I have been attending Shiryodo Karate for five years. The first year I was a spectator, playing taxi and watching my daughter Charli do classes each week.
It eventually dawned on me that I should get off my behind and get out on the dojo floor with her and give it a go.
I had done karate for a couple of years as a teenager and always admired the sport. Watching my daughter do classes each week I realised it was the sort of sport my over-40 body could perhaps cope with.
I had succumbed to “old man calf syndromeâ€™â€™ and had to give up endurance running a few years earlier. Playing footy was a distant memory. As much as Iâ€™d like to think I could still get a kick, the mind often writes cheques that the body cannot cash once your 40th birthday ticks by.
The beauty of karate, unlike other sports, is that it doesnâ€™t ask things of your body that age prohibits.
The syllabus â€“ fancy word for different moves and routines you learn â€“ ratchets up in difficulty the further you progress, and you only progress when you, and your instructor, think youâ€™re ready.
You donâ€™t need to be able to do splits now, or ever, you donâ€™t need to emulate Bruce Leeâ€™s speed of hand, or break boards with your forehead.
It is a workout for mind and body, and although it sounds like a clichÃ©, it is a very personal journey.
I have been doing classes at Shiryodo Karate for four years now. There have been plenty of testing times, both physical and mental, but as with any achievement in life when you come out the other side of a grading or learn a new kata from start to finish, you realise all the toil is worth it.
I donâ€™t do karate to prove anything to others, I do it because it stimulates my brain and keeps me fit â€“ as simple as that.
On a deeper level, Shiryodo emphasises the importance of challenging yourself, and showing compassion and respect for your fellow man. They are great values instilled in many sporting clubs and disciplines but theyâ€™re noticeable at every Shiryodo training session.
If you do something often enough in life it becomes habit. This applies to not just the physical conditioning karate brings. It teaches kids, and adults alike, the importance of showing respect and striving to improve yourself.
Not a bad blueprint for life in general, and thatâ€™s why Shiryodo Karate has been a part of my weekly routine and that of our kids.