Why did you join ECKA?
I have experienced a few violent incidents in my lifetime, at the hands of strangers, and I felt that I needed to be better prepared to keep myself safe. The final straw for me was when I was attacked by three teenagers in Hemel Hempstead in broad daylight (on a busy road!).  I was physically attacked but they may well have viewed it as a thoughtless prank (i.e. one distracts me whilst another kicks me across the backside) but I don’t think they bargained on my rage.  I realised afterwards that actually it could have escalated and I would have been in trouble.   So, I contacted Sensei Jo.  I had tried another martial arts club in the past but found it a little too menacing, so it took me a little while to work up the nerve to join the beginners course.  I’m so glad I did.   Jo was warm, welcoming, passionate about her sport, and I really enjoyed the actual contact part.

What have you learnt or experienced?
I have learnt that I just need to concentrate on what I am doing, in the moment.  Get a piece of a movement right at a time, forgive myself for getting it wrong, that is what learning is, remember that no-one else is watching me.  Every time I get a move right I am thrilled. I got my first belt and entered my first competition within a year of joining, and I wasn’t pushed into it, I wanted to. (The picture is me after the tournament!)

I’m 52 now and I’m not as fit as everyone else, and sometimes I feel self-conscious about that but I’m working on it. During lockdown, and I hope when we get out of it, I want to train 2-3 times a week where practical.

What have been your challenges?
Starting with the club and then being made redundant – 3 times in 3 years! Which meant I had to keep coming and going. 

What helps with your motivation?
I envision myself being handed a gold medal at the Olympics, probably the veterans now!

No, actually I imagine myself being fit as I get older, and not being afraid to go for walk on my own. I don’t ever want to feel like a helpless victim again. Although, of course, the best defence is to run away, so I’d like to be fit enough to do that too.

I am also filling in gaps with the online Chloe Bruce Academy leg strengthening, fitness and recovery exercises for martial artists.

What do you think of the club?

It is awesome, with amazing people from all walks of life, all encouraging each other, and the newbies.I love the fact that the classes are never the same. The meditation elements are so effective.

I recently attended a WAKO online training session with Sensei (?) Mark Atkins and Sensei Dev, which was fabulous. I was very nervous when I saw all the younger, super-fit athletes but I kept up. And now I can say I trained with Olympic hopefuls.

I’m also making myself a punchbag out of an army kit bag and some clothes that I want to take to the charity shop, so it’s actually saving me space…and it was only £14…every cloud…

Sue Cocklin

White Belt