Club 2: Red Lion SKA

After a ‘breakdown’ on my journey in the form of a torn meniscus, some visits to the body repair shop (i.e. physio), I am back on the road, despite still not being able to train. I’ve not physically trained for over 8 weeks now, and still have a few weeks of recommended recovery to go. Most of us have been there, right?


What I’d missed though was the fact I was still training. Every time I attended a DojoConnect session or visited my club in Egham, I was still learning. My karate was still improving.

So, I arranged my next trip to train with Sensei Ivan Birch and his fabulous club in Eastbourne. Only 93 miles away from home this time, the journey in comparison to Northumberland was easy! 

Monday 28th February 2022

I set off on my journey at lunchtime on the Monday, found a coffee shop local to Ivan and Maria’s and did some work! A shoutout to the ladies working in the Polegate Costa, I really enjoyed the ‘unofficial’ music quiz!

I found a gem of a place to stay, Birch B&B, which I understand is not bookable, it is by invite only! The hosts were a little intimidating on first meet but after a little stroke behind the ears, we became best friends…

That evening there was a Kyu grading, followed by a training session at the club. It was clear when I turned up, those at the club due to take their grading were more nervous than me! I may have been a little nervous about meeting new karateka, but nothing can compare to the nerves before a grading.

As per my experience at Northumberland SKA, I was warmly welcomed by everyone at the club. A dojo full of new faces, with the opportunity to learn something from each of them, regardless of age and grade. Amazing!

When you watch other karateka you can learn from their movement, their attitude and from any feedback they receive. This, coupled with the expertise of the instructor, there is a wealth of information at your disposal…and that is all without physically taking part.

I would like to thank each and every one of you, not only for making me feel so welcome, but also for teaching me so much in a short space of time.

Red Lion - All Class

It was a privilege to witness the gradings, and the training session that followed.  Like in my last blog, I will let the photos below tell the story. Congratulations to you all. The standard was so high, and every pass was thoroughly deserved.

I would also like to say a huge congratulations to Sensei Frank Jennings who qualified as a kyu grade examiner at this grading. Well done.

Taking time out of training as a result of injury is a necessary evil. That said, what I came to understand is that your training never stops. If you cannot physically train, I urge you all to stay connected – visit your club to watch, join the DojoConnect sessions via Zoom, and attend courses. It’s good for your mental health, it’s good to keep in contact with your friends and you’ll be amazed at how much you learn. My next challenge will be putting what I’ve learnt into practice!

Final thoughts…

Another amazing experience. Another example of how a visit to a new karate club can be turned into a mini adventure. Similar to my last experience, I spent time with friends; attended a fantastic training session; witnessed more grading successes; connected with new karateka who I look forward to being able to train with in person very soon – either at your club or the next Shotokan Connect course.