Not once did I feel judged

Senpai Cynthia cleans up at NAS nationals
Two New Sensei’s

Osu Shihan.

I wanted to just write an email to you in light of retiring from karate recently. As I was reflecting on finishing up karate; at least for little, after 3 years (approximately!) I was thinking about all the amazing skills and experiences I have been lucky enough to be involved in, through Shiryodo. Not only have I gained strength and improved in fitness, but I have learnt key self defence skills; skills that are particularly important for young women in society today. The dojo is incredible and unlike any other I have ever been to or heard about. Everyone is friendly and welcoming; which was an absolutely pleasant change from other sporting memberships and teams. As a larger person, especially as a larger young woman, it can be hard to feel as though you are welcome and supported within sporting communities; but this was completely not the case for Shiryodo. At Shiryodo, not once did I feel judged or as though I was not good enough to be training with everyone. I felt accepted and as though I was supported completely. I understand that whilst I was not always the most diligent or committed student, I never felt like I couldn’t return to karate; no matter how long I had been away. I have been taught further about respect, not only for those who are more advanced than myself, but for everyone. I have been taught that in order to ever achieve your goals, you must believe in yourself; for as I know now, if you do not believe in yourself, no one will. I have been taught about the correct way to train; that is, knowing of limitations, whilst pushing yourself to do your best. These are skills and mantras that I will never forget.

Shiryodo is not just a dojo. It is a community. A community of people from all different walks in life. It is vibrant with people of all ages, nationalities, fitness levels and body types. Never before had I had the opportunity to mix with so many different, incredible people… Shiryodo gave me that opportunity. I have friends from karate I will never forget and will always stay in touch with. I have a new motivation to keep improving myself; in both body and mind. I cannot put down in words how thankful I am for the experience I have had. All classes, beach trainings, gradings and parties have been both enjoyable and motivating. Not once was I frowned upon or given up upon; despite often needing help! The focus of Shiryodo not solely being upon fighting and being the ‘strongest person’ or the best person, is fantastic. The way of compassion. The dojo truly reflects this. Having respect, compassion, strength and a passion for life and fitness are all aspects that karate has instilled within me.


I thank all my teachers I have worked with over the course of my training. In particular; Sensei Andrew, Senpai Paul, Senpai Sandra and Senpai Dan. At different stages of my training these teachers taught me and looked after me; never failing to push me and support me. All teachers have been so encouraging and motivating. This is yet another commendable element of the amazing dojo. Above all, I wish to truly thankyou Shihan Malcom for your incredible passion for karate and all students. From day one of my training, I understood that you cared about all of your students and that you would always be happy to help. You are so accepting of everyone; no matter where we come from or who we are. You are truly an inspiration within your incredible passion for karate, along with your care of the environment and your passion for trying new things within the dojo. Thankyou so much; for every class, every grading, every event.

As I hang my Gi up for a little while, I will look back at karate with pride. I have completed so many classes that have been both a challenge but incredibly rewarding. I have no doubt that at some point, I will return to karate; it is so enjoyable and worthwhile. It is a sport that I will most certainly encourage others to partake in and enjoy. I will most certainly miss it!

I wish you all the best for the dojo party, I am sad to be unable to attend. Merry Christmas; I will hopefully see you in the future.

Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou.


Malcolm Ayles
Shihan Malcolm Ayles
The question I constantly ask myself is how can I help this person... what can I do to empower them, help them focus, help them become the best they can be.


  1. Dylan Barrow says:

    I hope you do dicide to come back, I didn’t really speak to you much but I always thought you were a nice person and you supprised me sometimes going hard and giveing it your all Osu.

  2. Ros says:

    Inspiring piece Holly! We only trained a few times together but I enjoyed it, and remember your spirit in our last grading. Hope to see you again soon. Ros