Inclusive Karate in Dublin giving everyone a chance to shine

Photos credit I-Karate taken by Sportfile

The Inclusive Karate World Cup took place in Dublin, with teams from 13 countries including 47 Irish athletes taking to the mats. The hairs were rising on the back of my neck watching the parade come in, led by a piper of course.

Sisters Emma and Kate Connolly have been training Karate for about two and a half years. Both with only positive experiences, they have very different views on the competition side of the day.

Kate said: ‘I love this, I love seeing the atmosphere and making friends here. Winning isn’t important for me, I love coming here. I don’t get nervous.’ Emma interrupted her to say: ‘I do get a little nervous, sometimes I get nervous but when I’m working on something I don’t want to stop. ‘

The two athletes who are living with a  mild Intellectual Disability go to Scoil Ciaran in Glasnevin, and train regularly to keep their place on the Irish squad.

Photos credit I-Karate taken by Sportsfile

Organiser Anne Caulfield says the Inclusive Karate movement is growing in Ireland. One of her son’s Eoghan competed at the weekend also, but she’s in it now for much more than family reasons.

She said: “It is growing here, you need a specific kind of coach. They have to be able to interact with the athletes, Some of the younger children would feel anxiety going into a mainstream session, it’s off-putting for them. But in the Inclusive Karate, no-one notices if a child is just walking around and taking things in. Some of the kids learn in a different way.”

Eoghan says he started off having difficulties in the class, but seven years on he’s not only competing but also coaching juniors.

The young athlete, who has Autism, said: “I did pretty well today, I didn’t place but I’ve been improving steadily. That was the best Kata I have ever done. Karate has turned me into a different person – when I was a kid I would not use my voice, would not raise my voice. I really like that you travel so much, and you meet other people doing Karate. That’s what I find so interesting.’

Read more about I-Karate on the Karate Ireland website.