Hayes on the Highway

Leanne Hayes

Communication, Marketing & Website Manager at Shotokan Connect

About Leanne


My karate journey originally started back in 1994, at the age of 14, in Wado Ryu. With a few breaks for study and injuries, I passed my 1st Dan in 2012. Shortly afterwards an injury forced me to stop, although not sure I can blame the injury for the full 9 year gap!!


In January 2021 I contacted my local Shotokan club which was run by Sensei John Parnell at the time, and so began by Shotokan journey.


I am fortunate enough to live near two amazing Shotokan Connect clubs, so currently train at Egham SKC and Rising Sun Academy.

Why the blog?


Back in December 2021, at the All Grades Training Course I was fortunate enough to train under the expert instruction of Sensei Ian Willis from Northumberland Karate Academy for the first time, and train with other karateka from our Kyoshin (Newport) and Shiseikan (Maidstone) Shotokan Karate Clubs.


I found the experience truly inspiration so I made a commitment to train once with every Shotokan Connect club and keep a blog of my experience…so here it is:

Club 5: Wantage & Vale SKC

Hello all. It’s been a while – my last blog was back in April! The good news is, after more rest and physio…I am now easing myself slowly back into training! Back in my dogi…back in the dojo…where I feel most at home.

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Club 4: Egham SKC

After a couple of weeks of traveling, I decided to keep my next trip local – and where better, than the magnificent Egham SKC, one of my local clubs where I am lucky to regularly train with Sensei Blyth Baker, Dave Austin, David Hurst, Chris Betts and Jess Baker.

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Club 3: Senshi Karate

No sooner had I returned home from Eastbourne, I was busy planning my next trip. This time to visit Senshi Karate in Charlton. As our most recently-qualified Kyu grade examiner, I was excited to see Sensei Frank Jennings, alongside Sensei John Parnell undertake the club’s largest ever grading of 50 students.

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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?

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Club 1: Northumberland Karate Academy

On the basis it was Sensei Ian Willis’ fantastic training session that inspired my journey, where better to start, than at his club which also happens to be the furthest away from home. Just a small 320 miles away! But I wasn’t going to let that stop me…I would make a long weekend of it.

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