FIVE members of Dunmow Kyokushinkai Karate Club are gearing up to fight for their country in 2013.

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Senpai Lia Howlett, 36, will compete in the World Championships in April at the K2 Centre in Crawley while Luke Stubbs, 11, Tara Divall, 14, Josie Smith, 15, and Amber Morris, 14 – all from Helena Romanes School – have all been selected to fight for England in Switzerland in March.

For Howlett, who won the British Championship heavyweight crown in ‘03, ‘08, ‘09 and 2011, this is her second run at the World Championships having failed to place in the top four at her last attempt.

And it is potentially her final full-contact tournament as she ponders retirement from competitive fighting.

For the club’s younger fighters, hopes are high as Divall, Smith and Morris finished in first place at the British Championships in November – a non-contact clicker tournament – crowning them as the best team in Britain.

Shihan Andrew Turner said: “I’m delighted for them to be selected to fight for Great Britain and England. They have all worked hard and deserve this chance.”

The call-ups are the latest in a long line of successes for the club, which was established in 1985, and Shihan Andrew believes there is potential for more champions in the town.

“We started in the Foakes Hall and on the first session we had 60 students. We haven’t dropped below that number – there is between 30 and 40 children here every Tuesday and Thursday,” he said.

“We have loads of kids coming along but we are struggling to encourage adults. There are a lot of young adults who regularly go to the gym so there is the potential for a lot of talented karate players.

“It doesn’t matter what age or ability you are, karate is for everyone.”

Shihan Andrew believes people are discouraged because they believe karate doesn’t involve bag work, but punching and kicking pads is an important part of Karate training, he explained.

“Kyokushinkai Karate is very much a discipline – it is known as the strongest karate because of its full contact competitions for adults,” he said. “It’s a philosophy, a process of building yourself up and building your strength – it might take four, five or even six years to do but it makes you very physically and mentally strong.

“It’s also good for building fitness, great for confidence and we’re a friendly club where you can meet new friends.”

To encourage more members, the club is hosting a beginner’s course on March 26, which includes a month’s free membership. The juniors’ (7-15-year-olds) start at 6pm at the leisure centre. The seniors’ session starts at 8pm at the Arts Centre. For more information, contact Shihan Andrews on andrew.turner4@tesco.net or 07974 094925.

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