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Moray and Highland martial artists to kick for three hours to raise funds for Scottish Association for Mental Health

By Garry McCartney

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Michelle Raisborough, Dominique Sutherland and Henry Stephen in action.
Michelle Raisborough, Dominique Sutherland and Henry Stephen in action.

A GROUP of local martial artists aim to kick continuously for three hours to raise £1000 for charity.

Scotland Tang Soo Do masters Michelle Raisborough, Dominique Sutherland, Michael Kyzirakos and Kelly O’Connor, and fellow instructor Henry Stephen, are forming a tag team to take turns kicking on behalf of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Michelle confirmed the kick-a-thon event this weekend, named 'Keep Kicking', was suggested by Michael whose friend committed suicide earlier this year.

Michelle said: "We hope to end some of the stigma around mental health while raising money to support those who are living with a mental health condition. The coronavirus pandemic has touched the lives of everyone and increased anxiety and depression for many. Also, suicide is the leading cause of death in young people, especially males.

"We feel passionately about helping to raise awareness of mental health and want to encourage our students and the communities we teach in to speak openly about it."

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions on training, the kickers have managed to continue to train and instruct via Zoom classes. More recently, most have return to their halls to train with restrictions.

The kickers have prepared for the kick-a-thon by increasing their fitness and endurance training to ensure they can keep going for the duration of the event.

"Continuous kicking, even for a few minutes, is physically challenging and drains energy very quickly," said Michelle. "Even a single kick requires speed, power, balance and co-ordination. It takes between three and five seconds, which means each kicker will need to perform around 500 or more kicks over the three hours. As the body and mind get tired, these will become more difficult and draining. During rest periods the body cools so following sessions will be harder as our bodies stiffen-up."

Michelle pointed out that exercise is beneficial for mental health, helping reduce anxiety and depression. Endorphins released during physical exertion are the 'feel good' chemicals in the body.

She added: "Doing something you enjoy can take your mind off your worries. We refer to our group as our martial arts family - we form friendships with our students and parents of the children we train. Being able to socialise lifts the mood and bonds are formed.

"Martial arts help our students build strong bodies and minds. Martial arts also improve confidence and provide a focus. Competition and getting to the next belt level offers a sense of achievement and motivation."

The Keep Kicking event is on Saturday, December 12 from 10am-1pm.

To watch, visit https://www.facebook.com/ScotlandTangSooDo1993.

Sponsor the kickers at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keepkickingfundraiser

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