Julie Nicholson

The only natural talent I have in respect of Karate is my determination. This is a tremendous advantage as I will never quit.

Julie Nicholson

A diminutive woman, standing 5 foot 1 1/2 inches tall, Julie Nicholson epitomises what it means to embody Karate spirit. She is a National and European Karate Champion.

Julie Nicholson was born on 12 November 1964, in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, England.

Aged 9, Nicholson had wanted to join a local Karate club. However, she was not allowed to join until she turned 10 years old.

In January 1975 Nicholson began learning Karate. She and her father Tommy began learning Shotokan Karate at the Sendai Karate club in Sunderland. They trained under John Holdsworth and Jeff Barwick.

Nicholson took part in the first competition in October 1976. At the KUGB Northern Regional Championships, held in the seaside town Blackpool, she competed in the children’s kata event. She won her first medal, finishing in second place. This was the start of a very successful competitive career.

At the age of 19, Nicholson won the first of many KUGB titles. At the 1983 National KUGB Championships, she defeated Sandy Hopkins in the final of the Women’s Individual Kata event. Hopkins was the defending champion. She had won the 10 previous kata titles.

Nicholson’s success earned her selection to the KUGB National Squad. She trained under the watchful eyes of Keinosuke Enoeda and Andy Sherry. She competed in her first international tournament at the 4th IAKF World Championships, held in Cairo Egypt in 1983. This was the JKA’s version of the World Championships.

In 1984 at the KUGB National Championships, Nicholson retained her Women’s Individual Kata title. This was the first year women were allowed to compete in kumite at the championships. Up until this time she had mainly concentrated on kata. She won her third consecutive kata title in 1985.

After finishing in second place in the 1987 KUGB National Championships, Nicholson went on a five-year unbeaten streak. From 1988 to 1992 she won five consecutive kata titles.

In 1990 the 3rd Shoto Cup took place in Sunderland. Nicholson competed in the Women’s Individual Kate event. Japan was dominant, with Yuki Mimura winning the title, and Yoko Nakamura and Maiko Asano, in second and third place.

By 1996 Nicholson had won several more kata titles at the KUGB National Championships. However, she was yet to win the kumite title. She had reached the final on two occasions (1993 and 1995) but had lost each time. She had not won any kumite titles in any of the major tournaments she entered.

1999 was a big year for Nicholson competitively. At the KUGB Shotokan Cup, she made history by being the first woman to become Grand Champion. At the tournament, she had won both the kata and kumite titles.

On 4-5 September 1999, the World Shotokan Karate Championships were held in Moscow, Russia. Nicholson won the Women’s Individual Kata title. In the Women’s Individual Kumite event, she won a bronze medal.

In 2000 Nicholson retired from the KUGB National Team, 17 years after making her international debut. She still competed at national tournaments.

Nicholson made history in 2001 at the KUGB National Championships. She became the first woman to become Grand Champion. She won both the Individual Kata and Kumite events. She was presented with the Wilkinson Sword for being the outstanding competitor at the tournament.

Julie Nicholson was one of the most outstanding competitors of her generation to have represented the KUGB. She won 15 KUGB kata titles and was a three-time European Kata Champion. Her spirit and determined training earned her the respect of Keinosuke Enoeda and Andy Sherry.

Nicholson and her husband John Holdsworth are both ranked at 6th Dan. They both run the Ronin Karate Club.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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