THE 1984 Under 18 All Valley Karate Tournament… I’ll never forget it. It was one of the most epic finals of all time. Right up there with Balboa vs Creed, writes Claire Bullivant.
It was karate’s Rumble in the Jungle.
Cobra Kai’s two-time returning champ Johnny Lawrence was the best. The title was as good as his.
But unknown fighter Danny LaRusso came from nowhere and took him down with a crane kick that ricocheted across the karate world forever.
LaRusso was the best around and nothing was gonna keep him down… and I became a fully fledged karate fan.
Okay, I never actually went to a karate lesson but ‘You’re the Best’ is on my top ten play list and I quote Mr Miyagi all the time.
So you can imagine how delighted I was to go and spend an afternoon with Redditch’s own answer to Mr Miyagi – Lawrence Elcock 6th Dan from the Bushido Karate Club which has been established for more than 30 years.
Together with his sidekick Sarah Burns – 4th Dan, they teach a fantastic class at the Abbey Stadium on Sundays for ages five to 75.
Yes, you read that right… you’re never too old to give karate a go Sensei. No mercy!
Karate master Lawrence says: “Karate will develop your confidence, awareness, discipline, self-defence and motor skills.
“It also helps in the development of both a person’s physical and emotional control, which help you in all aspects of life.”
Instructor Sarah Burns adds: “As a child I was really shy and I was bullied.
“When I was ten there was an incident in the park where an older girl and her cousin started hitting me.
“I didn’t know what to do. I told my parents, saw an ad in the paper for this very club and started the very next day.
“It’s now 22 years later and I haven’t looked back since.”
So here I am in my first karate class with about 20 other students.
The first thing that stands out is the discipline. Every single student hangs on the instructor’s every word.
The concentration is powerful.
They need this kind of obedience in schools and the House of Commons I think to myself.
The afternoon flies by in a series of foot sweeps, knee strikes, axe kicks and I think I even saw a LaRusso Crane Kick done to perfection by one of the smallest members of the club. I’m thoroughly impressed.
The crane kicker tells me that karate is going to be included for the first time this year at the Olympic Games.
Many feel karate fever may well sweep the nation and I tell him with those moves he stands a good chance of making it with Team GB in Tokyo.
“I’m only seven… I’m aiming for 2024 in Paris,” he grins.
When it comes time to leave, I really do walk out of the Abbey Stadium feeling stronger and more confident.
From just one lesson all those memorised Mr Miyagi quotes take on deeper meanings.
I may just wax my car and start painting the fence when I get home… I want more.
Bushido boss Lawrence leaves me with his own wise words as I bow out: “Always remember that Karate is within the reach of everyone, regardless of age or fitness levels.”
Thank you for a great afternoon Bushido Karate Club. You’re the best!
To join the Bushido Karate Club, check out http://karatestarters.com or call Sarah on 07393 917121.