Friday, September 23, 2016

Boxing, training and being filmed: Bianca Elmir


Australian champion boxer Bianca 'Bam Bam' Elmir, who spoke to me on this blog, took the brave decision to allow a film-crew follow her path towards the World Championships in Astana earlier this year.

This is the latest trailer for that documentary - boxing, being a woman in boxing, being a Muslim woman in boxing ...

Follow Bianc's training adventures on Bianca Bam Bam Elmir on Facebook

Bam Bam Trailer from Jemma van Loenen on Vimeo.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Kyokushin Karate champion who just couldn't give up ...

Aneta Meskauskiene karate women in sport

GUEST POST!! Arlette Maotie Bomahou is a martial arts fan and blogger in Dublin - she spoke to Karate champion Aneta Meskauskiene about her addiction to Kyokushin Karate. Aneta is Currently 17th in the Kyokushin World Rankings table 2015 and holder of a 2nd Dan Black belt.:

Meet the amazing 30 year old Lithuanian and now Ireland resident World Champion in Kyokushin Karate, Aneta Meskauskiene, mother of two and wife with a full time job at Accenture.

''At present, I am 30 years old, a mother of 2 amazing boys, a full time employee with Accenture (which are also actively sponsoring me) – working on Google projects, a wife, and a student. Keeping up with my busy lifestyle is not easy…but it is very rewarding! I set clear priorities and there is simply no time for feeling blue or for indeed for any wistful sense of nostalgia.''

I had the privilege of doing a training session with Aneta to get an insight into her sport and see the champion herself in action. I was so impressed with her skills, her focus and determination.

She has been involved in Kyokushin Karate for several years now and has represented Ireland in many international competitions. Her best results to date are: 2nd place in the World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria and 3rd place in the recent World Championship in Khabarovsk, Russia.

Childhood Training

Aneta started Kyokushin Karate in 1993 when she was only 7 years old. With an historical background Aneta discovered karate after her parents moved from Russia to Lithuania which at the time had only gained its independence from Russia. It was a tough time and the country was offering very few opportunities. Her parents decided to enroll her in the local karate club to boost her self-confidence, and also to help her learn Lithuanian. They thought it would be a great way to make new friends.

Soon after, she started to compete in Lithuanian national competitions. Her former coach Gintaras Cemnalianskis told her she had rare potential and a promising future.

When turning 14-15 there were issues in her personal life to deal with including arguments with parents and coaches. She then took the decision to walk away from her beloved sport.

"During adolescence…lots of things (including my sport) had to go by the wayside. Numerous arguments and heated debates later (with my parents, my coach, and indeed myself!) I finally decided that the sport was no longer a priority for me…so I stopped."

She made the best of those 10 years away from Karate and didn't waste anytime.

"I finished school, started college, moved to Ireland, met my future husband, finished my Bachelor Degree in Law, started my Masters in Financial Markets, and had two wonderful children. Yet, despite all my achievements I still felt deep down that something was missing throughout all that time.

"So straight after giving birth to my second child while being on maternity leave, I decided that I needed to get back into shape, karate being the obvious choice. I couldn’t actually imagine getting involved in any other sport other than karate. So I set out to find another local club in my husband's hometown of Anyksciai (as I spent my maternity leave in Lithuania) and here my story resumed."

I personally suffer after two weeks break from weight training so I can only relate to what Aneta has gone through.

When she tried to reach out to her former sport buddies she found out that they had either become coaches, teachers or had stopped practicing years ago like herself. Thanks to the support from her new coach Eugenijus Silaika and by literally taking one step at a time she managed to achieve her brown belt and to strive for a higher rank black belt.

She even took part in her full contact knockdown tournament in Holland that year. Although she lost the fight she felt accomplished and proud of herself. Coming after a 10 year break, competing in her first year back was an achievement in itself.

Ireland was back on the map! When her maternity leave came to an end she had to resume her full time job (Harvey Norman at the time). She was determined to keep practicing and competing. Finding the perfect Kyokushin club in Dublin and great coaches Shihan Kevin Callan (Head of Kyokushin Ireland) and Shane Mulhall (National Knockdown Squad coach) ultimately contributed to her sports career here in Ireland.

Aneta speaks highly of her coaches and mentors:

"They saw my strengths and my potential while at the same time highlighting areas which I needed to improve on. Most importantly they believed in me and gave me confidence."

Some of Aneta's titles:

02/02/2013 - Scottish Open - Glasgow 1st place
04/04/2013 - 4th IFK World Tournament 2013 , 5th- 8th place
29/06/2013 - BKK Regional, Dunmow, Essex, England 1st place
04/10/2013 - KWU World Championships - Sofia, Bulgaria, 2nd place
23/11/2013 - BKK Open, 6th Incorporating Cup of Europe, Crawley, England 3rd place
29/11/2014 IFK European Open Sofia, Bulgaria, 2nd place
09/05/2015 BKK English Open, London, England, 2nd place
03/ 10/ 2015 KWU World Championships - Khabarovsk, Russia, 3rd place
17/10/2015 - 39th British Open and 7th Incorporating Cup of Europe, Crawley, England - 1st place
11/06/2016 KWU European Tournament - Belgrade, Serbia - 3rd Place


Aneta Meskauskiene women in sport karate

Training Sessions 


Can you believe that she has only been actively training again for 5 years now. Her training regime is insane, just to give you an insight into what she does to grab all those titles:
her training sessions varies from 3 times per week up to 11 times per week depending on upcoming competitions and essentially her goals.

"In the mornings I would train with Dave Hedges of the Wild Geese Martial Arts Centre. He helps me to improve my strength, power and endurance. One day per week I would have a sparring session in the Kokoro MMA Club with lads who are practicing various styles of Martial Arts such as MMA, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing etc. While there, I can try out different techniques and combinations I earned with my coaches during the evening sessions. So when people say that Karate is not just a sport, it is a way of life – I believe they are right. They know what they are talking about."

Aneta believes that Kyokushin Karate has several benefits which would include: discipline, respect, art, fitness, empathy, and motivation.

She also feels that it's beneficial for both men and women.

Aneta said: "Especially for all women out there, as it gives you confidence, raises fitness levels, and strengthens your physical and mental health without taking away your femininity, and in particular for children - not only because the sport improves fitness levels, full body strength and flexibility (thus setting them on a path to a brighter future without crippling injuries or ailments), but it also prepares children for life – making them more confident, resilient, respectful, and disciplined individuals and members of society.

"This, I believe, can contribute greatly in confronting and dealing effectively with bullying or being bullied highlighting yet another positive side of the sport."

Read more from Arlette on her blog The Beauty and the Bar

Arlette walking the walk and training with Aneta Meskauskiene for this piece!

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