The journey to representing England
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Sophie Powell — 2 comments
The journey so far
As I embark on my quest to become KSI World Champion this year (for which I am kindly being sponsored and supported by my employer Venn Group), I wanted to take some time to reflect on how I got to where I am today in karate and my career so far.
The story so far…
My mom and dad met doing karate and so karate for me is a family affair. I started Kimura Shukokai Karate aged six with my parents support, along with my instructor at the time Sensei Solfrid Daniels, I fully embraced the karate spirit and dedicated the rest of my childhood to training and competing both nationally and internationally (where I was fortunate enough to win multiple national, european and world medals) before taking a break at the age of 18 when I set off for university.
When I returned from university in 2014, I joined Venn Group and, at the time, I didn’t really know much about recruitment at all! I started as a Consultant on the Public Sector Finance Team and, despite my complete lack of knowledge about all things finance recruitment, it didn’t take me long to find my feet and start placing roles with some of the biggest public sector clients in the Midlands.
About a year into my career at Venn Group, after relocating to the Birmingham, I decided to take up Kimura Shukokai Karate again this time training under Shihan Eddie Daniels (9th Dan KSI World Chief Instructor) at the Portway Shukokai Karate Club in Oldbury. At first, I trained only when I felt I could “fit it in” and I struggled massively with my motivation to want to train after a day’s work (you can ask my flatmate at the time – she must have heard every excuse under the sun!). However, after being encouraged by my coaches to try out the annual HQ competition, and coming away with a silver medal, I rediscovered the drive and determination that I possessed as a young teenage karateka and started to successfully juggle full-time work with regular training.
The Juggling Act:
When I started increasing my training, a lot of people asked me “how do you juggle karate and work?” and the answer was and is simple: I enjoy both work and karate so if I can physically do both then I will. However, the truth is there are many similarities between the two that have enabled me to somehow intertwine them within my busy week.
Team work: As I rather cringingly say to my colleagues on a regular basis “team work makes the dream work!” but the reality is in karate and recruitment at Venn Group it does! Working at Venn Group is unique in the fact we work on a shared team commission structure which means as much as we all want to place our own jobs and be successful, we also want the people around us to succeed as well; essentially, we all have one shared goal and business objective. Karate is no different; yes, we have individual events but above all we are a team and we push each other to better our performances in training and cheer on each other’s victories in competition.
Competition: Which leads nicely onto my next point, that both sport karate and recruitment are massively competitive. Karate is self-explanatory in this sense; we compete for our club and country to win medals and titles. But with work, there is no better thrill for me than feeling like I am going head to head with another consultancy – I will want to win.
Dedication and resilience: This is something that I naturally brought with me when I started recruitment as a result of doing karate for most my life. “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again” is something that has always been ingrained into my being. To become an international champion, you must put in the time and more importantly you must accept that the journey to winning a gold medal isn’t going to be easy. Ultimately those who will succeed in the long-term are those that are willing to take things on the chin, move on and try again!
Talking of moving on, what’s next? Well, the juggling act continues and from now until the world championships I will give my all to reach those career milestones and karate goals that I have been working towards by continuing with successful team work and unleashing my competitive spirit, dedication and resilience along the way.
Next up for me is the Shukokai Karate Federation National Championships this Saturday 17th March 2018 where I will be hoping to win medals in four individual and team events. Then it is a series of regional competitions, world courses, training seminars, morning gym sessions, weekend squad trainings, team social events and (much to my dismay) early morning running sessions before heading off to Sweden on 16th July this year.
I would like to say thanks once again to Venn Group for supporting me on this journey, to my karate club and instructors at Portway Shukokai Karate Club and to the SKF England Karate Squad and Shihan Daniels for giving me this amazing opportunity to compete for my country once again.
I will be keeping you all updated along the way with training updates and competition match reports, so watch this space!