In this episode of The Drive Home to Hawkesbury, Rachael speaks with Sensei Mark Lendrum from GKR Karate ~ Strong + Humble + Brave ~ about a fun in-school Karate Fit Program being held at Windsor South Public School – 77A Church St, Windsor South NSW 2756. Their goal is to teach children the basics of self-defence, how they help build the confidence of those who attend, and some great tips on how to get fit with karate including stretching and flexibility training.
Mark is the Senior Instructor and Regional Manager of Sydney. He oversees the training and administration of over 70 classes, 60 branch instructors and literally hundreds of students who train each and every week.
If you would like your children to get involved or help out in any way, please watch and share this episode to spread the community word.
I Live, Love, Hawkesbury and can’t wait to get into today’s episode.
I’m Rachael Goldsworthy, and welcome to the drive home to Hawkesbury, where I believe every home has a story and I love sharing those stories on real estate in the Hawkesbury with you. Here we share the best ways to add value to your property, and avoid the common mistakes people make when buying and selling property, and how to get the maximum return on your investment with a focus on supporting local business. I live love Hawkesbury and can’t wait to get into today’s episode with you, so let’s get started.
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening depending on what time you’re watching the drive home to Hawkesbury. I’m Rachael Goldsworthy and today I’m lucky enough to be joined by Mark Lendrum, I just punched him into the show.
How are you Mark?
Good Rachael, how are you?
Yeah good, really good. Mark, tell me a little bit where you started with the karate and GKR and a little bit of a history on that for me.
No worries. So, I started with GKR karate when I was 19 years old. I had no martial arts experience prior to that, but I used to play rugby league, and a lot of competitive sports and that kind of stuff. I had an opportunity to come in and become a member of GKR and start training in karate and, yes it’s been really great for my confidence, I was a really shy person when I first started I really hated public speaking, and that kind of thing and my confidence just sky rocketed since I started with GKR. I’ve always fantasised and had dreams of learning martial arts. I used to read the old Blitz magazines and things like that, try to learn the different moves out of there, but just for whatever reason never got involved as kid, but I’ve been training since I was 19, so I’m 28 now, so nearly 10 years of training.
I’ve seen some great videos online and you’re all very active in the karate community, and you’re obviously very talented. My little nephew does karate, little brown belt that he is, and he loves it as well. It’s a great discipline for the kids to learn and also adults to learn as well and I think it serves you well in the community if you feel, you’re walking down a dark alley, you make sure you feel safe doing that I suppose without endangering yourself.
Oh, definitely. Yeah, although I mean 65 or 70% of our students are children. But, I think adults maybe realise how beneficial it is to do some fitness training and martial arts training even in your 30’s and 40’s or even older. Some people are even training in their 70’s. I had a guy I had lunch with today, he’s an instructor with us and he started training when he was 62, and he’s about 64 now so, yeah.
Wow, yeah. And how long does it take somebody when they start karate, to go from the first belt right through to the black belt? Or whatever the belt is that you need to get to to become the master.
Yeah, great question. It depends on the individual, you know, some people are just natural at it and they can up and run with it. Some people take a long time, and it depends how often you train and that kind of stuff. If you’re serious, you take it serious, you get serious results. If you’re kind of casual about it, it’s a really GKR really too is a very community, family kind of orientated club. You know, people just come down just like being around us, and doing a bit of training, not really taking the grading and not too serious about getting a black belt, but then you get the people who are really serious about it and then
Little bit competitive, it doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s still a competitive streak in us all.
Yeah, for sure, yeah yeah definitely.
Yeah, and tell me, you’ve started a programme which is in schools and GKR seems to help the young kids in those school programmes with the karate and there’s a couple focus points that you do and what they get out of doing those programmes in schools. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Yeah, well it’s kind of started I guess over the last year, was going into public schools, and running two types of programmes. We’ve got a stranger danger safety awareness programme which goes through 10 traps to avoid when being approached by someone and how to get around those things, and we also go through, in those programmes go through three self-defense, or escape tactics I guess it’s called, like for little kids if someone grabs them and that kind of thing and how to get out of those kinds of situations. And the other one is more of like a karate fit programme, which is an ongoing, you usually go for the term, and it goes over 10 weeks, some of it is just 5 week programmes, and here with those we just go through, we sort of start small with the foundation, the basics, which is their and then we move onto more advanced things as the term goes on, but the main part of that is teaching self-defense and giving a bit of head start I guess if they want to further their karate career after.
I’ve seen some terrific videos on GKR’s Facebook site, that the kids just love it. They love turning up, it doesn’t feel like a chore to them. It doesn’t feel like it’s a “Oh, gosh, I’ve got to go to karate,” it’s they can’t wait to get to karate, and they can’t wait to get the results as a result of attending the classes with all the teachers and senseis.
Did you manage to check out the Region 2 Facebook page?
Yes, I did, and it’s so cool.
Did you watch the try not to laugh challenge?
I was going to say, the laughing challenge or the, you know, the win. It had me in stitches, I think even the photographer and videographer behind the scenes, she was struggling to keep a straight face as well.
Yeah, Natasha, she’s one of our students as well and I think she enjoyed it a lot too.
Big shout out to Natasha, she had a lot of fun and a big shout out to everybody from GKR and those people that are watching online and if anybody’s got any questions and they want to interact as we’re going through the broadcast, feel free to put them on the screen, we’re happy to get Mark to answer those questions and anything that you might have in regards to karate. So, in regards to the school programmes, is there some way that people can help out with those, because I know it’s only a small donation that might help a child be able to do these courses. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Yeah, well, the last few we’ve been running, we’ve got sponsorships from external companies to run the programme so it actually cost the children at those schools nothing, and it cost the school nothing as well so that’s a bonus. It’s probably as little as $2-3 per child to do a 5 week course. So it’s really not that much and it can help get kids through their stuff, and we really I guess rely on those companies to funding those things so we can run them to their full ability as well.
And you’re doing one in the Hawkesbury at the moment aren’t you? You’re just about to start a programme?
Yeah, we’re just about to kick off 2. We’ve got 1 at Hobartville Public School, which is great, I think they’ve got about 400 students there, so we’re going to be running that a whole day actually, so we’re going to be spending all of Thursday there, it’s just in term 4, so we’re spending all of Thursday there just teaching every one of them karate basics and stuff so it’s going to be a massive day, a lot of fun. And the other one is Windsor South Public School, so we ran one there term 4 last year, and it was massive, it was really really good. That was a 6 week course there, and it was awesome.
I think the kids just love it, and they love being there with their mates and just learning and just sort of playing a bit of team sport together and working out how to do one on one challenges. What do you find with karate is the most challenging for people that want to start?
Good question. I guess maybe seeing themselves as being someone who can do it. Seeing themselves wearing the white outfit and the belt and badge and that kind of stuff. Maybe they feel like it’s a bit beyond them to do and maybe they don’t have the self belief to stand up in front of a group and do the training I guess, but once you start doing it you see some success and you start feeling like “I’m getting the hang of this” and you see the overall health benefits of doing it, you stick around longer and you form a relationship with the instructor and they kind of coach you and guide you and try to get you to each of those belts and levels and hopefully one day you can even get a black belt.
Yeah, absolutely. It seems to me, with what you do and what the team at GKR do, is a real sense of belonging, and a real sense of community. Would that be right?
Oh, definitely. Yeah, GKR karate massive family club, as moms and dads are trying together, with their kids and grandparents as well. There was a tournament a couple years ago and there was a thing called a team kata and kata is basically like a pattern of moves where, it’s sort of like a dance routine, but basically in this team kata there was three generations, so those three people in the team kata, so they had a granddaughter, the mom, and the grandmother doing a kata together and they won a bronze medal at the tournament.
Nice to have the generations through the family and obviously they’re getting a lot out of it, and not only that, you all get to train and have fun together and get on the field together. What do you call it, the mat? Is it the mat in karate?
Yeah, well you can train on the mats if you’re doing like a tournament, sparring, that kind of thing you want to use those, but we mostly train on hardwood floors.
I think you’re a bit of an iron man behind the scenes or even on the scenes with your Facebook page and what you do, but what sort of training does somebody like you have to do to keep as fit as you are and win what you do?
That’s a good question too, I had a couple people ask me that question not long ago, like the last few days. “What do you do to keep your strength up?” I think it should be a rule for yourself, I mean when I go to the gym I don’t like going there, sometimes I don’t like going to the gym, sometimes I don’t like waking up and going to work out that kind of thing. And sometimes I don’t like training, but once you’ve made a decision to do that, now the new excitement is the discipline of doing it every day. It’s a really rare day if I don’t exercise.
I think, too, it’s all about aligning our behaviours with where we want to be, because if we set a goal that we want to be fit or we want to be the best sensei or we want to be the best trainer in karate, you can’t do that by sleeping in, you can’t do that by eating hamburgers and chips for lunch and by not doing the exercise that you need to do. You’ve got to be disciplined I would imagine, and just set those, that ideal week and just go for it.
What you mentioned with the iron man thing, though, that was actually, someone took the photo on the right, which is me. Someone actually made that up from a tournament we had last year at the end of the year, and I did a kata, just the performance, and someone stole that photo and put it next to the iron man kind of doing a similar thing mashed it up and sent it to me. So, I stole that and yeah, I don’t think anyone calls me iron man or anything, I just did the video to be fun.
Well I’ve seen some of the videos and you look pretty iron man to me and you’re out there doing lots of things for the crew there. Who is Mark? And family? Those sorts of things, are they all involved in karate as well?
Yeah, my daughter, she’s six and she tends to tag long to class and that kind of thing. She doesn’t train so much and get involved in the process of doing the grades and that kind of thing. Her and I occasionally spar, and kick and just muck around that kind of stuff. I think sometimes, when you try to be tough, and play that role, that sensei role in the class, you know, I’ve had my daughter come and train with me before, and she gets freaked out because sometimes I’ll be a bit of a different person teaching. So she’s like, “why is dad angry at me?”
Yeah, and yet you’re just putting on that iron man mask that you have to do, and part of what you are on the field or on the mat as you say.
I think she knows how laid back and how fun I am at home. Especially when you’ve got large classes with kids, adults, everyone, that you can’t, you know we have fun, and we get casual a bit too, but you gotta have that serious look sometimes, otherwise kids can, you know you give them an inch and they take a mile kind of thing, and they think everything’s okay.
And, for those that are watching that don’t know, what is a sensei, and how do you become one?
A sensei is a coach, or a teacher, and to become one with GKR, you need to be super keen, super passionate. You don’t have to have the best karate technique, but you gotta have a real passion for helping people, and passion for your karate and train really frequently, and have big goals and that kind of thing. I guess have good communication skills, and be able to communicate that with other people to help them get to where you’re at. Each of those people that we select, go through a 6 week intensive training programme, and then at the end of that, hopefully come out with their sensei degree, and they start helping out in classes for a bit and then one day getting up to teaching their own classes.
Okay, that’s terrific. And how long would it take somebody to get to that point?
Again, I guess it depends on the individual and their background. Going from scratch, with a good personality, probably a year and a half, two years, of good training to start to help out in classes and teaching and that kind of thing. In region 2, which it has split up into regions, my region is region 2, we’ve got around 80, 86 instructors who teach nearly 60 classes throughout the region. And all those guys are volunteers, and they volunteer their time each week to teach those classes, and help the students get to the next level, and I help them get to the next level.
That’s terrific. And the regions that you cover, you talk about region 2, where do you go from in 2, and is this region 1?
Yeah, good question. So, region 2 is probably the largest region in GKR geographically we go from Katoomba all the way through Cherrybrook and Castle Hill and that kind of thing so, it’s a big area with about 34 suburbs that we’re in and 60 classes in those 34 suburbs, and it’s a big thing and we’ve got a big responsibility I guess with that big area to bring high quality self-defense classes and karate classes you know martial arts classes to those people.
Yeah, for sure. And so if somebody wanted to get involved with GKR, they wanted to start becoming either a sensei or even start with the basics, and just get the first belt down pat, how would they get in contact with you, who do they need to speak to?
Yeah, probably the best bet would be to call me directly, I’m not sure if we can share my number maybe in the comments.
I can share your number, please tell me what your number is and I’ll type it in.
04 50 86 1018. So, my name’s Mark and I’m the region manager in Sydney, karate instructor for Sydney region 2. The other thing they can do is jump on the GKRkarate.com website and just send an inquiry through the, fill out like location tracker, or location finder and just find the closest location, you can send an inquiry in and details in somebody will contact you and get your local classes.
Now that’s great. And with Mother’s Day coming up, we always love to reward those special moms that do so much for us. In the karate world, how can we help the moms that want to get fit or just continue their karate journey?
Yeah, definitely, I mean like you and I discussed before we went live, and you know, any mom who would like to get involved between now and their Mother’s day, we’d be happy to organise a free membership and some free gear and stuff to get them trained and say thank you for being an awesome mom. And you get them training and if they have an interest in it, they can take it further and like you said they can become a sensei or a senpai and things like that.
What’s a senpai in comparison to a sensei?
A senpai is an assistant instructor. Well, actually one of my really good instructors is Davy Wujay and he told me that sensei means big brother and senpai means little brother, and shihan, which is, actually the definition of shihan, which is a top instructor is classified as an expert in karate, so shihan is actually like father. So you have a shihan, sensei and senpai, so it’s like a family, and teaching classes with family as well.
I was just going to say that it sort of basically resembles a hierarchy of a family and big little brother and looking out for one another and somebody who’s the an expert and mom and dad sort of looking over the clan and making sure that everybody’s holding steady and on the right path in life. Well, it’s been great to speak to you today, I’ll put the links up as well for people to find GKR karate, but I really appreciate your time and if anybody wants to you know GKR karate and putting some money towards some of the programmes for the schools, if you’re a business and you’d like to support locally to the Hawkesbury or to any of the region 1 or 2 for GKR I’m sure Mark would love to hear from you. I really appreciate everybody being online today and quite a few people who have been online, and we like to say hello to everybody and if you’ve got any other questions that you can’t get through to Mark and you want to speak to me and I can shoot them across to Mark, I’d be happy to do so. So, thanks again Mark, really appreciate your time and look forward to catching up with you on the next episode.
No worries, thank you so much.
Talk soon. Bye.
See you later. Bye bye.
Thank you so much for taking time out, listening to today’s episode. If you have any questions on the process of buying, selling, leasing or management, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, and I’d really appreciate it if you could spread the word by liking and sharing this episode with your family and friends. I’m Rachael Goldsworthy and I look forward to catching up with you on the next episode of the drive home to Hawkesbury.