I started training in 2010, with my sister and other two friends from Froxfield. I initially wanted to train after watching Kung-Fu Panda multiple times. However, there were no Kung-Fu academies near our house, but Mum managed to find a small Karate Dojo that was extremely close to where we lived and, coincidentally in the same nursery hall that I went to.
The first time we visited, I remember peaking through the entrance to the hall, which was actually far smaller than I remembered, and seeing a dan-grade instructor and a 3rd Kyu that was a little older than I, training together.
We felt very welcome as the Sensei allowed us to watch the session while perched on seats in the far side of the hall. Shortly after, we were offered to join in the class – which, from what I can remember, we accepted.
After a while Sensei expanded the club into training sessions at the East Meon hall as well as the local school in that village, East Meon Primary. Coincidentally, this was the same school that I went to at the time and allowed me to introduce my friends to the martial art.
The remainder of our time spent in that small, un-swept hall seemed to blur together. At the time, however, space grew increasingly scarce.
I am unsure whether it was this reason or the fact the hall floor caused your feet to turn grey with dust that motivated Sensei to move the club from the Froxfield hall to the TPS Gym in Petersfield? With this transition, the club continued to expand and my sister and I reached 5th Kyu. This meant we could attend the senior class from that point on – that was a big deal for us!
I am unsure when the club left the SEKU karate organization and Sensei cofounded the AKA (Applied Karate Association) along with other Senior instructors from Hampshire and the south, but I remember that we no longer attended the large competitions hosted by them.
The competitions hosted by the AKA were refreshing and engaging in comparison. The events were far from underattended but thankfully not overcrowded, allowing us to recognise many familiar faces every year that annually attended from the various AKA clubs such as South Downs.
At these competitions I faced off against my first Kumite opponents – allowing me to apply my Karate knowledge practically – even if I rarely won. Despite every matchup that bested me, I never saw it as a failure as it allowed me to learn more about myself and my Karate. A lot of my improvement in Kumite I owe to Sensei Keith Williams, who delivered thorough and intricate training sessions that focused on 1st Kyu and Dan grade sparring. He taught us advanced footwork, distancing, and application of focus - achieving power.
The rest is history, and I believe that all children should be taught the level of discipline I was taught through Sensei’s teachings as it has been very beneficial for me since then to have the experience that I have now.
I will continue to train Karate hopefully until my body is too old to continue along with other arts such as Jeet Kune Do, Jujutsu and Kendo. As I found out through progressing to my first Dan grade and with each year that I train - I realise how much more I must learn – and if anything, this excites me.
While studying Shotokan Karate, I have been lucky enough to be mainly instructed by two experienced and talented Karateka. Both previously mentioned, Sensei Matt Powell and Sensei Keith Williams. Including occasional but enlightening courses with other instructors from the Association.
Through my decade of training in Karate-Do I have been taught self-discipline, focus, fitness, culture, and a reliable means in which to defend myself.
Thanks to this I have never felt uneasy in a threating situation and I have confidence in my own abilities. I hope that, one day, I will have the responsibility to pass on what I have learned, and Sensei Matt’s humour, to the next generation.
Ben Thorneywork (Shodan) July 2020
*MP – I still remember the very first conversation I had with Bens Mum back in 2010. I had pinned a poster to the notice board in the village hall and this served as our first official advert. Mel had seen it and asked if I taught kids. At the time I only had one Junior (Finn O’Brien) and I said that I would expand the class to accommodate more children. The Thorneywork’s were joined by their friends from the village the Kinder’s and I am very-pleased to say that they all still train as does Finn.
I remember driving to deliver newsletters to parents in the early days when Ben was about 6 years old. He looked out and saw me in the courtyard and hard a shocked look on his face. It made me feel famous lol 😊 .
I started at East Meon School after Mel recommended my work to the Head Mistress. This soon grew and we expanded into East Meon Village hall in 2011. After 5 years this club was proudly passed to Wayne Lee and Jon Watson who now along ith Robin Thompson continue to work passionately on developing the club and it’s membership.