1/1/2018 - Motivation to Train in 2018

Hello, my name is Stephen Cleaver, you may have seen me in your classes this year, I am a trainee instructor with Martial Arts For Life, and I would like to give you an insight into what got me started in martial arts and what motivates me now to continue.

I wanted to take up martial arts after a trip to Leeds Shopping Centre to buy Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon.  This film particularly influenced me as I was amazed how powerful and athletic he was for a man of his size.  At that point I was really overweight, I had a low self esteem and lacked confidence.  The only sport I was doing was weight lifting at the gym.

I found a flyer for a karate club in Skipton for the Japanese style Shukokai, I followed this up by enquiring about the lessons and had a couple of free sessions with the Sensei Iain Spence.  I enjoyed it very much and signed up very quickly, buying the suit and sparring gloves!

I became a regular student, being punctual and never missing a lesson.  It gave me something to help me with my studies, it gave me the motivation to change my lifestyle and habits, as well as getting me to work on my flexibility and cardiovascular exercise.  I was already strong.

Karate was giving me everything that I was not doing before.  On top of that, I now had self-motivation and more confidence.  The new skills I was learning, like getting out of locks, doing punches and kicks, pulling off a crescent kick for the first time felt good.

My Instructor noticed how my fitness had improved and said “ if we had recorded you at the beginning to where you are now, you would see how much you have progressed.”

I absolutely loved the sport and at one point I managed to skip a belt and go one higher, it felt so good that my hard work had paid off.  I was entered into a tournament for the club and I received 1st place, this was brilliant as I had never won anything before, not even at school sports day.

As I was studying for a sports science diploma, working part time and doing karate, something had to give as karate was clashing.  I regret not being able to balance the study with work and karate at that point.  Who knows, if I had stayed I could have been a 2nd or 3rd Dan by now.  It is years since I have been to the club and wish I had not left at the time.  On the positive side though I still remember how Sensei Spence ran classes and how much fun it was for me and what made me want to come back each lesson.  I am trying to run my classes in a similar way to those I attended a long time ago, as well as incorporating teaching styles I have learned at MAFL.  I hope that I can get my students to keep coming back for more because they enjoy it.  It is really good when a student or their parent tells me that they have had a good time in class today.  This motivates me to try new ways to teach in class and helps me try harder with my own training.

I have to thank Master McKenna for this opportunity, and her team for helping me to progress too -  it has done me a world of good.  It has been the highlight of 2017, and I’m looking forward to inspiring many MAFL students in 2018.