Exceeding Expectations For Richard

by Martin Phillips on 15 November 2016

Here’s an email we received from Richard, recently.  Richard is one of our beginner adults who has recently found our dojo and got started training with us along with his daughter Claire.  As a young(er) man, Richard studied Taekwondo, so he has some martial arts experience.  As a result, when he was looking for somewhere to start training again he had some very strong ideas what he was looking for in a dojo.


Richard has been with us for a few months now and it sounds like he’s really glad that he found us.  Here’s the message that Richard sent to us recently.  We’ve republished it here with his permission.

I am writing to you as I feel it necessary to let you know how much I am thoroughly enjoying your classes.

When I was looking around for a martial arts school only a few months ago I knew it was important to find a school with highly skilled, dedicated instructors that teach discipline and respect, who offer diverse and challenging classes and most importantly a fantastic learning culture with the right attitudes. Your teachings have completely surpassed all my expectations and I only wish I had found you earlier!

Admittedly I am a harsh self-critic and always have been, and I get frustrated when I struggle to achieve something I put my mind to. Perhaps this is what motivates me to continuously improve and be the best I can be. The fact that I am finding it challenging to adjust my stances is rather frustrating me but I am very determined to improve and overcome old habits.

You are both so inspiring with your humbleness and amazing skill sets and of those of my senior belt colleagues. I know I have found something special and look forward be being a dedicated student for many years to come. Thank you for such wonderful lessons, I am so grateful to be a student at your school.

Many thanks and see you on Thursday.


Its great having both Richard and Claire in the dojo and we look forward to working with them both throughout their study of Chito-Ryu Karate-Do at Sunshine Coast Karate.

Arabella’s First Year In The Dojo

by Martin Phillips on 5 October 2016

A few weeks ago we received the following email from the Mum of one of our young members, Arabella.  When Arabella first got started, she faced a few challenges and took a little while to warm up to the idea of karate.  We knew about a little bit of it at the time, but did what we could to help her through it.  But we’re really grateful to have parent’s like Sam working on the home front to support what we do in the dojo.

Before we get to the message from Sam, we also wanted to share a special congratulations to Arabella who just last night moved up to her yellow striped belt in our Little Champions program.

Here’s the message from Sam (Arabella’s Mum).  Published here with her permission.

Dear Martin and Sandra,

I’ve been wanting to write this letter to you both for a couple of weeks now.  I don’t know how often you get feedback from parents, but I thought you might like to hear about our experience with your school so far.

I wanted to tell you how grateful my husband and I are that we found you.  Arabella loves going to Karate every week and looks forward to it.  She has become a happy and confident little girl, and you might be surprised to hear that I believe a significant part of that is because of the both of you.

Arabella has had a really difficult 12 months.  You wouldn’t know it now, but last year and at the beginning of this year she was a very anxious little girl and was prone to extreme and aggressive tantrums. She has a sensory processing issue, which meant that wearing any kind of clothing, and sometimes physical contact, could be very overwhelming for her. Sometimes just putting on her socks for school would take an hour and she would end up in tears. Anything could set her off and she’d spend hours sobbing in her room until she passed out exhausted. She wasn’t sleeping properly and was losing weight. We ended up seeing multiple specialists and doctors over the last 12 months and nothing seemed to be helping. So in January this year I decided to join her up at Karate to try and channel some of her excessive aggression and to teach her discipline over herself and her body. We came to our first trial on the hottest day of the year and she still seemed to love it! Unfortunately, the very next day I found out that I had kidney cancer and had to have the kidney removed to try and prevent the cancer spreading.

Our world kind of came to a halt for a few months and karate got forgotten. While this was all happening Arabella’s behaviour continued to go down hill and eventually her paedeatrician wanted to prescribed her anti-anxiety medication.

Prozac for a 7 year old.

We were stunned and dismayed that it had come to this. We weighed up our options and became determined to find another way that didn’t involve medication. It turned out to be the motivating force for me to become more present as a parent since my diagnosis. I had made a full recovery and was able to try and get back to real life. I was able to start focusing more on Arabella again.

We changed her diet and implemented new ways of managing her behaviour that we previously hadn’t tried. One of the promises I made to myself, as part of this process, was to make Arabella commit to going to Karate once per week. I paid for the year in full so she (and I) had no excuses. It was a big gamble investing that much money at a time when we didn’t have a lot to spare. I didn’t even know if I’d ever be able to drag Arabella back to another class and I was worried I’d made a huge mistake.

Some weeks were really tough. The gi never “felt right” for her and she would have a meltdown trying to put it on. She would throw tantrums and tear off the gi, stomp on it and then throw it out of the car onto the ground. Sometimes we would get to Karate and have to head straight home because I physically couldn’t get her out of the car. Debbie, very kindly told us that Arabella could just wear a t-shirt and tights to class until she was ready to try the gi again. She even gave us a second hand gi hoping the softer, worn-in material would be better. But Arabella became embarrassed and refused to do that too.

Some days I wished the ground would swallow me whole because I was so mortified by her behaviour just trying to get her out of the car. Still we persevered, even when it felt hopeless and a complete waste of time.

Yet week by week I could slowly see her improving and being able to control herself better. She was starting to smile again and was doing better at home and at school. She started wearing the gi and there was minimal fuss. Tantrums and meltdowns seldom happen at all now. Arabella looks forward to Karate every week and she always wants to get there early enough to have play time on the mat.

It really struck me last week about just how far she’s come when I saw Sandra spending time with Arabella one on one. Arabella was listening, paying attention and laughing. She was having a ball. I was moved to tears watching Arabella interact with Sandra and having so much fun. You might not think that what you guys do is so significant to one person or to a whole family, but to us it’s huge. You are both very fair and firm teachers. David too. Yet you all manage to keep it fun and interesting and I think that’s why Arabella is responding so well.

You’ll never know how grateful we are that you have all been such an integral part of us getting our happy daughter back. What you’ve managed to achieve with Arabella is outstanding. Your whole team is wonderful and you should be so proud of what you do. Thank you.

Kind regards


Of course we’d love to say a big thank you to Sam for sharing this message with us and in turn allowing us to share it with the world.  We always love to hear when what we do in the dojo has such a positive effect on people’s lives.

I think on of the reasons Sam was happy for us to share this message, is because Arabella’s story of transformation might also encourage others to make a transformation of their own.  You never know, maybe someone else who’s in a similar situation may be able to relate to this and take the step of getting started at Sunshine Coast Karate.

Karate Brings Balance To Life – Tiahni & Nathan’s Story

July 1, 2013

Nathan has what you’d call a busy lifestyle.  In this day and age, that’s nothing unusual, but it’s still worth noting in order to understand how karate has changed Nathan’s life.  Nathan and his wife both work in quite demanding full-time jobs, most of the time on opposite rosters, which in itself makes life quite […]

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Cath’s Story – What Got Me Started

June 25, 2013

Recently we’ve been asking some of our members what got them started at Sunshine Coast Karate and what keeps them coming back.  Here’s the response we got from one of our karate Mum’s Cath Amos.  A few years back Cath’s husband Adam got started with us.  Then when their kids were old enough they got […]

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Words of wisdom from Sensei Sandra – New School Year, Back To Basics, When To Quit

February 1, 2013

Sensei Sandra from Sunshine Coast Karate offers a few words of wisdom sharing some of her current challenges with her own children getting back to school and the emotional roller coast that brings as routines are re-established and some of the basics are a bit of balance. At this time of the year it’s not […]

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Game On !

August 16, 2012

I’m sure by now, that all of the members of the Chito-Ryu Queensland Team have received and read the bulletin from our Sensei. I wonder if like me, other Queensland Team Members took it as a personal call to arms. The opportunity to be a member of this team is gold. I am new to […]

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It’s really nice to be a part of a genuine dojo

July 27, 2012

Sensei Sandra was doing a few emails to members the other day to catch up, and here’s a bit of an excerpt from one of the responses she received.  Thank’s Jarrad allowing us to share these kind words.  It’s really nice know that people appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes to build […]

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What’s Your Excuse?

July 26, 2012

A wise person once told me, “You can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both!” Lately when I get to the dojo for the 6am morning classes it’s been pretty cold (for the Sunshine Coast at least).  Even though I love going to the dojo I could have easily stayed […]

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Play of the Day

July 11, 2012

I had the pleasure last weekend of seeing up close and personal, some of our Sunshine Coast Karate Team jump from a perfectly good aeroplane at 14000 feet. (In reality the plane turned out to be not so perfectly good – but we will get to that!!). If you are wondering why each and any […]

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Why I study Chito-Ryu karate – Part 2.

June 29, 2012

The week just passed was a hard week. Progressively feeling really #@*&  as each day of the week followed with a head cold starting to become a chest cold that really affected me. Each class was harder. To the extent that Thursday’s mid-morning class was a real trial to participate and the end result was […]

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