Emily entered the JKA Open Championships just 3 months after joining Harpenden JKA. As you can see, her day went rather well! Read on to find out exactly how well she did, together with the rest of the club…

Your first karate competition!

I know! I had only joined Harpenden karate club 3 months previously. Then I graded and Sensei Miranda entered me into the annual JKA competition. In total, there were 15 of us from Harpenden, entering both kata and kumite categories. It’s typical of Sensei Miranda – she sees our potential and encourages us to achieve the best we can. It’s one of the many reasons I love the club.

How did you prepare for the competition?

Not surprisingly, I attended as many training sessions as I could leading up to the karate competition! We worked through our katas and kumite according to grade, tweaking and improving as much as possible. Our Senseis also drilled the etiquette and various procedures involved. As competitors, we have enough on our minds without worrying about where we need to be and how to behave on the mat! There many different categories, based on age and gender, for both kata and kumite so there’s time to practise in between. I was very grateful that the other students put in some time to help me iron out my last minute worries and they gave me lots of good advice. Everyone was just so encouraging and brave – if they could do it, so could I!

First karate competition HJKA 3
The wait is nearly over!
First karate competition HJKA 4 1
Receiving my medal from Sensei Lester Wellington!

What was it like on the day?

I was absolutely terrified! I’d had no experience of anything like this before, and doubted my ability to get beyond the first round. I’d brought a huge bag of snacks to eat but didn’t really want anything until my part in the competition was over. Sitting on the side on the mat waiting my turn was probably the worst bit. But actually, as soon as I got up I felt ready to do my thing. Having all 3 Harpenden Senseis coaching and willing me on gave me such a boost that I just wanted to do well for them. The atmosphere in the competition hall was really buzzing (and noisy!) which helped to get me in to the zone. Also, I got to ask all my ridiculous questions beforehand (Sensei Miranda: the only ridiculous question Emily asked was “Can I do this?”)

And you won Gold – twice!

I couldn’t believe that I won both of my karate competitions! I missed all the scores because I was too relieved that I hadn’t fallen over. To come away with 2 medals – gold medals – was an absolute bonus! The day was so much fun. I’ve never been to an event like that, for any sport, and I enjoyed supporting and watching just as much as competing! It was great to see every age, gender and ability there and to watch some really inspirational karate.

First karate competition HJKA 1

We sent a team of 15 to the JKA Open Championships and came away with 8 medals. Lots of parents and supporters turned up too. We’re proud of every single student and those who compete are superheroes!

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