Charlotte (Charlie) Hedley, a Customer Services Co-ordinator in our University Library and Collections department, coordinates day to day customer services tasks and our Library Disability Support services. Outside of work, Charlie is a qualified instructor of Shotokan Karate.
We spoke to her about her hidden talent and her time teaching and training at local clubs four days a week.
Tell us about your hobby...
I am a 2nd Dan student and qualified instructor of Shotokan Karate. I have been training for about eight and a half years, and regularly train and teach at several classes over four days each week. Classes are of varying ages; my club teaches from age four and up so we have a wide variety of students!
I regularly oversee the club quarterly gradings (an examination where students are awarded their new belts) and attend practical hands-on seminars when I can. I have occasionally taken part and placed in local amateur competitions and have judged in-house competitions with my club.
I proudly achieved my 2nd Dan on 2 December 2023 after an incredibly intense three-hour grading.
How did you get into karate?
I first tried Karate when I was around nine years old, give or take, and I actually hated it! I had two taster classes and decided it wasn’t for me. It was only when I was in my late teens that I realised it was something I wished I had kept up. I decided to give it another go in 2015. I was 22 then and my young nephew had started classes some weeks before. One day when I took him and sat in on the class, the first words the chief instructor ever said to me were ‘Do you fancy giving it a go?’. The rest is history.
It was a challenge to take on a martial art as an adult, but the instructors were really welcoming, helpful and extremely knowledgeable. It was great for my fitness, and I seemed to pick up the techniques quickly, so everything fell into place from there.
Why is karate important to you?
In the many years I’ve been training, Karate has helped to improve my confidence, and I have an amazing group of supportive friends, both in and out of the dojo. It’s also a great channel for relieving stress – not in terms of destroying a kick shield (or a person!) through aggression, but the concentration required at classes is a great distraction tool.
Karate, along with many other martial arts, is still heavily male dominated. When you think about famous martial artists, do you immediately think of any women? Karate is such an empowering sport and environment for women, and I think it’s so important to promote this. Like most clubs, my club overall has more male members, however, we currently have more female members who have achieved their black belts, which is something I take great pride in as a female Karateka.