Niall McKenna, Arts Editor
QUB Student Andrew Mills is heading to Crawley, England, to compete in the European Shotokan Karate-Do Championship.
Mills, who studies Applied Mathematics, will be heading to England in November to compete in the ESKA Championship, which runs 27th-29th of November. A third dan black belt in shotokan karate, Mills will be competing in both kata (set patterns of moves) and kumite (sparring). Shotokan is the most widely practised style of karate, a weaponless martial arts founded on the basic techniques of punching, kicking, striking and blocking. As much focus is placed on the mind as on the body however, its participants taught to observe principles promoting respect, compassion, patience and both inward and outward calmness.
Shotokan is also intended to develop the character of its participants, helping them to realise and expand their mental and physical limits. In Mill’s case it has been highly successful; training since the age of 12 and competing since 14 he has won both the Northern Ireland championships and the All-Ireland championships. He has placed 2nd and 3rd in the British Grand Slam Championships and 2nd in the Shotokan Cup, a UK-wide competition. On top of this he also has 2 Golds at Junior Level and a Bronze at Senior Level from the World Karate Confederation.
To this burgeoning list of awards Mills can add Ballymoney Sportsman of the Year, which he has just won. Commenting on this Mills said that ‘I’ve taught and trained in Ballymoney all my life, and I’m very proud to have been recognised by my hometown’.
‘Karate can sometimes go unrecognised as it’s not an Olympic sport’ he stated.
No doubt Mills has a competitive side, but he says that this is not the only reason he practises karate. ‘I do enjoy the competitive aspect but I also find that it’s a really great way to clear your head. When you’re performing karate, it’s simply about the karate and nothing else’ he said.
Mills has just returned from Poland where he competed in the WSKC (World Shotokan Karate-Do Championship). In this he reached the third round in kumite before being put out. ‘I was pleased with this’ he said, ‘but I’m hoping to go further in my next competition. Last year in the European Championships I placed in the top sixteen in the Over-21’s there last year, and this November I’m hoping to either match that or go even further’.
‘This will be my first year competing solely in this category, I’m feeling pretty good about it’.
The Gown wishes Andrew all the best in his upcoming competition.