How my Career Developed

10 December 2011, Written by: Soon Pretorius

It has een a long road. Senseis Eddie Kannemeyer and Norman Robinson visited my primary school in 1965 to demonstrate an art from the Far East that had been unknown to the general public at that stage.

Their demonstration triggered my interest and I ventured the first training session. The next number of years’ training was rather vague but I do remember the 5 cent coin my mother would give me for the long trek to the dojo twice a week.

The 3km journey by foot in the afternoons seemed short for the award of an ice-cream cone enjoyed afterwards. Karate had become part of my daily routine from a young age with very little reward but the occasional grading and a new belt as incentive. I can recall a competition in Germiston where my presentation of Tekki Shodan deemed to suffice for top honours. My karate career continued in high school under the watchful eye of Sensei Koos Burger when my parents decided to relocate to Pretoria. I enjoyed training under this gentle disciplinarian with an unquestionable set of values. It was during my university days that I matured under Sensei Braam Peens in Potchefstroom and then Sensei Ken Woodstock from Randfontein.

In 1978 at the national karate tournament in Durban Sensei Norman Robinson invited me back to training at his dojo in Joburg. This had been very tough training with the late Chris Hauptfleish, Bruce and Wayne Smith and Charles Bechenstrater as sparring partners. I continued training with this maestro for many years and found the early morning drive to Joburg very relaxing. It was more than 45 years later that my career as a student of Karate-do led to the infamous instructor’s class at the JKA Honbu dojo in Joburg. In the early hours of Thursday mornings, nothing keeps me away from this training with little regard for seniority in years. The training is uncompromising and rigid in many ways. The instructor (mostly Sensei Johan la Grange) would always train with the class setting a hard pace. Content of teaching will always include kata, kumite and kihon at an advanced level. I do believe that this is karate. On a number of occasions, senior class members like Bruce Smith, Wayne Smith and Charles Bechenstrater took the morning class with an extreme competence based on personal understanding. It is refreshing to experience such wealth of knowledge in a single class.

The skill and proficiency in our city is represented by individuals will superb technical abilities but also a softness evident in their teaching proficiency. John Rust, Jaap Janse van Rensburg, Simone Roig, Paul Botha, Golda Gurrirab and Tererai Mafuku must be praised and complimented for their teaching flair.