Army spouse Andria Denton tells Army&You why karate is a great way to escape the stresses of military life…

IF YOU had said to me eight months ago that I would study karate, I’d have laughed so hard I’d have had a six-pack in minutes!

After yet another move I found my confidence taking a blow so I decided I needed to do something about it. I always had an interest in martial arts but never thought I could do it. I was wrong. I went to my first class full of nerves but I absolutely loved it.

The huge obstacle I had to overcome was the kiai (the loud shout). I simply couldn’t do it for weeks. Eventually, I realised that I stood out more by not doing it – a bit like wearing clothes on a nudist beach!

Summoning all my courage during one class I had a strong word with myself and just did it. Now it’s a part of my karate and there’s no stopping me.

I’ve met some lovely people from all walks of life and made lasting friendships with my fellow karate-ka. I took my first grading last September and was very proud of myself when I received my 9th Kyu (orange belt). Since then I’ve taken my second grading and received my 8th Kyu (red belt).

Studying karate isn’t limited to the dojo. While I’m waiting for the kettle to boil I’ll practice my kata or stances, and sometimes I “punch” my way from one room to another. I’ve turned into a real karate bore and I’m sure my friends switch off when I harp on about it!

Karate has given me a real focus enabling me to take quality time out to switch off from the issues and worries that come with Army life. The downside will be another posting and finding a new dojo to train in, so it might take me much longer to get my black belt – but I won’t give up!

What do you do to escape the stresses of Army life? To tell us about your hobby and feature in Downtime, email

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