Karate is for everybody, Jackie Aitken says. Ten years of learning have paid off for Jackie and her son George; last month they received their black belts, after eight weeks of intensive training.
The ceremony included a speech, before they were tested on ‘‘combinations’’ which required them to learn a sequence of moves on-the-spot, sequences which they had prepared beforehand, selfdefence moves and spars.
‘‘It’s meant to be a challenge, but they’re not there to hurt you. It’s meant to challenge you and make sure you don’t quit, and try your hardest,’’ Jackie says.
They learn seido karate with kyoshi Eric Hughes, of Blenheim.
Patrick Cadogan and Mike Neal from Marlborough received their black belts at the same time.
Alisa Locke and Graham Haddon were Jackie’s partners for the partner stage of the event, and they have received a lot of support from everybody in the club, they say.
Jackie and George began learning karate when George was 7. He looked up to an older cousin who was learning it, he says.
‘‘Then Mum decided it looked cool.’’
Jackie, who teaches science part-time at Marlborough Boys’ College says it is good to have a sport she can do with her son.
‘‘If he was playing rugby, I can’t imagine myself in the rugby team,’’ she says.
One of the things Jackie likes about karate is that it is ‘‘holistic’’ and provides exercise for the mind as well as the body.
Remembering different katas, or exercises, takes some brainpower, she says.
‘‘And there’s something spiritual about it for me.’’
Zazen, or quiet time, is a part of training she particularly enjoys.
‘‘If you have a family it’s quite often hard to have a bit of quiet time.’’
Apart from being able to share an interest with his mum outside the house, what George enjoys about the sport is the way it takes him away from his school routine.
He is in year 13 this year and wants to study medicine.
The training they had to put in leading up to becoming black belts was fairly gruelling, doing five sets of twenty push ups, situps and burpees and 1000 kicks as a warm-up.
Jackie stresses that karate is based around effort.
‘‘It’s just carrying on and doing your best.’’
Both of them intend to continue learning karate: the next step after black belt is to become a second-level dan.
Karate black belts Jackie and George Aitken.