What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Melissa Riemeijer and I’m a first year European Studies student at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences/Zuyd Hogeschool.
Since when are you a member of Kinran?
I joined Kinran in September 2019.
What motivated you to join Kinran?
I’ve always been active within martial arts in my hometown. I did Shaolin Kempo for over 7 years and I think I can say I got to quite a decent level. Kempo is my passion, and I knew that I’d be unable to continue Kempo as much as I did before, so I wanted to join a martial art in Maastricht, because quitting martial arts was absolutely impossible for me. Knowing that there’s no Shaolin Kempo in Maastricht, I searched for a different sport. My teacher recommended joining “a Shotokan karate club” they’d have in Maastricht, which would be the closest to our sport. After going to the Sports event during INKOM and joining a training, I knew karate would be my new sport and I joined Kinran.
What is Karate to you?
Karate to me is so much more than just a sport. I would consider it a lifestyle. When I just started, I wasn’t sure if karate would mean the same to me as Kempo. But after a few training sessions I realised both sports are similar and different at the same time. It became more of a way of living for me. The things you learn within karate have impact on more aspects than just the sport itself. It gives me a different perspective on respect, discipline and focus. Practicing karate also made me more precise while doing kihon, or techniques in general. Karate is a hobby and a passion, a way to forget all the stressful things going on for a while. I can just feel the passion and strength martial arts has given me in these past years and hopefully will in upcoming years as well.
What is Kinran to you?
Kinran to me means family. This association made it possible for me to feel at home within just a few weeks, even though I was completely new to the association and to the sport. And this although I normally have difficulties adapting to new, bigger groups. I love having people my age to train this amazing sport with, which I’ve never had at home. I love how open everyone is and how easily I got accepted into the group. It’s a group of people sharing the same interest and passion, with whom you easily become friends.
Would you consider continuing Karate (or martial arts) even after you finish your studies?
No doubt, yes! I’ve been active within the martial arts world for the past 7,5 years and those were some of the best years of my life. Before I started I didn’t know I’d like fighting and learning how to hit someone else (while keeping your body in control). Ever since I started, I can’t imagine not doing martial arts anymore. Within karate, I have the feeling you can always improve, or learn more things, therefore it’s a lifelong experience. It sometimes can get a bit frustrating for me, due to the small differences to Kempo, but that’s part of the process. Martial arts has already given me so many things, I can’t imagine myself quitting, since it means too much to me to just leave such an important part of my life behind.
Any other remarks?
A huge thanks to the amazing, lovely, talented board for all the hard work, time and dedication they’ve been putting in keeping the association running and for being some amazing people overall. The way this academic year is ending, is a way you absolutely don’t deserve, for all the hard work you’ve been doing during this year. Thanks to your hard work, my first months in Maastricht have been unforgettable and I’ve been able to make some amazing memories. And as well to the entire association, for making me feel so welcome from the first moment on that I joined a training. Moving to Maastricht and switching sports wasn’t easy for me, but thanks to everyone at Kinran, it’s been way more doable than I first expected it to be.