Women of Shotokan: Elpida Christodoulou
If we had to award a prize for the most beautiful and concise definition of the spirit of Shotokan in 2019, we were very eager to give it to Elpida Christodoulou, our today´s woman of Shotokan. While she offers many thoughtful and wise insights about Shotokan, the following has been the most striking one for us:
Shotokan karate is not just an art of punches and kicks. It is an art composed of people who upgrade your internal world. So, that you can become a better person for yourself and for your society.Elpida Christodoulou
Besides her deep understanding of the philosophy of Shotokan Elpida is an incredible competitor. Two weeks ago, she won a gold medal at the SKIF world championship women individual kumite U45 in Czech Republic. At the same event, she also became second with her kata team. Therefore, Elpida is a true woman of Shotokan and a huge inspiration. Congratulations, Elpida!
Portrait of Elpida Christodoulou
- Age: 39
- Karate since: 1993
- Origin and residence: Cyprus and Greece-Athens
- (Kyu/Dan) Rank:
- Godan Shotokan Karate International Federation SKIF
- Godan Hellenic Karate Federation H.K.F
- Dojo: Shotokan Karate Club Ampelokipon “YAMADA KAN” – Athens
Additional information (member of a national team, coach, board member of a Dojo, highest achievements etc.):
- Member of the national team of SKIF (individual Kumite, individual kata, team leader women kata, team leader women kumite) 2000 – 2019
- Member of the national team of WKF in different categories – Greece, from 2000-2012
- Coach of the National team SKIF boys/girls- men/women kata-kumite
- Instructor in Shotokan Karate Club Ilision “Yamada Kan” since 2005
- Gold Medal Kumite Women -60kg European Championship Oporto-Portugal SKIF
- Third Place KATA Women World Championship SKIF Durban-South Africa 2003
- Gold Medal Kumite Women -60kg European Championship Oporto-Portugal SKIF
- Third Place Kumite Team Women World Championship SKIF Japan 2006- Team Leader
- Gold Medal Kumite Women Open World Championship OKINAWA 2007 -All Shotokan Federation -In Memory of 50 yrs Gichin Funakoshi
- Second Place KATA Team Women World Championship SKIF Greece 2009-Team Leader
- Second Place KATA Women individual European Championship SKIF Budapest 2011
- Third Place KATA Women European Championship SKIF Dresden-Germany 2014
- Third Place Kumite Women -60 European Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2017
- Gold Medal Kumite Women Open U45 World Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2019
- Second Place KATA Team Women- Masters World Championship SKIF Czech Republic 2019
What was the reason that you started Shotokan Karate?
Elpida Christodoulou: Hahaha😊: I’m starting my answer laughing. Actually, because the reason was quite ridiculous. I was really angry with my sister (age 12). At that time, I used to hang out with a friend of mine who practiced karate. So, I thought to sign up to the karate school that she was going. God bless her for that! The weird thing was that I never used karate against my sister after I joined. The reason I started karate was just a childhood idea that enhanced my life in many levels.
What do you like about Shotokan Karate? Is there something you do not like?
Elpida Christodoulou: About the art of Shotokan karate, I will start by saying that I like everything from the technical point of view – kihon-kata-kumite – and mostly I prefer kata. I like the difficulty and detail which is hidden in between the variety of techniques. And also, how magically they can change your way of life in the best possible way1 When someone practices something so hard, both in the physical and in the spiritual level, as the art of Shotokan karate, he or she is able to gain his/her self-esteem, overcome many adversities in life and become a winner – a winner in life!
What has been your greatest and your worst experience so far related to Shotokan Karate?
Elpida Christodoulou: In my opinion Shotokan karate is like “solid gold”.
Actually, the greatest and the worst experiences come from the people and situations that constitute Shotokan.
My greatest experience is that, through Shotokan, I was able to travel in many beautiful places and had the opportunity to meet many people with different cultures and ideas. So , that fact made me a more complete person, with friends in different countries. Great experiences were also all the times I won medals in championships, that made myself, my sensei and my country proud. Especially the Gold Medal in Okinawa in 2007 in the World Championship of all Shotokan Federations, in memory of Gichin Funakoshi (on the 50th anniversary of his death), a great and historical event for Shotokan. And finally, the Gold Medal that I won just a few days ago (19/7/2019) in the SKIF world championship in Czech Republic, when I heard the national anthem…
Worst experience? I cannot recall.
What do you do when the training becomes challenging? Where do you get motivation from?
Elpida Christodoulou: In difficult and challenging times, I draw power from my sensei, who is unstoppable no matter whatever problems come his way. So, I think to myself: “If he can, so can I.” My sensei also gives me the greatest motivation to keep going and want the best from myself and my karate students of all ages, especially the youngest generations. I am thinking that it is a huge responsibility to transmit the correct way and knowledge of Karate Shotokan as my sensei along with the Japanese senseis did and still do with me. Keeping that in mind, I try physically and mentally to do my best. As the time passes and life’s obligations grow, I am blissful that I have all the right reasons that never let me quit.
How has Shotokan Karate changed you as a person?
Elpida Christodoulou: Karate has surely changed and improved me as a person. From the moment I began to realize that, if I really wanted to stand out and be the best possible in Karate, I should dedicate myself to it, without leaving my university studies at the same time. It was difficult to juggle both, but I kept in mind my sensei’s words, who always told me that my studies should be my number one priority and Karate should come second. So yes, Karate changed me in a positive way, because it offered me a special path that not everyone can follow, which meant discipline of yourself, a lot of self-esteem and the feeling that you are doing something completely different than the majority of people.
How has Shotokan Karate influenced your life? Has it helped you overcome or deal with difficult situations in your life? Is it helping you on a daily basis with the challenges of life?
Elpida Christodoulou: In a very difficult period of my life, Karate helped me find myself again.
I dedicated myself to my purpose and my long-hours of training every day. That, combined with the people that appreciated my desire and appetite for Karate and believed in me, helped me – without even knowing it – to get out of my darkness.
As I mentioned before, I believe that, when someone is practicing something as hard and special as Shotokan karate, he or she can deal with and overcome many obstacles that come his or her way. That is something I cannot forget in my everyday life.
Shotokan karate is not just an art of punches and kicks. It is an art composed of people who upgrade your internal world, so that you can become a better person for yourself and for your society.
How has your Shotokan Karate changed over time?
Elpida Christodoulou: My Karate Shotokan is laid on very strong foundations and I always try to progress. Therefore, my Karate has changed and is still changing in many ways. Slowly and patiently. I participate in many seminars, both in my country and abroad, with Japanese and European instructors and I always try to learn from the best.
What are your personal Shotokan Karate short- and long-term goals?
Elpida Christodoulou: My short- and long-term goal in karate is to have the strongest possible dojo and organization I can possibly have. With students that appreciate and love karate as much as I do. So that I can keep passing on the ideals that Shotokan pursues, such as honesty, good heart, straight way of thinking, discipline, self-esteem, politeness. And so that I give them the necessary knowledge to defend themselves and their families in the best way possible, if necessary.
Would you recommend Shotokan Karate to your female friends? Why?
Elpida Christodoulou: Of course, I would recommend Shotokan karate to my female friends!
Women are a minority in the world of Karate and nature has endowed us with less muscle strength than men, but we are for sure very intelligent, have excellent technique (in many cases better than men) and we are more capable to avoid violence compared to men. As a result, testosterone has destroyed half of our world. Furthermore, as we live in a men’s world, women must exercise as much as they can and learn how to defend themselves if necessary, believe in their physical and mental strength and be healthy and fit at all ages. Stop smoking, do karate. Oss!