Elise Reedijk (18) won a historic bronze medal at the European Para Karate Championships and is giving clinics at the European Para Championships this week. “This is the moment to catch on and put para karate on the map.”
The European Para Championships 2023 (EPC2023) are meant to inspire people to get moving and play sports. Besides the ten different parasports that you can admire in Ahoy as well as the Rotterdam city center this weeks, you will also be introduced to other parasports explained by professionals during clinics. On Tuesday morning, for example, visitors could get acquainted with the still relatively unknown sport of para karate. Clinics are also given in goalball, wheelchair basketball and para badminton.
Last March, 18-year-old Elise Reedijk was the first Dutchwoman ever to compete in a European Para Karate Championship. In Spain, the G-sporter won a historic bronze medal and even beat the French world champion.
During the first day of competition at EPC2023, she welcomes visitors with a big smile on her face to introduce them to para karate. “It is immense fun to teach people. Just now a very young girl came by and I taught her her first ‘kata.’” Karate-katas are different movements, with steps and turns, trying to maintain perfect form.
It is Elise’s big dream to later teach karate to children. Every Wednesday she already has her own class at Budoschool Kai Sei in Zoetermeer. “By being able to give this clinic here, I also learn more about teaching myself and get new ideas to take back to the club.”
Alex Janssen, trainer at Budoschool Kai Sei, is pleased with the opportunity to conduct this clinic from the Karate-do Bond Nederland. “The goal today is to publicize para karate. We are working very hard in the Netherlands to bring the sport more to the attention. We want to make sure that people are going to find karate interesting, if they are still looking for a sport to practice.”
Karate is a difficult sport, but when you have a disability you get an extra challenge, Janssen states. Despite that, he’s proud to see the high level of these parasports. “People who are completely visually impaired make a twisted jump kick in the air and don’t fall. They show no balance disturbance in the process. That’s such an immense challenge, but so it can be done.”
This October, Elise will make her debut at the World Championships in Budapest. This is also the first time in the history of Dutch karate. National para karatecoach Madelon Janssen-Staat is enormously proud of her pupil. “The sport is still really in its infancy in the Netherlands and with her bronze medal at the European Championships we have created a historic moment for the Netherlands. Now is the moment we have to move on and can put para karate more on the map.”
By being at this event, the national coach also notices that her group is presenting itself more and more as a family. “We love being together. Our athletes finally have a stage to feel, despite the limitation, that they are allowed to be there too.” For the World Cup, the national coach has no expectations for Elise. “I want to teach her to keep both feet on the ground, because that’s how I am myself. We have to enjoy it and it’s a party to be there. Just let the audience see what your passion is and something beautiful will come out of it.”