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Tjeerd Fokkens: “I like karate because it’s really technical.” (Photo: Heather Montague)

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? We meet them in Humans of TU Delft where they talk about their work or other activities. Tjeerd Fokkens has had a big year. He graduated with a master’s degree in applied physics and competed at the karate world championship in Curaçao.

“When I started karate I had a great teacher who is very knowledgeable and a really nice person. It was fun to learn from such a man. He’s 75 now and he still practices karate every day. It was really inspiring to learn from him.

I have done other martial arts, but I’ve been practicing karate for about six and a half years now.  There are basically two different disciplines in karate. One is called kumite and it involves fighting and sparring. I don’t do that, but what I do is kata, which is Japanese for ‘form’. It’s basically a performance of movements on your own. There is an opponent, but they are just doing the same thing on their own. It’s not about speed and reaction or anything like that but it’s about technique, power and expression.

There are also different styles of karate and in my style there are 15 katas which are all a prescribed series of movements. You can learn them and practice them to get really good and then you perform them in a match. I was the champion in the Netherlands last year, but this year I took second place.

‘You must be really precise with your movements’

I recently went to Curaçao for the world championship. The tournament was a nice experience. I’m actually only the second Dutchman to make it one round further than the first round so that was quite an accomplishment. I finished 6th overall and it was great to perform at such a big tournament.

I like it because it’s really technical. You must be really precise with your movements and that gives some sort of depth to it. I think I will keep doing it for the rest of my life.”

Heather Montague

Do you want to meet more Humans of TU Delft? Sharath Kumar, Tina Comes and many more on Delta.

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