Now 5th Dan Chief Referee – Once a 16 year old girl from Middelburg

Mar 22, 2024

By Christelle Fourie (5th Dan Godan)

I started my karate career when I was sixteen years old. A friend wanted to start karate classes an I have always been intrigued by the martial arts, so I decided to join Middelburg IJKA Karate Centre. Fortunately, my parents supported me and so my karate journey started. There were other motivations to start karate, like self-defence, fitness and learning new skills, but in the end, I received more benefits from doing karate, than I could ever imagine!

As a High School girl, people would make fun of me, because I did karate, especially boys but also some of my girl friends. I was very shy. I always did sports like ballet, tennis and swimming, but never team sports, because I struggled to express myself. Giving speeches in front of people, especially big groups of people, frightened me and I always got very tongue tied.
I was not a natural and had to work hard at karate, to get where I am today. 31 Years later and there is a still a lot that I need to learn and improve on. At Middelburg IJKA Karate Centre, through years of dedication by Gene Fourie Sensei, as well as the support from my parents and fellow students, my karate career started to take off. I received my Shodan in 2001 and by the Grace of God, I never looked back.

I got hooked on the art and principles that make Budo karate what it is. These 5 principles can be incorporated in our everyday existence, perfection of character, sincerity towards people, putting maximum effort into each endeavour, good etiquette and practicing self-control in every situation. These principles are not always easy, but striving to perfect them, will help you accomplish your dreams. I started getting more self-confident, the more I discovered about karate. I learned various divisions within karate, such as table officiating, judging, teaching, instructing and later on also how to plan and execute events and competitions. I can now teach students, without experiencing my old fears of talking in front of people. I am no longer afraid to express myself.

As for Karate as a sport… I still compete and recently became the IJKA Nationals Veteran Elite Ladies, Kata champion and I was also selected for the national team. You are never too young or too old to reap the benefits of karate. My strength, speed and focus were all improved by karate, but even more so, karate has given me self-confidence. Karate also gave me the knowledge, that you can achieve anything you put your mind too, no matter who you are. It will take a lot of hard work, for some more than others, but we all have the ability to reach our goals!

As a woman I can recommend karate to every girl and woman out there. Karate is not seen as a ‘Girly’ sport, and this is a big misconception. IN our current day and age, I recommend that everyone should try karate. It not only teaches you how to react and protect yourself in dangerous situations, but can also give you tools to calm your mind, when you experience difficulties in life. Karate has so many benefits. I am now a 5th Dan (Godan), Chief Referee, winner of various medals, received my IJKA SA National colours and am now a member of the National Team. I also became an teacher and instructor, and I can attest to what karate has done for me and how my life has improved because of it.

I encourage everyone out there to start your karate journey today, especially the ladies/girls. Experience what karate can do for you! Remember that everything is possible when you persevere!