THERE will be quite a few candles on Athy Karate Club’s birthday cake for 2018, with the group celebrating its 45th anniversary this year
The club was founded by Mick Aldridge and John Holligan back in 1973 – the pair had previously trained in Carlow and decided they wanted to find somewhere a little closer to home. In the intervening years, the club has moved premises quite a few times but has held classes upstairs in the ARCH for a number of years for both senior and junior members.
“We started out as a senior karate club and the juniors happened in the last ten or 15 years. Both clubs are going very well and I have a few black belts under my name now after all the years, which is a good achievement,” said Mr Aldridge. “I was never interested in field sports or anything like that, but there was something about the karate that caught my eye … I really enjoyed the training, the discipline and all that sort of thing.”
While members took part in competitions in the early years, these days the club is focused on training, particularly for the younger members. Karate is a great way for young people to get active and gain strength, both physically and mentally, and they’re supported at Tuesday night classes by black belts Shane Kinsella, Shane Kinsella Senior, Tadhg McMahon and Gerard Eustace.
“It gives them an idea of a bit of discipline and respect and how to deal with problems – to deal with adversity and build up a bit of resilience,” said Mr Aldridge.
Athy Jiu Jitsu is also going strong at 23 years’ old this year. In search of a challenge, Mr Aldridge came across the Brazilian form of this martial art and set up a club in 1995. Members meet for two-hour classes three times a week on Sundays, Tuesday and Wednesday nights (for sparring), aided by Andrew McConville, the first black belt to develop under Mr Aldridge’s guidance.
“It’s just something that has caught the eye of people, especially young guys,” he said.
A celebration night is on the cards for the end of the year to mark these milestones, although any event will be low key.
“We’re not big into big publicity events; we just like people to come up and train,” said Mr Aldridge. “Just come up and train and go home happy – that’s basically it.”