Name: Lee Edwards
Nickname: Eddy; Jackie Khan (from my wife); Barnacle (a friend who I did not get on with called me this from school); Shaggy (from scooby doo because of the beard)
Grade: 2ndDan Black Belt achieved in November 2017
Dojo/s: I teach the beginners class at Thornleigh on Monday night. I also use to teach at Aspull on a Thursday night
Full Time / Volunteer: I am a volunteer.
Why did you start: Like most people who do karate their journey started in the younger years and that is where mine started. I was 12 years old and my dad took me to a Dojo in Atherton and I trained there for about 2 years and got to blue belt. I remember the style of karate was shokotan, which did not mean much at the time. I can remember we did the old katas such as Kihon and Taikiyoko Nidan. We got to the level of Blue belt. Unfortunately, the club dojo was shut down when the building we used was demolished, and that is where my journey ended, or so I thought.
In 2010 when my son, Jack, was about 7 he was into Power Rangers in a big way and asked me if he could learn to fight like the Power Rangers. So, I looked around for a karate club and eventually came across Red Tiger Karate. We watched a session at Bolton School and had a chat with Paul Wolstencroft and decided we would both give it a go. I remember the first lesson I had like it was yesterday and thinking “WOW” I love this and so did Jack. Unfortunately, Jack only lasted until we had both got to purple belt, and decided he liked football and other things more, but I decided I would carry on and eventually achieve the grade of 2nd black belt. I have learned that Karate is a journey that does not stop when you get to black belt, in fact, it is just the beginning of the journey, that keeps giving and giving and keep going and going.
What keeps you training: Karate started for me as a way to spend time with my son and since he stopped training, I had to carry on because when you get the karate bug it is hard not to want keep training, so much so that I can get in a bad mood when something stops me training. I have always been a very shy person and had very little self-confidence, so much so that I would always be “ill” when I had to do a demonstration in front of the class and would always sit in the corner and talk to no one. Never in a million years would I have been able to stand in front of 30+ people and be confident enough to teach karate and this is what karate has done by giving me the confidence in myself to do so.
Karate has a way of becoming more than just a hobby, it becomes an obsession. How many of you say “oss” during a group conversation as a sign of acknowledgment or find yourself bowing when entering a school which you use as a dojo. Despite hitting 50 next year, Karate keeps me fit and flexible. One advantage of this was whilst at a party, a game which involved each person going into box splits and bending down to pick up a cereal cardboard box which would be cut in size by a couple of inches after each round, with the last round requiring you to pick up a peanut of the floor. Consequently, I won the game and the others were not happy about this and I made it worse when I told them I did karate. Thankfully for them it all ended peacefully.
The other reason I keep training is that I meet so many other people who share the same passion for karate as I do, and also the fact that Red Tiger Karate Club is run so professionally and provides people of all walks of life the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed to achieve high levels of karate. The camaraderie and friendships made between fellow karateka’s is why many people, including myself, keep coming back week in week out.
In November 2016 I started to Sempai in a class run by Dean Ramsden, which at first was my worst nightmare, but slowly grew to like it, and in January 2017 took over at Aspull dojo. My first lesson as a sensei was both awesome and scary with everyone looking to me for instruction rather than the other way round. Becoming a Sensei gave me more confidence in my karate and more importantly, gave me immense satisfaction that I have helped other students in their karate journey and achieve their own karate goals.
Job in the real world: I have the joy of working for my wife, Caroline, in the IT/Administration department at her firm of solicitors. Working with Caroline has its benefits whereby I am flexible in that I can finish a little earlier to be able to get to karate. I must thank Caroline for putting up with being married to a karate mad person, it is not easy for her having to put up with my moods when I cannot go to karate.
Favourite part of Karate: My favourite part of karate is learning new katas. When I first started karate 10 years ago, the first kata we had to learn, Kihon, seemed simple but at the same time very confusing. I had 2 left feet and they would never do as my brain told them to. Each subsequent kata I learn is always very confusing at first and I always say “I will never be able to learn that kata” but after lots and lots of practicing, the pattern becomes familiar. The thing I like about kata is that you always continue to learn more and more about a kata, it is like a never-ending story. As I am getting older, learning new katas also helps to keeps my body and mind active. The other side of this is that I must work much harder on my kumite skills. I have always shied away from any type of confrontation and use to dread putting my mitts and pads on for kumite, but, with time, have grown to like and even look forward to kumite. It is a fantastic way of getting rid of anger and frustration from everyday life. My karate journey so far would not have been anything like it has, if it had not been for Red Tiger Karate and the guidance and input from Paul Sensei and Rachael Sensei and everybody else connected with the club.
As mentioned earlier, my other favourite part of karate is being a sensei. It is a privilege and honour to be a Sensei at Red Tiger and being so, makes you more aware of and have more confidence in your own karate. When you are the one giving out instructions and guidance as a sensei, instead of being in line looking for guidance, there is no better feeling in being able to watch your students grow (hopefully) to be as good or even better than yourself, because this is what we strive to achieve for each student. Over the last few months during the lockdown, I have been having 1 on 1 sessions with a student using zoom to get him ready for a grading that he had previously failed. These sessions have been very satisfying for myself in the way that I feel I have contributed to his karate journey and seeing the joy on his face makes it all worthwhile.
Hobbies other than karate: My hobbies outside of karate are diverse. I like listening to all kinds of heavy metal, in particular Thrash and Death Metal such bands as Cannibal Corpse and Slipknot; I like watching Liverpool play football both on the TV and at Anfield (having waited 30 years for football to come home); I like watching all kinds of horror films (having watched From Dusk till Dawn over 20 times); I like doing all kinds of DIY having practically rebuilt my house room by room; I like to go out for long rides on my bike; I like to spend quality family time at my holiday retreat, also known as a caravan in the Lakes; I like to go skiing whether it is at the Chill Factore or places such as France and Italy.