Black belt and world champion in karate, Sensei Sarah Fardell VN of Wauchope Vets in NSW also teaches at her dojo.
“My dad has been involved with karate since he was a teenager and is the founder of the Mid Coast Martial Arts Academy. I grew up spending a lot of time in our academy. I first tried karate when I was seven years old but lost interest. I came back to it when I was 12 and I’ve been doing it ever since.
“At present I’m a third dan black belt and I teach at our karate centre, or dojo. I really enjoy teaching my weekly ladies-only class. The class is very much about building confidence, empowering women and furthering their fitness. It’s also a social event for a lot of the ladies.
“We run a lot of self-defence classes throughout the year and often use them as fundraisers for causes like breast cancer awareness. The best way to teach self-defence is through continuous learning, repetition and building confidence.
“Everyone thinks karate is all about breaking boards with your hands but it doesn’t actually happen very frequently. There is, however, a lot of sparring where we teach students how to fight in a controlled environment.
“We take part in tournaments called the Australian Martial Arts Championships where I also act as a referee and judge. I also compete and in 2015, I came second at the World Martial Arts Championships in Japan. We visit Japan every two years to train, enter tournaments and just tour around. It’s a really lovely country.
“I’ll be competing at an Australian tournament in Port Macquarie in August. You have to do a few regional rounds to qualify and work your way up to the state titles. From there you can qualify for the national titles. I’ve been a national champion a couple of times over the past few years.
“We have a fantastic atmosphere at our dojo and the people there have become my second family. Everyone’s really friendly and there’s a great social aspect. I really believe that every young woman should do karate at least once in their life. It will help you gain confidence and give you effective self-defence skills. I know I could protect myself if it was ever needed.
“I’ve had so much fun and joy from karate that teaching classes is a way of giving back. I have a couple of ladies who started training with me as white belts and they are about to earn their black belts this year. That makes me feel very proud.”