When you think about sports and sporting champions in Bath, you might be quick to overlook martial arts. But one martial arts club in particular which prides itself on its medal-winning coaches is the University of Bath Karate Club (UBKC). Just last month, one coach, Ali Nyoni, was crowned British International Open Champion for the third year running.
Ali Nyoni is many things: A 5th dan (grade) black belt. A World and European Masters medallist. A three-time England team champion. He also holds international titles from representing his native Zimbabwe, and several other regional and national titles. In addition to this, he is, alongside Jim McCafferty, one of the club’s coaches with over 20 years of top level fighting and coaching experience. Ali joined as a regular coach last year and leads the training sessions every Sunday which focus on the Karate discipline of “kumite”.
Kumite is one of the main sections of karate (the other being “kata”, a series of technique and movement routines) and focuses on sparring against an opponent. Power and control – and power with control – are developed, as well as discipline and clean strikes for maximum effectiveness. Punching (“tsuki”) and kicking (“geri”) techniques are taught and worked on, and can be implemented in kumite tournaments, as well as for general self-defence. In a typical Sunday session, Ali uses a variety of drills and demonstrations in order to train the club – be it black belt or somebody’s very first session.
The karate calendar culminates at the BUCS Championships every February. Thanks to training with a champion, the Karate Club experienced success as champions and took home 5 medals including 2 gold Kumite medals last year.
“Seriously…we are very, very lucky to have him,” says Social Secretary Andrea “Tina”, who has been doing karate since last year. “He’s a G – i.e. he’s awesome” adds Andrei, who only recently joined UBKC. Andy Woodford, Men’s Captain, nicely summarises with: “train with the champions to be a champion!”. Upon asking members of UBKC about Ali, it doesn’t take much to discover that there’s a lot of love for him within the club, and rightly so. To watch him in action is to witness a world class pro doing a sport he loves, and coaching a sport he cherishes.
So why does Ali enjoy coaching at Bath so much? “I like to compete and I like to win. I’ve been doing karate for many years and want to pass something on. Bath is a winning team.”
UBKC runs four training sessions per week and caters to people of all abilities. To find out more about karate, visit www.bathstudent.com/sport/clubs/karate or email James Weber (Chair of UBKC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos credited James Weber