Women do karate too – Period

I love going to karate, focusing on my training and working hard in class.  However, there was a certain time Every . Single . Month that I dreaded putting on my fresh white gi and stepping into the dojo. Yep, you guessed it, i’m talking about my period. As it is a subject generally not discussed in our society I had no idea how to handle this situation from the age of 11. It was hard enough dealing with it at school let alone at karate.

Faced with the prospect of embarrassing myself every time I perform a mae geri (front kick) or sit into my kiba dachi (straddle leg stance), I could no longer focus on karate but was constantly stressing and trying to get a glance in the mirror every opportunity I could to check my dignity was still in-tact and my gi bottoms didn’t resemble the Japanese flag. Now looking back I realise that bleeding is nothing to be embarrassed nor ashamed about, to be honest its pretty amazing that we can be bleeding and still show up and kick ass.

After years of being self conscious and paranoid at karate, my Dad knew I struggled with my heavy periods and came up with a genius idea. He bought me a pair of tight training shorts …. and I haven’t looked back since! I use them as an extra layer of armour that keeps everything in place and acts as another barrier against leakage – yes, unfortunately its happened to me too. But now when that time comes I can save myself a lot of worry.

Probably one of the only perks about my Dad being my Sensei is that I could let him know the situation before class, especially as my periods were very painful and heavy. So he understood why I may have been holding back in class. With that being said, I’m sure I’m not the only female that practices karate that has this monthly struggle. If so, when you get chance I encourage you to let your instructor know before class why your energy may be lower than usual, or that you have got bad cramps or back ache. Its completely natural and understandable, we don’t have to pretend like it’s not happening. Karate is very much a masculine practice with yang energy, however as females we must embrace our ‘SHE power’ and our Yin – feminine energy, and respect our bodies particularly during this time. Periods shouldn’t stop us from doing what we love. But we must listen to our bodies and if we need to slow down a little, that’s fine. I know its hard to put your gi on while on your period, but I always feel better afterwards. Exercise can help PMS (premenstrual syndrome), physically and emotionally.

I hope this post helps somewhat, if not at least you know that you are not on your own with this one. And if you are a guy reading this…maybe your sister/mother/partner or even training partner will appreciate you reading this.

If this post resonates with you, I would love to hear your comments or feedback.

Afiya Richards x


Olympic News

5 new sports have been added by the International Olympic Committee for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, including baseball, skateboarding, surfing, climbing and KARATE!

This is great news for karatekas and people who have never been exposed to the art of karate. What a great time for it to be introduced in the perfect location Tokyo, Japan, the country where karate was established.

It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that we are going to be able to watch the best karatekas from around the world perform from our TV screens!

Judo was brought into the Olympics in 1964 when Japan hosted the Olympics last time and Judo seems very popular in Japan now, and has over shone karate. No doubt karate will start a new adventure throughout the world after it is televised in 2020. Let’s hope it inspires others to take up the art.

It would be great if our Zen-Shin students could be involved. It will take a lot of hard work and time.

The best preparation for tomorrow is to do your best today” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

When you have sand where it shouldn’t be…

Once a year Zen-Shin invites students and their families for a weekend away in Devon Cliffs. But it is not just any old weekend by the beach, this is a 3 day training camp which involves karate training and a lot of fun!

This year we had perfect weather along with the sea and sand, and with a great crowd. It is a lovely sight seeing everyone appearing out of their caravans in their Zen-Shin tracksuits and brand new Devon t-shirts ready for a morning’s jog down to the beach and martial arts training. This year we incorporated a bit of Thai Chi and Chi Gong into our morning workout which was a great experience to do in such a serene environment.

Since the course we have had such great feedback from parents and students already eager to put their name down for next years course! So… here’s the date for your diaries:

Friday 5th May till Monday 8th May 2017 

We usually arrive on the friday and leave on either the Sunday evening (if we have to get back to school/work) or Monday morning. We will soon have letters ready to hand out to book your caravans. If you are interested in joining us in our next adventure please let us know, the quicker we get our deposits in the cheaper the caravans are.

Here’s a quick list of just a few of the things we get up to in Devon: 3 days of karate/kickboxing training- learning new katas, kumite training, classes on the beach, making new friends while drinking an orange juice (or two) at the bar, and all the entertainment that Devon Haven Holidays provides (e.g. multi-level swimming pool complex, evening performances, abseiling or climbing, crazy golf, restaurants, the South Beach Cafe and more!)

My brother (Abian) and I were thinking of ways to show people who have never come on our Devon trips before how much fun there is to be had along with the intense training sessions. Here is a video that we put together of bits of our time at the 2016 Devon Spring Course (please excuse our messing around).

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Pass, Merit or Distinction?

Junior low grade grading

Every 3 months we have gradings for our students. This is basically a karate exam where the students have to perform our Zen-Shin syllabus to the examiners. At the beginning of the grading Sensei asked all of his students “what grade do you want, pass, merit or distinction?”. With smirks on their faces the children had clearly made their mind up on what they wanted to achieve, and this was seen in how hard they worked.

Here are a few shots of our Juniors with their shiny new belts they are sporting proudly.

Excited Mere Green Peewees

DSC_0660Well done everyone! Hard work pays off, keep up the good work.