Nancy Randall, 53, is a resident of Uncasville and a black belt who studies Shotokan-style martial arts at . She has been practicing martial arts for the past seven years, and enjoys the challenge of continual improvement the sport offers.
In her spare time, Randall enjoys hiking, gardening, backyard bird watching, quilting and kayaking.
Q: How did you become interested in the martial arts?
A: I first started kicking and punching about 10 years ago in a cardio-kickboxing class at a karate dojo. There was a guy in class who practiced karate and I admired how gracefully and efficiently he moved. Also, my husband was already practicing karate so I decided to join them.
What would you recommend to someone who is on the fence about trying martial arts, or someone who is a beginner?
To someone who is on the fence I would say definitely try it. There's nothing to lose from the experience.
However, I would suggest researching the kind of martial art they want to do. What kind of contact do they want? Do they want to wrestle on the floor? What kind of movements do they want to do?
In Shotokan Karate our movements are big and powerful. Their purpose is to defeat a real attacker with one devastating blow. When practicing in class we have contact, but are careful about not hurting each other. We learn how to fall but our objective is to stay on our feet.
To the beginner I would say congratulations for taking on a considerable challenge! Enjoy your training -- it will be very rewarding. You don't have to be the best, just do your personal best. When I first started training I was concerned that I wasn't progressing as fast as I should be. My Sensei told me that if I was doing my best I was exactly where I should be. I think back on that often.
What are the health benefits of practicing the martial arts?
There are many health benefits that come from simultaneously training the body and mind. The stances, kicks, punches and blocks we learn develop strength, agility, efficient breathing and mind-body coordination. Training is a great stress reducer. The time spent practicing is totally focused so it's time away from the worries and frustrations of the day. Plus we get to yell!
What benefit has the regular practice of the martial arts brought to your own life?
Training has made me stronger in my body and mind. It's an activity that my husband and I enjoy doing together. Being a part of a large organization provides the opportunity to be involved in events attended by members of other clubs and I've met some of the nicest, smartest and most respectful people.
What is your favorite part of practicing martial arts?
My favorite martial arts activity is kata, which are the forms we learn. A kata is a sequence of specific movements designed to practice defence against multiple attackers. I especially enjoy team kata where three or four people practice the same kata simultaneously with the objective of achieving the same timing.