Mick's dragons cause a stir
MARTIAL ARTS: Ipswich's Mr Karate – Mick Blackwell – is in the process of shaking off the church hall image of martial arts.He describes his new centre on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate as being "the most equipped karate school in the south of England".
IPSWICH'S Mr Karate – Mick Blackwell – is in the process of shaking off the church hall image of martial arts.
He describes his new centre on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate as being "the most equipped karate school in the south of England".
Mick, born and bred in Ipswich, became a black belt just four years after starting at the age of 19. He then turned his interests to Korean and Japanese karate.
In 1976 and 1977 he was the British karate champion. Due to gaining these special honours, he later decided to set up his own karate school to dedicate more of his time to teaching and instructing martial arts hopefuls.
Mick started his teaching career at the Martial Arts Fitness Centre in Bond Street 25 years ago. He was successful there for 15 years and wanted to further his teaching career, so sports centres in Ipswich were his next destination.
He was again successful at this stage of his teaching and carried on instructing for four years at different centres.
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He opened the Mick Blackwell Academy in St Helen's Street four years ago before choosing to move to his current location in February this year.
At a young age, Mick wanted to box. However, his father would not allow him and advised him to take up judo instead.
For a long period of time, Mick was struggling to find a suitable location to help him build on his new interest of judo, but soon settled into a new club close to home.
Here, Mick trained with an American and gained a black belt in the ancient art of Taikwondo. Although Mick was involved more with judo at this point, he felt that he preferred his original pastime – karate.
He also thought karate had changed dramatically over the past few years and felt he needed to build on it.
Mick thinks that karate can provide a good education for youngsters as it can build up their concentration, fitness, awareness, respect and discipline, which are all-important aspects of a developing child.
His new karate centre provides tuition for all ages, with lessons for students aged from four (little dragons) to 50.
All members are taught by experienced instructors, such as Mick who has been teaching for the last 20 years.
The new centre also provides teaching for a different range of ages at the same time.
The instructors at the centre teach the traditional side of karate first, so newcomers get the basics skills and training.
The centre occasionally offers a special Black Belt Club for professionals of the art and some are invited to take part in events in the area.
As for the future, Mick hopes the new centre will offer a wider range of martial arts including Yoga and Tai Chi.
He hopes to get more people involved in the art and expand the age range of the people attending his karate centre so he can possibly run a family school on a weekly basis.
He is also aiming to get schools involved with the project and place martial arts in with physical education lessons.
Mick recommends that anyone wanting to take up martial arts should do so at an early age and says that karate is one of the best sports to take up when you are young.
He has been fighting recently in the USA and made it to the Florida Over-40s Championship.
Mick has provided tuition to Billy Brennan, Lennie Austin, Richard Vince and Gary Tricker who are all now internationals.
Currently, the centre has 300 members of whom 50 compete regularly.
Mick employs up to three part-time staff a day. These include Sonia Beattie, Selwyn Stephens, Peter Lee and Dennis Turner, who is also a world champion.