Centre pair take top awards while Shotokan club bring medals home

Joe Hart, Tom little and James Brown.
Joe Hart, Tom little and James Brown.

The Knox Avenue-based Harrogate and Otley Karate Centre’s chief instructor, 8th degree black belt shihan Ken Gee, recently presented the 2013 achievement awards to their students.

Presented annually for the past 35 years, the awards fall into two age groups, U-15s and 16 years and over.

Nominees must have followed closely the strict code of conduct and self discipline expected of a karatae-ka (karate student).

They must also have experienced success in either of the two main disciplines of karate; kata – traditional form - and kumite – free fighting.

From the great number of nominations, the eventual winners were; in the junior category 15 year-old 2nd degree black belt James Cape and in the senior category, for the second year running, 17 year-old 2nd degree black belt Natalie Hofman.

Shihan Gee said of their achievement: “Last year James, a year 11 student at St Mary’s School, Menston and Natalie, a year 12 student at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, were exceptional, with both rising to the very top level in European all-styles competition. Although heavily involved in karate for the past 11 years, both are greatly involved in other areas.“

James plays top level football for Ilkley Juniors and has won several top sporting awards including the Football Association’s Jamie Payne-Ross award, which was presented to him by Leeds United’s Aiden White.

Natalie’s other passion is music, she plays solo tenor horn for Wharfe Brass and was part of the show band for Otley Grammar School’s recent production of Guys and Dolls.

Harrogate Shotokan Karate Club, based at Harrogate High School, and Boston Spa Karate Club, based at Boston Spa School, returned from the 45th North West Open Karate Championships with an excellent array of medals and trophies.

Assistant club instructor Tom Little won gold in the Senior Men’s Kumite. Joe Hart took the silver. Unfortunately Joe was unable to fight in the final due to an injury sustained early in the day.

Gold was also brought home by Stephen Sugden who won the Brown Belt Senior Men’s Kumite in fine style, dispatching all his opponents with super-fast punches.

The Men’s team of Joe Hart, Tom little and James Brown took the bronze.

Emelye O’Brien looked on great form but was unlucky to be disqualified in the semi-final with what had looked like a well-controlled kick and had to settle with the bronze.

Club instructor Matt Price, former World Karate Champion, said: “Well done to all that took part and especially those that medalled in what is the longest running karate tournament in the UK.”