When Jason Walton travels to Budapest this weekend to compete in the European Wado-kai Karate Championships he will be achieving a dream.
The 43-year-old will represent England at the tournament in the men’s individual senior Kata category and will be up against competitors from 15 other European countries.
But only 18 months ago the Loughton resident wasn’t taking part in the sport. He’d given up the martial art in 2000 due to arthritis and relocating away from his club in Surrey.
However, in 2012 he decided to rekindle his passion and little more than a year later he was asked by the chief instructor of the England Wado-kai karate-do federation, Barry Wilkinson, whether he’d like to compete at the event. His response came without hesitation.
“I said yes straight away,” Walton explained. “Representing my country is something I have always dreamed about doing. I have been in contention for squads before but unfortunately didn’t make it then.
“The last time I competed in a competition was 15 years ago and I’ve never competed in an international tournament so I am over the moon to be selected.
“It is the second biggest tournament behind the World Championships and I am really looking forward to going out there.”
There will around 200 competitors at the event and Walton believes it will be a test of mental and physical strength.
He said: “Kata involves a sequence of moves rather than going up against an opponent. It is a test both physically and mentally. It is tough because you have to remember that sequence under pressure.
“You do as much practice as you can ahead of the competition and I haven’t missed a training session all year and I have increased my training and have been doing two sessions a week. It will be tough though, and you can still freeze when you’re under that pressure.”