Selfless sensei writes history

A local instructor has become the world’s highest graded female in kyokushin karate

Wednesday 29 August will go down in the recordbooks as the day that Denmark made karate history. At a formal ceremony held at Den Danske Karateskole’s Østerbro dojo, a long-serving sensei at the school, Christa Koldin, was presented with her fifth dan, giving her the title of ‘shihan’ and making her the world’s highest ranked (and officially recognised) female black belt in the largest style of the martial art: kyokushin karate.

It has been a long journey. Koldin began to train in karate in 1986 after returning from the US, where she trained racehorses for a living. Her karate talent, fuelled by extreme perfectionism and stubbornness, soon became apparent as she won the Danish championships in the kata technical discipline three times.

She then went on to make several appearances at the European Championships and was crowned vice-world champion in kata in 1998 – an incredible achievement for someone working a full-time job during the day and spending most evenings teaching karate.

Koldin has been teaching students at the dojo in Østerbro three to four evenings a week on a voluntary basis since 1991. And starting in 2010, and for most of 2011, she has been combining this with intense training to achieve her fifth dan last December.

“I was young when I went through my other tests, but I was 47 years old this time, so I had to approach it differently,” she said. “But I was glad for the opportunity – a good teacher never stands still, but is inconstant progress.

At the two-day test in December last year, Koldin led the way as 15 black belts and prospects took part in the gut-wrenching physical and technical tests. As the cherry on the cake on the final day of the test, Koldin provided an unforgettable display as she fought 50 contenders in a row in front of an ecstatic crowd and two Japanese officials, who had flown over from Japan to oversee the test at the Østerbro dojo.

Despite the historic achievement, Koldin remains humble and was quick to praise Humberto Budtz, her seventh dan chief instructor, who is the founder of Den Danske Karateskole. “I never would have made it without Shihan Budtz. He has been my teacher from the very beginning,” she said.

Looking to the future, Koldin said: “I’m going to train karate until the day I die.” In the meantime, she will continue instructing  and be involved in plans to expand the karate school’s street work, reaching out to the underprivileged youths in the city.  It’s a goal of the school’s to integrate more children at the karate school, and more children with disorders like ADHD.