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From Hoxton to Harlow: Hackney karate kids take on Essex

legends karate harlow fun day

Hoxton karate students at the Fun Day in Harlow, Sunday 9 October 2011

Members of Hoxton’s junior Legends Karate group last month travelled just beyond the M25 to take part in a Fun Day in Harlow, Essex. The event on Sunday 9 October gave the students of Hoxton the chance to meet and compete with eight other London and Essex-based karate groups.

Organised by the Okinawan Traditional Goju Ryu Karate-do Association (OTGKA), the day was designed to give the students and Senseis (teachers) a chance to learn from the different styles taught across different karate groups.

This was the third year in a row that the Fun Day has taken place, but was the first time the Hoxton group, led by Sensei Joost Frehé, had been invited to take part. The karate teacher, who also took his three other junior karate classes from Holloway, Isleworth and Norbury, told the Hackney Citizen that he felt it was a “hugely beneficial” event for all those involved.

Sensei Frehé has been involved in karate for over 25 years but admits that even he could learn some new things from the day: “I teach Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo Jutsu – that’s ‘old-school’ karate – to my students,” he said. “Other groups represented in Harlow, on the other hand, were taught different styles – like Goju Ryu – which we are a less familiar with. It was really interesting to see different styles of karate coming together.”

The Hoxton teacher, who himself started learning karate in a junior group based in the Netherlands when he was nine, said: “This was a great day for the Hoxton kids. It’s the first time we’ve taken them to something like this, and I think it was a valuable experience for them to see some different styles of karate and experience the teaching of other senseis.

Sensei George Andrews, the chief instructor of OTGKA, oversaw the day in Essex. Having taught across four continents in his 45 year career, he is a highly respected sensei in British karate. He said he was pleased to see more faces at this year’s event and was full of praise for the Hoxton juniors: “They were a really good bunch of kids. They were new to the event but really integrated well and showed lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm and some great spirit – I was very impressed.”

He added: “Even though they’re not part of OTGKA, I’d always welcome them back into our community and hope that they can make it again next year.”

The six-hour day was made up of a morning devoted to training, and an afternoon of competitions. Despite some great performances and success by his Hoxton group, Sensei Frehé was keen to point out that this was not the main objective of the day: “Competition can be fun, and certainly added something to the day,” he said, “but winning and being ‘the best’ is not what martial arts are about.

“In its purest form, it’s about self-discipline and self-defence, not beating an opponent – it’s different to other sports. This is one of the messages we wanted the kids to take home from the Fun Day.”

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