In a little industrial unit in Hampden Park, the MSK Martial Arts School, or ‘Ma-serei-kai’ are working wonders bringing the local community together.
Herald Sport visited the school during one of their Karate sessions.
Under the leadership of chief instructor or “Shihan” Ian Cooper, a 5th dan black belt, local Martial Artists come to practice their passion in an environment that is as fun as it is disciplined.
Age seems to be no boundary as young train with old, experienced with inexperienced, and there is a real sense of togetherness with everybody at the club.
You could be forgiven for forgetting they train in the art of fighting and, in fact, as Cooper explained, there is far more to the sport than might seem.
“It isn’t just a fighting art. A lot of people tend to think martial arts and Karate is all about fighting but it has a spiritual side as well. It teaches you to be a better person and I see that in a lot of my students,” he said.
His thoughts are echoed by the school’s students who love the family feel, and this is no more apparent than with father and daughter partnership, Peter and Freya Sundby who regularly train together.
“What I love about coming here is it’s a real family club, it’s a good place to be for the kids and adults,” said Peter. “It’s a very nurturing environment”. Young Freya, however, did reveal a possible ulterior motive. When asked if it was simply an excuse to beat up her dad, she jokingly replied, “Yeah probably!”
The family feel is clearly important for the club, but that’s not to say they don’t take their sport seriously.
They will embark on their first competition for nearly 10 years at a tournament in Essex next month. Samuel Ali, 9 and Freya, 10 are just two of the promising students set to compete alongside a whole host of keen young hopefuls in an event for the Rays Of Sunshine Charity, who provide wishes for terminally ill children.
Cooper can not wait for it and despite an illustrious history in competitive karate and a desire to ensure that the club come back with trophies, he is unlikely to take part himself and now gets more pleasure as a proud teacher.
“In a way it’s more of an achievement watching my young students compete as opposed to winning myself. Just for them to get out there is a wonderful thing,” he said.
For his students, Karate really seems to be way of life. And Alastair Black, who is not only an instructor at the club, but also a sponsor and a talented martial artist himself, spoke about the positive affects he has seen the sport have on people’s lives.
“It makes me very proud. I’ve seen young children grow from being bullied at school and not being able to achieve much and they’ve come and grown into Senseis (instructors) themselves.
“They can stand in front of a crowd and are now teaching people, it’s a beautiful thing. The self confidence that grows while you’re training, not just in your physical ability, but in your mental ability as well. If everybody did Karate the world would be a better place.”