Beale beats off adversity to become first female ‘master’ in the UK
Monday, 06 July 2009
Adversity has been well and truly overcome by Sandra Beale, the National
Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools’ (NAKMAS National Governing Body)
director of operations, who has just become the first woman in the UK to achieve
Shihan (master) status in Tsuyoi Ryu Karate.
Sandra, 41, achieved 5th Dan karate grade within Tsuyoi Ryu which has been part
of the UK and international martial arts scene since 1977. Sandra achieved this
colossal feat despite suffering two bouts of cancer during her life, and in
addition to her tireless 17 years work with NAKMAS National Governing Body.
Sandra said: "It is a great honour to achieve my 5th Dan. I could never have
imagined achieving this level. Without the support of my husband and the
constant dedication and loyalty of my students, I wouldn’t have reached this
Sandra was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Ewings Sarcoma, when she was
nine years-old and was told she had a fifty-fifty chance of survival. After
surgery, radiotherapy and two years of chemotherapy she survived, but the
extensive treatment caused other illnesses, including damage to the heart.
As Sandra grew older, she developed skin cancer, and recently needed hip
resurfacing. Undeterred, Sandra aimed high within karate and became instrumental
in reshaping the NAKMAS National Governing Body, being the driving force behind
securing NAKMAS the Equality Standard in Sport accreditation and the
International Quality Management Standard (BS EN ISO 9000).
Richard Fowler, Deputy Chair of NAKMAS National Governing Body, says:
"Not only is Sandra a valuable asset to the NAKMAS team, she is also an
inspiration to others faced with adversity, a role model for other women and an
example of someone who commits themselves to overcoming any challenge.
"To become the first woman Shihan is testament to Sandra’s determination and,
add to that what she has achieved for NAKMAS, illustrates her importance to the
martial arts in the UK. NAKMAS has taken giant leaps in developing a nationwide
strategy for martial arts, and Sandra can take a lot of the credit for being one
of the architects of that progress."
Sandra has been practising karate for 18 years. As well as being the national
director of operations to NAKMAS she is the joint chief instructor to the Kent
Karate Schools (www.kentkarateschools.co.uk),
teaching her classes in Ashford and Canterbury, specialising in teaching
children, including those with Asperger Syndrome and those with other special
Away from her many martial arts commitments, Sandra’s true passion is dance and
she has competed in professional dance competitions since she was four
years-old. She continues to dance, practising and teaching alongside her father,
Sandra is also an academic and attained a Master of Arts in Education from the
University of Kent. She is about to commence study for a Doctorate in Education
at the Sheffield Hallam University, specialising in autism within sport and