3rd Degree Black Belt
My first martial arts experience was at the age of 8. I joined a local Judo club for a year. Between the ages of 12 and 18 I trained for athletics, focusing on the discus. I won many school and AAA county events finally winning the English schools championship and represented Great Britain at junior level against Germany. I retired from athletics at 18 (I was too small, most other competitors were over 30cm taller) and started work in computers. During this time I studied Lau-Gar Kung Fu for a number of years, mainly using it for fitness training.
I moved to Australia in 1998 with my wife and two children. I started training with Shihan Brett Harrison in 1999. I was over-weight, unfit and had only stopped smoking a few years before. I found that karate gave me achievable short-term targets (belts) that pushed me forward.
Co-ordination & fitness soon followed.
I have studied a little Krav Maga, the Israeli self-defense system. This system borrows the most effective elements of all martial arts. It has a very direct approach to defense often combining defensive blocks with strikes, in an effort to be efficient in a potentially life or death situations. It also removes the spiritual side as it is focused entirely on self-defense.
I am currently studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is a mainly ground based martial art and is quite sports oriented. It has the benefit of nearly always being performed against someone who is resisting 100%. You soon learn how difficult it is to force people to move and you must start to use efficient leverage and timing. During this time I have had the good fortune to train with Royce Gracie, the UFC legend.
I hope that this exposure to other martial arts broadens my aspects of my own martial art, expands my knowledge and allow me to add value to the karate classes.
We are all our own martial art. Two people could train day and night with the same coach for years. In the end their martial arts could be the same. But I believe they should be as individual as each of the students. The students should take and use what works for their personality and body type.