MCF 2013 Essay writing competition winners

As part of the build up to the MCF 2013, IOGKF Canada held an essay writing competition for its junior members, asking them to tell us about their journey in Traditional Karate...

Winning Essay – By: E.Chen

I've always loved wearing dresses and thecolour pink, so whenever people look at me, one of the last things they can picture me doing is karate. SEeing me, many have asked if I took dance classes, and yes, I have; that is how my journey to Karate actually began... oddly enought it was the resut of dance classes.

The Beginning:

It was probably my worst experience;  my arms were never straight,  I hated all the hair gel they gave me,  and my counting was just never right.  Oh  man, I’m  just going to say it, it clearly was NOT for me. So after a long night of convincing my Mom, I quit dance classes.

Being the little ball of energy I was at 10 years of age, instead of sitting me at home, my parents decided to enroll me in something totally different to try out - they enrolled me in Karate classes.

The very first time I put my Gi on was strange. Maybe it was the fact that it marked the beginning of my Karate life or maybe it was that everyone else was wearing the same uniform and that made me feel like being part of a big family...I don’t know. It was just an incredible feeling that gave me a sense of belonging.

No matter what we were doing, blocks, rolls or even push ups, I loved it right from the start. Every class was a little different, so I wasn’t sure what to expect each time. It was overwhelming working with more senior students at first but watching their graceful yet powerful moves really inspired me from the start to take Karate seriously, so I made every class worth it.

My Parents were surprised! They had no idea it would turn out like this, and when they went to my first grading they were astonished to see how straight my arms could be (in contrast to all those dance recitals) when I punched and how high I could kick. It made me elated to see my parents so happy for me, but even more importantly, I was happy for myself.

At Karate, the people I associated with were all just so warm, and I made some great friends right away - after all there is nothing better than bonding with a friend over pad work. Even drenched in a sweaty uniform after class, I always had a smile on my face. I became even more gratified when I got to help the junior classes and fulfill the Karate experiences of little kids, and guide them on their own journeys.


When I first started sparring, I can’t say I loved it. I was put in a stuffy foam helmet, it was so hard to bring myself to punch and kick someone like that. Instructors would repeatedly tell me “Keep your hands up” and “Get in there! It’s all about combinations!”. It was like that for years and for some reason I never changed back then. Suddenly, at one grading,  in the middle of a sparring match, things started moving so quickly. My breathing became quick and Shallow, and I could not continue; I could barely stand straight, and I had to stop to lie down in the change room to regain my energy and the air in my lungs. I was so embarrassed. My parents, my friends, my Sensei’s and Senpai’s...they were all watching me. The first thought I had was ‘I definitely failed that grading now.’

 In the end, everyone was very supportive, asking if I was feeling ok and yes, I did end up passing the grading, but in the back of my mind I knew I had to change something; sparring was a huge component of Karate and I could not just leave it at that. From then on I started paying more attention to sparring in class, not only watching what I did myself, but also how my partner moved. I observed senior students, attended sparring classes when I could and I applied any tips that were given to me. Then, at my most recent grading, during the sparring component I took a deep breath and told myself I could do this. I was ready. Out of nowhere I got this amazing strength that took myself by surprise. I just did it, like it came naturally to me.

Looking back at the videos my Dad took, I was amazed to see how much I had improved. I got 5/5 for the sparring component and I received some great feedback. It might not mean much, but to me it told me that what I had put into realizing this goal was completely worth it and it had paid off. This is definitely one of the biggest parts in my journey of Karate and every class I am still finding ways to improve my sparring. It taught me a great lesson, that you can achieve whatever you set your heart too.

Thus far, I have learnt that Karate is not about how strong your punch is, or how many push ups you can do. To me, Karate is about setting a goal for yourself, whatever that goal may be, and training or working towards it. Of course, every young martial artists goal is to get his or her black belt. Naturally, it is mine to and I hope to get it before I go off to University. Once I do get it, will definitely not mark the end of my Karate training, but rather just the beginning of a whole new side of it.

Karate is all about the journey itself...and I know mine is far from over...


2nd Place Essay - By: B. Kelly

My karate journey began in 2007. I was only 8 years old when I walked through the door of the Niagara Falls YMCA . It started off as just a simple family activity to do, play squash, go swimming, and meet new friends. Then a time came where my brother had noticed a small karate class taking place in one of the main gyms. He immediately wanted to try, and so did I looking up to my big brother.

My first class started off with basics, lots and lots of basics. I was feeling a little disappointed because my training wasn't anything like the movies. Ninjas did  back flips or jump of walls. I persevered anyway and kept at it. We were then given the opportunity to participate in a board breaking fundraiser to collect money for Sensei Nakamura to come to our dojo. Even though I have never met him before this was a big deal to me, to meet my Sensei’s teacher. That was the moment I decided to further continue my studies of Goju-ryu Karate, he taught me to never give up. Sensei Nakamura did this by continuously pushing me non-stop no matter how bad I wanted to quit. I gradually moved up the ranks and finally achieved my brown stripe. While doing so I had learned new fun and fascinating techniques. I met new friends at tournaments, participated in rigorous work outs and gained valuable training experiences at Gasshuku’s.

 I was also given the opportunity to meet new and great role models along the way, like Sensei Bakkies, and Sensei Morio Higaonna. They have helped me grow in my knowledge of Karate. Since then it has helped me inside and out of the dojo, learning of persistence, discipline, humility, and respect. All of these traits have helped and further developed me in many ways. I had learned greatly of respect and how joy is given throughout the act of being kind to others. By knowing of this lesson I now look to be kind and courteous in all of my interactions with others, family and friends. I now help out consistently in the dojo showing junior students proper technique and skills to help them in the same ways Karate has helped me. In other ways, the dojo has grown, as well as me. It has gotten larger in size and we have worked together through challenging events and issues we all have faced, always helping out and encouraging each other.

Although my life journey through karate isn't as action packed, and dramatic as I thought it might have been. I still have learned alot. Throughout my journey I have experienced ups and downs working through them while using lessons taught to me by both lower and higher influences inside of Goju Ryu karate. I still participate in lessons taught to me today throughout karate and intend on continuing my studies long after now. The more I continue my training the more I realize that it's less about the fight and more about becoming a humble person.

Congratulations to our two young and inspiring winners. The winning essay is featured in IOGKF Magazine, which is FREE to download and read cover to cover through this edition of the newsletter!