Maria Claeys. – A few weeks ago the S.K.A had a very pleasant surprise when Maria contacted us through our webpage. Maria was part of our early days and started training in 1966/67 gaining shodan in 1970 and so becoming the first woman to earn a Szlagowski
Black belt, her name is on the Szlagowski shield..
QUESTION – Maria is most certainly an early Female Karate Shodan – Is she
Australia’s first?? )
In 1971 she went on a six month holiday to visit family in Holland and wound up staying there till a few weeks ago when she to visit Australia for the first time in 42 years.
We, Vladimir Pijov (President), Rob Dobson (past President), Jeff Barnes (V/President) and I (Secretary) arranged to meet and have lunch with her in Chinatown. Vladimir, Rob and Maria apart from Peter Laszlo (overseas) are very early members, and as such were well known to each other.
Marie was “just one of the boys” at the time. She did the same training as all others, whether a 2 mile run, sparring or training in the sea at Palm Beach. She acquitted herself well in kumite – earning a reputation for strong low kicks and was part of a strong group of martial artists. When asked about how challenging it was to earn shodan – she related she felt her 1st kyu grade was harder – she kept both arms covered for two weeks till the bruises faded.
She trained in Shotokan when in Holland and enjoyed that, when asked about the difference (between S.K.A & Shotokan) stated they used lower stances which slowed them down and she felt that S.K.A was the more effective in kumite.
It was a pleasure to meet and greet Maria.