So long … and thanks for all the fish (and chips)

I joined Wantage Karate Club more than 14 years ago (on April 1st, 2004, to be exact), having moved to the area from Winchester where I ran the Chandlers Ford Karate Club for a while with my friend Jill Watts. I joined the club in Wantage with a view to meeting people and making friends and had no expectations beyond that. The club was being run very effectively by Paul Edwards and my early recollections of this period are that it was a vibrant, friendly, and active club with high quality teaching. My karate life was quiet and all was well with the world. I was at peace. And then 2012 arrived and since then things have been rather hectic.

In 2012, with massive help from Tim and Wende Blowfield, I started the Stanford In The Vale Karate Club. Shortly after, Paul Edwards announced his departure from the Wantage Club and I took that over, too. Seemingly, teaching karate four times every week wasn’t enough so in 2017 I started the Childrey Primary School club and earlier this year I started the Hanney Primary School club too.

In 2014 I started the International Gasshuku along with some very good friends – it is way too big an achievement to claim alone. I am delighted that this has grown annually, giving us all the chance to train with truly world class karateka from not only the UK but Belgium and Italy also. In case you are in any doubt: next year the Gasshuku has been confirmed and shall be held in Belgium.

All this has culminated with grading for, and being awarded, godan earlier this year.

It is therefore with a huge sadness that I must announce that I shall shortly be stepping down from running the Vale Karate clubs. It is a bittersweet fact of life that all good things must come to an end, and I am quite sure that anybody who knows me will know that this decision has not been made lightly.

Over the years I have been extremely fortunate to have had the help of many club members, who have always been there for me when I have not been able to attend, or when the classes have been too big to teach alone. I wanted to name names here, but I am scared I might miss somebody out, since I have had so much help, enthusiasm, and support from so many, so I shall just say this: you know who you are, and I thank you all. The clubs have never been about me. You know that. They have always been about the members. So it is with enormous happiness and gratitude that I can announce that the clubs shall continue operating under the direction of Alan Fisher, Barry Knight, and Pete Rees, the three most senior members of the clubs. They have masses of experience and I know that the clubs shall continue to grow in both numbers and quality.

In the immortal words of Tolkien, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”