In an attempt to get closer to Karate’s roots, members of E.S.K.K travelled to Japan and trained with some of the highest-level black belts in the world.

E.S.K.K Martial Arts and Fitness provide classes and workshops across the West Cumbria area including Whitehaven, Workington, Cockermouth and Cleator Moor. Rather than run a permanent gym, head coach Chris Denwood looks to travel to pupils, renting out various venues in the area.

Thirteen Cumbrian members of the dojo made the trip to the island of Okinawa, along with pupils of their sister branch in Malta. The team included students of all levels and ages from 16 to 65. Denwood’s team were given ten days of hands-on instruction by Okinawa black belts.

Eldest among the group was John Hopkins, 65 but with only a year’s experience under his belt. Hopkins found the trip to be an eye-opening experience. “This was both an unforgettable and emotional trip to the spiritual home of karate. Working with some of the top teachers was an incredible experience and I feel very lucky to have been a part of it.”

The visit was an exchange of teaching as Denwood had the opportunity to impart his own knowledge. “I’ve been to Okinawa four times. This one was probably the most rewarding. Great for someone from the UK to teach in the birthplace.” It was not all hard work, the trip included ”A lot of sightseeing…aimed around karate history”. They visited “old karate training grounds from bygone days.”

The west Cumbrian gym’s journey to the island of Okinawa coincided with World Karate Day. The tradition sees Dojos in Okinawa performing in the street, it is considered a great honour to be selected as a gym’s representative. Denwood, having gained the respect of the Japanese black belts, was selected by a prestigious dojo to represent them.

E.S.K.K members feel the visit was a spiritual experience in which they felt closer to Karate’s heritage. “I feel very privileged to have been given such an amazing opportunity and even more so to have been able to share it with my students.”