was over and the reception of all the members of the JKA England when they announced my retirement as I collected my medal was mind blowing, a moment I will treasure forever.

But last Sunday, just two weeks after the Nationals, our Chief Instructor, Ohta Sensei, visited my club to carry out a grading examination for my students, then things in my mind began to change a little.

Ohta Sensei was the Chief Judge for my final performance and a corner judge for my semi final, he has witnessed all my performances over the last ten years, both here in the UK and with the England team abroad.

As we chatted before the class was due to start, we spoke about the Nationals, that’s when he told me I should carry on and that it was the best he’s ever seen me compete!

Oh WOW, now I’m a little confused, I’ve made a decision, a statement of intention and I do intend to fully go ahead with it. But that wasn’t something I had planned for!

But part of me is wondering, if after everything that has happened in my life over the last three years since that decision was made, if after all that I’ve come through, I’ve not only become a better person, but a better competitor, the old me had so many flaws, the new improved me could actually continue to improve.

I know three weeks ago I approached every performance on the day differently to what I’ve ever done before, my preparations as I wrote about in my post “Close To The End Of The Zone” I followed as always, but I added a key component, one that I’ve never added before, it must have made a massive difference, it certainly felt different.

After all the years, after the hundreds upon hundreds of competitions I’ve took part in and the thousands of individual performances I’ve completed, I am always nervous, have a tendency to look tense in my movement and rush through it. These have been criticisms I’ve faced, but nerves always brought out these habits!

Sometimes, I’ve tried to take pressure off myself, told myself not to worry about the result, just enjoy it, that works, it helps, I always feel I do better. But in the big tournaments, when you are there to chase medals, it’s hard to remove those nerves and that tension.

But this year, as I stood aside the mat awaiting my turn, I took a moment, a moment to pray, I just prayed for a calmness of the heart as I walked out, a calmness to perform without tension or nerves.

Well, it worked, lets face it prayer always does, I felt so different, so much more in control, so much more relaxed, I could move how I wanted and control the movements so much better, not on the edge as I have been previously.

Obviously, not only I noticed it, but Ohta Sensei and friends alike!

Do we sometimes make decisions, even drawn out calculated decisions too early?

How could I have foreseen what I would go through three years ago?

How could I have ever believed who I would be now three years ago?

For the time being, I am retired and I intend to stay that way! But next year, next June, you just never know?

You might just have to shoot me!!!!!

UNSTOPPABLE LOVE by KIM WALKER-SMITH
Try to stop Your love and You would wage a war
Try to take the very thing You gave Your life for
You would come running
Tear down every wall
All the while You’re shouting
“My Love, you’re worth it all”.

God you pursue me with power and glory
Unstoppable Love that never ends
You’re unrelenting with passion and mercy
Unstoppable Love that never ends

You broke into the silence and sang a song of hope
A melody, a sound in the deep of my soul
You have come running
You tore down every wall
All the while you’re shouting,
“My Love you’re worth it all”

God you pursue me with power and glory
Unstoppable Love that never ends
You’re unrelenting with passion and mercy
Unstoppable Love that never ends

God you pursue me with power and glory
Unstoppable Love that never ends
You’re unrelenting with passion and mercy
Unstoppable Love that never ends

No sin, no shame,
No past, no pain
Can separate me from Your love
No height, no depth,
No fear, no death
Can separate me from Your love

No sin, no shame,
No past, no pain
Can separate me from Your love
No height, no depth,
No fear, no death
Can separate me from Your love

Whoa
Your love, yeah

God you pursue me with power and glory
Unstoppable Love that never ends
You’re unrelenting with passion and mercy
Unstoppable Love that never ends

Try to stop Your love and You would wage a war.

Black Eyes, Cracked Thumbs & Black Belts

Well it’s been one heck of a long day, I am almost completely exhausted, but in a good way, it’s been a busy, tiring day, but a good one.

I started the day with a walk as usual, I was out walking by 5.30am, the snow we were expecting hadn’t materialised, but the sky was full of cloud and light drizzle, so unless they cleared there wouldn’t be another fantastic sunrise like yesterday, but that didn’t matter, I was walking, it was dark and I would once again walk into the light, that’s just how I like it everyday!

An eight mile walk this morning up the cycle track, I stopped at the lake on the way back, sat in the constant drizzle and read from the bible.  I took that opportunity despite the weather as I wouldn’t be making it to Church today, I had a karate course to attend.

The course was only in Grantham, about a twenty minute drive from my home.  The course was a National course held by our association, the training was three hours long, but I was asked by our Chief Instructor, Ohta Sensei, if I would teach a section of coloured belts, so for the first hour I taught thirty or so lower grade students, which was both interesting and fun.

For the second hour I went back and joined the other black belts, joining in with a number of free fighting drills, which was fun, despite catching my thumb, which is painful and taking a punch to the eye, which will probably be black tomorrow, I might add here I wasn’t supposed to be blocking my opponent, but to trust in their control, it wasn’t a hard punch, it just caught me in the right place, I’ve had harder, but that’s karate, it’s not tiddlywinks after all!  After that we did a bit of kata, during which I was then once again pulled out to teach a young black belt lady, who was grading for her second dan (I can’t have been that bad, she did pass), them for the last hour I joined in once again with the black belts for more kata.

So a three hour course and I taught for half of that, which I am glad of, I haven’t trained at that level this year, so it was just right, I ache now and probably will ache worse tomorrow, but I’ll still be walking in the morning!

On of my students was grading for his black belt in the afternoon, so I took my seat in the grading room and watched the proceedings, he did pretty well and after a long wait for the results his name was the first to be called to say he had passed, phew, both elation and relief, I get more nervous than my students at these things.  Another black belt to add to the club’s roster after a long day.

The first thing I did when I got home was sleep, it wasn’t a late return, but by 5.30pm I was gone, until just after seven when my kids woke me up, I could have slept right through, but I’m glad they did anyway, I had a bit of work to do.

So it’s the end of a very long day, but a very good one, I’m so proud of Morley for passing his black belt and the look on his face and the joy of his parents is enough for me, just to see that is my reward for my work.

I’ve already downloaded the podcast from our Church service, I did that within a couple of hours of the service finishing, so I have it ready to play in the morning when I walk, so even though I missed Church this morning, I won’t miss Gareth’s message and if it’s anywhere near as good as last week, I’m in for a great walk, whatever the weather and however much I ache!

So I bid you all goodnight and leave you with this song.

God of creation
You came from Heaven
You became a man
bringing hope again
You laid Your life down
Took all of our sin
Nailed it to the cross
Where You paid it all
(We Were Made For You by Aaron Gillespie)