14 times English National Champion Aimee Sell, continues to compete at the highest level. Representing England in Karate around the globe, Aimee’s tally of National, European and World medals increase year after year.
As well as competing individually, Aimee also coaches many students to English and British Champions, from U13 to Junior level. As of 2016, Aimee was appointed National Youth Kata Coach for England, bringing her experience of competing and coaching at a National level.
Whilst having the fantastic opportunity to meet and work with Aimee during the last few months, we also had the pleasure of interviewing this truly dedicated and technically brilliant Karate Champion.
1. How did you get into/who introduced you to your Martial Art?
My older brother started Karate before me because he wanted to be a power ranger! So, my Mum and Dad took him to Karate lessons while I watched. When I was younger, I decided I wanted to join in but as soon as I got there I cried and changed my mind. This happened a few times, until one day my instructor, Richard Burridge, picked me up and put me in the line… and I never quit since.
2. How long have you been practicing your Martial Art?
I started Karate when I was six years old so, I have been practicing Karate for around 16 years now.
3. Who or what was your biggest inspiration?
I have a few inspirations so, it’s very hard to choose. One of my inspirations is Joe Frazier who fought Muhammad Ali. Many people don’t realise the story of Rocky was based on him and what he overcame. Another inspiration of mine is my instructor Jon Mottram. I always wanted to be like Jon and teach and train Karate, even from a young age, and I have been lucky enough to achieve that. He has always inspired me to work hard, and always let the mat do the talking.
4. What separates you from every other Martial Artist in your discipline?
I think what separates me from others in my discipline is that from a young age, my parents always taught me that if I lose, don’t look to blame anyone else and always look at myself and what I can improve. I think that’s something everyone should be able to do. It’s hard to accept you aren’t as good as someone else in a match, or a selection, but it’s necessary in Karate and in life. I also think what separates me is that I’m a perfectionist, and if I can’t do something as good as someone else, I will keep working until I can! I am always challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday.
5. What have you achieved in your Martial Art?
I achieved a European Bronze Medal in Team Kata in 2010, a European Silver Medal in Individual Kata in 2011, two European Silver Medals in Team and Individual Kata in 2013, a World Bronze Medal in 2013 and a European Bronze Medal in 2015. I’m also 14 times English National Champion.
6. What is your proudest moment of your career, thus far?
My proudest moment in my career, funnily enough, isn’t a European or World Medal. There was a tough time for me in Karate where I felt like quitting, and had a lot of personal battles, but I managed to overcome them all and be selected for England again, going on to reclaim my English and British Championship Titles. The moment I managed to overcome that is my proudest moment. My coach Jon, my parents and good friends helped me regain my focus in Karate. They have always stood by and supported me; and I know that if I can get through that, then I can certainly get through a tough training session!
Also, I would say throughout my Karate career, I always looked up to Luca Valdesi. Last year, in 2017, I found myself teaching on a seminar alongside him, and I think in that moment I took a look back at my career and saw how far I had come.
What would you say are your biggest strengths?
I’d say in Karate terms, one of my biggest strengths is, my technique, attention to detail, and also my ability to stop solid in a Kata. Another would be my composure. I can handle pressure well. I’m not phased easily and I’m never psyched out. Whether I win or lose, I can keep control of my emotions and stay composed (minus a few European or World Medal moments where, I cried my eyes out with joy).
In general, I think a strength is I can fight back from anything negative and turn it into a positive. I’m good at being able to switch from my coaching role into my competitive role. For example, coaching the Junior England Kata Team for a European Championships and, at the same time, training Individual and Team Kata for the Senior European Championships. I also feel that coaching and competing, at the same time, allows me to understand exactly what the competitors are going through and I know exactly how to help them.
8. What would you say is an area of weakness, if any?
I’m very self critical. It’s probably my biggest weakness. But, I guess, it’s better to be that way than to think I’m better than I am. There have been times when I have won competitions or achieved great things, but not felt 100% happy because I always expect so much of myself.
9. What does your training schedule consist of?
Currently, my training schedule consists of morning running, personal training sessions throughout the week and Kata training throughout the week (usually two sessions a day). I’m usually teaching, coaching or competing at weekends so, I get most of my training done throughout the week and daytimes.
10. What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to be happy in my sport, no matter what. Which means focusing on myself! I would like to continue my competitive career and represent England for as long as I can. I want to keep my individual spot on the England team so, I can go on to hopefully medal at European and World Championships in the future, which can only happen through hard work.
Also, I have plans to open more Karate classes, and to coach members of the Junior England Team to success. I’m very passionate about competing but, also about coaching. I still have the same feeling when the flags go up, even if I am sitting in the coach’s box. You live the moments with the athlete. I want to help athletes achieve their dreams, and be alongside supporting them, and making English Kata great.
11. Do you have any words of advice to anyone wishing to take up a Martial Art?
I would say, don’t be scared to try it. Every Martial Art is different. Although there are similarities, if one doesn’t work for you, try another. Martial Arts benefit so many aspects of a person’s life, and it doesn’t have to always be competitive. You get a sense of achievement, and overall fitness, and discipline from Martial Arts.
12. Do you have any words of advice for those who already practice a Martial Art?
For those who already practice Martial Arts, I would say it’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t get something right. People can become disheartened easily so, its important to have patience and accept that things take time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
13. How do you divide your time between training and teaching?
My training is usually done in the morning and on two nights a week. My teaching is done in the evenings and before, or after, my training. I do teach a lot of pre-training extras for the England Team so they can be at their best and, I fit my own sessions in during, before or after, breaks.
14. What are your plans in the upcoming months?
This month, I’m going to coach in Sochi, Russia, at the Junior Europeans which im really excited about. I plan to compete at as many ‘Karate 1’ and ‘Series A ‘ competitions as I can too. I also have a few other things planned that I won’t mention yet but, I’m really looking forward to! However, my main focus is the Senior Europeans in May so, I’m investing more time in staying on the correct path with my training and committing 100% to it.
15. What are your thoughts on the Blitz White Diamond Karate Suit?
I think the quality of the material is great and comfortable to wear. With the elastic bottoms it is easy to wear for those who prefer an elastic waist. It’s a good gi for people starting out in competiton and for general training.
Follow Aimee and her Karate journey via the links below. Take a look at Aimee’s Karate Academy for your very own chance to learn and train with the Champion too!
Aimee Sell’s Karate Academy: askarateacademy.co.uk
More about Aimee: www.karategirl.me