2001 Champion - Erin Forrest

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Nas champion Erin Forrest proved her mettle against the best Australia had to offer at the NAS National Championship. In a majestic and gritty performance Erin won yet another consecutive title.

In a majestic and gritty performance Erin won yet another consecutive title, and she talks to Blitz about her dedication to the martial arts. Also explains some of the internal aspects of martial arts, and reveal some of her success secrets behind competition training.

NAS NATIONAL RESULTS: Abbreviated list

  • 1998 1st Place National Champion: Women's Heavyweight Points Sparring
  • 1998 1st Place National Champion: Women's Open Weight Points Sparring
  • 1998 Women's Champion of Champions & overall Grand Champion)
  • 1999 1st Place National Champion: Senior Heavyweight Points Sparring
  • 1999 Women's Champion of Champions
  • 2000 1st Place WASO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Women's Heavyweight
  • 2000 1st Place WASO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Women's Open Weight
  • 2000 Runner up WASO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Champion of Champions
  • 2001 1st Place National Champion: Women's Heavyweight Points Sparring
  • 2001 1st Place National Champion: Women's Open Weight Points Sparring
  • 2001 Women's Champion of Champions

JT: When and why did you become involved in Karate?

EF: I did Kung Fu for 18 months before switching to Karate in May 1990. My first grading was in September 1990, for Red Belt and I was 10-years-old.

I became involved in Karate because I wanted an ongoing challenge, Karate appealed as it provided discipline and ongoing tests of performance in the form of gradings and achieving new belts. The physical aspect of Karate also attracted me.

JT: What obstacles have you overcome in order to succeed? What drives you?

EF: I have been very fortunate and feel I have not had to overcome any major obstacles to succeed in my Martial Arts. However, I have had immense support and understanding from my family and friends, making Karate a central focus point in my life, having the will to win and the drive to succeed.

My motto is the four Ds – Dedication, Determination, Desire and Destiny – something I live and train by.

JT: Has there been a low point in your life/career and how did you bring yourself out of it?

EF: Yes, shortly after the NAS Nationals earlier this year I had a malignant melanoma and early skin cancer diagnosed on the back of my hamstring. This meant a month off training (and no exercise which involved the use of my leg – except walking only for short periods of time) and three weeks with stitches in my leg It gave me a scare when I got the diagnosis, but when I got my recovery orders, my fear turned to frustration and a feeling of despair knowing I would be unable to train. I overcame this by concentrating on the things I could do (upper body weights) and also set myself a goal for when I could get back into training. Because the Karate season at State and National level had been completed for half the year I set my sights at completing a half marathon. I completed my half marathon, 21.1km, running from Beaumauris to Albert Park Lake, as part of the Asics Melbourne marathon on Sunday 14 October.

Preparation for Competition

Lead up to 2001 NAS Nationals (10 week pre- National training)

Training

  • 3-4 nights a week at my dojo
  • Squad training with Victorian team on Saturdays

During these sessions I would work on my techniques and combinations, explosive speed and reaction time, anticipation, footwork and tactics.

We would use drills using Focus Mitt/Target, training, attack and defence partner work and Medicine Ball/ Fit Ball training.

My hardest training was between week three and eight, tapering my training intensity over the last two weeks. Continued on Page 22.

Other training

  • Resistance training
  • Completing three Heavy Weights sessions per week

Running

I would complete three-to-four runs per week, ranging between four and 10 kilometres each run, averaging about 25km or more per week. In addition to this, I compete in various fun runs and have taken up track work. I train on the track twice per week (shorter highway intensity reps/intervals) and three other runs, one of them being Saturday competition.

Diet

My diet is made up of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, grain breads, heaps of skim milk and low fat yoghurt. It's relatively healthy, my favourite foods are chicken and yoghurt, but my weakness is chocolate coated licorice. The night before a competition I usually follow this routine: Pasta with tomato based sauce, Chicken and Vegetables, followed by a Protein Shake (either Max's WPI or Aussie Bodies UGF).

Competition Day: For breakfast I have Weet-Bix with soy milk, low fat vanilla yoghurt and one banana. During the day I snack on bananas, dried apricots, raw unsalted nuts, Lite Start Breakfast bars, mega grain bread rolls with turkey and Mushashi Creatine Bars between Divisions or GU Carbohydrate sachets. I drink a lot of water and also Powerade.
Psychological Preparation

It's important to have a positive attitude and be extremely focused. When I'm on the mat, the only people that exist are my opponent and myself, even though the stadium might be full. My thoughts are focused on doing what I have to do to win. The four Ds come into play here.

JT: What tips can you give for competition sparring?

EF: I recommend that you trust yourself and commit to your techniques. Be humble in your victory and grateful in defeat. Learn also from your opponents and never give up, consistency is the key.

JT: How competitive is the NAS and is it a hard competition to win?

EF: The NAS is as competitive as any other competition, if not more competitive. You never know who you might encounter and you may be unfamiliar with their fighting style. The NAS, like any other competition is hard to win, there is always going to be someone trying to beat you, everyone wants to win.

JT: Who are your toughest opponents in the NAS?

EF: Monique Longhurst, QLD and Florence Sun, NSW.

JT: Toughest opponents outside the NAS? (AKF- Australian Karate Federation)

EF: Jacqui Radley, VIC and Jessica Brattich, WA.

JT: What advice do you have for those who are looking at competing?

EF: I would tell them to challenge themselves, you never know what you are capable of until you try competing. A warning for them is that it can become seriously addictive! Most importantly, they should enjoy themselves and have fun.

JT: How has martial arts helped you with your life?

EF: Martial arts has provided me with discipline and confidence to believe in myself and my ability to achieve anything. Karate for me is not just a part of life, it is a way of life. I cannot imagine a time when this will not be the case.

JT: Erin, you have been the most consistent competitor in the National All Styles Championships for some time now. How have you achieved this outstanding success?

EF: Consistency is the key. You can't expect to win if you don't compete on a regular basis. I have gained the most from my competing and whilst training sessions are important, it is on the mat where your ability to perform under pressure is really tested.

JT: Where do you keep all your trophies?

EF: I keep my trophies all over my bedroom. I have them on my bookshelves, desk, table and now they have gradually crept onto the floor. I have my medals on a display board on the wall.

JT: How has your job as a personal trainer influenced your training methods?

EF: I vary my training a lot more now and I incorporate running, swimming and cycling to keep at my peak aerobic fitness level. My resistance training has increased not only my power but ultimately my speed and strength which is crucial to be a competitive points fighter. Utilising fit ball exercises for core stability is something I have found has benefited my martial arts training. I am also very conscious of pre and post meal nutrition and recovery between training sessions and competitions. I listen to my body more now than I used to.

JT: What is your favourite piece of training equipment?

EF: Focus Pads are my favourite piece of martial arts equipment. I use them to work on my speed, accuracy and reaction time. Other than Barbells & Dumbells, the Smith machine is my favourite piece of gym equipment. It is such a versatile machine, and can be used to build strength and endurance in both the upper and lower body.

JT: Competition sparring relies a lot on timing, speed and precision. What training methods do you use to develop these?

EF: I use focus pad response and impact training drills, plyometrics, anticipation work, verbal reaction, mirror image drills, and kinesthetic partner training. For example, a partner stands behind you and touches you on the shoulders or the hips, you must respond to the touch by punching or kicking a specific target.

JT: What are your thoughts on cross-training karate with other arts such as kickboxing or grappling?

EF: I tried kickboxing and successfully completed my grading to blue singlet. I believe cross training can be beneficial as you build on your martial Arts knowledge, and may be able to adapt techniques from other martial arts to suit your own style of fighting. Having also tried Taekwondo, I found it very difficult not to punch to the head. Ultimately every martial art differs and is unique in its own individual elements.

JT: As a female, what is the first thing you should learn for self defence?

EF: The first thing females should learn for self defence is to be alert and aware of their surroundings. They should know the pressure points of the body and basic strikes to target them, and also remember to use what they have available to them. Eg: Car keys, hand bags, hard soled shoes. Awareness is first and foremostly important as it equals prevention.

JT: Have you ever been forced to use Karate outside of competition?

EF: Yes. I had to restrain an intoxicated and aggressive person in a minor altercation at a hotel.

JT: Martial arts requires a lot of dedication. How do you balance your social / personal life with your training commitments?

EF: Balancing my commitments with both my social and personal life becomes a bit of a juggling act, but with careful planning, a few sacrifices and understanding and support from family and friends it somehow all works out.

JT: The mind often plays tricks on those who push themselves to their limits. How do you control your thoughts, and in what way do you think that your mind influences the outcome of events (in life and competition)?

EF: I believe your mind plays a big part in influencing the outcome of events, both in life and competition. If you have a negative attitude, don't believe in yourself, lack confidence and don't think you can win, then you won't. If you are positive, believe in yourself and your ability, are confident but not over-confident, and think you can win, you are half way to being victorious. Physical ability alone is useless, you need the right mental attitude and a positive focused state of mind. I control my thoughts by focusing on the positive of a bout and what I did right, as opposed to the negatives and what I did wrong.

JT: If you were to look back on your life sixty years from now, what would you like to have achieved or experienced?

EF: In sixty years from now, I would like to look back on my life and see that I had achieved happiness. That I had taken my opportunities and made the most of everything I had done. To have made an impact in Martial Arts and its ongoing development in Australia.