CLUB OF THE WEEK: Stratton karate club in need of a boost
STRATTON Higashi Karate Club was once a thriving group with close to 30 members - now it can boast only a handful of students.
The club based at the Nythe Community Centre has fallen on hard times in recent months, and after being forced to close it’s doors for the first time in 17 years during August it re-opened with only a few members in September.
Instructor Phil Woodfield runs the club’s sessions on Thursday evenings, which are based on one of the original styles of Japanese karate Wado-Ryu dating back centuries, and is disappointed to see numbers decline so heavily but remains hopeful of seeing the club return to its former glory.
“Up until August we have always had a strong class of up to 30 students, although that has died down in recent times, but it’s really fallen away because of a lot of students taking GCSEs and A-Levels,” he said.
“For that reason I decided to suspend the class through August for the first time since we started in 1996, and since we started again in September we only have a handful of students turning up now.
“From being a strong class and a very successful one it’s down to almost nothing, and it’s a real shame because the majority of those students had been with me for the last 10 years.
“They had progressed from eight to 10 years old all the way up to their early 20s.
“It’s a shame so many have stopped training, and the reasons for that I’m not sure, but we are trying to get back to how we were and hopefully it will pick up again.”
The philosophy of Wadu-Ryu is firmly based around discipline, and although he is the first to admit it’s not for everyone Woodfield believes his brand of martial arts can enrich people’s lives.
“The aims of the club is to enhance the ability of our students, and it’s as simple as that really,” he said.
“We’re a friendly club who welcomes anyone, and our philosophy is all based on discipline and ways of defending yourself which can enhance your quality of life.
“What we do is well disciplined and fun at the same time, and that’s what all martial arts and sports should be.
“If you don’t enjoy doing something then you aren’t going to do it.
“When new students are introduced I always say ‘you’re either going to like it or you’re not’ and if they do they come back and if they don’t then they leave it.
“You have to enjoy it and it’s no good forcing students along.”
The club’s sessions run at the Nythe Community Centre on Thursday evening from 7pm-8.30pm, with beginners, children and adults all welcome.
Anyone wanting more information should contact Phil Woodfield on 07748878747.
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