Hackney karate kids meet Surrey kung fu fighters

legends karate fun day april 22

Children from the Hoxton Legends Karate Club (in white kimonos) and children from the Nam Yang Tiger-Crane Kung Fu Club in Epsom (in black and yellow) where the fun day took place. Instructors are Iain Armstrong (far left), Ethan Simmonds (second left) and Joost Frehé (far right). Photograph: Elisabetta Beccati

A group of Hackney karate kids travelled to Surrey to take on a kung fu club last month.

Led by Sensei Joost Frehé, the Hoxton Legends Karate group travelled to Epsom on Sunday 22 April, where they met for a Fun Day with Nam Yang Tiger-Crane Kung Fu Club.

The day, which included candle punching, board breaking and learning (plastic) knife defence skills, was enjoyed by all and Sensei Frehé, who has been practicing karate since childhood, was very pleased by what he saw.

He was also full of praise for his experienced counterparts, instructors Iain Armstrong and Ethan Simmonds, who helped organise and run the day.

Sensei Frehé said: “HeNam Yang has a very good record in the national and international competition circuit and the standard the kids showed in their performance was very impressive.”

The event gave the Legends Karate group the opportunity to see how a different martial art works and this, according to Sensei Frehé, is extremely important.

“Our objective is self-protection so we need to be able to deal with whatever is thrown at us,” he said.

His club aims to teach students about self-preservation and defence, rather than how to win prizes, medals and money.

He was also keen to emphasise that the point of the day was for the enjoyment of experiencing another skill, not simply beating the opposition.

He said: “Most sports now are so geared towards competition, rules and regulations that they don’t ever compete against other sports, which can be a valuable experience. The emphasis here was not on competition but on fun.”

While Olympic-mania is sweeping across the country and East London in particular, Sensei Frehé is particularly keen to instil this sport ethos.

Despite the extra popularity and money it would bring to the sport, he is pleased that karate will not be amongst the sports being featured at this summer’s Games.

Certain ambassadors of the martial art have been pushing for Olympic status for many years now, but Sensei Frehé insists this would be a huge mistake.

Other martial arts such as judo have become Olympic sports in recent years and, although the karate master understands why, he thinks the sports have lost touch with their Japanese origins.

“Sport has turned into a multi-billion pound industry so the objectives of martial arts are bulldozed over by sports-based objectives,” he said.

“This is not what karate is about, in my opinion. It should be about discovery, morality and enjoyment – that’s certainly how I try to teach it, anyway.”

Legends Karate Hoxton is based at Britannia Leisure Centre and can be contacted on 020 7729 4485.