Pat and Hamid Asna-Ashari, one of Vancouver’s top Karate instructors, at the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre.


I first joined the YWCA Health + Fitness in 1989. I’ve taken every kind of class offered from aquafit, dance, barre, Pilates, stretch, yoga, meditation, rebounder, bosu, step, spin and aerobics. I also used the weight room and treadmill and eventually started taking mostly dance classes. I didn’t know about the karate class until 2022. 

I was attacked by a stranger in March 2021. He shouted at me and shoved me to the sidewalk. I lived in fear for one year looking out for him as this happened three blocks from my home. 

On March 8, 2022, on International Women's Day, the YWCA had a podium at Canada Place called Reserved for Her that invited women to stand up and claim their space. I stood on the podium and told everyone about the attack and that I had been living in fear. I said, “Since it is International Women’s Day, I’ve decided to empower myself and join the Kyokushin Karate class at the YWCA." 

My first karate class was exciting. Shihan Hamid Asna-Ashari, a 7th degree black belt, welcomed me. There was a nice mix of men and women in the class, including a woman black belt. I felt safe. 

We stood in lines according to our ranks and practiced kicks, punches and yelled “Kiai!” We did push-ups and sit-ups to make us strong and we learned kata, a set pattern of karate movements. Each rank learns a different set of katas to move up to the next rank, and each person learns at their own pace so there is no pressure or time limit. I went from a beginner (white belt) to orange, blue and yellow. I just passed my green belt test and will be receiving it soon. I aim to get my brown belt next year and the year after a black belt. 

My training came in handy last summer. I was walking down the street where I live when a man came towards me yelling. I tried to look non-confrontational but suddenly he was in front of me. I instinctively did an upper block with my left arm and right fist by my chest just to warn him. I yelled "HEY!" and looked him right in the eyes. He looked at me for a second then continued yelling down the street.  

I hope I don’t have to fight to defend myself but I’m very thankful for what I’ve learned from Shihan Hamid. 

The YWCA Health + Fitness Centre is my happy place. I take all kinds of classes and seminars, which are included in my membership fee. There are contests to win great prizes, member appreciation days, a summer barbeque with music and much more.  

But the most important work the YWCA does is for the community and I’m a proud supporter. 

To join the Health + Fitness Centre for classes or to work out in the gym, contact | 604 895 5777. 

Photo: Pat and Hamid Asna-Ashari, one of Vancouver’s top Karate instructors, at the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre.


This article is part of the 2024 Spring/Summer edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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