Goodbye Tournament – Hello, Master Karl. 

Tournament has been a big part of my life for the past 20+ years. I have travelled the world competing with some of the best martial artists our association has ever seen. Sometimes, I would stand side by side with a competitor I admired and feel a rush that could only be compared with that when meeting a favourite celebrity.

Anyone willing to train hard and step up to compete in a tournament has my respect and admiration. Those who do this well and consistently are athletes worthy of recognition.

When I heard a few years back that I would be promoted to Master, I struggled with the thought of losing competition. The rush of adrenaline felt as I stood awaiting my name to be called was a buzz I did not want to lose. Competing never made me nervous, it made me focused; the bigger the prize, the more I could hone that focus.

However, a non-tournament-related chat with Master Nick Reeve one day made me see the light. Without even realising it, he allowed me an epiphany, and I could finally see a future beyond competition.


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                                                                       An edit of the same form done at different competitions in 2023


Madrid Tournament – 2023
Midwest Tournament – 2024

So, in my final year of competition, I decided to go all in and would compete in six WKSA tournaments from October 2023 to June 2024 – the date of my promotion (World/Spanish/UK/Midwest/Scottish/European). Should I be successful in this run (although I would never presume so), it would bring my total tally of Grand Champion honors to 30, won consecutively since 2013.

No small task, but I was prepared to do the work; so, alongside training for Master testing, I upped my tournament practice and set my sights on the big finale, which would be The European Championships in Norwich 2024.

Over the years, I have accumulated many comical stories about how I messed up in a tournament yet still managed to come away with a medal. Those who were there for my final ever competition will recall – this one was a big one! I don’t think you’ll be learning “Tape Form” from your local master anytime soon… You can watch that little incident here –

Competing in what we do isn’t about winning; it’s not about beating another person senseless, and it’s not about standing on the podium or running up for that coveted trophy at the end of the night. It’s about the relationships you build, the bonds you make with like-minded people, and most of all putting yourself out there. For that short time, once or twice a year, you train to be your absolute best—peak you, the pinnacle of what you can achieve. You step out of your comfort zone and lay yourself bare for everyone to see. It’s a beautiful thing!

Tournaments will always be a big part of my life. I will bring the Widnes team to every event possible, and I will still travel the world and attend every competition that I can. The friendships I have made aren’t based on medals; they are genuine connections, and I will continue to build those with the same vigor that I had for competing.

Maybe one day, we will see a 5th Dahn competition in WKSA… Until then, I will continue to practice diligently and broaden my skill-set to do the Red of my uniform the justice it deserves.